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Rise of the Roman Empire

The Will to Endure

by Thomas L. Dynneson (Author)
©2020 Monographs XXII, 472 Pages

Summary

Rise of the Roman Empire: The Will to Endure is a daring interpretation of the ways and means that the Roman Empire became the greatest military power of the ancient world, and how the vastness of this empire engulfed the entire Mediterranean world, as well as most of Europe. In the second century BCE, the Greek historian Polybius (200–118 BCE), after arriving in Rome in 168 BCE, asked in his Histories: "How did the Romans succeed in building a world empire in such a short span of time?" This book takes the perspective Polybius’s question was mistaken, in the sense that the formation of the Roman Empire, took a very long time—indeed, centuries. The formation of the Roman Empire began in 390 BCE when the Gauls burned Rome; and even before that time, as this book demonstrates, the kings of Rome were some of the first empire builders.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Part I: The Indo-European Migrations
  • Chapter One The Transfiguration of Myth to History
  • Part II: The Six Constitutional “Pillars”
  • Chapter Two The Comitia Centuriata
  • Chapter Three The Curule Magistrate System
  • Chapter Four The Senate
  • Chapter Five The Evolution of Roman Citizenship
  • Chapter Six Roman Law
  • Chapter Seven The Court System
  • Part III: Rivalries, Wars, Catastrophes, and Rebirth
  • Chapter Eight The “Struggle of the Orders”
  • Chapter Nine “The Ring of Fire”
  • Chapter Ten The Siege of Veii
  • Part IV: The Destruction and Resurrection of Rome
  • Chapter Eleven Camillus: The Roman Sphinx
  • Chapter Twelve The Gallic Destruction of Rome
  • Chapter Thirteen The Resurrection of Rome
  • Part V: The Early Republican Empire
  • Chapter Fourteen The Romans and the Latins
  • Chapter Fifteen Rome and the Samnite Wars
  • Chapter Sixteen Pyrrhus and the Greek City of Tarentum
  • Conclusion
  • Maps
  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
  • Bibliography
  • Index

cover

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

About the author

Thomas L. Dynneson received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in history from Macalaster College. After teaching in the Edina school district in Edina, Minnesota for seven years, he earned his Ph.D. in social science education and anthropology at the University of Colorado. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Education at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

About the book

Rise of the Roman Empire: The Will to Endure is a daring interpretation of the ways and means that the Roman Empire became the greatest military power of the ancient world, and how the vastness of this empire engulfed the entire Mediterranean world, as well as most of Europe. In the second century BCE, the Greek historian Polybius (200–118 BCE), after arriving in Rome in 168 BCE, asked in his Histories: “How did the Romans succeed in building a world empire in such a short span of time?” This book takes the perspective Polybius’s question was mistaken, in the sense that the formation of the Roman Empire, took a very long time—indeed, centuries. The formation of the Roman Empire began in 390 BCE when the Gauls burned Rome; and even before that time, as this book demonstrates, the kings of Rome were some of the first empire builders.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

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Acknowledgements

First and foremost, I am indebted to my wife, Barbara Dynneson, who also served as my reader and editor for this manuscript, although many of my colleagues at UT Permian were stalwart friends who have supported my work over the years, including the administration, faculty, and staff often who have assisted me in many ways over the years. I also am especially indebted to Dr. Daniel Heimmermann, provost of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, and for his support in our efforts to advance the history of the University, as well as his support and expertise in ancient western history. Over the years, my friendship with Professor Ed Schiappa has been constant and enduring. He has been especially helpful in supporting my work related to my attempts to interpret ancient history from a civism perspective, and has recommended my work to many of his students at the University of Minnesota, and more recently as the John F. Burchard Chair of Humanities at MIT. As in the past, The University of Texas library at Austin, and its special librarian Katherine Strickland, provided valuable maps from their Italian map collection related to the fourth century BCE. This author is especially indebted to Meagan Simpson, Acquisition Editor, and Production Department Supervisor, Jackie Pavlovic, and many others at Peter Lang Publishing.

