A Brief History of Ancient Rome
D. Brendan Nagle

 

Contents

 

1. The Challenge of Roman History  1

1. Why Rome?  1

Some Answers  1

2. What Do We Know About Rome and How Do We Know It?  2

Sources  2

Inscriptions   4

Coins  5

Archaeology  6

 

2. Rome in Context  10

1. Roman Borrowing  10

2. The Mediterranean Environment  11

Quicker, Cheaper, Easier  12

Diversity and Dominance  12

Central Place Location: Logistics  13

3. The Roman Paradox: An Empire Without a Heartland  14

4. Climate(s) and the “Mediterranean Triad”  14

The Mediterranean Triad  15

Food, Civilization, and Barbarism  16

5. The Economy  16

Survival: Cultivate a Little of Everything  17

Slaves  18

Risky Behavior: Monoculture and Famine  18

Insurance through Networks  19

 

3. Early Rome  20

1. The Warlike Mediterranean  20

2. Rome’s Lake: The Western Mediterranean   21

The Economy of the Western Mediterranean  23

Italy: Geography and History   24

The Peoples of Italy: A Cultural, Polyglot Mosaic   27

The Etruscans  28

Etruscan Culture’s Legacy to Rome   29

3. The Latins and Early Rome  31

The Hills of Rome   31

The Founders of Rome: The Historiographic Challenge   31

The Greek Matrix   33

Greek or Trojan Founders?   33

The Kings of Rome   34

3. The Republic  34

Expulsion of the Kings   34

Dangerous Legends  36

The Patrician State  36

The Plebeian State  39

Rome’s First Law Code: The Twelve Tables   40

5. The Patrician-Plebeian State   41

Access to Political Office   41

Appius Claudius Caecus   42

The Lex Hortensia   43

Summary and Conclusion  43

6. The Social and Political Achievements of Early Rome:An Analysis   44

Why Early Rome was Successful: The Polis  44

Roman Exceptionality?  45

Study Questions   46

 

4. Building an Empire  47

1. The Growth of Rome in Italy   47

A Challenging Environment  47

Rome and the Latins   48

The New Army   51

The End of the Latin League: A Pivotal Event   53

Techniques of Incorporation  54

The Samnite Wars   56

Tarentum and Pyrrhus   58

2. The Punic Wars: The Conflict with Carthage   60

Carthage and Rome   61

The First Punic War (264–241 b.c.)   62

Strategy: The Problem of Winning Asymmetrical Wars  64

Between the Wars   65

The War with Hannibal (218–201 b.c.)   66

A Final Balance Sheet   69

3. Roman Territorial Expansion after the Hannibalic War  70

Confiscations in Italy   70

Spain   70

4. Macedonia and the East   71

War with Philip V   71

The Seleucid War  73

Decoding Rome’s Intentions   73

5. The End of Corinth and Carthage   75

6. Rome’s Empire: An Analysis  75

Why Nations Rule Other Nations  76

Restraints on Imperial Expansion  76

The Historiography of Roman Imperialism  77

Study Questions  78

 

5. Rome’s Formula for Success  80

1. Legitimate Politics in Rome: Religion’s Role  81

Roman Religiosity  81

True Religion for the Romans: The Pax Deorum  82

Prodigies  83

Priest-Politicians  84

Originality of the Roman Religious System  87

2. The Republic: The Best and the Rest  88

The Challenging of Governing  88

How to Succeed in the Roman Aristocracy: The Ideology of Virtue  89

Roman Honors: The Magistracies  91

The Cursus Honorum: The Race Course of Honors  92

Elections, Legislation, Decision Making  94

Annual Elections  96

Some Advantages of the System  98

The Weakness of the Informal System  99

The Senate  100

The Council of the Plebs      101

3. The Cursus Honorum and the Army   101

The Senate and the Provinces   102

4. The Roman Army and Society   106

Citizen Soldiers   106

The Importance of Allies   106

5. Summary  107

So: Why was Rome so Successful in War?  107

Study Questions  108

 

