Guess you overlooked the “military note” part, Octavian was a master politician, but as soldier and general he wasn’t worth a damn, Octavian drove Antony to Actium and Agrippa won it, that’s the scheme they always employed from Rufus’ death to Agrippa’s death, Octavian plans, Agrippa executes, but he’s given free rein to execute as he best sees fit. Agrippa wasn’t a mere tool in Octavian’s hands, they were friends, partners, and while not formally equals, it can’t be denied that Agrippa was almost an equal in effective power, he had the imperium and the tribunicia potestas, all he lacked were the trappings of power, and that was fine with him, he always saw himself as a soldier first and foremost, and indeed he was the best one born during the first century BCE.
Grant was better than Lee strictly BECAUSE Grant could effectively coordinate the actions of dozens of generals UNDER his command. He was able to discern the talents and shortcomings of each and to make effective use of their strengths while limiting the damage caused by their faults.
In my book that makes him a far greater general- regardless of any other metric.
I argue that Octavian understood his own limitations. And he was able to asses the abilities of those he used to achieve his goals.
I argue that Octavian placed Agrippa in that role thinking it was his best chance for winning that battle- But ALSO because he knew full well that Agrippa was disposable to his overall plan... that is- Octavian knew that Agrippa was not only good, but also popular- and that even if Antony WON, Octavian could use the death of Agrippa to whip up even More roman support for going after Antony.
People who are in thrall to militarism always place far more emphasis on the importance of a single battle than is actually deserved or rational.
There is No WAY Cleopatra and Antony could have prevailed Against Octavian. He out-maneuvered them and every other ambitious man in Rome from the day Caesar died.
The greatest general is NOT the guy who's the best on the field of a given battle- he's the guy who still wins the war no matter what happens on the field of battle, because he truly understands the actual role of military force.
Agrippa was better at Battle than Octavian, and Antony. But Octavian was actually far better at waging war.