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Siege of Methymne, 406 BC
The siege of Methymne (406 BC) was a second success for the Peloponnesian fleet commanded by Callicratidas, and saw the loss of a second Athenian stronghold on the coast of Asia Minor.
Callicratidas had been appointed to replace the popular commander Lysander, and had not been greeted with any enthusiasm by his new fleet. He eventually managed to take command of the fleet, which now contained 140 ships, including fifty newly arrived from Allied states. His first move was to capture the fortress of Delphinium on Chios, and he then moved on to attack the Athenian stronghold of Methymne on Lesbos.
This city was held by a stronger Athenian garrison than Delphinium, and held out against a number of assaults. According to Diodorus Siculus the city fell after some of its inhabitants betrayed it to the Peloponnesians, although Callicratidas is described as having broken inside the walls. Xenophon doesn't mention the treachery and instead has the city fall to an assault, although this could have been aided by unmentioned help from within the city.
Callicratidas behaved generously after the fall of the city. Often during the Great Peloponnesian War the entire population of a city was sold into slavery after a storm, but on this occasion only the captured Athenians and existing slaves were sold. Other free-born captives were freed, and control of the city was returned to its inhabitants.
In the aftermath of this success the Peloponnesian fleet nearly intercepted an Athenian fleet under Conon. Nearly half of the Athenian fleet was lost, but the remaining ships managed to escape into Mytilene, where it was blockaded by Callicratidas.
While many of the tyrants on this list were good rulers, Dionysius more than lived up to the version of âtyrant&rsquo we&rsquore aware of today. According to ancient historians, he was one of the cruellest and most vindictive rulers in the ancient world. Also known as Dionysius, the Elder, he was born sometime between 432 and 430 BC. He began his career as a clerk in a public office but soon made a name for himself in the war against Carthage in 409 BC. Dionysius was elected supreme military commander in 406 BC and used his position to seize power with the aid of Greek mercenaries.
It didn&rsquot take him long to show his tyrannical tendencies. He faked an assassination attempt to receive increased protection. Dionysius initially had 600 bodyguards but increased the number to 1,000. He faced rebellions among those opposed to his illegitimate rule, but strangely enough, he enjoyed positive relations with Sparta. This is odd because the city state of Sparta was historically one of the most opposed to tyranny.
Dionysius subdued several Greek city states in eastern Sicily then he started a war with Carthage for control of Sicily. After relying on Greek mercenaries for a few years, Dionysius embarked upon a complex program that involved creating weaponry, warships and siege engines in 399 BC. His investment paid off within a few years as he used his new war machine to defeat Carthage at Motya in 396 BC. The battle included the use of the first artillery machines in recorded history catapults powered by mechanical tension.
However, the Carthaginians launched a successful counteroffensive. At one stage, they even managed to put Syracuse under siege. The Syracusans caught a lucky break when the Carthaginian army was decimated by plague. Dionysius defeated his enemy and negotiated an advantageous treaty in 392 BC. Syracuse defeated the Italiote League in 389 BC, and two years later, it captured Rhegium which gave it control of southern Italy the tyrant sold the inhabitants as slaves. Dionysius renewed hostilities with Carthage in 383 BC but suffered a decisive defeat at Cronium in 378 BC and had to sign a peace treaty.
Overall, despite being a military innovator, Dionysius&rsquo protracted wars ultimately weakened the Syracusan position in Sicily. He started yet another war with Carthage in 368 BC, but this time, he didn&rsquot live to see the end of it. There are different versions of Dionysius&rsquo death in 367 BC. According to one tale, he drank himself to death. However, others suggest that his son instructed physicians to poison the tyrant.
Ancient History of Massage Therapy
The painting above (dated to around 2300 BC) is quite possibly the very first depiction of foot and hand massage. It was found in Egypt inside the Tomb of Ankhmahor (aka "The Tomb of the Physician").
In the hieroglyphic captions, both clients plead: "Please Do Not Hurt Me!", while both practitioners state: "I Will Act Only So That You Praise Me!".
A reference to prenatal massage can be found in the famous Egyptian Kahun Medical Papyrus (dated 1800 BC):
"Examination of a woman aching in her legs and her calves after walking. You should treat it with a massage of her legs and calves with mud until she is well."
