The 2019 Ronald Syme lecture was presented by Professor Alan Bowman and introduced by Sir Tim Hitchens.
Alexandria was for many centuries, the largest and most important city in the eastern Mediterranean. This lecture explores how Rome tried to ensure its political stability which was crucial for its military control and economic interests in the east. This involved direct and indirect management by the imperial house of its role as the conduit through which the wealth of Egypt and the eastern luxury goods reached the Mediterranean and Italy. At the same time, the complex social and cultural character of its population changed and developed a profile distinct from the earlier period under the Ptolemies, turning it into a 'world-capital' which attracted the presence and influence of elites from Rome and the wider empire.