Octavian, Anthony and Cleopatra: Propaganda and the ‘Myth of Actium'

1093 words 5 pages
Workshop 1

Octavian, Anthony and Cleopatra: Propaganda and the ‘Myth of Actium'

The creation and subsequent sustaining of the ‘Myth of Actium' is one of the greatest examples of the use of mass propaganda in the ancient world. While scholars such as Murray question the impact that the re-instigation of games at Nikopolis and the extension of the temple of Apollo at Actium would have on the political situation in Rome, its emergence, however, seems to have occurred around 20 BC, a time at which Octavian Augustus has officially restored the Republic (27 BC) and resigned his position as consul, instead holding office as Tribune of the Plebs.
The Augustan version of the battle of Actium is one that is displayed by the three passages.
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The appearance of an Amazonomachy scene in the victory monument also
The interest shown by Plutarch in the Battle of Actium comes through his analysis of the career of Antony in his work Parallel Lives. In this he compares and contrasts great political and military figures from the Greece and Rome, possibly with the intention of showing how similar the two civilizations were. The attention shown towards Antony could come from a number of reasons. His ‘parallel' is Demetrius, the man whom Octavian alludes to through the imitation of his coins issued commemorating victory at Salamis. Another reason is that the victory of Octavian spawns a great dynasty, the later of which Plutarch is writing under. It is most likely that he is attempting to explore the nature of the fall of the Republic, and when we look at the Emperors that he writes under (such as Nero) Plutarch is probably looking to explain why it all went wrong.
While one cannot be sure of the influence that Octavian himself had on the myth surrounding Actium, the fact that it emerges at a time when he his trying to distance himself from his past is surely significant. There was, however a cultural revolution occurring in Rome. This is seen in the work of Virgil and artwork found in temples. It is as if Rome is trying to reinvent itself, distancing itself from the

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