Rider University Res Gestae Discussion

  • Read the Res Gestae (Divine Accomplishments) of Augustus (see link on Blackboard) as well as in Mathiesen pp. 402-3, as well as the account of Augustus’ career in the supporting sources and The West in Question 7. What is the purpose of this source?

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    Ralph Mathisen, Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations: From Prehistory to 640 CE, Oxford University Press


    The Deeds of the Divine Augustus
    By Augustus
    Written 14 A.C.E.
    Translated by Thomas Bushnell, BSG
    A copy below of the deeds of the divine Augustus, by which he subjected the whole wide earth
    to the rule of the Roman people, and of the money which he spent for the state and Roman
    people, inscribed on two bronze pillars, which are set up in Rome.
    1. In my nineteenth year, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army with
    which I set free the state, which was oppressed by the domination of a faction. For that reason,
    the senate enrolled me in its order by laudatory resolutions, when Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius
    were consuls (43 B.C.E.), assigning me the place of a consul in the giving of opinions, and gave
    me the imperium. With me as propraetor, it ordered me, together with the consuls, to take care
    lest any detriment befall the state. But the people made me consul in the same year, when the
    consuls each perished in battle, and they made me a triumvir for the settling of the state.
    2. I drove the men who slaughtered my father into exile with a legal order, punishing their crime,
    and afterwards, when they waged war on the state, I conquered them in two battles.
    3. I often waged war, civil and foreign, on the earth and sea, in the whole wide world, and as
    victor I spared all the citizens who sought pardon. As for foreign nations, those which I was able
    to safely forgive, I preferred to preserve than to destroy. About five hundred thousand Roman
    citizens were sworn to me. I led something more than three hundred thousand of them into
    colonies and I returned them to their cities, after their stipend had been earned, and I assigned all
    of them fields or gave them money for their military service. I captured six hundred ships in
    addition to those smaller than triremes.
    4. Twice I triumphed with an ovation, and three times I enjoyeda curule triumph and twenty one
    times I was named emperor. When the senate decreed more triumphs for me, I sat out from all of
    them. I placed the laurel from the fasces in the Capitol, when the vows which I pronounced in
    each war had been fulfilled. On account of the things successfully done by me and through my
    officers, under my auspices, on earth and sea, the senate decreed fifty-five times that there be
    sacrifices to the immortal gods. Moreover there were 890 days on which the senate decreed there
    would be sacrifices. In my triumphs kings and nine children of kings were led before my chariot.
    I had been consul thirteen times, when I wrote this, and I was in the thirty-seventh year of
    tribunician power (14 A.C.E.).
    5. When the dictatorship was offered to me, both in my presence and my absence, by the people
    and senate, when Marcus Marcellus and Lucius Arruntius were consuls (22 B.C.E.), I did not
    accept it. I did not evade the curatorship of grain in the height of the food shortage, which I so
    arranged that within a few days I freed the entire city from the present fear and danger by my
    own expense and administration. When the annual and perpetual consulate was then again
    offered to me, I did not accept it.
    6. When Marcus Vinicius and Quintus Lucretius were consuls (19 B.C.E.), then again when
    Publius Lentulus and Gnaeus Lentulus were (18 B.C.E.), and third when Paullus Fabius
    Maximus and Quintus Tubero were (11 B.C.E.), although the senateand Roman people
    consented that I alone be made curator of the laws and customs with the highest power, I
    received no magistracy offered contrary to the customs of the ancestors. What the senate then
    wanted to accomplish through me, I did through tribunician power, and five times on my own
    accord I both requested and received from the senate a colleague in such power.
    7. I was triumvir for the settling of the state for ten continuous years. I was first of the senate up
    to that day on which I wrote this, for forty years. I was high priest, augur, one of the Fifteen for
    the performance of rites, one of the Seven of the sacred feasts, brother of Arvis, fellow of Titus,
    and Fetial.
    8. When I was consul the fifth time (29 B.C.E.), I increased the number of patricians by order of
    the people and senate. I read the roll of the senate three times, and in my sixth consulate (28
    B.C.E.) I made a census of the people with Marcus Agrippa as my colleague. I conducted a
    lustrum, after a forty-one year gap, in which lustrum were counted 4,063,000 heads of Roman
    citizens. Then again, with consular imperium I conducted a lustrum alone when Gaius
    Censorinus and Gaius Asinius were consuls (8 B.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted
    4,233,000 heads of Roman citizens. And the third time, with consular imperium, I conducted a
    lustrum with my son Tiberius Caesar as colleague, when Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius
    were consuls (14 A.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,937,000 of the heads of Roman
    citizens. By new laws passed with my sponsorship, I restored many traditions of the ancestors,
    which were falling into disuse in our age, and myself I handed on precedents of many things to
    be imitated in later generations.
    9. The senate decreed that vows be undertaken for my health by the consuls and priests every
    fifth year. In fulfillment of these vows they often celebrated games for my life; several times the
    four highest colleges of priests, several times the consuls. Also both privately and as a city all the
    citizens unanimously and continuously prayed at all the shrines for my health.
    10. By a senate decree my name was included in the Saliar Hymn, and it was sanctified by a law,
    both that I would be sacrosanct for ever, and that, as long as I would live, the tribunician power
    would be mine. I was unwilling to be high priest in the place of my living colleague; when the
    people offered me that priesthood which my father had, I refused it. And I received that
    priesthood, after several years, with the death of him who had occupied it since the opportunity
    of the civil disturbance, with a multitude flocking together out of all Italy to my election, so
    many as had never before been in Rome, when Publius Sulpicius and Gaius Valgius were
    consuls (12 B.C.E.).
    11. The senate consecrated the altar of Fortune the Bringer-back before the temples of Honor and
    Virtue at the Campanian gate for my retrn, on which it ordered the priests and Vestal virgins to
    offer yearly sacrifices on the day when I had returned to the city from Syria (when Quintus
    Lucretius and Marcus Vinicius were consuls (19 Bc)), and it named that day Augustalia after my
    12. By the authority of the senate, a part of the praetors and tribunes of the plebs, with consul
    Quintus Lucretius and the leading men, was sent to meet me in Campania, which honor had been
    decreed for no one but me until that time. When I returned to Rome from Spain and Gaul, having
    successfully accomplished matters in those provinces, when Tiberius Nero and Publius
    Quintilius were consuls (13 B.C.E.), the senate voted to consecrate the altar of August Peace in
    the field of Mars for my return, on which it ordered the magistrates and priests and Vestal virgins
    to offer annual sacrifices.
    13. Our ancestors wanted Janus Quirinus to be closed when throughout the all the rule of the
    Roman people, by land and sea, peace had been secured through victory. Although before my
    birth it had been closed twice in all in recorded memory from the founding of the city, the senate
    voted three times in my principate that it be closed.
    14. When my sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar, whom fortune stole from me as youths, were
    fourteen, the senate and Roman people made them consuls-designate on behalf of my honor, so
    that they would enter that magistracy after five years, and the senate decreed that on thatday
    when they were led into the forum they would be included in public councils. Moreover the
    Roman knights together named each of them first of the youth and gave them shields and spears.
    15. I paid to the Roman plebs, HS 300 per man from my father’s will and in my own name gave
    HS 400 from the spoils of war when I was consul for the fifth time (29 B.C.E.); furthermore I
    again paid out a public gift of HS 400 per man, in my tenth consulate (24 B.C.E.), from my own
    patrimony; and, when consul for the eleventh time (23 B.C.E.), twelve doles of grain personally
    bought were measured out; and in my twelfth year of tribunician power (12-11 B.C.E.) I gave
    HS 400 per man for the third time. And these public gifts of mine never reached fewer than
    250,000 men. In my eighteenth year of tribunician power, as consul for the twelfth time (5
    B.C.E.), I gave to 320,000 plebs of the city HS 240 per man. And, when consul the fifth time (29
    B.C.E.), I gave from my war-spoils to colonies of my soldiers each HS 1000 per man; about
    120,000 men i the colonies received this triumphal public gift. Consul for the thirteenth time (2
    B.C.E.), I gave HS 240 to the plebs who then received the public grain; they were a few more
    than 200,000.
