Prior to the battle of Actium, direct opposition existed and Augustus defeated such opposition through a combination of military efforts, political manoeuvring and propaganda. Augustus utilised Caesar’s army for example to simultaneously secure a position in the senate and defeat Caesar’s assassins, Brutus and Cassius. Moreover, during the Second Triumvirate, which was formalised in 43BC with Antony and Lepidus, Augustus proceeded to carry out ruthless proscription – a murder of political opponents that included 300 senators and 200 equestrians, including Cicero 1.
These proscriptions decimated the senatorial class, thereby also weakening the senate and republican traditions as forms of opposition towards Augustus. Furthermore after the renewal of the second triumvirate, Augustus, supported by the skills of Agrippa, defeated Sextus Pompeius whose pirate ships had threatened Rome’s grain supply and given refuge to Augustus’ republican enemies. Overall however, Augustus’s defeat of Antony and Cleopatra’s forces at Actium is seen as the ultimate suppression of opposition. The clash at Actium is presented as Augustus going to war alongside the fathers (the Senate), the Roman people, and Gods, and being met by Antony and his queen with her oriental barbarism and Egyptian monster-gods. Wallace-Hadrill argues that “the myth tells us…Rome and the civilisation she stood for were forever in danger, forever in need of a saviour.
” 2. Thus, by portraying himself as Rome’s saviour, and Antony as the enemy of the state, Augustus influenced the historical record in his favour and initiated the preventive process against future opposition.