Depictions of the Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC) show the soldiers of Ramesses II receiving a much needed massage treatment following their long march.
The Roman Emperor Augustus (63 BC to 14 AD) complained about Mark Antony's devotion to Cleopatra by noting "he even massages her feet at dinner parties".
A Health Crisis
The description of the plague immediately follows on from Thucydides’ renowned account of Pericles’ Funeral Oration (it is important that Pericles died of the plague in 429 BC, whereas Thucydides caught it but survived).
Thucydides gives a general account of the early stages of the plague – with likely origins in North Africa, its spread in the wider regions of Athens, the struggles of the doctors to deal with it, and the high mortality rate of the doctors themselves.
Nothing seemed to ameliorate the crisis – not medical knowledge or other forms of learning, nor prayers or oracles. Indeed “in the end people were so overcome by their sufferings that they paid no further attention to such things”.
The origins of the Peloponnesian War lay in the growing wealth and power of Athens and the fear and resentment that this engendered in other Greek city-states. After the defeat of the Persian invasion of Greece in 480-479 BC, Athens assumed leadership of an alliance of city-states around the Aegean, the Delian League. The original purpose of the league was to fight the invasion of the Persians, but it turned into an informal Athenian empire with the other league members providing troops and tribute for Athens to use as it wished. Cities that rebelled were ruthlessly crushed by Athenian military action. The wealth extracted from the league during this period underpinned the Golden Age of Athens under the leadership of Pericles, and the Athenian statesman believed that the interests of the city lay in developing trade around the Mediterranean. The Spartans, traditionally acknowledged as the leading military power in Greece, were affronted by the rise of Athens and turned the Peloponnesian League of city-states which they led into a counter-balance to Athenian power.
The fragmentation of the Greek world into independent city-states presented many opportunities for conflict - disputes over allegiance, territorial boundaries, and affronts to honor. Around 460 BC, a clutch of such issues brought a drift to war. Relations between Athens and Sparta were embittered by an exchange of insults over the Athenians' role in helping the Spartans suppress an uprising of helots (serfs or slaves). The city-state of Megara revolted against its overlord, Corinth, a member of the Spartan-led Peloponnesian League Athens backed Megara. Thebes aspired to leadership of the cities of Boeotia, a role denied it by Athens the Spartans backed Theban aspirations. After a series of skirmishes and campaigns, the Athenians and Spartans agreed a Thirty Years' Peace in 445 BC. It lasted less than half that time.
In 435 BC, Corinth faced a revolt by its colony Corcyra (Corfu). The Athenians backed the Corcyrians and sent a force of triremes to prevent the Corinthians from re-imposing their rule. Corinth appealed to the Peloponnesian League for support and in 432 BC Sparta declared war on Athens. Fighting began the following year. Pericles devised a strategy based upon the naval power of Athens and the Delian League allies. Withdrawing within the walls of their city, the Athenians would survive sustained by supplies brought in by sea, while using their fleet to raid the shipping and coasts of the Peloponnesian League states. Five times the Spartans rampaged through the territory around Athens, but without decisive effect. The Athenians made good use of their naval strength by establishing a base at the town of Pylos on the Peloponnesian coast, from which they raided Spartan territory and encouraged revolt among the Spartan helots. When the Spartans attacked the Pylos garrison in 425 BC they were outmaneuvered by Athenian sea and land forces and defeated. The Athenians, on the other hand, were beaten badly by Sparta's allies, the Theban-led Boeotians, at Delium in 424 BC, a reminder of their weakness on land. The warfare was characterized by the similarity between the opposing sides, which fought with essentially the same equipment and tactics. The core of the rival armies was the heavy infantry hoplite, a citizen-soldier fighting in a tight-knit formation, the phalanx. The hoplites were supported by large numbers of skirmishers, the peltasts, men of lower social status who used missile weapons - bows, slingshots, and javelins. Once on enemy territory, any army would plunder and lay waste at will. Campaigns were short because part-time soldiers needed to return to their farms. A fleet was far more expensive to maintain than an army, and made heavy demands on manpower. A trireme required a crew of 200, most of them experienced oarsmen, although they were typically lower class citizens rather than hoplites. The naval dominance of Athens depended on its superior financial resources and its skilled population of seafarers and boat-builders. As on land, there were no adequate supply arrangements, triremes beaching regularly to forage or buy food from coastal towns. Sea battles were ramming contests decided by dexterity of maneuver.