    16. I paid the towns money for the fields which I had assigned to soldiers in my fourth consulate
    (30 B.C.E.) and then when Marcus Crassus and Gnaeus Lentulus Augur were consuls (14
    B.C.E.); the sum was about HS 600,000,000 which I paid out for Italian estates, and about HS
    260,000,000 which I paid for provincial fields. I was first and alone who did this among all who
    founded military colonies in Italy or the provinces according to the memory of my age. And
    afterwards, when Tiberius Nero and Gnaeus Piso were consuls (7 B.C.E.), and likewise when
    Gaius Antistius and Decius Laelius were consuls (6 B.C.E.), and when Gaius Calvisius and
    Lucius Passienus were consuls (4 B.C.E.), and when Lucius Lentulus and Marcus Messalla were
    consuls (3 B.C.E.), and when Lucius Caninius and Quintus Fabricius were consuls (2 B.C.E.) , I
    paid out rewards in cash to the soldiers whom I had led into their towns when their service was
    completed, and in this venture I spent about HS 400,000,000.
    17. Four times I helped the senatorial treasury with my money, so that I offered HS 150,000,000
    to those who were in charge of the treasury. And when Marcus Lepidus and Luciu Arruntius
    were consuls (6 A.C.E.), I offered HS 170,000,000 from my patrimony to the military treasury,
    which was founded by my advice and from which rewards were given to soldiers who had served
    twenty or more times.
    18. From that year when Gnaeus and Publius Lentulus were consuls (18 Bc), when the taxes fell
    short, I gave out contributions of grain and money from my granary and patrimony, sometimes to
    100,000 men, sometimes to many more.
    19. I built the senate-house and the Chalcidicum which adjoins it and the temple of Apollo on the
    Palatine with porticos, the temple of divine Julius, the Lupercal, the portico at the Flaminian
    circus, which I allowed to be called by the name Octavian, after he who had earlier built in the
    same place, the state box at the great circus, the temple on the Capitoline of Jupiter Subduer and
    Jupiter Thunderer, the temple of Quirinus, the temples of Minerva and Queen Juno and Jupiter
    Liberator on the Aventine, the temple of the Lares at the top of the holy street, the temple of the
    gods of the Penates on the Velian, the temple of Youth, and the temple of the Great Mother on
    the Palatine.
    20. I rebuilt the Capitol and the theater of Pompey, each work at enormous cost, without any
    inscription of my name. I rebuilt aqueducts in many places that had decayed with age, and I
    doubled the capacity of the Marcian aqueduct by sending a new spring into its channel. I
    completed the Forum of Julius and the basilic which he built between the temple of Castor and
    the temple of Saturn, works begun and almost finished by my father. When the same basilica was
    burned with fire I expanded its grounds and I began it under an inscription of the name of my
    sons, and, if I should not complete it alive, I ordered it to be completed by my heirs. Consul for
    the sixth time (28 B.C.E.), I rebuilt eighty-two temples of the gods in the city by the authority of
    the senate, omitting nothing which ought to have been rebuilt at that time. Consul for the seventh
    time (27 B.C.E.), I rebuilt the Flaminian road from the city to Ariminum and all the bridges
    except the Mulvian and Minucian.
    21. I built the temple of Mars Ultor on private ground and the forum of Augustus from warspoils. I build the theater at the temple of Apollo on ground largely bought from private owners,
    under the name of Marcus Marcellus my son-in-law. I consecrated gifts from war-spoils in the
    Capitol and in the temple of divine Julius, in the temple of Apollo, in the tempe of Vesta, and in
    the temple of Mars Ultor, which cost me about HS 100,000,000. I sent back gold crowns
    weighing 35,000 to the towns and colonies of Italy, which had been contributed for my triumphs,
    and later, however many times I was named emperor, I refused gold crowns from the towns and
    colonies which they equally kindly decreed, and before they had decreed them.
    22. Three times I gave shows of gladiators under my name and five times under the name of my
    sons and grandsons; in these shows about 10,000 men fought. Twice I furnished under my name
    spectacles of athletes gathered from everywhere, and three times under my grandson’s name. I
    celebrated games under my name four times, and furthermore in the place of other magistrates
    twenty-three times. As master of the college I celebrated the secular games for the college of the
    Fifteen, with my colleague Marcus Agrippa, when Gaius Furnius and Gaius Silanus were consuls
    (17 B.C.E.). Consul for the thirteenth time (2 B.C.E.), I celebrated the first games of Mas, which
    after that time thereafter in following years, by a senate decree and a law, the consuls were to
    celebrate. Twenty-six times, under my name or that of my sons and grandsons, I gave the people
    hunts of African beasts in the circus, in the open, or in the amphitheater; in them about 3,500
    beasts were killed.
    23. I gave the people a spectacle of a naval battle, in the place across the Tiber where the grove
    of the Caesars is now, with the ground excavated in length 1,800 feet, in width 1,200, in which
    thirty beaked ships, biremes or triremes, but many smaller, fought among themselves; in these
    ships about 3,000 men fought in addition to the rowers.
    24. In the temples of all the cities of the province of Asia, as victor, I replaced the ornaments
    which he with whom I fought the war had possessed privately after he despoiled the temples.
    Silver statues of me-on foot, on horseback, and standing in a chariot-were erected in about eighty
    cities, which I myself removed, and from the money I placed goldn offerings in the temple of
    Apollo under my name and of those who paid the honor of the statues to me.
    25. I restored peace to the sea from pirates. In that slave war I handed over to their masters for
    the infliction of punishments about 30,000 captured, who had fled their masters and taken up
    arms against the state. All Italy swore allegiance to me voluntarily, and demanded me as leader
    of the war which I won at Actium; the provinces of Gaul, Spain, Africa, Sicily, and Sardinia
    swore the same allegiance. And those who then fought under my standard were more than 700
    senators, among whom 83 were made consuls either before or after, up to the day this was
    written, and about 170 were made priests.
    26. I extended the borders of all the provinces of the Roman people which neighbored nations
    not subject to our rule. I restored peace to the provinces of Gaul and Spain, likewise Germany,
    which includes the ocean from Cadiz to the mouth of the river Elbe. I brought peace to the Alps
    from the region which i near the Adriatic Sea to the Tuscan, with no unjust war waged against
    any nation. I sailed my ships on the ocean from the mouth of the Rhine to the east region up to
    the borders of the Cimbri, where no Roman had gone before that time by land or sea, and the
    Cimbri and the Charydes and the Semnones and the other Germans of the same territory sought
    by envoys the friendship of me and of the Roman people. By my order and auspices two armies
    were led at about the same time into Ethiopia and into that part of Arabia which is called Happy,
    and the troops of each nation of enemies were slaughtered in battle and many towns captured.
    They penetrated into Ethiopia all the way to the town Nabata, which is near to Meroe; and into
    Arabia all the way to the border of the Sabaei, advancing to the town Mariba.
    27. I added Egypt to the rule of the Roman people. When Artaxes, king of Greater Armenia, was
    killed, though I could have made it a province, I preferred, by the example of our elders, to hand
    over that kingdomto Tigranes, son of king Artavasdes, and grandson of King Tigranes, through
    Tiberius Nero, who was then my step-son. And the same nation, after revolting and rebelling,
    and subdued through my son Gaius, I handed over to be ruled by King Ariobarzanes son of
    Artabazus, King of the Medes, and after his death, to his son Artavasdes; and when he was
    killed, I sent Tigranes, who came from the royal clan of the Armenians, into that rule. I
    recovered all the provinces which lie across the Adriatic to the east and Cyrene, with kings now
    possessing them in large part, and Sicily and Sardina, which had been occupied earlier in the
    slave war.
    28. I founded colonies of soldiers in Africa, Sicily, Macedonia, each Spain, Greece, Asia, Syria,
    Narbonian Gaul, and Pisidia, and furthermore had twenty-eight colonies founded in Italy under
    my authority, which were very populous and crowded while I lived.
    29. I recovered from Spain, Gaul, and Dalmatia the many military standards lost through other
    leaders, after defeating te enemies. I compelled the Parthians to return to me the spoils and
    standards of three Roman armies, and as suppliants to seek the friendship of the Roman people.
    Furthermore I placed those standards in the sanctuary of the temple of Mars Ultor.
    30. As for the tribes of the Pannonians, before my principate no army of the Roman people had
    entered their land. When they were conquered through Tiberius Nero, who was then my step-son
    and emissary, I subjected them to the rule of the Roman people and extended the borders of
    Illyricum to the shores of the river Danube. On the near side of it the army of the Dacians was
    conquered and overcome under my auspices, and then my army, led across the Danube, forced
    the tribes of the Dacians to bear the rule of the Roman people.
    31. Emissaries from the Indian kings were often sent to me, which had not been seen before that
    time by any Roman leader. The Bastarnae, the Scythians, and the Sarmatians, who are on this
    side of the river Don and the kings further away, an the kings of the Albanians, of the Iberians,
    and of the Medes, sought our friendship through emissaries.
