It may be that we will find out that Rome did not actually conquer Egypt, but the Ptolemies conquered Rome by subverting its Republican ideals and establishing a Ptolemy as dictatorship. At the very least, the Ptolemies intermarried with the leading family of Rome, the Claudians. At the most, Ptolemies and Claudians were one and the same, or became such very soon after the conquest of Alexander the Great.
I don't place much stock in claims of descent from Heracles and other heros. Every high-born person could make such a claim. However, the case has been made here that the so-called "Heraclid" Temenos was one and the same as Tarquin the Elder of Rome. If Caesar and Antony were claiming descent from Heracles-Temenos then they were all but declaring themselves to be Ptolemies (who claimed descent or at least inheritance from Alexander the Great of the line of Temenos)!
Perhaps as Tim says, everything has been leading up to the conclusion that Julius Caesar was a Ptolemy (such as Ptolemy of Cyprus). Certainly, his successor Antony had no qualms about ruling as a Ptolemy. I suppose neither did Octavian, but with him kingship had at last been carried away from Egypt to Italy. The ruling family itself had not been supplanted, even as it had not in previous transfers from one capital city to another, that is, from Thebes in Egypt to Ninevah to Babylon to Persia, back to Alexandria in Egypt, and finally to Rome.
Your hunch is right on target. Rome was an open city, and it valued wealth above all else. All one had to do to achieve status in Rome was to demonstrate wealth in a census. One could also use wealth to buy a popular election.
Establishment of the Republic would not have eliminated the influence of Eastern royalty in Rome. The Ptolemies and Seleucids no doubt maintained residences in Rome and held citizenship there with the most elite patrician and senatorial status. It was perhaps inevitable that when disputes arose between Ptolemies and Seleucids, Roman military forces would be brought in to decide those disputes. It was perhaps also inevitable that a Ptolemy or Seleucid would eventually gain control over the Roman military and use it to seize absolute power in Rome even as they possessed it outside Rome in the East.
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