Rome in the 2nd century BCE.

Lecture 6, Tuesday 6th February 2018

The history of Roman dominance in Italy + the Mediterranean

Forsythe 2005: 369: “From the year 300 BCE onwards the Roman lists of consuls is secure, and Roman dates are absolute, but this is not the case for the period preceding 300 BCE.”

Wiseman 1994: ix: “History mattered to the Romans….And yet, for more than a third of its history Rome had no history.”*
*Čulík-Baird: what Wiseman means is that they did not have writers of history who were Roman until 3rd c. BCE

An eye-witness account: Polybius (c. 200-118 BCE)

  • from the Greek city Megapolis in Arcadia
  • wrote a history of Rome’s rise to power in Greek
    • scholars often consider it an example of a Greek trying to explain Rome to a Greek audience
  • Polybius was elected in 170/169 BCE to cavalry leader in the Achaean League (Polybius 28.6.9)
  • after Roman defeat of Perseus of Macedon at Battle of Pydna in 168 BCE, Polybius was sent to Italy as a political captive alongside 1000 others
  • while in Rome, Polybius became friends with the most prominent Roman of the era, Scipio Aemilianus (Polybius 31.23)
    • Polybius describes the affection between them as between father and son (Polybius 31.25)
  • Polybius traveled with Scipio to Spain (151 BCE), and to Africa; he witnessed the destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE with Scipio
  • Polybius (3.47-48) describes journeying over the Alps to retrace Hannibal’s footsteps, crticizing over-romanticized portrayals of the Carthaginian general

Polybius Histories 1.1 (translated by Scott-Kilvert): “If earlier chronicles of human affairs had failed to bear witness in praise of history, it might perhaps have been necessary for me to urge all readers to seek out and pay special attention to writings such as these; for certainly mankind possesses no better guide to conduct than the knowledge of the past. But in truth all historians without exception, one may say, have made this claim the be-all and end-all of their work: namely that the study of history is at once an education in the truest sense and a training for a political career, and that the most infallible, indeed the only method of learning how to bear with dignity the vicissitudes of fortune is to be reminded of the disasters suffered by others. We may agree, then, that nobody at this time need feel himself obliged to repeat what has been so often and so eloquently stated by other writers. Least of all does this apply to my own case, for here it is precisely the element of the unexpected in the events I have chosen to describe which will challenge and stimulate everyone alike, both young and old, to study my systematic history. There can surely be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans succeeded in less than fifty-three years [220 — 167 BCE] in bringing under their rule almost the whole of the inhabited world, an achievement which is without parallel in human history.”

Maps of Roman expansion
Images: Ian Mladjov.

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Expansion of Roman power (509-133 BCE)

date: event: significance?
 temple of Jupiter Capitolinus 509 gutenberg
Line drawing of the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter (509 BCE)
509 BCE expulsion of kings beginning of Roman Republic
Capitoline Apollo close up wikimedia
6th c. BCE sculpture of Apollo from Veii
396 BCE capture of Etruscan Veii after a 10 year siege defeat of an important Etruscan city, extending Rome’s influence in Italy
Pleiades: Veii
– 10 year siege: Livy 5.22.8
Crawford 2001: 19: “The first century and a half of the Republic saw first the reassertion of Roman leadership of the other Latin communities and then a long sequence of wars against the Etruscan cities, principally Veii (captured and destroyed in 396 BCE) and against the Volscians to the south.”
 awmc Latium Campania
Image: AWMC.
338 BCE Roman conquest of Latium Roman influence over surrounding communities

Pleiades: Latium
Crawford 2001: 19: “The crucial moment in the history of the Roman conquest of Italy came in 338 BCE. Most of the Latin communities around Rome, viewing her growing preponderance with alarm, attempted to reassert their independence. They were rapidly defeated and all, except the largest and most distant, incorporated in the Roman citizen body.”

