Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was Octavian's most effective general. He led the armies that gave Octavian the victories he needed to bolster his political position and eventually become the first Roman emperor, Augustus.
Agrippa was born in 56 BC and was a friend of Octavian from childhood. He grew to become a capable military leader, winning battles on both land and sea. In 36 BC, he defeated and destroyed the fleet of Sextus Pompey in a battle off Naulochus. Sextus Pompey was a son of Pompey the Great who had turned to piracy and rebellion against the ruling Second Triumvirate.
Agrippa's most famous victory was won at the Battle of Actium, where he defeated the combined forces of Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Marc Antony. Antony was Octavian's only remaining rival to overcome before becoming the most powerful man in the Roman world.
Octavian was given sweeping new powers to run the government and the title of Augustus by the Roman Senate in 27 BC. Although Octavian was in name simply First Citizen (Princeps) he was in fact Rome's first emperor. Although the high office was not intended to be hereditary, Augustus married Agrippa to his daughter Julia and made it clear that Agrippa was to succeed him on the throne. All this preparation came to nought when Agrippa died in 12 BC. Although Agrippa was never officially an emperor nor did he ever lay any claim to power by having himself proclaimed imperator, coins were nevertheless struck in his name. These include a gold aureus and a silver denarius which are both quite rare and expensive. Several fairly common copper asses also exist, and they are quite popular amongst collectors today because of their historical connection with this famous Roman general and victor of Actium.
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