The Roman Civilization: A City Based Essentially On War

The Roman Civilization: A City Based Essentially On War.

The Roman Civilization: A City Based Essentially On War

Rome is a city-based essentially on war, in which the military structure coincides with the political one.

The conquest of lands allows reconciliation of the interests of the aristocracy (senatorial class) with those of the plebs (the Roman people). This expansion creates patriotic solidarity that was unmatched in any other city.

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But the greatness of Rome was the result not only of its military power but above all of its ability to hold together and politically integrate the various parts of an empire so quickly conquered. The Roman political domination was the most capable among those of antiquity to arouse consensus and lay roots, leaving signs in the landscape, in the language, in the culture, in the law of nations.

The Civilization:

“The barbarians ignore the rights of peoples and also the foundations of human rights”.

This is the Latin saying, profoundly true in Roman times.

The life of the Romans, although backward compared to so many conquests of today, was very advanced civilly compared to the populations of the rest of the world.

This civilization was formed by the contact between different peoples who diluted many excesses among themselves by exchanging different aspects of different cultures. It reached its peak in the imperial era, even if there were complaints about the decadence of customs, in reality, what was regretted was the unjust domination of men over women and children.

The healthier side of the Romans was the famous continental, continence, for which any excess was to be avoided, from excessive devotion to the Gods to excessive food, or sex, or revelry, but also from its opposite, that is, abstinence from pleasures of life.

The Roman Civilization: A City Based Essentially On War

The Culture:

Roman Empire was an empire with a Greco-Roman, bilingual and bicultural imprint. In Rome, philosophy and medicine were taught in Greek, and the emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote down his thoughts in Greek, not Latin. The linguistic frontier passed on the territory of Dalmatia: from here Latin was spoken, from there Greek.

Horace wrote that "Greece has conquered its savage conqueror" by bringing him the arts. The philosophy and rhetoric were Greek, in the dous were placed the statues and reliefs made by the Greek artists who moved to Rome, where they worked and earned more.

Rome added political genius to the Greek artistic and cultural genius, as well as a sense of authority and a sense of rules.

The Romans copied Greek art to invent their own, but they were great admirers of Greek, Egyptian and Oriental antiques.

Greeks and Romans had similar cities, with the concept of the city with services and markets in the center. But Greece and Rome had the city system in common. The world dominated by Rome lived in a state of autarchy. The central power was not confused with the affairs of the conquered cities but intervened only in the event of unrest.

The Roman Empire left ample autonomy to the local powers and commanded simply by transforming the notables of the cities into collaborators. But they did not want to proselytize or spread their civilization, but Roman citizenship was acquired only on the condition of an effective civilization.

The aim was maximum security for Rome, and since there were no other nations, there was not even a foreign policy. Rome considered itself the only true state, and in fact, it was, with a series of shapeless tribes around which to be entrusted with great autonomy.

However, Gauls, Spaniards, and Africans felt Roman. They were proud of their birth, but then they considered themselves part of a larger whole. A Syrian said: I am Syrian, but then he added, "the faithful subject of the emperor". On the contrary, the Greeks were proud to be Greeks. Even in the fourth century, they said: "We are Greeks, you Romans". With all their sense of superiority, the Greeks were nevertheless happy with the Roman domination, which ensured the power of the notables, good society, and defense from the barbarians.

Then the emperor was not a king. He was a "great citizen" who had assumed power to govern and defend the res public, hence the Empire. His power had no mystical connotation. He was an agent of the Roman people and if he behaved badly he would be replaced. And since the only sanction in Roman politics was death, his removal often coincided with his assassination.

The Roman Civilization: A City Based Essentially On War

The Wars:

Much has been criticized for the domination of the Romans over other peoples, without taking into account that at the time their borders were always threatened, so there was no solution, either they attacked or they were attacked.

Already the first Romans settled on the Tiber island had to defend themselves from those who tried to cross the ford to attack them, and the union with the Sabine's took place to face the enemies who were everywhere.

They were tribes and these have always fought each other, in every corner of the earth, which still happens with today's tribes.

The only way to keep neighbors good was based for the Romans on the following principles:

Demonstrate military supremacy through battle.

Be generous to the conquered by avoiding retaliation after the victory.

Establish Roman militias on the territory to discourage revolts.

To reconstruct in a much more effective and artistic way what the enemy people had destroyed during the war. They have not only embellished many cities but have built them from scratch.

They respected not only customs and traditions but also religion. The Romans never fought to affirm their Gods, for them, the divinities of others were more, and they had the right to be worshiped like the others, often in fact they adopted them by bringing the simulacra to Rome and erecting temples. The Romans, unlike many intolerant religions of today, did not consider themselves to be the holders of the only true Gods, nor did they suffer if others had different divinities. They were a great example of religious tolerance.

If they persecuted Christians and Jews it was not because of their Gods, but because they promulgated their divinities as the only true ones, teaching that all others were false. For the Roman mentality, this was on the one hand fanaticism, on the one hand, an attempt to destabilize their religious beliefs.

The Law:

The Roman legal system lasted for thirteen centuries, from the date of the foundation of Rome (753 BC) to the end of Justinian's Empire (565 AD). In fact, after the death of Justinian Italy was invaded by the Lombards, with the moral and juridical decay of customs and law. The Western empire dissolved and Byzantium moved further and further away from the Roman civilization.

The Colonies:

The current meaning of colony is different from the Latin one: for us, it indicates extensive territories in distant continents, conquered for exploitation, for the Romans it was an expansion of their state, through the establishment of new communities on some lands confiscated from vanquished enemies. But it also provided for the Romanization of the defeated enemies, changing their laws and customs without violence, that is, civilizing them to the point of being able to consider them as Rome itself, granting Roman citizenship to the inhabitants of those lands.

In general, however, the Roman colonists founded new cities, with rituals, offerings to the deities, and their sacral delimitation. The Latin colonies had cities with walls, a road network with sewers, a Forum, public buildings, a sacred area with the Capitalism dedicated to the Capitoline triad (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva), other temples, public cisterns, and, sometimes, a market.

The houses in the city were intended for the ruling class and urban workers: traders, artisans, and farmers with lands close to the walls. The other settlers lived in the countryside.

Subsequently, in Italy, there were only colonies under Roman law.

The Luxuries:

During the imperial era the Romans lived mostly in luxury, even if due to the enormous urbanization, poor people flocked from all over, together with people in search of fortune.

The senatorial and imperial powers tried in every way to limit these luxuries, partly because of the famous principle of Continents, partly because the aristocrats did not burn their possessions, partly because the money had to be spent on works to favor of Rome and not for personal vainglory.

These laws, perhaps because they were often too severe, did not have much success.


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