awmc Latium Samnium
Image: AWMC.
295 BCE Wars against Samnites
– 295 BCE Samnites defeated at Sentinum
Roman power in Italy reaffirmed, consolidated
Pleiades: Samnium
Pyrrhus in Italy Heraclea Ausculum Maleventum
Image: wikimedia.
280-272 BCE War against Tarentum + King Pyrrhus of Epirus
– 280 BCE: defeat of Rome by Pyrrhus at Heraclea
– 279 BCE: defeat of Rome by Pyrrhus at Ausculum
Roman extends its influence to southern, culturally Greek part of Italian peninsula, known as Magna Graecia
– Pleiades: Tarentum
Tarentum 272 BCE peripleomap = peripleo 272 BCE capture of Tarentum
Etruscan Volsinii peripleo capture 265 BCE
map = peripleo
265 BCE capture of Etruscan Volsinii Roman control of entire peninsula of Italy
: Volsinii
Roman Republic 264-241 First Punic War Mladjov.jpg
Image: Mladjov.
264-241 BCE First Punic War Rome fights with Carthage over control of Sicily; Roman expands into the mediterranean
Rome Sicily
Base image: Mladjov.
241 BCE Carthage surrenders Sicily to Rome Rome acquires its first foreign province
Sardinia + Corsica .jpeg
Base image: Mladjov.
238 BCE Roman annexation of Sardinia + Corsica Rome expands to gain further provinces in the mediterranean
Roman Republic 218-168 BCE 2nd punic war + after
Image: Mladjov.
218-201 BCE Second Punic War
– 218 BCE: Hannibal invades Italy
– 216 BCE: Battle of Cannae, severe defeat of Romans
– 203 BCE: Hannibal recalled from Italy to Africa
– 202 BCE: Scipio Africanus defeats Hannibal at Battle of Zama
struggle between Rome + Carthage over resources resolved in Rome’s favour; increased Roman power in mediterranean

Crawford 2001: 29: “Hannibal’s invasion of Italy in 218 BCE…was a deliberate attempt to reverse the verdict of the First Punic War.”
Briscoe 1989: 44: “Polybius rightly regarded [Rome’s seizure of Sardinia] as unjustified and the subsequent Carthaginian resentment as a major cause of the Second Punic War.” Polybius: 3.10.4.

Image: wikimedia
202-191 BCE Roman conquest of Cisalpine Gaul northern expansion of Roman interests
Spain 208-206 BCE.jpg
Image: Mladjov.
197 BCE Roman annexation of Spain consolidation of territory taken from Carthage
Image: wikimedia.
199-196 BCE Second Macedonian War
– war with Philip V of Macedon (= joined Hannibal against Rome in 215 BCE: First Macedonian War = 215-205 BCE)
– Romans defeat Macedonians at Cynoscephalae (“Dogs’ heads”)
– Greece declared “free” in 196 BCE by Titus Quinctius Flamininus at Corinth
with Carthage dealt with (for now), Rome turned its interest to Greece
Image: wikimedia.
192-188 BCE Syrian War between Rome + Antiochus III expansion of Roman interests
Hilary Lehmann Paullus relief
Sculptural relief of the L. Aemilius Paullus’ monument at Delphi. Image: Hilary Lehmann.
171-167 BCE Third Macedonian War
– 168 BCE: Battle of Pydna: L. Aemilius Paullus vs. Perseus of Macedon
end to the Macedonian kingdom
: Pydna
Coin of Andriskos. Image: wikimedia.
149-148 BCE Fourth Macedonian War short-lived attempt to reinstate Macedonian power by a pretender to the throne (Andriskos)
Roman Republic 148-121
Image: Mladjov.
149-146 BCE Third Punic War
– 146 BCE:
collapse of Corinth + Carthage as rival imperial powers in the mediterranean
– complete destruction of Carthage
considered by Romans the a profound moment of change in Roman history; origin of Roman excess?
: Corinth
Pleiades: Carthage
Attalus III 133.png
Image: Mladjov.
133 BCE Attalus III of Pergamum bequeaths kingdom to Rome, it becomes the province of Asia (129 BCE) increased territories + an influx of wealth at Rome that exacerbates political tensions
Pleiades: Pergamum