Jeffery Spier, curator of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, provided the back cover image for this work. The title of the image is Warrior on Horseback, and is the work of the 16th century sculptor, Tetrode. The image depicts a warrior on ←ix | x→horseback who is holding a shield with a depiction of Medusa’s head. The theme of this work is intended to represent a myth that was popular in ancient history and is believed to depict the hero, Marcus Curtius. For this author’s purposes, the image is used to depict the warrior-hero, Marcus Furius Camillus. Camillus also was a mythological warrior-hero (an Indo-European ideal) who came to symbolize the ideal Roman commander as suggested by Livy and Caesar Augustus in the first century BCE.

The cover is a painting by Guido Reni in 1614 that was commissioned as a Baroque ceiling fresco. It is a work depicting the goddess, Aurora, and her entourage escorting the chariot of Apollo bringing the light of dawn to the world. The fresco is located in the Casino, or garden room, that is situated opposite to the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi in the city of Rome. The goddess Aurora is associated with the Roman commander, Camillus, and the goddess has her origins in Indo-European mythology, as well as Roman mythology.

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Preface

The focus of this volume is to describe the social, economic, and political forces that gave rise to Roman expansion that led to the formation of the Roman Empire, an empire that eventually came to include the entire Italian peninsula. The question then arises as to whether this expansion and process of empire-building were driven by the forces of destiny, or whether these forces were the product of an evolving strategy directed by leaders in the Roman Senate and its priesthood. (This volume is a sequel to an earlier book entitled Rise of the Early Roman Republic: Reflections on Becoming Roman.) At the same time, the reader is cautioned not to interpret Roman empire building as exclusively a Roman historical phenomenon. In his military history Pax Romana: War Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, Adrian Goldsworthy (2016) provides the reader of Roman history with a warning.

Rome was not invariably aggressive, nor did it provoke every war it fought. Once of the greatest weaknesses of most studies of Roman imperialism is that they tend to see it in isolation, as if everything depended on Roman behaviour and other states were little more than passive victims of imperialist aggression. (p. 54)

In addition to the above warning, it should be noted that, according to this author’s studies of civism, this volume will, to some extent, focus on the role that an acquired Roman culture played in the development of an “eccentric” Roman citizenship that became the mechanism of Roman expansion. (It is this author’s ←xi | xii→core assumption that not all cultures are the same, and that some cultures do not advance cognitive processes that lead to an enlightened society: i.e., Greek and Roman cultures.) Assimilation of Roman culture through the means of gaining Roman citizenship was of equal, if not more, importance in regard to Roman imperialism than was Roman military conquest.

This text is structured to conclude with a “Discussion” as a summary of each chapter, and within this section is a subsection dedicated to Roman civism as it pertained to the topics covered within each chapter. It also is the author’s assumption that these studies explore personal identity as determined by one’s culture, and culture is a product of the demands of social conditions, including political conditions. Culture influences “the life of the mind” and is an important means of shaping the individual’s sense of reality. In the case of Rome, the individual came to the realization that: “I am a Roman, and being a Roman, I am expected to act and to respond to the world in a Roman way. I know what it is expected of me and my relationships with others, which demands that I express my Romaness.”

Civism, or the emergence of the Roman mindset, was the result of the core values that were fundamental to Roman culture, whether tribal Latin culture or a modified emerging urban (or cosmopolitan) culture. The most striking and traditional form of Roman core values was represented in what the Romans termed mos maiorum, or “the wisdom of the elders”. Mos maiorum provided Roman culture and identity with elements of expectations and understandings that gave a sense of stability to Roman society, regardless of its various phases of change and modifications (including changes from a basic agrarian society to a more complex urban society). Although the forces of mos maiorum tended to stabilize Roman culture, they also allowed change, especially as it pertained to assimilation and enculturation. In addition, it related to the adaptation of cultural ways that were being emitted and diffused by Greek culture vis-à-vis the Etruscans. Mainly, these changes arrived from other cultures involved in “the international sea-going trade” that came to influence southern and central Italy.

