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Battle of Naulochus

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Date: September 3, 36 B.C.
Type of Battle: Naval
Location: Near Messina, Sicily
Countries: Rome vs. Rome
Loser: Sextus Pompey; Victor: Agrippa

The naval Battle of Naulochus was fought on September 3, 36 B.C., between Sextus Pompeius (c. 67-35 B.C.), son of Pompey the Great, and on Octavian's behalf, Agrippa, the competent military leader who would later defeat Mark Antony at the naval Battle of Actium. The Battle of Naulochus was fought at Naulochus, near Messina, Sicily. There were about 300 ships per side. Of the ships of Sextus, only 17 survived the Battle of Naulochus.

Defeated, Sextus Pompeius fled to Asia Minor where he offered his services to the Parthian king. Titius, an officer of Antony, captured Sextus and executed him at Miletus in 35.

In 39, an agreement made at Misenum between Antony, Octavian and Sextus had granted Sextus control of Sardinia, Corsica, and Sicily, as well as the Peloponnese, and a promised consulship in 33. The Peloponnese was not forthcoming and neither Octavian nor Antony wanted to keep the deal.

With piracy in the area as an excuse, Octavian blamed Sextus, and went on the offensive. In 38, Sextus won victories in Cumae and the Straits of Messina. When the Second Triumvirate was renewed in 37, Antony joined Octavian in his anti-Sextus cause. Sextus defeated Octavian off the coast of Sicily the month before the Battle of Naulochus.

The Battle of Naulochus returned Sicily and its grain supply to Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus, who was still part of the Second Triumvirate -- for a short while.

Sources:

Ancient Rome Glossary | Table of Roman Battles

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