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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

History According to Bob: Late Republican Rome

Various extracts:

Massinissa becomes King of Numidia
"Syphax then bemoaned his fate. He blamed his misfortunes on his wife. That she had led him to fight Rome. That he really didn't want to fight Rome, but she had seduced him into fighting Rome. He was glad that his enemy Massinissa actually had taken her for his wife, because he hoped that he would fall under her evil spell and suffer the consequences"

Roman Politics 201BC to 150BC Part 2
[On the pre-Marian reforms Roman army] "The idea of land ownership was you served in the military and you fought well because you had something to lose, and after the war was over, you had something to go back to. If you didn't own land and you worked for pay, then you expected that your retirement would be based on the largesse of the general you fought for, so you become more loyal to the general than you do to the state, which leads to civil wars and all sorts of other things, but that's later"

Politics 159 B.C. to 150 B.C.
"In 153 BC in his late 70s, Cato was part of an embassy that was sent to arbitrate a dispute between Carthage and Numidia. The Romans were impressed by the growing wealth and the population of Carthage. It is upon his return that Cato begins ending every speech he gave in the Senate with the famous Carthago delenda est or Carthage must be destroyed. Not usually mentioned is that Cato was countered in the Senate by Scipio Nasica, who ended all of his speeches with Carthago servertur [sp?], which means Carthage must be preserved. Scipio Nasica believed that the presence of a strong rival would preserve Roman virtue intact"

The Fall of Carthage
"Hasdrubal abandoned the soldiers and his family and surrendered personally to Scipio. However, Hasdrubal's wife dressed in her finest gown and jewelry appeared in plain view. First of all, she shouted insults at her husband. She then killed her children, throwing their bodies into the flames, and then she turned and walked into the fire. The lady has the moment of drama"

Aftermath of the Fall of Carthage
"The remaining buildings were demolished. Although the destruction of Carthage was not as total as is sometimes been assumed. Archaeologists have discovered walls standing several yards high underneath the later Roman city of Novo Carthago. The old legend of the ground being ploughed up and the ground sown with salt to prevent future cultivation was basically made up and added much later... As Scipio gazed upon the wreck of the once proud city, he is supposed to have wept and quoted from a passage from the Iliad referring to the fall of Troy. He explained to a puzzled Polybius that he was wondering whether his own home Rome would one day suffer a similar fate...

Now the Romans would experiment with different strategies in foreign affairs dealings. And they established techniques and policies that would ultimately make them masters of the mediterranean. For example, they used a lot of propaganda. And one of their main topics was freedom for the Greeks. We need to have the Greeks free, knowing full well that Antiochus and other people are going to take an opoortunit to attack them once they are free. Which of course allows the Romans to come in and mop up. Another tactic is treaties. Very vague in respect to what actually the borders were supposed to be between territories. Against the strong enemy, the Romans would put very clear borders. Against weak enemies they would do a treaty with vague boundaries. Which allow for constant opportunities for harassment.

Another technique was Roman religious law. Rome always entered wars as the injured party. So treaties of friendship known as *something* were flexible tools to protect the Roman conscience. Sign a treaty with someone in an area that was bound to lead to war. This helped maneuver foes who were unwilling to attack Rome, such as Philip, Antiochus and Perseus, they would attack a local Roman friend, which gave Rome the local and legal excuse to intervene.

Another tactic was favored separatism. They preferred numbers of small, evenly balanced rivals instead of dangerously large neighbours. And finally, they loved strategic delay. Used diplomacy to make promises and negotiate to delay an opponent until Rome was ready to attack"

Decay of Roman Society
"As all effective Mediterranean rivalry to Rome collapsed the Senate and Roman leaders were left with no real need for self control. This is the most likely reason why Scipio Nasca always countered Cato's famous quote "Carthage must be destroyed" with "in my opinion Carthage must be preserved". Nasca felt that the Romans needed a rival to save them from themselves for on their own their uninhibited ambitions were troublesome and in the third century BC there are several examples. You have Popillius Laenas who attacked the inoffensive Ligurians for merely glory as well as loot and then there's Cassius Longinus. His insubordination for the same reasons - glory and loot regardless of public policy. Many Roman families riding high at home and unfettered abroad felt free to exploit and plunder and then squabble with each other over the spoils"

Gaius Gracchus Triumphant
"Consul Fannius in a speech warned the citizens of the city of Rome that an increase in the number of Roman citizens would jeopardize - you're not gonna believe this - would jeopardize their good seats at shows and festivals. So if you increase the citizenship that means that at gladiatorial contests, at various festivals, at the race track there will be more citizens, it'll be more crowded, you may not get a seat and it might be taken by one of those Latins that was made a citizen"

Tribune Livius Drusus
"How do you, how in the world do you rule his laws illegal? Well here's the two grounds. The rules of the laws that he put into place were considered illegal because first of all they violated the Roman law against omnibus bills... Second - and this is my favorite - the laws had been passed when the auspices were unfavorable."

Marius vs Sulla
"When the executioner - a Cymbrian slave entered his cell, Marius fixed his eyes on the slave and in a daring voice challenged him to kill the great Gaius Marius. The executioner dropped the ax and ran... the city magistrates ashamed that Marius the Great, savior of Rome should be more honored by a slave that he had conquered than by the citizens he had saved set him free and let him escape to Africa"
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