The first round of the Peloponnesian War came to an end in 422 BC, after the chief war leaders on the opposing sides, the Spartan general Brasidas and the Athenian demagogue Cleon, were both killed while campaigning in Thrace. Despite a resultant peace agreement made the following year, skirmishes continued uninterrupted and a full-scale battle was fought at Mantinea, north of Sparta, in 418 BC - a Spartan victory that confirmed the supremacy of their hoplites. At this point the Athenians extended the war into a new theater, with disastrous consequences. In 415 BC, they sent an expedition to Sicily, seeking to defeat the dominant city of Syracuse and bring the island into their empire. Supported by a relatively small Spartan force under Gylippus, the Syracusans resisted an Athenian siege for two years. Athens poured in more troops, but by 413 BC it was they who were trapped, their fleet blockaded in Syracuse harbor. After a failed breakout attempt ended in the destruction of the majority of their warships, the Athenians vainly tried to escape overland. Harassed by cavalry and light troops with bows and javelins, the remnants of the expeditionary force surrendered, ending their lives as slaves laboring in Sicilian stone quarries.
This comprehensive Athenian disaster encouraged the Spartans. They made an alliance with Persia, which provided funding to build a fleet that could compete for naval supremacy. Athens was in trouble, riven by political disputes and unable to make good for loss of experienced oarsmen and sailors at Syracuse. The Athenians achieved a last naval victory at the Battle of Arginusae in 406 BC, but Sparta was more readily able to make good its heavy losses than Athens its relatively light number. Athens was utterly dependent for food supplies on food imported from the Black Sea and the war came finally to focus on Spartan efforts to sever that lifeline by winning control of the Hellespont. Under Lysander, the Spartan fleet seized the straits and, at the Battle of Aegospotami, crushed an Athenian fleet sent to win them back. Athens surrendered in 404 BC.
A Condensed History of Canada’s Colonial Cops
“The myth of the RCMP is that they came to protect us from
the whisky traders and bad guys. They came to protect the conqueror’s
property and they still protect the conqueror’s property.”
— Maria Campbell, 1989
Canada was only six years old as a nation-state when it established the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1873. This original name for what would become the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mountain Police) outlined a colonial purpose, as the Northwest was not yet fully part of Canada at this time. The territory had been fraudulently purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) three years earlier and remained largely under the effective control of Indigenous nations such as the Métis, Cree, Anishinaabe, Dene, and Nakota.
Indigenous effective control ran contrary to all fraudulent claims to the territory by Canada, since the HBC had never purchased the land from Indigenous peoples in the first place in order to legitimately sell it to anyone — the Canadian/British military had to be sent to Red River (Winnipeg) in 1870 to remove the Métis-led provisional government that had been established there the year before.
Conventional Canadian mythology maintains that the RCMP was created to protect Indigenous people from marauding Americans at Cypress Hills. But even this whitewashed story underlines the force’s role in expanding and maintaining the borders of Canada while facilitating the development of infrastructure such as the Canadian Pacific Railway across Indigenous lands by whatever means necessary, from forcibly relocating Indigenous people to breaking workers’ strikes.
In reality, Canada did not seek to protect Indigenous people but to protect itself and settler corporate interests from further Indigenous resistance that would occur if settlers were allowed to run amok and Indigenous peoples decided to ally themselves with anyone other than Canada. Such resistance had already taken place at Red River and would soon raise its head again in the Northwest Resistance of 1885 in what is now called Saskatchewan.
Canada also desperately needed a paramilitary police organization to enforce its new oppressive laws, the Dominion Lands Act of 1872 and the Gradual Enfranchisement Act of 1869 (later updated as the Indian Act in 1876), which were designed to control Indigenous peoples and redistribute their lands to settlers, in violation of the Numbered Treaties.
