The names of history's most famous battles still ring in our ears today, their influence immediately understood by all. Marathon lent its name to the world's most famous race, but it also preserved Western civilization during the First Persian War. Saratoga, won by one of the colonists' most renowned war heroes before he became his nation's most vile traitor. Hastings ensured the Normans' success in England and changed the course of British history. Waterloo, which marked the reshaping of the European continent and Napoleon's doom, has now become part of the English lexicon. In Charles River Editors' Greatest Battles in History series, listeners can get caught up to speed on history's greatest battles in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
Every era has watershed moments that shape the arc of history, and for Ancient Rome, few were as decisive or monumental as the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C. The battle's importance is understandable given the stakes and people involved; Actium pitted the joint navies of Cleopatra and Mark Antony against the battle fleet of Octavian. In many ways, this climactic battle was the culmination of a years-long power struggle between the heirs of the assassinated Julius Caesar, with Octavian being his legally appointed heir and Antony being his longtime lieutenant and trusted advisor. Antony had even taken Caesar's Egyptian mistress as his own.