Guide The Cambridge Ancient History: The Last Age of the Roman Republic, 146-43 BC

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Implicitly, however, it is rather curious to observe, it seems rather to represent traditional 'Ancient History', structured around ancient narrative sources, of a type which seems to have no relationship at all to the 'Cambridge' style of self-conscious critical analysis of what we are about which was fostered by the late M.

Cambridge Companions

What has actually been produced, I observe quite without satisfaction, is closer to being an 'Oxford' Ancient History than a 'Cambridge' one. Even if a CAHvolume has no explicit methodological or philosophical programme of it own, should its contents none the less be structured so as to enter into explicit dialogue with modern interpretations, naming the authors concerned, and overtly discussing the propositions they have put forward? This is done here to a limited degree, but the overall tendency is merely to present each individual author's version, often essentially a narrative, and to relegate reference to other modern writers to a footnote, which itself embodies a reference to the bibliography at the end efficiently organized into sections.

This procedure is consistent, and carried out in an economical way.

Cambridge Ancient History Last Age Roman Republic 146 43 B C

But it hardly brings the reader, especially the student reader, into any real relationship with modern views and debates. More serious, to my mind, is the very slight use made overall of explicit quotation and discussion of ancient texts, whether literary or documentary. Ancient texts appear predominantly as footnote references, not as items embodyingthe representation of present circumstances or past events, which themselves require discussion and interpretation.

Naturally, practicalities prevent this being done on every occasion. But the effect is both to suggest that narrated 'facts' are unproblematic, and to limit the student's direct acquaintance with the diverse materials out of which we construct 'our' Ancient World. Even leaving aside these fundamental problems of theory, approach, and method, the Editors of every volume in such a series confront difficult questions of principle. Is the series to be conceived of as a whole, so that the reader will need to read across, or forward and back, from one volume to another?

It is an equally insoluble question, when the material is divided up into short chronological sections, to know which geographical areas should be considered on a regional basis, and how that treatment should be distributed. Thus, for instance, early Hellenistic Sicily benefits from a chapter on Agathocles in Vol. The student reader of the Vehnes could thus not find anywhere in CAH" a coherent presentation of the geographical, historical, and social context in which Verres had been functioning.

To presume on a discussion to which I will return later p. But it does seem a major lack that the heart of the late-Hellenistic world, namely Greece, the Aegean, and western Asia Minor, appears only as the battleground for Roman or Mithridatic armies there is a splendid chapter by J. Hind on the latter, as also an excellent one by the late A. Sherwin-White on 'Lucullus, Pompey and the East'. Given the priority allotted, as a quite reasonable choice, to Graeco-Roman culture within 'ancient history' as CAH conceives it, the Aegean and its periphery was essential both in economic and social terms, and as the immediate source of Hellenism in Italy and Rome.

Its omission as a topic thus obscures even Athens itself see now, Chr. Coarelli et al. Berthold, Rhodes in the Hellenistic Age. One effect of this omission is that nowhere in CAH" IX is there a view of the world of the main late Hellenistic cities as such, nor of the illuminating viewpoints which, through a large number of inscriptions, they provide on the evolving Roman Empire. We are left with the wonderful, and so far unchallenged, account by Rostovtzeff in the last part of his Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World.

For the inland part of Asia Minor, dominated by the Galatae, we now have also the major work of Stephen Mitchell, Anatolia I , which is essential for understanding the Roman impact, and the process of province-formation. Important formal questions also remain obscure, such as the conditions, meaning, and extent of Iibertas as enjoyed by Greek cities. See, for example, R. Bernhardt, Polis und romische Hewschaft , or J. The reference is to the two extraordinarily rich honorific inscriptions published by L, and J. Robert, Claros I:dkcrets helle'nistiques , which illustrate the complex way in which local notables managed the relations between their cities and Rome.

It is one inevitable penalty of the huge task of bringing such a massive volume into existence that neither these texts nor the vast Greek inscription from Ephesos, Epigraphica Anatolica 14 , with provisions forportoria, dating from the 60s B. Similar, but worse, problems affect the history of the Jews in the Hellenistic period, which is not treated at all in CAH" v The fundamental topic of the impact of Hellenism on Judaism before the Maccabees, the subject of major modern works such as Victor Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilisation and theJews , Martin Hengel, Judentum und Hellenismus ; trans.

Tessa Rajak's excellent chapter in this volume p. Rather typically of an older attitude, 'literature' is conceived of there as something which happens within the texts of individual works by well-known authors.

The Cambridge Ancient History Volume 9: The Last Age of the Roman Republic, 146-43 BC

Unfortunately, the two projects between them still leave unfilled two enormous gaps, which come close to rendering the Latin-speaking culture, society, and politics of the period empty and unintelli- gible. Firstly, nobody can dispute that the dominant form of public 'literary'expression in the period was oratory.