In 1874, Canadian Minister of Justice A. A. Dorion admitted that the RCMP’s mission was in part to “give confidence to peaceable Indians and intending settlers.” The Prime Minister of Canada himself, John A. Macdonald, confirmed in 1884 that “the business of the Mounted Police is principally to keep peace between Whitemen + Indians.”
The RCMP even reprinted a Prince Albert Daily Herald article in its own RCMP Quarterly magazine in 1961 that claimed Métis leader Louis Riel was “mainly responsible for the unsettled conditions which led to the founding of the Force.”
The RCMP’s first full-scale operation was launched in 1885 against the Métis and Cree resistance in what is now Saskatchewan. But this military engagement resulted in several resounding defeats and forced retreats for the RCMP at the hands of Indigenous warriors at the Battles of Duck Lake, Fort Pitt, Fish Creek, Cut Knife, and Frenchman’s Butte, as well as an incident at Battleford where the RCMP simply hid inside its fort as Cree warriors briefly reoccupied the town. The RCMP was so ineffective that it needed to be saved by the Canadian Army (with additional British support and leadership), which eventually was able to defeat the Indigenous resistance, leading to the judicial hangings of Louis Riel and eight Cree and Nakota/Assiniboine men. The site where Riel was hanged is still today used as the RCMP training academy.
The RCMP then began to enforce an illegal pass system on the Prairies that restricted the movements of Indigenous people on and off reserves, to suppress Native cultural traditions such as the Sun Dance, and to apprehend Indigenous children to be forced into residential schools as part of Canada’s (ongoing) assimilation policy.
RCMP commander Sam Steele, a veteran fighter against the Métis and Cree, in 1891 wrote a letter to the police force’s commissioner recommending that Blackfoot bands be barred from participating in the Sun Dance, calling it a “relic of barbarism that should be stamped out,” also claiming that it supposedly incited males to cattle killing and horse stealing.
The RCMP was initially modeled on the British Empire’s Royal Irish Constabulary, and its early ranks even included officers from that force. In 1899, RCMP officers took part in the Second Boer War in South Africa to assist the British Empire. Since then, the RCMP’s overseas occupations have not ceased, with officers currently deployed in Haiti, Mali, Palestine, and Iraq.
On the Prairies and also in Inuit territory in the north, the RCMP was more than just a police force it also occupied many other repressive functions usually thought of today as belonging to other branches of government. In some cases, the RCMP was judge, jury, and executioner.
In Inuit territory, the RCMP killed thousands of sled dogs, a crucial spiritual and practical relation of the Inuit people. As with the purposeful wiping out of the buffalo on the Prairies, Canada meant to deprive the Inuit of their means of subsistence and spiritual/cultural life.
In 1919, during the Winnipeg General Strike, the RCMP opened fire on a crowd of workers, killing two and injuring dozens, helping to crush the strike and win greater significance for the force in the eyes of the capitalist ruling class.
In 1931, the RCMP attacked a demonstration of striking coal miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan, killing three of them. The On To Ottawa Trek of 1935, launched by relief-camp workers in Vancouver, was attacked by the RCMP in Regina, Saskatchewan, resulting in a riot, two deaths, dozens of injuries on both sides, and more than 100 arrests.
The RCMP in 1923 stationed a detachment on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve in Ontario. In response, Chief Deskaheh wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in opposition to what he called the Indian Department’s desire to place and house “Mounted Police with horses upon Indian lands without a colour of justice, right, or cause.”
The following year, Colonel C. E. Morgan, a former colonial administrator in South Africa now stationed on the reserve, along with some 20 RCMP officers raided the council house at Six Nations to remove the traditional confederacy chiefs and replace them with the Indian Act band-council system. In 1959, the RCMP raided and made arrests again when traditionalists reoccupied the council house.
During World War II, in March of 1941, the RCMP began forcing all males of Japanese ancestry above the age of 16 to register with them, several months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Later, the RCMP would engage in intimidation tactics and the removal of families of Japanese ancestry (mostly Canadian citizens) to internment camps, as well as the deportation of families to Japan.