6. Roman Society  109

1. A Very Peculiar Society  109

Premodern Rome  109

2. Ordo and the Orders  111

The Meaning of Ordo  111

The Equestrian Ordo   112

The Senatorial Ordo  112

3. The Household: The Foundation of the Roman State  116

The Household as State  117

What Made Up A Roman Household: Things  118

What Made up a Household: Persons  121

Wives and Dowries   124

Household Governance  126

Sacral Headship  127

Personal and Property Headship  129

The Functional Aspects of Patria Potestas  130

Other Household Possessions: Political, Social and Cultural Capital  131

4. Summary  133

5. An Estimate of Roman Society: Defending the Indefensible?   134

Consistency   134

Contributing Their Fair Share   135

Study Questions  136

 

7. The Transformation of the Roman Republic: The Old Order Fades  137

1. Shortcomings of the System   137

City-State Assumptions   137

Culturally Backward Romans   139

2. The Transformation   139

Infrastructure Investment   139

Cash-Crop Farming   141

3. What Sparked All This? Rome’s Economic Revolution  143

Entry into the Common Market  143

The Transition from Loot to Taxation  146

4. Cultural Changes: Rome and Greece   149

Public Opinion and the Need to Communicate   149

Historiography   149

Beginnings of the Theater   150

Religion   152

5. New Classes Emerge   153

Slaves: Numbers and Roles   153

Equestrians and Publicans   154

The Non-elite   155

6. The Gracchan Crisis: The Social and Political Context   157

Discontent in the Army   157

The Secret Ballot   157

Social Bonds Dissolve   159

Tiberius Gracchus: The Emergence of Popular Politics   159

Elite Reformers   160

The Gracchan Theory   160

The Reform Platform   161

Political Failure   162

Gaius Gracchus   162

From Booty to Taxation  163

Another Assassination  164

7. What Went Wrong: An Analysis  165

Study Questions  166

 

8. The Fall of the Republic: From the Gracchi to Augustus  167

1. The Great Conundrum   168

Decline into Oligarchy  168

The Reforms of Marius   169

The African and German Wars   170

The Veterans and Politics: A New Paradigm  172

The Social War   173

Citizenship Issue Resolved—Partially  175

2. The Dynasts: The Engineers of the Fall of the Republic  175

Sulla   175

Pompey   177

A Dangerous Alliance: Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar   177

Clodius and His Gangs   179

Rome’s Heterogeneity   179

The Genius of Clodius   179

Mutinies: The Threat from the Army   180

Mutinies: A New Pattern   181

3. The Civil Wars   182

Caesar  182

Caesar’s Reforms   182

The Legacy of Caesar   183

4. The Cultural Revolution   184

The Luxury Villa   185

Literature and Society: The Challenge of Creating a Vernacular
     Literature  
186

Rhetoric, Pamphlets and Books   187

Antiquarianism   190

Poetry and the Ideals of Public Service   190

5. The Fall of the Republic: A Summary  193

Explanations   194

Integrating the New Roman Society  196

Study Questions   197

 

9. The Roman World from Augustus to the Third-Century Crisis  198

1. The Reforms of Augustus  198

The Army, the Senate, and the People  198

First: Constitutional Issues  199

Citizenship Transformed  200

Religious and Social Reform  201

Religious Headship  202

Augustus’ Cultural Program  203

Augustus’ Art and Building Program  204

Maintaining Order in the Capital  205

The Administration of the City  206

The Succession  206

2. Rounding out the Empire  208

The Julio-Claudians  208

The Frontiers  208

Tiberius and Caligula  209

Claudius  209

Nero: The Last of the Julio Claudians  209

3. The Flavians and the Five “Good Emperors”  212

A New Imperial Image  212

Marcus Aurelius  215

Frontier Developments: An Insoluble Dilemma  215

4. The Severan Emperors  216

A Repeat of a.d. 69  216

A New Dynasty from Africa  217

Septimius’ Advice to His Sons  217

The Severan Dynasty and Rome  218

Study Questions  218

 