Ancient History 500 BC-500 AD: Series

Without some systematic discussion of the shape and content of speeches, as well as of their public contexts and audiences -the Senate, contiones, iudiciapopuli, and quaestiones, not to speak of the repetition of comparable contexts in towns outside Rome -we can hardly conceive of what being a 'Roman' meant in the late Republic. Some aspects of this are covered in the massive volume by J. David, Le patronat judiciaire au dernier siicle de la Rkpublique romaine More problematic still is the absence from either volume of any attempt even to pose the problem of.

But the Latinization of the culture of Italy, and with it the focusing of creative literary. Somehow, any meaningful account of 'Rome' must pose the problems of why it was not only Latin, but expressly 'Roman' literature which was to be written by Catullus from Verona, Vergil from Mantua, Livy from Patavium, and Horace from Venusia, all born in the period covered by this volume, as well as by Ovid from Sulmo, born in the year of its terminal point, 43 B.

The 'Republican Rome'which we can know is very largely the Rome which they constructed for us. This missing problem simply serves to emphasize the wider problem which makes Republican history so deceptively difficult: who, or what community, or communities, ought to be the subject of the history of late-Republican 'Rome'? It is time to turn, all too belatedly, to the years B.

It follows from all that is said above that I accept the practical and logical impossibility of finding a perfect structure within which to incorporate the material. Whatever choice is made, some meaningful and significant viewpoints will be lost.


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It was, therefore, wholly defensible to take 'Roman' history as the focus of this volume, and to treat coherently only some of the areas on which the Empire progressively impinged note also a fair shot at the very difficult and not very well documented topic of late-Ptolemaic Egypt, ch. As it happens, however, all the non-Roman zones or topics treated are Eastern Mithridates, Egypt, the Jews. Africa, Spain, and Europe thus play a role only in the survey in ch. Nicolet ed. Cenese d'un empire If one western region other than Sicily, see p. The shape which the volume actually takes is first a chapter on the crisis of the Republic and on sources; then the above-mentioned chapter on the second-century Empire and its problems; then a long section of over pages which is essentially political-military narrative, with the three eastern sections interspersed.

The final section, of nearly pages, takes a number of separate themes: the constitution and public criminal law largely on the quaestiones ; Roman private law; the administration of the Empire; economy and society an extremely stimulating section by Claude Nicolet, explicitly designed to raise wider questions ; the city of Rome and the plebs urbana, by Nicholas Purcell, of which more below; intellectual developments the first-class chapter by Miriam Griffin, mentioned above ;religion, by Mary Beard; and finally an epilogue, by the three editors.

It will quickly be seen that no-one could reasonably complain of the richness or quality of the material offered. There is an infinite range of themes which could be discussed, so I will select just three: 'the Senate'; the mass of Roman citizens, in Rome itself, in Italy, and increasingly in the provinces; and the role of the provincial populations in the military structure of the Empire.

Yet, it seems to me, we need to start further back, and to look much more carefully at the social context of the functions of a senator.

Roman History 02 The Roman Republic 509 386 BC

Surprising as it may seem, given the centrality of the topic, there is actually much about 'the Senate' of the Republic which still calls out for examination and clarification. To say, as some have, that all office-holders were by definition 'aristocrats' is circular. Many problems arise.

Cambridge ancient history 9. roman republic 43 bc

What was a gens, or a familia? How many patrician familiae gentes?


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  • What proportion of the and then after Sulla members of the Senate really did descend from previous holders of curule office, with or without a break of one or more generations? The question partly, but only partly, depends on the late-Republican informal usage of the terms nobiles and novi, re-opened by P. Brunt in JRS 72 , I. Equally important, and not yet absorbed by Republican historians, is the nuanced treatment by K. Hopkins and G.

    Burton in ch. We must at all costs distinguish occupation of the consulship, which E. Should we really see all of the IOO tn'buniplebis, or the quaestores, of the 60s as part of an aristocracy of birth? The question of how much we really know of the long-term history of 'senatorial' families gentes? Wikander, 'Senators and Equites v. This very emphasis on ancestors, expressed through household imagines, on coins minted from the s onwards, and in literary reconstructions, as by Atticus Nepos,Atticus 18, , of course itself confirms that descent was regarded as important.

    But how significant was the availability of 'noble' ancestors for that large majority of holders of public elected office, and consequently senators, who never held the consulship? The modern emphasis on the consulship, as the key to 'politics', is in any case rendered problematic by the fact that it was only after Sulla, in the first period which we know well from contemporary evidence, that consuls tended to stay in Rome for most of their year of office before going to theirprovinciae. As we know from J. Giovannini, Consulare Imperium , the consuls'provinciae were already allotted during their year of office, and they could it seems go off to them when they wished.

    But they did in fact tend to stay in Rome, and thus to function as politicians, thus marking a vast change as against the earlier and middle Republic, when consuls like the strategoi of fifth-century democratic Athens. Nor is. Yet it was. IX also misses the significant formal change which also seems to go back to Sulla, namely.