In 1968, RCMP officers arrested dozens of Mohawks at Akwesasne who were blocking the international bridge and border crossing that divides their reserve and wider territory between Canada and the United States, restricting their movements on their own land.
In the wake of the Quebec separatist and workers’ movements of the 1970s, the RCMP was revealed to have engaged in a vast array of criminal activities itself, including office break-ins and even a bombing, which caused RCMP Security Service Corporal Robert Samson to lose fingers and hearing. Seventeen RCMP officers were charged with dozens of criminal offences following a Quebec inquiry.
In 1974, the RCMP clashed with participants in the Native People’s Caravan in front of the parliament buildings in Ottawa. The caravan had started in Vancouver and picked up participants along the way to Ottawa in an attempt to further the Indigenous resistance movement and bring grievances directly to the federal government after armed reoccupations of Cache Creek and Anicinabe Park earlier that same year.
Throughout the 1980s, there was an escalation of RCMP repression of Indigenous resistance across Canada, as for example when dozens were arrested at a blockade by members of the Blood Tribe (Blackfoot) over a reserve land dispute at Cardston, Alberta, in 1980 when 72 people were arrested at Haida Gwaii during logging blockades in 1985 when 27 Lubicon Cree were arrested at roadblocks against oil development in 1988 and through the latter half of the decade when some 250 arrests were made of Innu people who repeatedly reoccupied and shut down the imperialist NATO air base in Labrador whose test flights were disrupting their hunting and the Innu way of life.
The RCMP’s willful negligence in protecting Indigenous people from violent settler attacks was highlighted in this period by two particularly brutal incidents that led to significant court cases and inquiries:
One of these incidents was the failure of the RCMP to properly investigate the murder of a Cree woman, Helen Betty Osborne, by four men, only one of whom was convicted, 17 years after the fact, which led in part to the Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry launched in 1988.
The other case was the murder of Leo LaChance, a Cree man who was shot and killed in 1991 by a Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation member, Carney Nerland, at a gun shop in Saskatchewan, only for it to be revealed at trial that Nerland was also an RCMP informant. Nerland was put in a witness protection program after serving only three years for manslaughter.
In 1993, the Innu at Davis Inlet in Labrador ousted the RCMP and a provincial court judge from their community and prevented their return until 1995. The social-programs coordinator at the community’s rehabilitation center, Prote Poker, told the Canadian Press that suicide rates and intoxicant use went down after the RCMP was evicted. “The feeling of power that people had at that time was overwhelming,” explained Poker. “It felt good.”
In 1995, hundreds of RCMP officers with military armored personnel carriers (authorized by the NDP government) laid siege to Secwepemc sovereigntists at Ts’Peten (Gustafsen Lake) in British Columbia, deploying explosives and firing thousands of rounds against land defenders. The trial of the Ts’Peten defenders revealed a self-proclaimed “smear campaign” by the RCMP, in collaboration with the corporate media.
Tight control and manipulation of the media had become crucial to Canada in the wake of the 1990 Oka Crisis, when Native people across the country blockaded vital economic infrastructure in solidarity with the Mohawks under siege by the army. Canada became determined to try to limit Native solidarity in the future, through both media management and so-called “self-government” agreements with neocolonial Native organizations already funded by the Canadian government.
Throughout the 2000s, the RCMP raided the St’at’imc land-reclamation camp Sutikalh as well as the homes of members of the West Coast Warrior Society and Native Youth Movement. The force also arrested Secwepemc land defenders blocking ski-resort development and Tahltan elders blocking mining and methane-gas exploitation in BC throughout the decade.
Between 1999 and 2001, the RCMP was involved in violently suppressing the fishing rights of Mi’kmaq people at Burnt Church in the Maritimes, despite these rights being confirmed in the historic Peace and Friendship Treaties and then reconfirmed in a Supreme Court decision in 1999.
In 2013, heavily armed RCMP officers attacked Mi’kmaq anti-fracking land defenders at Elsipogtog (near Rexton, New Brunswick), arresting dozens but also losing six police cruisers to fire in the process, a reminder of the defeat that the force first felt when up against the Métis and Cree peoples on the battlefields of the Prairies 128 years earlier.
