Prime mover of conquest ?

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Prime mover of conquest ?

Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Mon Sep 16, 2002 3:30 pm

Salvete,

When we think of Rome, we think of conquest, we think of wars in every corner of the known world, but what was the most important reason of this expansion, what was the prime mover of the Roman conquest ?

Several opinions that have already been put forward:

Theodor Mommsen stated that Roma had always feeled intimidated during the Republic and the early Principate. As a response to this, Rome went out and conquered rival after rival until they woke up one day to find that they were to be feared rather than fear others.

Marcus Tullius Cicero claimed that they only did it on behalf of their allies. Rome merely wanted to help and protect the cities that placed itself under Roman protection and one thing led to another, ending up with Rome as the giant Empire we know it once was.

Polybios has posed the most interesting theory in my opinion. In a society where there was a constant struggle for recognition from others, where political succes was based on fame, military achievements were the solution for many rising stars in the political arena of Rome.

We only have to think of Pompeius and Caesar to see the value in this opinion. Caesar wasn't so much worried for the cultural level of Gallia as he was for his fame in Rome when he started his 58-51 campaign.

Of course there were also materialistic interests according to these three, but they were of lesser importance compared to the prime mover. It might also be valuable to note that the term "Imperialism" is an anachronism since this term implies that the aggressor wants to establish his own political regime in the conquered areas, which does no go for Rome, especially not in the early stages of their expansion.

So what do you think about this, do you agree with one these opinions, do you think there's another explanation,....? Let it all out :wink:

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Security

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Fri Sep 20, 2002 1:23 pm

Salve Lupe,


This isn't an easy one. Some of the things you say certainly are true. The social standing theory is true. Otherwise Caesa&r wouldn't have made all his opponents that strong in 'de bello Galico'.

But this question is something of all ages: Why did the Spanish invade southern America? Why did Napoleon try to conquer Russia? Why did Germany invade western (and eastern) Europe quite a few times? An why does the USA today want to bomb Iraq, Iran, Northern Korea etc. (and some other countries too, I suppose)?

I think security is the main reason. When one party gets stronger, the belongings of a second party (territorial: neighbour) are threatened. Then a dispute breaks out, the outcome can be diplomatical or militarian.

I state it the onther way round then you: the materialistic reasons are the most important, but the secondary reasons will have played their role.

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Postby Publius Dionysius Mus on Fri Sep 20, 2002 3:48 pm

Salvete!

First, the Romans defended their territory. In the early times they were sandwiched between the Etruscans and the Latins. But Roma had one advantage: they controlled the crossing over the river Tiber. A little later they were most likely conquered by the powerful Etruscans (the three Etruscan kings might refer to this part of their history). Later on, when Capua revolted against the Etruscans, Rome joined them and kicked the Etruscan out. Then they joined the Latin League to defend ther territory against the Aequi and Volsci (Italian hills people from the Appenines). When those were defeated, Rome had a dominant place in the Latin League. But then they came into conflict with the Samnites; in a long 50 years of war the Samnites were at last defeated, together with the Etruscans and the invading Gauls (sack of Rome in 390BC!). Thus Rome had control over almost the whole Italian peninsula (except for the Greek city-states in southern Italy).

And then came their second mover... No more defence (although they still used this to justify their wars), but conquest. Romans have descended from farmers, and they still had some greed for land. They wanted more land, and still more land, and so on. The conquest of Africa, Spain and some parts of Asia Minor are still a little defence, bust mostly greed for more land. And then came the idea of a 'Mare Nostrum' ('our sea'), They wanted to conquer all the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, so they could call it Mare Nostrum (the whole African coast, Illyria, Greece, Gallia Narbonensis, more in Asia Minor). This resulted of course in a big empire, with lots of boundaries to defend. So then came defence again. So they sought easily defendable borders: the Rhine, Danube, Tigris and Euphrate, Black Sea, adn the Sahara desert. This should have been their biggest expansion. Augustus saw this very clearly: when he died, he ordered the boundaries of the empire to be kept as they were then, he knew further expansion would not work (he already lost three legions when trying to expand the empire to the Elbe).

