Actium or Aktion (Ancient Greek: Ἄκτιον) was a town on a promontory in ancient Acarnania at the entrance of the Ambraciot Gulf, off which Octavian gained his celebrated victory, the Battle of Actium, over Antony and Cleopatra, on September 2, 31 BCE.

A map showing the Battle of Actium.

History edit

Battle of Actium by Laureys a Castro, 1672. Note anachronisms.

Actium belonged originally to the Corinthian colonists of Anactorium, who probably founded the sanctuary of Apollo Actius.[1][2] This temple was of great antiquity. In the 3rd century BCE it fell to the Acarnanians, who subsequently held their religious summits there.

There was also an ancient festival named Actia, celebrated here in honour of the god. Augustus after his victory enlarged the temple, and revived the ancient festival, which was henceforth celebrated once in five years (πενταετηρίς, ludi quinquennales), with musical and gymnastic contests, and horse races.[3] We learn from a Greek inscription found on the site of Actium, and which is probably prior to the time of Augustus, that the chief priest of the temple was called Ἱεραπόλος, and that his name was employed in official documents, like that of the first Archon at Athens, to mark the date.[4] Strabo says that the temple was situated on an eminence, and that below was a plain with a grove of trees, and a dock-yard;[5] and in another passage he describes the harbour as situated outside of the gulf.[6] On the opposite coast of Epirus, Augustus founded the city of Nicopolis in honour of his victory. After the foundation of Nicopolis, a few buildings sprang up around the temple, and it served as a kind of suburb to Nicopolis.

Archaeology edit

On October 8, 1980, the Greek Ministry of Transport and Communications reported that shipwrecks from the Battle of Actium had been located at Actium near the entrance to the Ambracan Gulf.[7]

In Summer 2009, archaeologists discovered the ruins of the Temple of Apollo and found two statue heads, one of Apollo, one of Artemis (Diana).

See also edit

38°57′11″N 20°46′05″E / 38.953°N 20.768°E / 38.953; 20.768

References edit

  1. ^ E. Kristen: "The Origins of the first inhabitants of Nicopolis", Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Nicopolis, 1984
  2. ^ Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Vol. 1.29.
  3. ^ Dio Cassius 51.1; Suetonius Aug. 18.
  4. ^ August Böckh, Corpus Inscript. No. 1793.
  5. ^ Strabo. Geographica. Vol. p. 325. Page numbers refer to those of Isaac Casaubon's edition.
  6. ^ Strabo. Geographica. Vol. p. 451. Page numbers refer to those of Isaac Casaubon's edition.
  7. ^ "Greece Reports Finding Wrecks Of Romans Ships— Buried Vessels Are Linked to the Battle of Actium", by Paul Anastasi, The New York Times, October 8, 1980, pA3

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Actium". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.

External links edit

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Actium" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.