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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

Belonged without challenge to the galleys of Rome


The relation of the battle of Actium to this portentous change in the fortunes of Octavius was formally recognized by him on the scene where it took place. Nicopolis, the City of Victory, was founded upon the site of his camp, with the beaks of the captured ships as trophies adorning its forum. The little temple of Apollo on the point of Actium he rebuilt on an imposing scale and instituted there in honor of his victory the "Actian games," which were held thereafter for two hundred years.

After the battle of Actium and the establishment of a powerful Roman empire without a rival in the world, there follows a long period in which the Mediterranean, and indeed all the waterways known to the civilized nations, belonged without challenge to the galleys of Rome. Naval stations were established to assist in the one activity left to ships of war, the pursuit of pirates, but otherwise there was little or nothing to do. And during this long period, indeed, down to the Middle Ages, practically nothing is known of the development in naval types until the emergence of the low, one- or two-banked galley of the wars between the Christian and the Mohammedan. The first definite description we have of warships after the period of Actium comes at the end of the ninth century.

There was some futile naval fighting against the Vandals in the days when Rome was crumbling. Finally, by a curious freak of history, Genseric the Vandal took a fleet out from Carthage against Rome, and swept the Mediterranean. In the year 455, some six centuries after Rome had wreaked her vengeance on Carthage, this Vandal fleet anchored unopposed in the Tiber and landed an army that sacked the imperial city, which had been for so long a period mistress of the world, and had given her name to a great civilization.

During the four centuries in which the _Pax Romana_ rested upon the world, it is easy to conceive of the enormous importance to history and civilization of having sea and river, the known world over, an undisputed highway for the fleets of Rome. Along these routes, even more than along the military roads, traveled the institutions, the arts, the language, the literature, the laws, of one of the greatest civilizations in history. And ruthless as was the destruction of Vandal and Goth in the city itself and in the peninsula, they could not destroy the heritage that had been spread from Britain to the Black Sea and from the Elbe to the upper waters of the Nile.

REFERENCES

HISTORY OF ROME, Theodor Mommsen, tr. by W. P. Dickson, 1867. GENERAL HISTORY, Polybius, transl. by Hampton, 1823. HISTORY OF THE ROMANS UNDER THE EMPIRE, Chas. Merivale (vol. III.), 1866. THE GREATNESS AND DECLINE OF ROME, G. Ferrero, tr. by A. E. Zemmern, 1909. ETUDES SUR L'HISTOIRE MILITAIRE ET MARITIME DES GRECS ET DES ROMAINS, Paul Serre, 1888. FLEETS OF THE FIRST PUNIC WAR, W. W. Tarn, in _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, 1907. HERESIES OF SEA POWER (pp. 40-71), Fred Jane, 1906. INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER ON HISTORY (pp. 15 ff.), A. T. Mahan, 1889. For a complete bibliography of Roman sea power, v. INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER ON THE ROMAN REPUBLIC (Doctoral Dissertation), F. W. Clark, 1915.


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