But the later emperors again sought for conquest, and with them (but also earlier) came the striving for political and military success and honour. After all, there was no special reason for Justinianus to re-conquer parts of the western empire, except honour and tradition, trying te restore the old empire. Many generals throughout Rome's history (only after the Punic Wars) merely expanded the empire for their personal glory and benefit.

Just my opinion on this...

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Mare nostrum

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Fri Sep 20, 2002 5:27 pm

Salvete,


The greed for land was one thing, but most important wa sthe greed for power and ... money! When controlling the Whole mediterranean sea they controlled uncountable trade routes from both africa and asia to Europe. By Conquering Brittain they also were capable to controll trade routes to Ireland and Gallia.

They could raise taxes, isolate people from scarce goods, and crush cities by cutting of the suplies. Many nations had to obey Rome because of their trade, and military conquest was no longer necessary to conquer lands, especiaaly when the great rival Carthage was defeated.


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Roman expansion

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sun Sep 22, 2002 11:07 pm

Salvete omnes,

Apart from many sensible things already said, I personally would emphasize the aspect of "attack as the best way of defence" as a prime mover in the context of Roman expansion.

Rome emerged as a leading power in the Mediterranean in a time in which countries and nations were conquered, upheld, lost, razed at a frightening pace ... In such times, expansion has, in my humble opinion, two great advantages :

1) defeating your neighbours means that you dont' have to fear them anymore.

2) expanding your territories is good for the strength of your economy and military, vital factors for an empire that wants to stand ones ground.

Of course the story is not that simple but apart from cultural issues etc. I believe this was the main drive behind Roman imperialism.

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Roman expansion

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sat Oct 05, 2002 8:59 pm

Salvete
I think that behind any expansion are many aspects. As we has seen in the 20th century: technology as the industry(mainly war) fluorish through war. In the 1st and 2nd world war we have seen new warfare: submarine, tanks, biological and chemical(Vietnam and the 2nd Gulf War, the 1st war between Iraq and Iran, come to mind) and nuclear by which ended the 2nd world war. These 20th century wars were more for territorial, economical and financial reasons than of security reasons. The War on Terrorism is a good example of war out of security. sure Afghanistan had some oil reserves and Iraq has certain oil reserves but these were secundary reasons. The first and prime reason for attacking Afghanistan was to take Al Quaida out. But if Iraq is to bo bombed by the US and Great Brittain, than we have to look more for economical and financial reasons than out of the security reason. Anyway i'm off track.
I think that Rome conquered for several reasons that were stated before: security, financially, teritorrial, etc.. Every nation in antiquity did it for these reasons to get more money, moere technology and more ground but with more ground to cover came more security. So basicly if we talk about an expansion war we can also talk about a security/Strategical war since security and expansion/territorial go hand in hand for me.
But i'm just repeating what was said earlier.
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Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Fri Nov 22, 2002 12:12 am

Salvete

A lot of sensible things have already been said about the prime mover.

I believe that, most of all, expansion was needed to find new resourses. Whenever there is prosperity in a state, empire, etc, population will grow accordingly, nonne?

So there is need for more food, and thus land to cultivate,... and that is, and always will be, the prime mover for expansion. Think about ancient China, during the Warring States period (5th century BCE), think about Saddam attacking Kuwait for their oil, etc... So you see, this is a matter of all times.
Sounds profhetic, huh?

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Yup to that.

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Nov 22, 2002 1:29 am

I have often thought a similar thing, mi Menci. Perhaps this is how, and why, Mars--an agricultural Deity--came to be considered a God of War?

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Mars

Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Fri Nov 22, 2002 5:16 pm

Salve, mi Peregrine

It is nice to know my view on this matter is shared by the Wanderer. :)
I must say your reasoning about Mars is interesting, it had never occured to me before. Thanx 4 pointing that out.

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Postby Anonymous on Fri Nov 22, 2002 7:01 pm

I thought it was because the farmers who tended the fields of grain soon turned into the soldiers who tended the fields of battle. I believe I read that once somewhere ....

But I'm not an expert. If someone more erudite could enlighten me once and for all time, I would appreciate it.
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