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F. F. Bruce

Octavian and Herod

"The growing tension in the Roman Empire between Antony and Cleopatra on the one hand and Octavian on the other came to a head in 31 B.C. at the Battle of Actium, in western Greece, where Antony and Cleopatra were completely defeated. They fled back to Egypt, where both committed suicide next year. Octavian was now undisputed master of the Roman world, and he was the representative of Roman power with whom Herod had to deal for the remainder of his life. Soon after his victory at Actium, Octavian summoned Herod to meet him at Rhodes. Herod went with some trepidation, for it was well known that he had been Antony's friend. He did not attempt to disguise from Octavian his friendship with Antony, but assured him that he would find him as good a friend and ally as Antony had done. Octavian, for his part, recognized how well the interests of Rome would continue to be served in the East if Herod remained as king of the Jews, so Herod was confirmed in his kingdom. He was given back the region round Jericho, which Cleopatra had detached from his kingdom, and he received in addition a number of Greek cities on the Mediterranean coast and on both sides of the Jordan.

In January, 27 B.C., Octavian, having established peace throughout the Roman world, 'handed the republic back to the Senate and people of Rome.' He himself was acclaimed as princeps, chief citizen of the republic, and among other honours was given the name Augustus, by which he was thenceforth known."

F. F. Bruce, "New Testament History" (England: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. 1969) pp. 15-16