tl;dr Roman expansion 

– Rome conquers its nearest neighbours — Etruscans, Latins, Italians
– Rome extends its influence into the south, the culturally Greek area; fights its first “international” enemy
– 265 BCE: Rome controls entire Italian peninsula
– Rome begins a struggle with Carthage, another mediterranean empire, which it will continue to fight till mid 2nd c. BCE:
— First Punic War: 246-241 BCE
— Second Punic War: 218-201 BCE
— Third Punic War: 149-146 BCE
– Rome takes possession of large islands in the mediterranean, provoking Carthage
– Carthaginian general, Hannibal, brings war to Italy after crossing the Alps, and defeats Rome several times; is himself defeated in Africa by Scipio Africanus
– Rome continues to acquire more territory
– Rome’s increased power creates conflicts with powers in the east: in Greece and Asia
146 BCE: with the collapse of Corinth + Carthage, Rome has defeated its major rivals and has established itself as the dominant force

Enslaving the world

Joshel 2010: 54: “Mass enslavement in Rome’s foreign wars made possible the growth of a large-scale slave system. First, war increased the slave population in Italy and continually fed that population with new captives. Rome’s early wars in Italy had resulted in the enslavement of some of the conquered but the enslavement of large numbers of the conquered apparently began with Rome’s wars with the Samnites, a people in south central Italy…The Roman conquest of the mediterranean in the second century BCE escalted the number of slaves. Roman victories meant major dislocations of people, primarily importation to Italy.”

  • 177 BCE: Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus killed or enslaved 80, 000 of the inhabitants of Sardinia (Livy 41.28.9)
  • 167 BCE: Lucius Aemilius Paullus allowed by senate to sack 70 cities in Epirus, enslaving 150, 000 (Livy 45.34.5)
  • 57 BCE: Julius Caesar sold 53, 000 Germans (Aduatuci) into slavery (Appian, Gallic History 1.2)
  • by late 1st century BCE probably 20-30% population of Roman Italy slaves: 1 to 1.5 million out of 5 to 6 million (Joshel 2010: 56)

Arch of Titus 81 CERelief of the spoils from Jerusalem, Arch of Titus, Rome, after 81 CE. Image: Dnalor 01, CC BY-SA 3.0 via wikimedia. In the Jewish War (66-70 CE), the Romans enslaved 97,000 people (Joshel 2010: 67).

The Scipio family 

Scipio family tree simplified.jpg
[pdf] Scipio family tree, simplified

Mary Beard 2016: 170: “The careers of these men point to a new world of Roman politics and expansion over the third and second centuries BCE. These are some of the key players, famous or infamous, in the series of military campaigns that gave the Roman Republic control over the whole mediterranean and beyond. Their rather cumbersome names nicely sum up that new world. Barbatus presumably points to the bearer’s appearance, and Aemilianus is a reference to the man’s natural father, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, but AfricanusAsiaticus, and Hispallus (from his father’s service in Spain, Hispania) reflect the new horizons of Roman power. One reasonable way of translating ‘Scipio Africanus‘ would be ‘Scipio hammer of Africa.'”

The triumph of Lucius Aemilius Paullus

In 168 BCE, Lucius Aemilius Paullus defeated King Perseus of Macedon, bringing an end to that Hellenistic dynasty. In 167 BCE, Paullus celebrated a triumph in Rome: the ritual procession of a Roman general who had won a significant victory to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol.  Involved in the triumphal procession were:

  • the triumphator dressed in the costume said to have been the kings’ and close to Jupiter’s on a four-horse chariot
  • eminent captives (normally destined for execution)
  • freed Roman prisoners of war dressed as the triumphator’s freedmen
  • the major spoils captured
  • his army
  • animals for sacrifice
  • whole senate and all the magistrates were supposed to escort it
  • from c. 200 BCE sumptuous decorations: banners, paintings of sieges and battles, musicians, and torch-bearers
  • a slave rode with the triumphator holding a laurel wreath over his head + reminding him that he was mortal
  • soldiers chanted insulting verses

