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The Cambridge Ancient History
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Book description

This volume of the second edition of the Cambridge Ancient History traces the history of Rome from its origins to the eve of the Second Punic War. Although the period covered is essentially the same as in the undivided Volume VII of the first edition, the treatment of the material is completely fresh and is much more extensive. Account is taken of new scholarly insights and of the considerable amount of new evidence, much of it archaeological, which has become available since the first edition was published. After a survey of the sources of our information the origins of Rome are discussed, beginning with the first discernible traces of the bronze Age settlement and going on to an assessment of the regal period. The complex and often controversial history of the early Republic is examined with reference to its internal development, the evolution of its relationships with the Latins, and the remorseless, if occasionally erratic, advance of Roman power in parts of Italy less immediately adjacent to the city. These developments are traced further in relation to the intervention of Pyrrhus and its aftermath, leading to consideration of Rome's relationships with Carthage, the First Punic War, and the beginnings of overseas empire. Rome is considered from a different perspective in a chapter on society and religion.

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Contents

  • 1 - The Sources for Early Roman History
    pp 1-29
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    Summary

    This chapter first deals with the main literary and archaeological sources for early Roman history. Then, it considers the type of material which was at the disposal of the historians of Rome for the regal period and the fifth century and how they used it. Roman historiography began at the end of the third century BC, but the earliest historical work was almost certainly the epic poem on the First Punic War written in the later third century by one of the combatants, Cn. Naevius. Iunius Gracchanus and Sempronius Tuditanus, Cincius, Q. Cornificius, Nigidius Figulus, Cornelius Nepos and Atticus, who made the first serious attempts to utilize the principles set by Eratosthenes to establish Roman chronology. At all events the surviving inscriptions earlier than the tombs of the Scipios in the third century are meagre and highly controversial, adding knowledge of early Roman history. Roman historical information comes mainly from the annalists particularly Livy and Timaeus.
  • 2 - Archaic Rome Between Latium and Etruria
    pp 30-51
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    Summary

    Rome's geographical position makes her earliest history a very special and exemplary instance of frontier history. Economic and social process is the birth of the city as an organism with tangible monumental evidence, walls, sacred and communal buildings, and permanent and enduring dwellings which, from the last decades of the seventh century BC come to constitute the first real urban landscape in the history of Latium and Etruria. This chapter draws attention to the considerable potential of 'archaeological' history of Archaic Rome. It discusses archaeology, urban development, social history, sanctuaries, and palaces in the seventh century. The chapter also shows that an independent analysis of the archaeological data tends to confirm the picture which emerges from a non-reductive interpretation of the literary tradition. Early eighth century BC emporium shrines were found appearing near the landing places, where exchanges between Greek, Etruscan and Latin merchants took place under the apparent control of deities brought in from Greece or the East.
  • 3 - The origins of Rome
    pp 52-112
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    Summary

    Georges Dumézil has suggested that the stories about the origins of Rome from Romulus to Ancus Marcius are Indo-European myths turned into history. This chapter discusses the myths of foundation, settlement, society and culture in Latium and at Rome, the development and growth of Rome, Roman kings and the structures of Regal period. What the Romans learned from the Greeks does not coincide with what the Etruscans learned from them. The Romans at an early period gave signs that they were ready to identify themselves with the Sabines. Two sherds incribed Manias and Karkafaios are apparently among the oldest personal names found in Latium. The chapter also discusses the literary tradition, the political and cultural hellenization, partly derived from direct Greek contacts, partly mediated by the Etruscans. The spontaneous, unprompted character of the adoption of Greek formulae explains why we can never exactly correlate Greek and Roman developments.
  • 4 - Rome in the fifth century I: the social and economic framework
    pp 113-171
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    Summary

    There is one reputedly fifth-century document of which numerous fragments survive and which purports to offer important contemporary evidence for Roman social and economic structures in this period. This is the Twelve Tables, the law-code assigned to circa 450 BC. The compilation of the Tables is attributed to two ten-man commissions (decemviri legibus scribundis) which replaced the consulship as the chief magistracy in 451 and 450 BC. To the limited extent that later writers concerned themselves with economic matters they saw early republican Rome as essentially a farming community. Early Rome practised settled agriculture based on a prevalence of comparatively small-scale, privately owned farms which provided the fundamental resource of the great majority of the citizen body. Hence not only does the primacy of the family unit reflect this pattern of economic activity but the entire structure of kin-group classification and the regulation of kin prerogatives show a pre-eminent concern with the transmission of property.
  • 5 - Rome in the fifth century II: the citizen community
    pp 172-242
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The ancient chronology for the establishment of the Republic provides the most satisfactory context for the political developments of the early fifth century, the emergence of the plebeian movement which sought to assert and defend the rights of some or all nonpatricians. The concept of the citizen community was central and found expression in a variety of forms: in the particular character assumed by social relationships between men of different status. The origin and development of plebeian rights may have been the subject of a comparatively strong oral tradition, but one continuously modified and elaborated to suit later political or historiographical preoccupations. Two fifth-century episodes occupy a key role in the assertion of plebeian prerogatives: the First Secession saw the emergence of the plebs as a political force, and the Second Secession, which secured the restoration of the tribunate with enhanced powers.
  • 6 - Rome and Latium to 390 B.C.
    pp 243-308
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Rome was a powerful city-state with a relatively extensive territory, a developed urban centre, an advanced institutional structure and a strong army. Under the kings, armed conflicts with neighbouring communities did take place. There is very little known about the settlements of Latium Vetus during the archaic age.The proliferation of common cults at different sites in Latium does not at first sight seem compatible with the idea of a united Latin League. Intermittent wars between Rome and Veii must have occurred under the monarchy. A number of successful campaigns against the Sabines are recorded. The part played by Camillus in the Gallic saga is demonstrably a late and artificial accretion. In the last years of the fifth century there are clear signs of a more aggressive policy, not only against Veii and its satellites, but also in southern Latium.
  • 7 - The recovery of Rome
    pp 309-350
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    Summary