    32. To me were sent supplications by kings: of the Parthians, Tiridates and later Phrates son of
    king Phrates, of the Medes, Artavasdes, of the Adiabeni, Artaxares, of the Britons,
    Dumnobellaunus and Tincommius, of the Sugambri, Maelo, of the Marcomanian Suebi (…) ()rus. King Phrates of the Parthians, son of Orodes, sent all his sons and grandsons into Italy to
    me, though defeated in no war, but seeking our friendship through the pledges of his children.
    And in my principate many other peoples experienced the faith of the Roman people, of whom
    nothing had previously existed of embassies or interchange of friendship with the Roman people.
    33. The nations of the Parthians and Medes received from me the first kings of those nations
    which they sought by emissaries: the Parthians, Vonones son of king Phrates, grandson of king
    Orodes, the Medes, Ariobarzanes, son of king Artavasdes, grandson of king Aiobarzanes.
    34. In my sixth and seventh consulates (28-27 B.C.E.), after putting out the civil war, having
    obtained all things by universal consent, I handed over the state from my power to the dominion
    of the senate and Roman people. And for this merit of mine, by a senate decree, I was called
    Augustus and the doors of my temple were publicly clothed with laurel and a civic crown was
    fixed over my door and a gold shield placed in the Julian senate-house, and the inscription of that
    shield testified to the virtue, mercy, justice, and piety, for which the senate and Roman people
    gave it to me. After that time, I exceeded all in influence, but I had no greater power than the
    others who were colleagues with me in each magistracy.
    35. When I administered my thirteenth consulate (2 B.C.E.), the senate and Equestrian order and
    Roman people all called me father of the country, and voted that the same be inscribed in the
    vestibule of my temple, in the Julian senate-house, and in the forum of Augustus under the chario
    which had been placed there for me by a decision of the senate. When I wrote this I was seventysix years old.
    Written after Augustus’ death.
    1. All the expenditures which he gave either into the treasury or to the Roman plebs or to
    discharged soldiers: HS 2,400,000,000.
    2. The works he built: the temples of Mars, of Jupiter Subduer and Thunderer, of Apollo, of
    divine Julius, of Minerva, of Queen Juno, of Jupiter Liberator, of the Lares, of the gods of the
    Penates, of Youth, and of the Great Mother, the Lupercal, the state box at the circus, the senatehouse with the Chalcidicum, the forum of Augustus, the Julian basilica, the theater of Marcellus,
    the Octavian portico, and the grove of the Caesars across the Tiber.
    3. He rebuilt the Capitol and holy temples numbering eighty-two, the theater of Pompey,
    waterways, and the Flaminian road.
    4. The sum expended on theatrical spectacles and gladatorial games and athletes and hunts and
    mock naval battles and money given to colonies, cities, andtowns destroyed by earthquake and
    fire or per man to friends and senators, whom he raised to the senate rating: innumerable.
    Copyright 1998, Thomas Bushnell, BSG. This translation may be freely distributed, provided the
    copyright notice and this permission notice are retained on all copies.
    Chapter Seven: The Roman Empire
    Although Rome was in possession of an empire by the Punic Wars, historians in general
    assign the name ‘Roman Empire’ to the period following Caesar’s assassination, when his heir,
    Octavian, made himself master of the Roman world. The Empire survived for centuries until it
    eventually collapsed in ways that will be discussed in Chapter Eight. The question to be
    addressed here deals not so much with as sociopolitics as culture. How do we understand the
    transformation from Republic to Empire in the period following Caesar? How did Roman and
    provincial perceive the meaning of Empire in their lives and society? Was there a conscious
    effort by the Empire to ‘Romanize’ the Empire? In short, did some sort of “grand strategy” exist
    to rationalize and promote the imperial presence?
    Luttwak, a military analyst, has argued that the Romans did indeed have a vision of
    From the beginning of the nineteenth century until Hiroshima, strategic thought was
    dominated by post-Napoleonic, “Clausewitzian” notions, and these notions have pervaded the
    thinking of many whose primary interests are far removed from military matters. In their crude,
    popularized form, these ideas stress a particular form of war, conflict between nationalities; they
    stress the primacy and desirability of offensive warfare in pursuit of decisive results (thus
    inspiring an aversion to defensive strategies); and they imply a sharp distinction between the
    state of peace and the state of war. Finally, these ideas accord primacy to the active use of
    military force… for the purposes of diplomatic coercion.
    Only since 1945 has the emergence of new technologies of mass destruction invalidated
    the fundamental assumptions of the Clausewitzian approach to grand strategy. We, like the
    Romans, face the prospect not of decisive conflict, but of a permanent state of war… We, like the
    Romans, must actively protect an advanced society against a variety of threats rather than
    concentrate on destroying the forces of our enemies in battle…
    The superiority of the empire… derived from the whole complex of ideas and traditions
    that informed the organization of Roman military power and harnessed the armed power of the
    empire to political purpose. The firm subordination of tactical priorities, martial ideals, and
    warlike instincts to political goals was the essential condition of the strategic success of the
    empire. With rare exceptions, the misuse of force in pursuit of purely tactical goals, or for the
    psychic rewards of purposeless victories, was avoided by those who controlled the destinies of
    Rome… military force was clearly recognized for what it was, an essentially limited instrument
    of power, costly and brittle…
    Just as the Romans had apparently no need of a Clausewitz to subject their military
    energies to the discipline of political goals, it seems that they had no need of modern analytical
    techniques either… the Romans nevertheless designed and built large and complex security
    systems that successfully integrated troop deployments, fixed defenses, road networks, and
    signaling links in a coherent whole. In the more abstract spheres of strategy it is evident that,
    whether by intellect or traditional intuition, the Romans understood all the subtleties of
    deterrence, and also its limitations. Above all, the Romans clearly realized that the dominant
    dimension of power was not physical but psychological – the product of others’ perceptions of
    Roman strength rather than the use of this strength. And this realization alone can explain the
    sophistication of Roman strategy at its best… (Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the
    Roman Empire: From the First Century A.D. to the Third. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press,
    1976 pp. xi-xii, 2-3) [272 pp total, 417 words]
    The Question: How does Luttwak defend the idea that the Romans had a ‘grand strategy” of
    Millett disagrees with Luttwak’s assessment that there was some sort of continued plan for
    It is essential from the outset to realize that Romanization was a two-way process of
    acculturation: it was the interaction of two cultures, such that information and traits passed
    between them… As such its products were not simply the result of change initiated by the
    Romans. It is also important to understand that in her expansion, Rome dealt with peoples, not
    territories. The processes of cultural change which we call Romanization reflect the influences
    brought to bear by the Roman elite on the different native peoples with whom they were dealing.
    Thus to understand Romanization we need to have a view of the protagonists and the systems
    within which each operated…
    Roman imperialism had much more to do with personal power struggles within the
    oligarchy at the core and this has major ramifications for the structure which comprises the
    Empire. Its system was far less centralized in administration than is often supposed… and in
    essence relied on circumscribed local autonomy with the cities as the fundamental unit. This
    worked in the interests of the Roman elite, who were not burdened with the expense of directly
    administering the lands which they controlled… This system meant that Rome governed through
    the established local elites, whether formerly magistrates or tribal aristocrats, who consequently
    identified their interests with those of Rome.
    The net effect of this was an early imperial system of loosely decentralized administration
    which allowed overall control by Rome while leaving the low-level administration in the hands of
    the traditional aristocracies. This enabled most areas brought under Roman control to be run
    without a significant military presence and with a light burden on the conquerors. The corollary
    of this low input was that the material gain to Rome was negligible by the standards of modern
    imperialism. Rome’s Empire was thus an empire of individual and collective political prestige
    for the conquerors rather than one of continuing economic benefit. Furthermore, its character
    was that of a federation of diverse peoples under Rome, rather than a monolithic and uniformly
    centralized block.
    We can draw these strands together to see Roman imperialism as an extension of the
    competitive structure of the elite in Rome itself. Expansion was not planned in relation to any
    grand strategy, and was executed piecemeal. Similarly, the advantages accruing from this
    expansion were not systematically organized and their exploitation was circumscribed because of
    the moral and ethical constraints of Roman society. These constraints did break down in the late
    Republic, but the Augustan administrative system deflected any emergence of systematic
    economic imperialism. This was an indirect result of the formalization of a system of provincial
    administration which left power in the hands of the local peoples through their municipalities…
    This administrative structure defused any tendency towards a centralized imperial economy…
    (Martin Millett, The Romanization of Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992 p.
    2, 7-8) [272 pp total, 459 words]
    The Question: Why does Millett discount any idea of a “grand strategy”?