10. The Roman Peace  220

1. A Tendency to Anarchy  220

The Cement of Empire: A Cost-Benefit Analysis  220

Distance and Time: The Secret Enemies of the Roman Peace  221

Few Romans  223

Cultural Pluralism and Cultural Unity  223

2. Containing Anarchy  224

The Imperial Office  224

The Metanarrative of the Roman Empire  225

An Under-Administered Empire: A Libertarian’s Paradise  226

Apex of the Social Pyramid: The Senate  227

Social Reproduction: Education  230

Culture, the Masses, and Daily Life  232

3. Urban Life, the Economy and Romanization  234

The Self-governing Cities of the Empire  234

Euergetism  235

Collegia: Status for Everyone  238

Freedmen and Augustales: Status among Former Slaves  239

4. The Army and the Defense of the Empire  239

The Frontiers  239

Size  240

The Genius of the Roman Military  240

Recruitment and Conditions of Service  242

5. An Unsolved Problem: The North  243

6. Maintaining the Peace: Consent, Custom, Coercion  244

Amphitheaters: What Were They For?  245

Study Questions  246

 

11. Religions of the Empire  248

1. Honoring the Gods  248

The Uses of Amusement  248

2. Religions of the Empire  252

Regulating Diversity  252

3. Innovative Religions  254

Monotheism  254

Christianity  257

Rabbinic Judaism  261

4. Philosophy: How to Live Well  262

The Moral Philosophers  262

Philosophy for the Masses  263

Study Questions  263

 

12. The Empire From the Third Century Crisis to Justinian  265

1. The Third Century Crisis  265

Imperial Security: A Fine Balance  266

The Nature of the Crisis  268

2. Gradual Recovery  270

Diocletian and Constantine  270

Civil War and the Victory of Constantine  273

Constantius II and Julian  274

3. Society in the Late Empire  274

The Senate in the Late Empire  274

The Western Aristocracy  25

The Disappearance of the Decurions  275

The Rise of Peasant Serfdom  276

The Sacralization of Court and Emperor  276

4. The Army, the Empire, and the Barbarians  277

The Mobile Reserve  277

Recruitment  278

5. The Collapse of the Western Empire   279

Rome Sacked  281

The Rise of the German Kingdoms  281

What Kind of Invaders?  282

Some Thoughts on the Fall of the Western Empire  286

6. The Rise of the Byzantine Empire  287

What Made Byzantium Successful  287

Justinian and the Promulgation of the Code  288

Byzantine Culture  288

7. The Slavs and Eastern Europe  289

Study Questions  289

 

13. The Transformation of the Empire  291

1. History Moves Northward and Eastward   291

The Frontiers  291

2. The Transformation of the Classical Tradition   292

New Men and the Classics  293

Christianity and the Classical Tradition  294

3. The Empire and the Church Come to Terms  294

The Democratization of Excellence  294

Religious Enthusiasts: A Problem for the Authorities   297

Self-Realization: Pagan and Christian Ways   298

Faith and Reason   299

4. The Christian Way of Life   301

The Liturgy: The Actualization of Sacred History   301

The Visual Expression of the New Union   303

Society and the Church   305

5. Civilizing the Barbarians   309

The Fundamental Problem  309

Christians and Barbarians   310

6. Diverging Beliefs  311

Theological Complications and Regional Variations   312

Study Questions  313

 

14. Late Antiquity: The Monotheistic Revolution  315

1. Revolutionary Monotheism  315

The Civic Religions of the Empire  315

2. The Cultural Background  317

The Arabs: A People in Between   317

3. Islam  318

Muhammad   318

Islamic Beliefs   319

The Expansion of Islam   322

4. “The Way:” Social Cohesion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam  324

Judaism and the Jewish Way  324

Christianity and the Christian Way  326

The Muslim Way  327

5. Greco-Roman Legacies   329

East and West  329

6. Epilogue   332

Old Barriers Fall   332

East and West: A Cultural Dialogue   333

Study Questions   333

 

Suggested Readings  335

Index  341

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