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Sunday, August 19, 2007 -- 7:33 pm

I've been reading Ronald Syme's fascinating The Roman Revolution and stumbled upon the interesting historical wrinkle. Implicit in Syme's thesis, of course, is that Octavianus was a master propagandist and, like all victors, was responsible for the somewhat sympathetic historical accounts that followed. Toward the end of Chapter 19, which breezes through Antonius and Cleopatra in Egypt, Syme points out that although Cleopatra certainly had the ability to orchestrate a resurgence of Egyptian imperial aspirations, it was highly unlikely that she had any intention of challenging Rome in this area. Yet it appears (and Syme would certainly know better than I) that Octavianus planted the popular belief that Cleopatra was planning an attack on Rome as a pretext for the his move against her and Antonius. A textbook could be composed on the basis of such incidents; ask me after I've had another decade to collect material.

But one of the reasons why this caught my attention is because of stories circulating this weekend that some conservative groups actually believe that certain militant religious groups abroad plan to invade and conquer the United States and impose their own legal code on an unwilling populace. Doesn't seem that the methods have changed all that much. Octavianus, too, said that everything he did was in the name of freedom.