    These two opinions suggest that a key to the question lies in continuity in Roman administration
    and whether there were core intentions to “Romanize”, a concept that sets some historians’ teeth
    on edge. The question requires a brief discussion of what rulership of the Empire meant for the
    first three hundred years. As in Chapter Six, no attempt will be made to present a thorough
    political history of the three hundred years under consideration. Section One will ask how Rome
    went from a Republican government to one-man rule in the fifty years following Caesar’s death.
    Section Two will look at the concept of “Romanization”. Section Three will examine the
    Romanity of new religious thought, especially Christianity.
    Section One: The Principate
    There are few agents in Roman history as pivotal as Octavian Caesar Augustus. His
    actions would put a permanent end to the Republic and establish the foundations of true imperial
    rule. While there seems to be no question that he was a ruthless opportunist in a world where
    ambition was a virtue, did his motives and goals justify the way by which he achieved them?
    What were those motives and goals in the greater frame of the identity of the Empire?
    The classic description of Augustus came from Syme:
    …It was the end of a century of anarchy, culminating in twenty years of civil war and
    tyranny. If despotism was the price, it was not too high; to a patriotic Roman of Republican
    sentiments even submission to absolute rule was a lesser evil than war between citizens. Liberty
    was gone, but only a minority at Rome had ever enjoyed it. The survivors of the old governing
    class, shattered in spirit, gave up the contest…
    The rule of Augustus brought manifold blessings to Rome, Italy and the provinces. Yet
    the new dispensation… was the work of fraud and bloodshed, based upon the seizure of property
    and redistribution of power by a revolutionary leader. The happy outcome of the Principate
    might be held to justify, or at last to palliate, the horrors of the Roman Revolution; hence the
    danger of an indulgent estimate of the person and acts of Augustus.
    It was the avowed purpose of that statesman to suggest and demonstrate a sharp line of
    division in his career between two periods, the first of deplorable but necessary illegalities, the
    second of constitutional government. So well did he succeed that in later days, confronted with
    the separate persons of Octavianus the Triumvir, author of the proscriptions, and Augustus the
    Princeps, the beneficent magistrate, men have been at a loss to account for the transmutation…
    The problem does not exist: Julian [the Apostate] was closer to the point when he classified
    Augustus as a chameleon. Colour changed, but not substance… (Ronald Syme, The Roman
    Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939 p. 2) [592pp total, 249 words]
    What point is Syme trying to make about the rule of Octavian Augustus?
    Historians are products of their times. Syme’s masterpiece The Roman Revolution was written
    during the rise of another charismatic and ruthless leader, Adolf Hitler. Syme asks if the
    admittedly remarkable outcome of stable empire can excuse the way in which it was obtained.
    More sympathetic is Everett in a recent reappraisal:
    …The story of his career shows that Augustus was indeed ruthless, cruel, and ambitious
    for himself. This was only in part a personal trait, for upper class Romans were educated to
    compete with one another and to excel. However, he combined an overriding concern for his
    personal interests with a deep-seated patriotism, based on a nostalgic idea of Rome’s antique
    virtues. In his capacity as princes, selfishness and selflessness were elided in his mind.
    While fighting for dominance, he paid little attention to legality or to the normal civilities
    of political life. He was devious, untrustworthy, and bloodthirsty. But once he had established his
    authority, he governed efficiently and justly, generally allowed some freedom of speech, and
    promoted the rule of law. He was immensely hardworking and tried as hard as any democratic
    parliamentarian to treat his senatorial colleagues with respect and sensitivity. He suffered from
    no delusions of grandeur.
    Augustus lacked the flair of his adoptive father… but he possessed one valuable quality to
    which Caesar could not lay claim: patience… He made haste slowly, seeking permanent
    solutions rather than easy answers. He did not revel in power; he sought to understand it…
    Perhaps the most instructive aspect of Augustus’ approach to politics was his twin
    recognition that in the long run power was unsustainable without consent, and that consent could
    best be won by associating radical constitutional change with a traditional and moralizing
    ideology. (Anthony Everett, Augustus. New York: Random House, 2006 pp. 324-5) [432p, 236
    The Question: How does Everett differ in his opinion from that of Syme?
    These two quotes ask the same question: Can the end justify the means? Compare these modern
    analyses with that made by the historian Tacitus one hundred years after Augustus:
    …Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with cheap corn, and all men
    with the sweets of repose, and so grew greater by degrees, while he concentrated in himself the
    functions of the Senate, the magistrates, and the laws. He was wholly unopposed, for the boldest
    spirits had fallen in battle, or in the proscription, while the remaining nobles, the readier they
    were to be slaves, were raised the higher by wealth and promotion, so that, aggrandised by
    revolution, they preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past. Nor did the provinces
    dislike that condition of affairs, for they distrusted the government of the Senate and the people,
    because of the rivalries between the leading men and the rapacity of the officials, while the
    protection of the laws was unavailing, as they were continually deranged by violence, intrigue,
    and finally by corruption…
    Sensible men… spoke variously of his life with praise and censure. Some said “that
    dutiful feeling towards a father, and the necessities of the State in which laws had then no place,
    drove him into civil war, which can neither be planned nor conducted on any right principles. He
    had often yielded to Antonius, while he was taking vengeance on his father’s murderers, often
    also to Lepidus. When the latter sank into feeble dotage and the former had been ruined by his
    profligacy, the only remedy for his distracted country was the rule of a single man. Yet the State
    had been organized under the name neither of a kingdom nor a dictatorship, but under that of a
    prince. The ocean and remote rivers were the boundaries of the empire; the legions, provinces,
    fleets, all things were linked together; there was law for the citizens; there was respect shown to
    the allies. The capital had been embellished on a grand scale; only in a few instances had he
    resorted to force, simply to secure general tranquillity.”
    It was said, on the other hand, “that filial duty and State necessity were merely
    assumed as a mask. … Pompeius had been deluded by the phantom of peace, and Lepidus by the
    mask of friendship. Subsequently, Antonius had been lured on by the treaties of Tarentum and
    Brundisium… No doubt, there was peace after all this, but it was a peace stained with blood…”
    (Tacitus Annals 1)[Fordham Internet Ancient History Sourcebook 902 kb total 387 words]
    The Question: How did the Romans themselves evaluate the career of Augustus?
    Caesar had formally and posthumously adopted his nineteen year old grand nephew, Gaius
    Octavius, whose subsequent career suggests a keen awareness of political message wrapped in the
    public perception of a shiny Roman resurgence. Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian) spent
    lavishly on the people in Caesar’s name and courted the legions. He was aided by Cicero, who
    turned his significant oratorical powers against Marcus Antonius in a series of speeches that
    portrayed the luxury-loving Antonius as a man who would be king. However, once Octavian
    finally confronted Antonius successfully at Mutina, the Senate snubbed Caesar’s heir. Octavian
    then allied with Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, another of Caesar’s close lieutenants in
    a “Second Triumvirate”, three men pooling their power to take over Rome. Their victims
    included Cicero, whose hand and head, his “weapons”, were displayed in the Forum.
    The united armies then took down the armies of Caesar’s assassins, and confiscated huge
    amounts of land for veterans from Italian communities, causing economic hardship and outright
    violence. While Octavian dealt with the anger against him on both sides in a land cut once again
    by civil war, Antonius went east, to carry out a campaign against the Parthians to recover the
    eagle standards lost by Crassus. However, his focus changed when he met Cleopatra and diverted
    to Alexandria.
    Julius Caesar’s affair with Cleopatra may have been more of a conquest by a man known
    to have had an eye for the ladies as well as a political coup for her. On the other hand, the
    evidence suggests Antonius was genuinely smitten by the intelligent and self-confident queen. It
    did not take long for word about the couple to get back to Rome. For Octavian the situation was
    wrong on so many levels. First of all, Antonius was his brother-in-law, married to the impeccable
    and long-suffering Octavia, who was well aware that her husband was flaunting the sexual double
    standard. Secondly, Antonius behaved as a man seduced, and thus weakened, by a foreign
    queen. Finally, Antonius seemed to be giving too much power to Cleopatra. Breaking a few
    rules, Octavian read in public what was purported to be Antonius’ will, pointing out Antonius’
    wish to put Alexandria on the same footing as Rome. No matter the illegality of Octavian’s
    actions, the Senate was moved to deal with the situation.
    In 31 Octavian’s fleet met the Egyptian fleet in an exhausting battle off the Greek coast at
    Actium. He pursued the couple to Egypt, where both died in captivity, Cleopatra by suicide.
    Octavian was now master of the entire Mediterranean by 30 BCE.