Diodorus Siculus (31.8.10-11): L. Aemilius Paullus, after arranging splendid games and revelries for the assembled multitude, sent off to Rome whatever treasure had been discovered, and when he himself arrived, along with his fellow generals, he was ordered by the senate to enter the city in triumph… the very wise Aemilius celebrated his for three days. On the first day the procession opened with 1,200 waggons filled with embossed white shields, then another 1,200 filled with bronze shields, and 300 more laden with lances, pikes, bows, and javelins; as in war, trumpeters led the way. There were many other waggons as well, carrying arms of various sorts, and 800 panoplies mounted on poles. On the second day there were carried in procession 1,000 talents of coined money, 2,200 talents of silver, a great number of drinking-cups, 500 waggons loaded with diverse statues of gods and men, and a large number of golden shields and dedicatory plaques. On the third day the procession was made up of 120 choice white oxen, talents of gold conveyed in 220 carriers, a 10-talent bowl of gold set with jewels, gold-work of all sorts to the value of 10 talents, 200 elephant tusks three cubits in length, an ivory chariot enriched with gold and precious stones, a horse in battle array with cheek-pieces set with jewels and the rest of its gear adorned with gold, a golden couch spread with flowered coverlets, and a golden litter with crimson curtains. Then came Perseus, the hapless king of the Macedonians, with his two sons, a daughter, and 250 of his officers, 400 garlands presented by the various cities and monarchs, and last of all, in a dazzling chariot of ivory, L. Aemilius Paullus himself.

Plutarch, Life of Aemilius (33-34): These were followed by the chariot of Perseus, which bore his arms, and his diadem lying upon his arms. Then, at a little interval, came the children of the king, led along as slaves, and with them a throng of foster-parents, teachers, and tutors, all in tears, stretching out their own hands to the spectators and teaching the children to beg and supplicate. There were two boys, and one girl, and they were not very conscious of the magnitude of their evils because of their tender age; because of which they evoked even more pity in view of the time when their unconsciousness would cease, so that Perseus walked along almost unheeded, while the Romans, moved by compassion, kept their eyes upon the children, and many of them shed tears, and for all of them the pleasure of the spectacle was mingled with pain, until the children had passed by. Behind the children and their train of attendants walked Perseus himself, clad in a dark robe and wearing the high boots of his country, but the magnitude of his evils made him resemble one who is utterly dumbfounded and bewildered. He, too, was followed by a company of friends and intimates, whose faces were heavy with grief, and whose tearful gaze continually fixed upon Perseus gave the spectators to understand that it was his misfortune which they bewailed, and that their own fate least of all concerned them. And yet Perseus had sent to Aemilius begging not to be led in the procession and asking to be left out of the triumph. But Aemilius, in mockery, as it would seem, of the king’s cowardice and love of life, had said: “But this at least was in his power before, and is so now, if he should wish it,” signifying death in preference to disgrace; for this, however, the coward had not the heart, but was made weak by no one knows what hopes, and became a part of his own spoils.

Livy (45.41.10-11): [Paullus himself speaking:] “…Even I began to regard my good fortune as something too great, and therefore distrusted it. I began to fear the perils of the sea, whilst carrying the royal treasury into Italy and transporting my victorious army. We had a favourable voyage, and after all had reached Italy safely, and there was nothing more for me to pray for, my one ardent desire was that in the usual turn of fortune’s wheel the change might affect my house rather than the commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that its continued prosperity has been secured by the signal calamity which has overtaken me. As though in mockery of mortal grief, my triumph intervened between the death of my two sons. Both Perseus and myself may now be regarded as noteworthy examples of the lot which awaits men. He, himself a captive, has seen his children led as captives before him, but still, he has them safe and sound; I, who have triumphed over him, went from the funeral of one of my sons in my chariot to the Capitol, and returned to find the other at the point of death. Out of all my sons, not one remains to bear the name of Lucius Aemilius Paulus. As though I had a large family, two have been adopted by the Cornelian and Fabian houses; there is not a Paullus left except myself. But your happiness and the good fortune of the republic are my consolation in this ruin of my house.” The self-restraint which this speech evinced made a far greater impression upon his audience than if he had indulged in tearful laments over his bereavement.

On this passage, Mary Beard 2009: 137: “the ancient cliché about this particular triumph rested on its threat to subvert the hierarchy of victor and victim. For Paullus, at the very height of his glory, was afflicted by a disaster that struck at the heart of his household: out of his four sons, two had already been adopted into other aristocratic families in Rome (a not uncommon practice); the two who remained to carry on his line died over the very period of the triumph, one five days before, the other three days later.”

