How did Egypt become the personal property of the emperor?


Egypt became the personal property of the emperor of Rome following the Battle of Actium on September 2, 31 BCE, the decisive confrontation in the Ionian Sea between Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Having taken personal charge of Egypt and its then-capitalAlexandria, Octavian would be awarded the name “Augustus,” meaning the revered one, and become the first in a long line of emperors.

Antony’s more powerful ships were less maneuverable in the heavy surf against Octavian’s smaller vessels. Moreover, a malaria outbreak while waiting for Octavian’s fleet left many of Antony’s oarsmen dead or too sick to serve. Consequently, Antony and Cleopatra lost their bid for world power, and the mass of already heavily-taxed Egyptian peasants would henceforth be required to supply one-third of the grain the city of Rome would consume each year.

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