    In my twentieth year [44 B.C.], acting on my own initiative and at my own charges, I
    raised an army wherewith I brought again liberty to the Republic oppressed by the dominance of
    a faction. Therefore did the Senate admit me to its own order by honorary decrees, in the
    consulship of Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius. At the same time they gave unto me rank among the
    consulars in the expressing of my opinion [in the Senate]; and they gave unto me the imperium. It
    also voted that I, as propraetor, together with the consuls, should “see to it that the state suffered
    no harm.” In the same year, too, when both consuls had fallen in battle, the people made me
    consul and triumvir for the re-establishing of the Republic. The men who killed my father I drove
    into exile by strictly judicial process, and then, when they took up arms against the Republic,
    twice I overcame them in battle.
    I undertook civil and foreign wars both by land and by sea; as victor therein I showed
    mercy to all surviving [Roman] citizens. Foreign nations, that I could safely pardon, I preferred
    to spare rather than to destroy. About 500,000 Roman citizens took the military oath of
    allegiance to me…
    Twice have I had the lesser triumph [i.e., the ovation]; thrice the [full] curule triumph;
    twenty-one times have I been saluted as “Imperator.” After that, when the Senate voted me many
    triumphs, I declined them. Also I often deposited the laurels in the Capitol, fulfilling the vows
    which I had made in battle. On account of the enterprises brought to a happy issue on land and
    sea by me, or by my legates, under my auspices, fifty-five times has the Senate decreed a
    thanksgiving unto the Immortal Gods… Nine kings, or children of kings, have been led before my
    car in my triumphs…
    The dictatorship which was offered me by the People and by the Senate, both when I was
    present and when I was absent, I did not accept…
    [The temple of] Janus Quirinus, which it was the purpose of our fathers to close when
    there was a victorious peace throughout the whole Roman Empire—by land and sea—and
    which—before my birth—had been alleged to have been closed only twice at all, since Rome was
    founded: thrice did the Senate order it closed while I was princeps…
    In my sixth and seventh consulships [28 and 27 B.C.] when I had put an end to the civil
    wars, after having obtained complete control of the government, by universal consent I
    transferred the Republic from my own dominion back to the authority of the Senate and Roman
    People. In return for this favor by me, I received by decree of the Senate the title Augustus….. in
    the Julian Curia [Senate-house] was set a golden shield, which by its inscription bore witness
    that it was bestowed on me, by the Senate and Roman People, on account of my valor, clemency,
    justice, and piety. After that time I excelled all others in dignity, but of power I held no more than
    those who were my colleagues in any magistracy. (Selections from Augustus, Res Gestae From
    William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources. 2
    Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the West, pp. 166-172.) [Fordham
    Internet Ancient History Sourcebook 22k total, 532 words]
    The Question: How did Augustus himself ‘spin’ his achievements?
    “Augustus” is derived from auctoritas – authority – and he was obviously proud of the
    (possibly staged) moment that gave him his new name. He retained control of provinces with
    standing armies, tribune powers for life, and the right to approve political candidates. He would
    be Princeps, a Republican term for the most respected member of the Senate. Of course, in
    reality Augustus was an emperor – imperator – in full control of the Roman state, but he was too
    subtle to use words of command and military power to hammer home the death of the Republic.
    After Augustus
    Augustus (30 BCE -14 CE) presided over a period of relative peace after the long civil
    war. He invested heavily in both new building and renovations, especially of temples, in
    imposing building materials, supposedly boasting that he found Rome a city of brick and left it a
    city of marble. The effect of this building program and social reforms not only employed
    Romans but gave Rome the grandeur and prosperity of an imperial capital. Augustus also
    oversaw expansion into Germany, with mixed results. While there were a few plots against his
    life, Augustus in general was hailed by the population and literary circle as the bringer of peace.
    Horace wrote of the idyllic peace and prosperity brought by Augustus. Aeneas is introduced to
    the spirit of Augustus, the greatness to come, in Virgil’s Aeneid. In general most poets
    emphasized a return to Republican family morality, one of Augustus’ programs of reform.
    [Picture 7.1: Prima Porta Augustus, early first century CE. Livius.org]
    The Question: What messages about Augustus are sent in this portrayal? How is Augustus
    equated with “Rome”?
    Augustus did not, however, successfully address the problem of what would happen to
    the Republic after his death, as he outlived most of his potential heirs. While his stepson Tiberius
    would assume Augustus’ powers, the problem continued throughout the next two centuries. Just
    what did it mean to be Princeps and how would that honor be bestowed?
    With few exceptions, succeeding emperors assumed the title of princeps, even though by
    virtue of imperial and military command they were really emperors. We know somewhat more
    about Augustus’ immediate successors thanks to the works of Tacitus and Suetonius in particular.
    Their subjects include the possibly deranged Gaius Caligula, the bookish and physicallychallenged Claudius and the over-the-top Nero. These accounts of political ruthlessness and at
    times megalomania generally come from writers of the senatorial class, which was often hostile
    to the emperors Despite their colorful personalities, the empire they ruled continued to expand
    and in general prosper.
    After Nero’s suicide in 68, four military governors tried for the throne. Tacitus put it
    …for now had been divulged that secret of the empire, that emperors could be made elsewhere
    than at Rome. (Histories 1.4)
    Flavius Vespasianus a tax collector’s son and pragmatic victor of the recent Jewish Wars,
    won the throne for his family, the Flavians (69-96). This capable and hard-headed general came
    from a family only recently ennobled. By tradition, he introduced the public pay latrine to collect
    taxes on a universal need. When his son Titus complained that this was an undignified form of
    tax, Vespasian waved a coin under his nose and reminded him that money did not smell.
    Supposedly, knowing that he would be deified just as every other emperor before him, the dying
    Vespasian said, “Dear me, I think I am becoming a god.”
    In this new order, who ruled? Millar explains why the Empire was so different from the
    The imperial regime was the product of a society where decisions were reached, and
    authority exercised, by the unaided judgment of members of the ruling class. When one member
    of that class was elevated above the rest, the res publica gave him at first no assistants beyond the
    lictors and soldiers from the praetorian guard. He dealt directly, in person or by letter, with
    individuals of all classes and with the communities of the Empire. It took a long time for
    onsular to form round him— and thus, so to speak, to reduce his political ‘‘exposure.’’ The
    gradual seclusion of the emperor had entirely intelligible causes. Until that happened, his
    personal employees performed functions which were in themselves relatively humble: they kept
    accounts, arranged and kept documents, called litigants into the audience hall, and either wrote
    letters to dictation or expressed a reply or decision in correct language…
    The letters which Pliny sent to Trajan from Pontus and Bithynia, and Trajan’s replies,
    have always attracted interest. But I suggest that if we see them in perspective, against a wider
    background, they actually become not less but more interesting…. A more important sense of
    ‘‘background’’ is that of the vast spaces of the Roman Empire, across which messengers and
    ambassadors had to travel, if words intended for the Emperor were ever to reach him. Those
    distances themselves imposed delays in time which it is genuinely hard now to comprehend, and
    to take into account. It is not easy for us to grasp the constant flow of messages, complaints, and
    documents involving complex local issues emanating from the provinces, and of replies
    embodying the ideology, the propaganda, the values, and the preferences of the imperial will, or
    the fact that these had to be carried slowly either by ambassadors or by couriers on horseback
    using wagons…, and travelling backwards and forwards across literally thousands of kilometres,
    between the provinces and wherever the Emperor was, whether in Rome or in another province,
    or (on occasion) beyond the frontiers of the Empire. But they were so carried, and there is a real
    sense in which it was the writing and transmission of these letters which made the Roman Empire
    what it was…
    The Roman Empire had no government. That is to say there was no body of persons
    formally elected or appointed who had the responsibility for effective decisions. Nor was there
    any representative body, duly elected, to which the ‘Government’ might have been responsible,
    nor any sovereign assembly or list of voters… The Roman Senate, filled by hereditary entry
    supplemented by Imperial patronage, represented neither the people of Rome, nor, when its
    sources of entry spread through the provinces, the local communities; for although a senator did
    in fact further the interests of his local community, he was neither elected by nor responsible to
    them. Nor could the Senate, in spite of its very important role vis-à-vis the Emperors, and in spite
    of the fact that it did deal with a variety of legislative and administrative business, be described
    as the governing assembly of the Empire.
    The Empire was in fact ruled by the Emperor, assisted by his ‘friends’… (Fergus
    Millar, Rome, the Greek World, and the East, Volume 2 : Government, Society, and Culture in
    the Roman Empire. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. P 20-1, 41, 52) [504
    pp total, 513 words]
    The Question: What makes Millar’s assertions about the way Rome was governed so
    It is difficult for us to envision a world where one man kept the Empire together by answering
    letters, but Millar reminds us that the normal structures of government had ended with Augustus.
