Battle of Alexandria (30 BC)

Battle of Alexandria
Part of the Final War of the Roman Republic
Date July 1–August 1, 30 BC
Result First Attack: Minor Antonian victory; Second Attack: Octavian victory
Mark Antony's forces Octavian's forces
Commanders and leaders
Mark Antony Octavian, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa

28,000 legionaries.[1]

6000 Egyptian troops
44,000 legionaries [2]
Casualties and losses
12,000 10,000

The Battle of Alexandria was fought on July 1 to July 30, 30 BC between the forces of Octavian and Mark Antony during the Final War of the Roman Republic. It was the final battle of the Roman Republic. In the battle of Actium, Antony had lost the majority of his fleet and had been forced to abandon the majority of his army in Greece, where without supplies they eventually surrendered. Although Antony's side was hindered by a few desertions, he still managed to narrowly defeat the Roman forces, initially.

For the majority of July Octavian lay siege to Alexandria. However, Antony’s troops were well trained and battle hardened; some had fought alongside Antony for 20 years. Despite Octavian having a numerical advantage Antony used the walls of Alexandria with great effectiveness. Throughout July Octavian launched probing assaults on the city. However, unable to find a clear weakness, he made no all out assault. After a month of hard fighting, many of Octavian’s troops wanted to launch an all out assault. On July 30 Octavian launched his attack. The fighting was brutal but Antony was able to resist Octavian at the city’s hippodrome. However, heavy casualties (close to 10,000) on both sides further diminished any chance Antony had.

In early August Octavian, now severely outnumbering Antony, launched a second, ultimately successful attack by land from east and west, causing the city to fall. Antony committed suicide, as did Cleopatra nine days after the battle. Octavian had Caesarion, Cleopatra's son by Julius Caesar, as well as Mark Antony's eldest son, Antyllus, executed. Octavian showed mercy to the rest of Antony’s children and gave them to his sister and Antony’s former wife, Octavia, to be raised as Roman citizens. Antony’s children would all rise to positions of relative power, and eventually would be direct ancestors to three Roman emperors: Claudius, Nero and Caligula. In 28BC Cicero, the son of the legendary orator, removed all of Antony’s busts from Rome. They were eventually restored via his Imperial descendants.


Octavian recognized the value of holding Egypt and had the kingdom annexed as a Roman province. Following the annexation of the kingdom, all Roman officials sent to Egypt were from the equestrian class, and no senator could visit Roman Egypt without direct permission from Octavian.[3]

At the age of thirty-three, Octavian had finally achieved the undisputed control of the Roman world which had been his unwavering ambition through fourteen years of civil war. To this end, he had been responsible for death, destruction, confiscation, and unbroken misery on a scale quite unmatched in all the previous phases of Roman civil conflict over the past century.[4]


  • Pelling, Christopher (1996). "The triumviral period: Alexandria, 30 B.C.". The Cambridge Ancient History. Volume X: The Augustan Empire, 43 B.C. – A.D. 69 (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 59–64. ISBN 978-0-521-26430-3.
  1. ^
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  3. ^ The Romans: From Village to Empire, Mary Boatwright, Daniel Gargola, Richard Talbert(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)
  4. ^ The Romans: From Village to Empire, Mary Boatwright, Daniel Gargola, Richard Talbert(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004 p.276)

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