    The resumption of warfare in 362 B.C. opened a new phase in the history of Rome's external relations. By the middle of the fourth century, the scope of Rome's military and diplomatic activity had expanded greatly, and for the first time its power and influence were felt beyond the borders of Latium. The years of recovery and gradual expansion after the Gallic Sack witnessed dramatic changes in Roman social structure and political organization. The period is represented as one of profound crisis and continual strife. A fact of prime importance for understanding of the early Roman economy is the land hunger of the peasantry. References in the sources to the small size of peasant holdings are frequent. In the space of barely two generations, the social and economic structures of the Roman Republic had been radically transformed. This process coincided with a reform of the constitution and a profound alteration in the composition and character of the governing class.
  • 8 - The conquest of Italy
    pp 351-419
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    Summary

    The great political figures who dominated public life in the second half of the fourth century B.C. initiated and directed a policy of military conquest. During First Samnite War, the Samnites attacked the Sidicini, and the Campanians. The subsequent alliance with Naples was Rome's first success of the Second Samnite War, which had formally begun a few months previously, in late 327 or early 326. After the consolidation of 313-312 B.C. the outcome of the Second Samnite War was no longer in doubt. In the years that followed the Romans were able to extend the scope of their military activities to other parts of Central Italy. By making an alliance with the Lucanians, who had been attacked by the Samnites, the Romans provoked the so-called Third Samnite War. During the period of the Italian wars between 338 and 264 B.C. the characteristic political, social and economic structures of the classical Republic began to take shape.
  • 9 - Rome and Italy in the early third century
    pp 420-455
  • View abstract

    Summary

    There was still widespread land-hunger among Roman citizens in the second half of the third century. The events of 241 demonstrate Rome's concern both to extend and strengthen her communications with her northern frontier, and to consolidate her position in the rear. The rapid growth of the Roman commonwealth in Italy and the eventual acquisition of overseas territories also placed heavy additional burdens of a governmental and administrative character upon the ancillary magistrates. The outcome of most consular elections, and consequently the course of Roman foreign and domestic policy was determined not by the electorate itself, but by those in the nobilitas and the Senate. Political divisions within the senate were not based essentially upon diverse loyalties or economic interests; hence an undue schematization cannot be interpreted of the Roman policy decisions in the third century.
  • 10 - Pyrrhus
    pp 456-485
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter talks about the reign of King Pyrrhus of Epirus. A squadron of ten Roman ships did make a surprise appearance in the harbour of Tarentum, probably in the autumn of 282, which started the Rome-Tarentum conflict. As king of the Molossians, Pyrrhus was at the same time the hegemon of the Epirote League which was founded around 325/20. The consul Aemilius Barbula's rigorous action against Tarentum resulted first of all in the choice of a new general, by the name of Agis, whose good connexions with Rome, it was hoped, would bring about a peaceful end to the conflict. In 280 BC, Pyrrhus's army clashed with the Romans at Heraclea. Pyrrhus took the enemy camp and only nightfall put an end to the pursuit of the enemy. The Battle of Ausculum took place in 279 BC which Pyrrhus won again, though his victory was overshadowed by the loss of 3500 of his men.
  • 11 - Carthage and Rome
    pp 486-572
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The Carthaginian state impressed the ancient world with its wealth, and also for its stability and endurance. Its tenacity evoked respect even from Greeks and Romans, its age-long enemies. This chapter first provides a glimpse of Carthaginian state's public and private life. The district around the forum and harbours, which contained living quarters as well as public buildings, was the heart of the bustling commercial and industrial life of the city. Then, it discusses the Romano-Carthaginian treaties. Rome and Carthage lived in harmony during the centuries of their earliest contacts. During most of the sixth century Rome was politically controlled by Etruscan rulers, and Carthage and the Etruscan cities were united by a common rivalry against the Western Greeks. The First Punic War, in 264 BC, set in train a transformation of relationships throughout the Mediterranean world. This was the first phase of a new age of expansion, in which already Roman horizons had been extended beyond Italy.
  • 12 - Religion in Republican Rome
    pp 573-624
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Religion in Rome in the republican period was integrated into the political and social structure, in such a way that every group or activity had its religious aspect. The first characteristic of Roman gods and goddesses to strike the observer must be the wide range of different types, all accepted and worshipped as di deaeque. In many ways the categories and vocabulary to be met with in the religion of Rome seem comfortably similar to those familiar from religions current today: prayer, sacrifice, vows, sacred books, even divination. The event which radically changed the nature of the city's religious and political life was the overthrow of the monarchy in the late sixth century. There was a continuing tradition of change and innovation during the period of the early to middle Republic. There were many changes and innovations: new temples and cults, new or revised ceremonies, changes of procedure or of the rules of membership in the priestly colleges.

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