    Who were these friends? Gelzer suggests that the problem is complicated by asking who now
    comprised the ruling class in general.
    Wherever we look, we always find the view that nobility under the principate was based
    on descent from onsular of the free republic. Neither the holding of the consulship nor
    adlection to the patriciate could create new nobility… On the surface the surviving members of
    the nobility made their peace with the principate, but with strict exclusiveness they preserved
    their aristocratic station from the influence of monarchy or court. Now as before, the nobility
    formed the upper stratum of society; the princes might belong to it, but he did not stand above it.
    The fact that this point of view prevailed is the strongest proof of the social and political
    importance of the men who upheld it…
    Gradually and quietly, in the course of the second century, the nobility disappeared from
    history. Not a few branches of the republican aristocracy fell to the will of emperors. However…
    it was not a deliberate extermination. Nor must we confuse with the nobility the Stoic republican
    opposition, which in our sources at least has an air of importance and against which the
    emperors often had to take strong measures. Their heroes and martyrs… bore names of little
    distinction… The nobility which flocked to join Pompeius against Caesar was not fighting for a
    few philosophical principles, but for the foundations of its social and political position, for the
    mastery of the Roman empire. That Augustus eventually took over Caesar’s position was an
    advantage for them, in that… this preserved their social pre-eminence. But the following period
    proved this pre-eminence could not in the long run be maintained without the enjoyment of
    political power… (Mathias Gelzer, The Roman Nobility. Tr. Robin Seager Oxford: Basil
    Blackwell, 1969 pp. 154, 157-8) [184 pp total, 269 words]
    The Question: How would the fossilization of the nobility change the role of the traditional
    elites in Roman governance?
    While by this time the Senate had become more of an exclusive social club, senators still had a
    good deal of influence in the running of the provinces. The wealthy continued to finance their
    activities through their country villas, scattered throughout the empire. However, few of the
    senators of the second century could now claim elite Republican ancestors with any confidence.
    The so-called “Five Good Emperors” who ruled between 96-180 did not descend from
    the Republican elite families and were in general formally adopted by the preceding emperor to
    provide continuity. We must be careful of this label, but as we lack the rich documentation of
    Julio-Claudian and Flavian Rome these men seem “good” in comparison with the ruthless
    emperors of the first century. The second century empire reached its greatest geographical extent
    under Trajan, stretching from Britain to Mesopotamia. Rome had become a consumer city with
    so much grain that bread was free to Romans and social programs provided relief to the needy.
    We are told that the Empire was so stable that Hadrian decided to stop expansion and Antoninus
    Pious never had to leave Italy.
    However, by the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-80), the silver mines that supplied the
    currency had been depleted, feeding a silver shortage, even as there were new movements on the
    frontiers, a resurgence of the Persians, and some sort of epidemic that swept across the eastern
    half of the empire. Available silver and grain there went to the army first, causing a shortage in a
    population accustomed to free grain and low taxes. Military pay left the Empire on a regular
    basis as soldiers spent freely on the frontier. As the army had to be paid in silver to prevent
    insurrection, provinces were required to pay increasing taxes in good silver but accept debased
    bronze coins in return. An inflationary spiral set in. By 196 the empire was claimed by
    Septimius Severus, who freely used the army as an imperial tool against sedition and to maintain
    political power. An unhappy army was an invitation to riot and usurpation by men who knew
    how to use weapons. Supposedly at his death in 212 he told his sons to respect each other, pay
    off the army and ignore everybody else.
    [Picture 7.2: The Roman Empire 117 CE]
    The question: What do you see as problems in enforcing Roman rule and Romanity in the
    Empire by the later second century?
    At the heart of the problem was the sheer size of the empire. After 235, powerful men
    struggled for a title open to whoever could hold it. Historians call the period from 235 to 284 the
    Crisis of the Third Century, a period when most emperors rose from frontier commands to shortlived imperial careers through the use of the military, and adversely affected Roman society as a
    whole. Moreover, not all these emperors sat in Rome. Tired of imperial attentions towards the
    Danube, Gaul and Palmyra seceded for a time as separate entities before Rome finally managed
    to force them back into the fold.
    The economy likewise suffered. To increase the number of taxpayers, Caracalla (209-17)
    issued an edict in the early third century extending almost universal citizenship. In the first
    century Roman citizenship had carried legal and social privileges no matter what one’s economic
    status. Now that everyone was a citizen, rights were apportioned out by rank, creating an
    underclass of inferiores. In 284 Diocletian, believing that the empire’s size was a major source of
    economic and political contention, divided the provinces into units so small that no one governor
    would have the military or political resources to launch another coup. Second, he divided the
    Empire into four administrative regions, called a tetarchy (Greek for “four rules”), for more
    efficient collection of revenues and general stability. Diocletian himself, the senior emperor,
    ruled in the East, where the bulk of troops and wealth was located. Rome and the west was
    rapidly becoming an irrelevance.
    Diocletian also attempted to reform the tax structure and coinage system, fix commodity
    prices and make occupations hereditary, all in order to maintain military needs. However, such
    reforms would make social mobility, a necessary element for a strong middle class, much harder
    to maintain. In general, Diocletian ruled a military Dominate, a court where he was Dominus,
    lord. The emperor had to be reached through layers of protective court officials, whose power
    and corruption were notorious.
    Diocletian’s plan to have the junior administrators eventually succeed to the top and
    perpetuate the system never worked, as he neglected to factor in the ambitions of his co-rulers
    and their families. From 305-312 the thrones were in constant flux as the contenders battled for
    control, until Constantine won the western half of the empire through the Battle of the Milvian
    Bridge in 312.
    Section Two: Romanization
    Traditional Roman history looks to the action of emperors to drive events and assumes a
    standard that we can call “Roman”. However, the Roman Empire was a vast territory, and most
    of its residents would never see Rome itself. What exactly do we mean when we speak of an
    Empire? Did the Roman provincial government deliberately “Romanize” elements of society in
    the provinces, or was that less a policy than encouragement? Was Romanization different
    according to social level? What were the benefits to empire and province? In other words, what
    did “being Roman” mean to ruler and ruled?
    A popular satirical film from the 1970s asked the question in its own special way. John
    Cleese’s “Reg”, the leader of fictional Jewish liberation radicals in first century Jerusalem, puts it
    Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation,
    roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
    Attendee: Brought peace?
    Reg: Oh, peace – shut up! (Life of Brian. 1979) [14, 611 words total, 39 words]
    The exchange highlights the problem of studying the benefits of empire to ruler and ruled. At
    its height the Roman Empire stretched from Britannia to the Black Sea. Such frontiers of the
    outer provinces were never physically fixed, despite Hadrian’s intentions. It remained more an
    idea of where control ended and interaction began, rather than a fixed boundary. Forts,
    watchtowers and guarded roads marked the frontier, although in England an actual wall gave the
    boundary some physicality after Hadrian. The “barbarians” were defined as being beyond the
    frontier, but whenever Rome expanded, the former barbarians now became provincials. The
    thousands of troops on the border often retired in the area, bringing a strong Roman cultural
    presence. It is even possible to talk of Romanization beyond the frontier, as the fluidity of the
    boundaries meant there was a lot of trade between the army and locals. However, a Roman
    brooch does not necessarily indicate a Roman lifestyle or acceptance of Rome.
    Imperialism itself is a difficult status to maintain. At its heart empire allows exploitation
    of multiple resources for the benefit of the core. Certainly provinces were responsible for taxes
    which were channeled to the center (and often right out again to the borders) to maintain the
    Empire. Taxes required a strong economy, which in turn supported active trade across the
    Empire. The nature and model of that trade continues to raise questions, but the massive quantity
    of broken ceramic transport pottery and coinage in every Roman city suggests a vigorous
    commerce and monetized economy in the Principate. Rome was one of the biggest importers,
    and a consumer city by the time of Trajan. Some argue that the benefits reaped by the provinces
    in general enhanced compliance, acceptance and even emulation with the Roman presence. At
    the core is the ideal of Romanization, the transference and acceptance of Roman ideas.