The Monument of Lucius Aemilius Paullus at Delphi (sanctuary of Apollo)
Commemorating Battle of Pydna 
(168 BCE)

Images. Left: 19th century reimagining of the Paullus monument. Top: the inscription at the base of the statue. Image: Center for Epigraphical Studies, OSUBottom: fragmentary remains of the sculptural relief. Image courtesy of Hilary Lehmann.

Plutarch, Life of Aemilius (28.4): “At Delphi, he saw a tall square pillar composed of white marble stones, on which a golden statue of Perseus was intended to stand, and gave orders that his own statue should be set there, for it was appropriate that the conquered should make room for their conquerors.”

  • earliest surviving Roman historical sculptural relief — connected to tradition of commemorating military victories in painting? (Ling 1991: 11; Bonanno 1983: 72)
    • L. Aemilius Paullus had asked Athenians to send him a painter to commemorate victory over Macedonian king (Pliny NH 35.135)
  • long frieze running around top of tall rectangular pillar topped by equestrian statue of Aemilius Paullus, close to Temple of Apollo, Delphi
  • on its 4 sides it shows episodes from the Battle of Pydna (168 BCE)
  • Bonnano 1983: 72: “It has been suggested that one of the horsemen should be identified with Paullus himself. If so, this is the first extant Roman portrait in relief.”
  • one “scene” on relief: riderless horse — signifying story that the battle began over an escaped horse (Plutarch, Life of Aemilius 18.1, Livy 44.40)
  • inscription (CIL 12.622): “Lucius Aemilius, son of Lucius, commander-in-chief, took this as booty from King Perseus and the Macedonians.”

$CIL_01_00622.jpgClose-up of Latin on the Paullus monument. Image: EDCS (Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss). Transcription from EDCS: L(ucius) A<e=i>milius L(uci) f(ilius) inperator de rege Perse / Macedonibusque cepet.</e=i>

Spoils of the mind…

Plutarch, Life of Aemilius (28): But more than anything else men praised his freedom of spirit and his greatness of soul; for he would not consent even to look upon the quantities of silver and the quantities of gold that were gathered together from the royal treasuries, but handed them over to the quaestors for the public chest. It was only the books of the king that he allowed his sons, who were devoted to learning, to choose out for themselves.

Isidore of Seville (Etym. 6.5.1): “Lucius Aemilius Paullus was the first to bring a copious supply of books back to Rome.”

Affleck 2013: 124: “Polybius [was] taken hostage after the Battle of Pydna and brought to Rome at the same time as the library of Macedon.”

Casson 2001: 68: “In the first half of the [1st century BCE] Rome’s library resources were further enriched through wars waged in Greece and Asia Minor. War meant loot, and the opportunity to loot offered in certain places a quick way of acquiring a library. It had enabled Aemilius Paullus to bring to Rome its first ‘library’* on record.”
*Čulík-Baird: not necessarily a “library” but a serious number of books.

  • 86 BCE: Sulla would bring the library of Aristotle from Athens to Rome
  • 66 BCE: Lucullus would collect books from his military campaigns in Asia Minor (Plut. Lucullus 42)

The “Scipionic Circle” 

A number of important Latin poets + intellectuals associated with Scipio Aemilianus in a kind of “patronage”.

  • Terence, the Latin comic playwright
    • Terence’s Adelphoe (about brothers + adoption…) + Hecyra performed at Paullus’ funeral ludi in 160 BCE
  • Lucilius the Satirist (d. 103/2 BCE)
  • the Greek Polybius (above)
  • the Greek Stoic philosopher Panaetius
  • Ennius (239-169 BCE) seems to have written a poem in his honour entitled Scipio + an epitaph
    • Ennius’ epitaph for Scipio (from Cicero, De Leg. 2.57):
      “Here lies the man to whom no one, fellow-countryman or foeman, will be able to render for his pains a recompense fitting his services.”
      hic est ille situs cui nemo ciuis neque hostis
      quibit pro factis reddere opis pretium.
    • a portrait of Ennius was also thought to have been part of the Scipionic tomb (Livy 38.56)

Further reading: