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Civil War and the New Empire
Within a few years after Caesar’s death, two
men had divided the Roman world between them –
Octavian, Caesar’s heir and grandnephew, taking the
west and Mark Antony, Caesar’s ally and assistant,
the east. But the empire of the Romans, large as it
was, was still too small for two masters, and
Octavian and Antony eventually came into conflict.
Antony allied himself with the Egyptian queen
Cleopatra. Antony ends up falling deeply in love
with Cleopatra, just as Caesar did when he visited
Egypt. At the Battle of Actium in Greece in 31 B.C.,
Octavian’s forces smashed the army and navy of
Antony and Cleopatra. Both fled to Egypt. Octavian,
at the age of 32, stood supreme over the Roman
world. The civil wars had ended.
With the victories of Octavian, peace finally
settled on the Roman world. Although civil conflict
still erupted occasionally, the new imperial state
Octavian constructed experienced remarkable
stability for the next two hundred years. The
Romans imposed their peace on the largest empire
established in ancient times.
As a sign of his new power, Octavian took the
name Augustus, or “honored one.” The month of
August is named after this powerful ruler and
general who helped to build Rome into a huge
empire. Under Augustus, life throughout the empire
underwent great changes. Most important, his rule
began the Pax Romana. Pax Romana is Latin for
“Roman peace.” During the Pax Romana, which
lasted about 200 years, goods moved freely with
Rome’s far-reaching borders. During this period of
peace Augustus ordered the building of new roads,
buildings, and water systems. Augustus also worked
to create a single system of government and money
system throughout the empire.
Why did civil war follow Caesar’s death?
Who won this civil war?
How did Cleopatra take part in the civil war?
What was Octavian’s name as ruler?
Explain the importance of Pax Romana?
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