    How was Roman domination received? Certainly there were early rebellions for
    freedom, but how were the benefits assessed? The speech given by Aelius Aristides in the later
    second century gives one view:
    Vast as it is, your empire is more remarkable for its thoroughness than its scope: there are no
    dissident or rebellious enclaves. . . . The whole world prays in unison that your empire may
    endure forever…
    But the most marvelous and admirable achievement of all, and the one deserving our fullest
    gratitude, is this. . . . You alone of the imperial powers of history rule over men who are free. You
    have not assigned this or that region to this nabob or that mogul; no people has been turned over
    as a domestic and bound holding — to a man not himself free. But just as citizens in an individual
    city might designate magistrates, so you, whose city is the whole world, appoint governors to
    protect and provide for the governed, as if they were elective, not to lord it over their charges. As
    a result, so far from disputing the office as if it were their own, governors make way for their
    successors readily when their term is up, and may not even await their coming. Appeals to a
    higher jurisdiction are as easy as appeals from parish to county. . . .
    But the most notable and praiseworthy feature of all, a thing unparalleled, is your magnanimous
    conception of citizenship. All of your subjects (and this implies the whole world) you have divided
    into two parts: the better endowed and more virile, wherever they may be, you have granted
    citizenship and even kinship; the rest you govern as obedient subjects. Neither the seas nor
    expanse of land bars citizenship; Asia and Europe are not differentiated. Careers are open to
    talent. . . . Rich and poor find contentment and profit in your system; there is no other way of life.
    Your polity is a single and all-embracing harmony. . . .
    You alone are, so to speak, natural rulers. Your predecessors were masters and slaves in turn; as
    rulers they were counterfeits, and reversed their positions like players in a ball game. . . . You
    have measured out the world, bridged rivers, cut roads through mountains, filled the wastes with
    posting stations, introduced orderly and refined modes of life. . . . (Aelius Aristides, ‘Roman
    Oration” XXVI 22ff from Moses Hadas, A History of Rome. 1956). [http://www.hnet.org/~fisher/hst205/readings/RomanOration.html 364 words].
    The Question: What elements of Roman rule does Aristides single out to praise? What does it
    suggest about benefits of empire?
    Given that Aristides may lay on the praise too thickly, he still makes interesting points about
    “freedom”. Compare this with Tacitus, who puts the following into the mouth of Calgacus, first
    century rebel leader against the Roman general Agricola in north Britain:
    Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a
    sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the
    whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even
    the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the
    brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying
    fortune, the Romans were resisted, still left in us a last hope of succour, inasmuch as being the
    most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the
    shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery. To
    us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of
    Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are
    thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond
    us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose
    oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by
    their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are
    rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to
    satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery,
    slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace (ubi
    solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant). (Tacitus Agricola 29-30)
    [http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/ancient/tacitus-agricola.html 300 words]
    The Question: Remembering that this speech was actually written by a Roman in Rome, how
    did the Romans perceive the opinions of barbarians towards empire?
    Tacitus’ statement has elicited a great deal of conversation about the benefits of
    Romanization to provincials. Tacitus, through the mouth of Calgacus, might argue that no such
    freedom as Aristides praised actually existed, but Brunt suggests that the empire was better
    received at the lowest level than among Calgacus’ elite warriors:
    Scholars were for so long prone to idealize Roman rule that it is a welcome reaction
    when they draw attention to the persistence of exploitation and the misery of the masses. But
    there was no novelty in these conditions. Most of Rome’s subjects must have lived wretchedly
    before they were conquered, and probably more wretchedly; the Roman peace must have brought
    some benefits to all. Nor is it likely that in general they were consciously hostile to their
    conquerors (the Jews are of course exceptional); rather, they acquiesced in their fate… Perhaps
    nothing can be properly inferred from their silence: the illiterate cannot speak to us. But there is
    a more decisive reason for affirming that they gave a measure of consent to Roman rule. As early
    as the first century A.D., and to an increased extent thereafter, the frontiers were defended by
    subjects, mostly recruited from the rural lower class in the provinces nearest to the army camps.
    And yet it was in these provinces that the people were relatively warlike. Here, if anywhere,
    revolts could be dangerous, and permanent and universal disarmament would be easiest to
    comprehend. Still, it would be an odd view that Rome sought to disarm the peoples from which
    her soldiers were enlisted…
    When Roman conquest deprived a people of ‘liberty,’ the loss affected not so much the
    masses as the old ruling class… Whatever political loss they did sustain was compensated from
    the first by the blessings of peace and by Rome’s readiness to uphold their local dominance, and
    in course of time by an increasing share in the imperial government. The notables were in the
    best position to discern the difficulty or impossibility of successful revolt, and to enjoy the benefits
    of order, civilization and actual participation in Roman power… Without the leadership they
    alone could give, resistance to Rome could not be effectively organized… It was by winning over
    the magnates and not by disarming the masses that the Roman government secured submission
    and internal peace… (P. A. Brunt, “Did Imperial Rome Disarm her Subjects?” Phoenix 29
    (1975) reprinted in Roman Imperial Themes. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990 pp. 264-6) [560pp
    total, 344 words]
    The Question: What did Empire bring to most provincials? What is our evidence?
    There are several levels to an acceptance of Rome. The simplest is an acknowledgement that the
    Empire was in control, and required payment of taxes, which might be all that many rural
    residents of the Empire ever experienced. For town dwellers, there was a more obvious Roman
    administrative and perhaps physical presence. Latin was spoken, although not necessarily beyond
    the official and funerary needs, and is not a certain indicator of Romanization on the social level.
    We must be careful of seeing Romanization in physical remains, as the presence of a Roman-style
    item does not indicate adoption of a Roman style. Such items were often desirable trade goods,
    but the “meaning” of that piece in Roman culture did not necessarily travel with the item.
    Without a transmission of meaning, a physical item cannot in itself represent ‘Romanization” any
    more than wearing a cowboy hat, for example, demonstrates “Americanization”. If instead it
    was a Roman style item manufactured locally, then we need to ask if it kept its Roman meaning
    or only its Roman appearance. In other cases, such as the donning of a toga – a very
    uncomfortable garment for formal and business occasions which requires skill to wear – it is
    difficult to believe that such an item could be transmitted without Roman meaning invested in it.
    The context in which physical items are used in relationship to each other may give a
    better picture. In the provincial city there is evidence that local and imperial administrations
    encouraged building and town planning in Roman style. By the mid-second century, several
    towns boasted Roman –style public buildings, erected by local magistrates and elites hoping to
    gain political and civic prestige. The question is whether the Empire had a policy of encouraging
    this building activity, or whether the initiatives were local. Even more telling are private
    dwellings. Archaeologists have excavated townhouses, villas and working plantations as far
    away as Wales demonstrating Roman features and artwork. Are the residents of such homes
    Romanity in Art and Architecture
    Roman architecture carried messages of acceptance of Rome’s power and values. Unlike
    Greek public works, Roman architecture enclosed rather than displayed. Roman houses, for
    example, generally presented a simple drab exterior, but open interiors for those who belonged to
    the family. Public architecture also was meant to be seen from within. What we call the
    Coliseum was the most massive undertaking anywhere in the Roman world at that time, built by
    the Flavians to house over 70,000 spectators for everything from gladiatorial exhibitions to mock
    naval battles. Hadrian renovated the Pantheon, an old temple dedicated to all the gods (pan theoi),
    using dome architecture to create a huge interior space filled with light that still holds the
    attention of turisti today.
    [Picture 7.3: Amphitheater, Nîmes, France, ca. second century]
    The Question: What are the problems in using Roman monumental architecture to
    demonstrate “Romanization”?
    The point of these elaborate buildings was clear to the viewer. It might be finely
    constructed and faced on the outside, but one had to go inside to see the enclosure of space
    through vaulted arch, arena or dome. Like the Empire, it was what was within that mattered.
    MacDonald suggests that official architecture was an agent of Romanization in the provinces
    beyond Italy:
    The vaulted style was infused with the same hortatory quality found in official statuary
    and reliefs, upon coins, and in the panegyrical literature. This insistent rhetoric of Roman state
    art reflects the sharp paternalism upon which the coherence and preservation of society was
    brought to depend… the vaulted style was a mimesis of the state, a metaphor in tangible form
    upon its traditions and its claims to all-embracing sovereignty. Naturally it arose in Rome, the
    center of these traditions and claims…
    All of the great vaulted buildings were charged with the property of expressing unity.