The teaching of mos maiorum, as it pertained to Roman custom and tradition, was as important as was religion in the shaping of Roman character, identity, and especially the Roman mindset. Its main focus was on ancestry, historical wisdom and manliness (or male character), especially in regard to patriotism. In other words, mos maiorum was a core element of cultural development associated with virtues and values. These virtues and values included: courage, loyalty, honor and service to the state, industry, simplicity, economy, and practical wisdom, but most of all, the “will to endure”. The “will to endure” was a form of rhetoric that the Roman commanders used to inspire the Roman fighting spirit before going into battle. More than idle words, this rhetoric was then emblazoned in the heat of battle ←xii | xiii→by fearless warrior-commanders such as Marcus Furious Camillus, “The Roman Sphinx”. Camillus, whether a mythical invention or a real commander, came to symbolize the ideal battlefield fighting general (a Roman Alexander) that represented Roman aristocratic courage on the battlefield.

Bound up with mos maiorum, was the notion that elite families (families with notable ancestral lines) and the belief that elite aristocracy should control the government. Connected with mos maiorum emerged the notion of an aristocracy based on wealth and military leadership. The leaders of the Roman aristocracy were first and foremost political and military leaders of wealth and landed property. This leadership eventually formed into the upper strata of Roman agricultural society, and they became known as the “fathers” (or patricians). All others outside of these lines came to be called plebeians, or simply “common people”, or people without an “ancestral pedigree”. (Some writers have claimed that the origins of the plebeians were non-Latin tribal peoples that migrated to early Rome, such as the Sabines).

The patricians formed into clans with extended ethnic ties and relationships based on blood kinship, and they also came to dominate the priestly orders. In other words, to an important extent, patricians were both civil and religious leaders, and as such, they controlled the processes of politics and religion. In addition, they maintained their status by marriage according to rights and appropriate bloodlines.

Essentially, there have been two important problems that have plagued scholars in their attempt to understand and interpret the important influences that gave shape and form to Roman culture. In the first instance, early sources (many of which relied on the surviving accounts by Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus) have little actual factual support prior to the fourth and third centuries BCE. These accounts depended on unreliable sources that were comprised of a strange mixture of myth, oral history, and corrupted records. The timeframe prior to 390 BCE consists of many fabrications and inventions, or hearsay and legendary tales.

In the second instance, ancient and modern scholars could not investigate all aspects of Roman culture, specifically because some elements of ancient Roman “hidden culture” were so elusive, and therefore, impossible to investigate. All cultures tend to operate according to some level of a “hidden culture” making the operations of the culture almost impossible to decipher completely. Scholars do not possess the insights needed to unlock many aspects of the secret relationships, which operate somewhat like an “invisible hand”.

An awareness of the “secret” life of the Roman ruling class surfaced at the end of the Italian War, the civil war of 80 BCE, when a Roman tribune perished after revealing the secret name of Rome (see Williamson, 2005, p. 239). This death suggested that a secret world existed in the form of a “hidden” culture within Roman society. This secret world possessed power and influence, and was critical to an ←xiii | xiv→understanding of ancient Roman culture. In addition, it can be assumed that this “hidden culture” was owned and operated by select aristocratic elites. In addition, it can be suggested that the Roman magistrates may have had only partial knowledge of the ebb and flow of its secret power, despite the likely condition that it may have directed their activities and actions.

The idea that Rome may have been established and may have operated politically and militarily, according to such secret influences, tends to complicate one’s ability to gain a complete understanding of ancient Roman history. These “hidden” associations may have operated within the very core of the government (i.e. the Senate) in times of war and peace throughout the ages. Similar “hidden” relationships can be detected in the secret world tribal orders, knightly orders, priestly orders, masonic orders, and even criminal crime syndicate organizations: such “hidden” elements of culture are simply beyond the bounds of scientific investigation.

The priests, and therefore the aristocracy and their children, were an esteemed order as a result of confarreatio marriage (see R. E. Mitchell, 1990, p. 86), or a marriage form by which priests (aristocrats) were married and their children legitimized. This type of marriage also made a way to the priestly orders for aristocratic descendant males, and opened Senate ranking, which advanced the path to political leadership.

These influences helped to create emerging Roman institutions, especially military innovations that were necessary to confront the warring nature of migrating tribal intrusions into the domain of Roman city-state territories. In addition, the forces of assimilation and acculturation were important cultural factors that influenced Roman moral thinking, especially as they were reflected in Roman religion that gave rise to priestly orders and the building of temples and shrines that became characteristic of Roman urban development.