The RCMP’s harassment of the Colten Boushie family in Saskatchewan in 2016, with Boushie having been the target of deadly settler criminality and violence, reflected the RCMP’s history of underserving Indigenous communities while simultaneously revictimizing Native people, as in the previous Leo LaChance and Helen Betty Osborne cases.
Also in 2016, the RCMP arrested Inuit and Innu people blocking the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador, and were revealed to have launched a cross-Canada surveillance operation entitled “Project Sitka” just a few years earlier in order to build profiles of individuals and to monitor all forms of Indigenous dissent, including completely legal calls for a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Project Sitka was only the latest in the RCMP’s history of surveillance and intimidation operations carried out against Indigenous resistance organizing, from attempts in the 1920s to disrupt the Indian Defense League to intensive monitoring of the Red Power movement in the 1960s and ’70s.
The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released in 2019 detailed RCMP negligence in dealing with the systemic epidemic of violence against Indigenous women and girls, while also relating personal accounts of sexual assaults committed by RCMP officers themselves. The inquiry was the culmination of decades of organizing, such as that of the Indigenous women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who have been marching annually in honor of missing Indigenous women and girls since 1991.
An RCMP officer in Haiti was found by a 2013 U.N. investigation to have engaged in “sexual exploitation” after a Haitian woman filed a complaint of sexual assault against him with the Haitian police. CBC found information confirming that six Canadian officers had committed sexual violations in Haiti but that in Canada there were “meek or, in some cases, no consequences for Canadian officers who violate both the RCMP and the UN’s rules of sexual misconduct while deployed abroad.”
U.N. “peacekeepers” in fact are regularly alleged to have committed sexual assaults against the populations they’re entrusted with protecting around the world, leading to a specific campaign aimed at holding them accountable called Code Blue.
Previously, in 2004, two RCMP officers in Prince George, BC, had been suspended with pay after being accused of buying sex from underage girls, in relation to an investigation of local judge David Ramsay that resulted in him pleading guilty to five charges of breach of trust and sexual assault against Indigenous girls in the area. Constables Joseph Kohut and Justin Harris escaped RCMP disciplinary action on a technicality, because the RCMP took too long to bring forward its case.
In May of 2019, CBC reported on security footage that depicts a Kelowna RCMP officer harassing an Indigenous woman reporting a sexual assault at the local detachment, asking leading and revictimizing questions that Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale would later call “absolutely abhorrent.”
The armed invasion and arrests in Wet’suwet’en territory carried out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) this February that have sparked cross-country Indigenous resistance have been about more than just the enforcement of a court injunction on behalf of a natural-gas pipeline company.
The RCMP may serve as Canada’s federal police force, but in relation to Indigenous peoples it is not so much a domestic policing agency as an occupying foreign army.
In the context of a previous police raid of Wet’suwet’en territory a year ago, the RCMP installed a special remote detachment along the forest-service road that leads to the decade-long-running Unist’ot’en camp and healing center. The police force has continuously set up arbitrary exclusion zones in the area, stopping and arresting Indigenous people and their supporters without cause, as it facilitates the work of the Coastal GasLink pipeline company that is destroying the territory of Wet’suwet’en clans.
Given this history, current acts of police aggression against Indigenous peoples can be seen as part of a colonial continuum, and it becomes clear that only total systemic change can address the structural oppression that Canadian and other settler-state police forces both defend and partake in themselves.
This piece is an edited version of A Concise Chronology of Canada’s Colonial Cops, originally published on December 21, 2019 on M. Gouldhawke’s blog.
2. The Battle of Actium
Credit: Antonio Vassilacchi/Getty Images
In 31 B.C., opposing armadas under Octavian and Marc Antony clashed near the Greek peninsula at Actium. At stake was control of the Roman Republic, which had hung in the balance since the assassination of Julius Caesar some 13 years earlier. Antony and his lover Cleopatra commanded several hundred ships, many of them well-armored war galleys equipped with wooden towers for archers, massive rams and heavy grappling irons. Octavian’s vessels were mostly smaller Liburnian craft capable of greater speed and maneuverability and manned by more experienced crews.
