Under Fraser Nelson, the Spectator has been much less clasically oriented than it had been under his predecessor, but there is a nice piece in this week's issue by Roderick Conway Morris ahead of the Moi, Auguste, Empereur de Rome exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris.
Mark Antony sought contemptuously to dismiss the upstart — small in stature, with sandy hair, bad teeth and delicate health — addressing him as ‘you, boy, who owes everything to your name’. But Octavian bided his time, and having disposed of his other rivals, this ‘boy’ provoked a war with Antony, defeated him at Actium in 31 BC, drove him and his lover Cleopatra to suicide, and annexed Egypt as a personal fiefdom. With the wealth of Egypt and other provinces now pouring into his own coffers, he became by far the richest man in the Empire. In Rome itself he created a staggering dependency culture by paying out of his own pocket for the regular corn-dole, with additional periodic distributions of wine and oil, for a quarter of a million plebs, thus guaranteeing their perpetual devotion.
It is a very good read.