Traditionally and historically it is known that Roman political and social development was transformed according to a pattern, or cycle, that began as a tribal pattern in which mos maiorum depended on a respect for tribal custom and tradition. These cultural values then transitioned in the face of urban development, into a variety of more sophisticated monarchical forms. The monarchical forms of Roman mos maiorum borrowed heavily from “foreign” influences that were derived from Mediterranean sources. They included “the international sea-going trading system” as reflected in the rise and power of a central political authority that was chieftain-based. These diffused cultural influences transitioned into an Etruscan form of rule that in turn included many cultural elements derived from Greek sources. Finally, the monarchical system gave way to a more diverse political form that displaced the monarchy and gave rise to a more advanced urban political form that took the appearance of a power-grab by an emboldened Roman aristocracy.

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The Republican forms, based on a tribal and monarchical foundation, developed a more dispersed system of shared authority that eventually matriculated into a complex military system that contained elements of monarchy and democracy (or a mixed constitutional system), while maintaining a controlling aristocratic oligarchy. The power and authority of this oligarchy were grounded in religious traditions that also became expressed in an emerging legal system of written laws.

Despite this cycle of cultural advancement, the development of a more sophisticated cosmopolitan society, Roman culture (as it related to civism) remained rooted in its Latin tribal past. This Latin past included a means of incorporating surrounding cultures. This included a process of granting a shared form of citizenship that was based on obligations and rights. Contained within this unusual form of Latin citizenship there resided a form of cultural adaptations, which led to a core mentality that tended to value the practical over the intellectual forms of thinking. These forms of practicality also were expressed in a stubborn form of Roman tenacity, or the tendency to resist all forms of outside influence. This resistance included both military and social cultural forms of resistance to traditional Roman cultural norms and practices. Early Roman Latin culture was, in other words, a culture that advanced a healthy suspicion of innovation, but at the same time, Roman practicality allowed for the adaptations of many foreign cultural traits despite its natural tendency to resist them.

The Romans, in general, valued their language and their evolving religious customs, but at the same time, were willing to recognize more efficient ways of improving these existing practices. This allowed the Romans to bend foreign elements of technology, especially military technology, to find a place within Roman traditional forms. It not only adapted technology, but also cultural elements, by modifying them to be acceptable to Roman traditional forms.

When asked why the Romans rose to greater heights of military power, some scholars have credited the geographic location of the Seven-Hills as one of the most unusual geographic regions to give rise to such a powerful city-state. This region was vast in comparison to the geography of many other ancient cities that were located on protective high bluff plateaus. The original population was a mixture of people who lived in hut villages and relied on a pastoral vocation related to herding sheep, goats, and cattle. The Tiber River that ran by the Seven-Hills was well inland from the coast, and navigation beyond the Seven-Hills was difficult. To the north were the more advanced Etruscans who controlled much of the Tiber and were much more advanced in the creation of smaller stone-walled cities.

In the beginning, the city of Rome consisted of only one hill that served as a market or trading center and the lower valley, which was a swamp and was infested with malaria. Rome became a city (a city in its geographic form) because of ←xv | xvi→Etruscan engineers whom the monarchs initially called upon to make the swampy valley between the hills a more viable trading center. The Romans emerged from the Seven-Hills district to make the city into a Latin stronghold, and in time, they converted a cattle market into an urban center that would reflect their new synthetic culture and make it a place where their newly acquired gods would reside in temples and shrines. Eventually they also would build stone-walls to protect the emerging urban center of The City and organize a unified army to resist seasonal attacks on their crops and livestock. By the sixth century BCE, Rome had become a center of commerce and trade, and its urban institutions had begun to show impressive forms of commercial power and wealth. Rome would advance an early form of “capitalism” (a monetary system of trade) based, at least in part, on those sea-going international trading systems that came to include Rome’s Etruscan neighbors.

Details

Pages
XXII, 472
Year
2020
ISBN (PDF)
9781433162862
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433162879
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433162886
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433162855
DOI
10.3726/b14799
Language
English
Publication date
2020 (October)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XXII, 472 pp., 13 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Thomas L. Dynneson (Author)

Thomas L. Dynneson received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in history from Macalaster College. After teaching in the Edina school district in Edina, Minnesota for seven years, he earned his Ph.D. in social science education and anthropology at the University of Colorado. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Education at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

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Title: Rise of the Roman Empire