According to the ancient historian Plutarch, the ensuing engagement quickly took on the character of a land battle, with the two sides firing flaming arrows and heaving pots of red-hot pitch and heavy stones at one another’s decks. Antony’s war galleys proved slow and clumsy in the heat of combat, and Octavian’s more nimble Liburnians found success by swarming around the enemy vessels and attacking in numbers. As the battle turned in Octavian’s favor, Cleopatra lost her nerve and ordered her 60 vessels to abandon the fight. A love-struck Marc Antony followed with a few ships of his own, leaving the majority of his forces to be overwhelmed by Octavian’s fleet. The defeat at Actium was the beginning of the end for Antony and Cleopatra, both of whom later committed suicide when Octavian’s forces moved on Egypt. With his main rival defeated, Octavian tightened his grip on Rome, took the honorific name 𠇊ugustus” and ruled for more than 40 years as its first emperor.
4 Pisco Holes
Overshadowed by their famous neighbors the Nazca Lines, few people have heard about the other ancient mystery of Peru. Found in the arid region near Pisco Valley, thousands of cone-shaped holes have been carved into the rocks by unknown hands. Some theorize that the holes used to serve as grain silos or graves of a mysterious people, but despite the fact that some are up to 2 meters (7 ft) deep, they don&rsquot seem to have been used as storage pits for food or bodies. Such a huge graveyard would&rsquove left evidence behind, but not a single tooth or a fragment of an artifact has ever been found in any one of the holes&mdashand there are many.
An estimated 6,900 pits bore into the mountainous terrain in a band about 1.5 kilometers (1 mi) long and 20 meters (65 ft) wide. Some of the holes are precisely lined up with each other, but others are more unevenly spaced.
The reason for carving such labor-intensive structures, estimated to have taken decades to complete, is lost to time. There are some tantalizing clues, however. Satellite pictures have captured what looks like the ruins of an ancient settlement to the east. The holes also come to a sudden end near a spot that some say looks like it was destroyed by an explosion. The ruins and unusual ending of the excavations may be nothing, but they certainly deepen the intrigue of the Pisco Holes.
4. The Year of the Four Emperors
Bust of Vespasian, the man who came out on top after the Year of the Four Emperors (Credit: DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini/Getty Images)
Augustus’ prosperous reign marked the beginning of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, which lasted nearly a century. But with the suicide of the infamous Emperor Nero in A.D. 68, Rome was thrust into a tumultuous period of civil war that saw four different men take the throne in the span of just 18 months. The first contender was Galba, the aging governor of Spain, whom the senate had proclaimed emperor shortly before Nero’s death. His authoritarian nature proved hugely unpopular, however, and he was soon murdered by the Praetorian Guard and replaced by a former ally named Otho.
Unfortunately for Otho, his ascension corresponded with the rise of other would-be rulers. After just three months in power, he was defeated and displaced by Vittelius, a military governor who had been hailed as emperor by his men. Vitellius was a cruel and gluttonous ruler—he supposedly feasted at banquets up to four times a day𠅋ut he wasn’t long for the throne. The armies in Judea had declared their general Vespasian to be emperor, and in the autumn of A.D. 69, they marched on Rome and crushed Vitellius’ defenders in a bloody battle at Cremona. Vitellius was marched half-naked through the city and murdered, and Vespasian was proclaimed the new Caesar. Despite having seized power in brutal fashion, he proved a capable leader and went on to preside over a period of relative stability in Rome.
Final Years and Legacy
Dubbed "Flagellum Dei," Attila invaded northern Italy in 452 but spared the city of Rome due to the diplomacy of Pope Leo I and the rough shape of his own troops. Legend has it that St. Peter and St. Paul appeared to Attila, threatening to strike him dead if he did not settle with Pope Leo I. Attila died the following year, in 453, before he could try once again to take Italy.
Attila left behind a divided family. His appointed successor, his oldest son Ellac, fought with his other sons, Dengizich and Ernakh, over control of their father&aposs empire, which was ultimately divided among them.
Among many memorable quotes, Attila the Hun is remembered for saying of his powerful reign, "There, where I have passed, the grass will never grow gain."