    Encouragement to individualism was missing because choice was missing. Vaulted architecture
    was no more permissive than the state itself. Axis, symmetry, and the terminal shape or volume
    kept everyone [in line]… in fact or in mind with the focal, symbolic shape; there were no true
    alternatives. Roman architecture might be defined as a body of law in masonry, governing
    human responses by didactic forms whose expressive force was intended to be recognized or
    apprehended immediately by the sensory faculties. Grace and elegance were sacrificed to this
    drive to persuade one and all to conform…
    That the emperors and their governments used the vaulted style as an instrument of
    propaganda can hardly be doubted. All official architecture was used this way. The proliferation
    in the provinces of large baths based on first- and early second-century designs in Rome is the
    most obvious case, but many other vaulted building types were used in the provinces, such as
    markets, warehouses, amphitheatres, and municipal nymphaea. Districts and towns in Italy were
    embellished with an apparent generosity that the emperors surely regarded as a sound investment
    in the future of the state. Though the financial resources of the Empire were primitively managed
    there was always money for building after the armies and the supply of Rome had been provided
    for. The doors of the treasuries were open to provincial governments as well. Astute provincial
    officials and citizens knew how to take advantage of the government’s predisposition to build.
    The pax romana kept communications open, allowing the style to spread and change as it was
    conditioned… by non-Latin concepts… (William L. MacDonald, The Architecture of the Roman
    Empire I: An Introductory Study. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982 pp. 181-2) [320 pp
    total, 358 words]
    The Question: How could Roman architecture be an agent of Romanization?
    MacDonald suggests that Roman architecture carries a message, in this case the inevitability of
    the Roman way that provincial elites were all to happy to emulate. However we must be careful
    to understand that Romanization carried different meanings at different levels of society. When
    looking at the Pantheon we tend to see the Roman world as a society of monuments with an
    imperial agenda, but such architecture was directed towards an official message directed by the
    values of the elites. For most everyday dwellers of Empire – provincial or Italian – ‘being
    Roman” carried an entirely different set of values. Clarke describes the Mural of the Seven Sages
    found in a caupona – tavern – in Ostia, near Rome, in which the great Greek philosophers
    exchange wisdom about body functions with men sitting on latrines:
    The humor escalated when someone read these texts. The images of the Sages serve their
    comedic purpose by looking as much as possible like the traditional statues and paintings of the
    Seven Sages that the second-century Ostian might have seen… They are images from elite
    culture, of statues adorning gardens, lecture halls, libraries and the villas of the rich. Our
    tavern-goers would have known them from grand public spaces at Ostia, Rome, or any large city.
    Their presence in the tavern sets them up for ridicule…
    The public latrines at Ostia, rather than being dark, stinking and hidden, were bright and
    welcoming places where people met and perhaps tarried to converse. Seen in this light, the
    latrine is a social space like the caupona… Just as men sat around the latrine’s perimeter and
    talked, so they sat on stools conversing in the caupona. But what’s funny is the fact that the artist
    has transported the men – and their conversation – from one social space to another; the artist
    has depicted the men sitting around the three walls of the Caupona of the Seven Sages as though
    it were a latrine, talking about and philosophizing about shitting. The tavern is a place where
    you ingest food – not a place where you evacuate it. What the paintings and texts overturn are
    expectations of what the Sages should do. Sages imparting wisdom would be an appropriate
    representation for cultured men eating and drinking… Here the artist sets the Sages against men
    in a latrine – he has dirtied them visually – and has given them dirty wisdom…
    What of the clientele of the Caupona? The only class one can rule out is the elite, who
    would have entertained and been entertained in domestic settings. The many free citizens and
    freedmen who made up the bulk of Ostia’s population could have frequented the Caupona of the
    Seven Sages…
    Were the customers literate? The answer must be a resounding “yes,” if we take into
    account the sheer amount of writing on the walls (about five times the amount actually
    preserved), and the fact that the only way to enjoy the humor was to read the writing. Of course,
    there are degrees of literacy… Someone who could recognize the scatological words and phrases
    would be able to make sense of the whole – as long as he understood who the Sages were and
    how they figured in elite cultural pretensions. One can imagine clients reading both the maxims
    of the Sages and the pithy comments of the defecating men. Here was the stuff of stories about
    the end product of digestion even while people were having their fill of food and wine. And this
    kind of humor – the kind that dirtied elite pretensions – was an assertion of power over the elite.
    It turned the world of high-minded philosophy upside down, soiling what the powerful hold dear.
    (John R. Clarke, Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans. Berkeley: University of California Press,
    2003 pp. 174, 176-7) 396pp total, 476 words]
    The Question: Why is it dangerous to define “Romanization” and “Roman” from the official
    art and architecture?
    Clarke points out the world of everyday Roman art that rarely gets noticed by
    serious art historians. The plebeian working class that had rioted in the Republican
    streets in the late Empire had always had different cultural and social values than did the
    elites, but were no less “Roman” for it. However, even among the plebeians there was no
    strong and fast determination of who was “Roman”. Juvenal, a second century satirist,
    voices the concern that Rome itself was no longer recognizable:
    58 “And now let me speak at once of the race which is most dear to our rich men, and which I
    avoid above all others; no shyness shall stand in my way. I cannot abide… a Rome of Greeks;
    and yet what fraction of our dregs comes from Greece? The Syrian Orontes [River] has long
    since poured into the Tiber, bringing with it its lingo and its manners, its flutes and its slanting
    harp-strings; bringing too the timbrels of the breed, and the trulls who are bidden ply their trade
    at the Circus. Out upon you, all ye that delight in foreign strumpets with painted headdresses!
    Your country clown, Quirinus, now trips to dinner in Greek-fangled slippers… One comes from
    lofty Sicyon, another from Amydon or Andros, others from Samos, Tralles or Alabanda; all
    making for the Esquiline, or for the hill that takes its name from osier-beds; all ready to worm
    their way into the houses of the great and become their masters. Quick of wit and of unbounded
    impudence, they are as ready of speech as Isaeus, and more torrential. Say, what do you think
    that fellow there to be? He has brought with him any character you please; grammarian, orator,
    geometrician; painter, trainer, or rope-dancer; augur, doctor or astrologer…
    “Must I not make my escape from purple-clad gentry like these? Is a man to sign his
    name before me, and recline upon a couch better than mine, who has been wafted to Rome by the
    wind which brings us our damsons and our figs? Is it to go so utterly for nothing that as a babe I
    drank in the air of the Aventine, and was nurtured on the Sabine berry? (Juvenal 3. 58-81)
    [http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/ancient/juv-sat3eng.html 284 words]
    The Question: How and why had the population of Rome changed? How does this affect the
    idea of “Roman”?
    Juvenal’s very long rant against foreigners joins his criticisms against homosexuals,
    upper class decadence and shameless women (the majority, in his opinion). However, he pens a
    portrait of a Rome populated by ethnicities from across the empire speaking every known tongue
    and worshipping a host of deities. He saw this as the end of Rome as he knew it, but he and other
    writers of the period bring home to us that Rome had become a cosmopolitan city of immigrants,
    freedmen and foreign merchants as well as native Romans, rewriting the description of “Roman”
    all the time.
    The level of Romanity varies from province to province and one can see all degrees
    within each province. The evidence, however, strongly suggests that, despite occasional rebellion
    in the west in the first century CE, provincials recognized some level of benefit in accepting
    Roman rule and adopting Roman customs, at least outwardly. The benefits to the Romans
    themselves can be seen in the wealth and stability of the core through the first 250 years of the
    Empire. Life was good, stable and economically prosperous in the provinces as well. Preserved
    graffiti suggest that even the lower classes were functionally literate and active observers. Ports
    have yielded massive quantities of pottery fragments, testifying to a high volume of commerce
    across the empire. Cities thrived, with ample evidence of local political, philanthropic and
    religious activity.
    By the mid-second century many of the provinces boasted Roman style towns
    administered by local elites vested into the Roman structure, and paying reasonable taxes.
    Provincial culture shows a blending of Roman and local traits in a variety of forms, taking on a
    new meaning from the original but perceived as “Roman”. The further one travelled from the
    towns, military installations and elite villas, the less Roman physical evidence can be found, but
    even in the countryside the Roman presence was acknowledged.
    Romanization was thus more than a provincial phenomenon. It involved social and
    cultural change even within Rome itself, and was received differently according to class and
    location. It permeated both society and culture, but there is no evidence of any sort of grand
    strategy for this permeation with one exception. No matter how the subjects of Rome chose to
    live their lives, they had to accept as a minimum an acknowledgement of Rome’s right to rule.
    That acknowledgement included a nod to the rituals of Rome. Any religion that could not
    Romanize at least that far could not be tolerated.
    Section Three: Empire and Religion
    Early Christianity is at first a side-issue in Roman history, but by the late third century
    would become a factor in imperial politics and society. The movement was also deeply wrapped
    up in Romanization, although in this case the impulse came from Roman Christians seeking the
    language to make Christianity accessible to Roman mentality. Crossan and Reed make plain that
    the roots of Christianity were decidedly non-Roman and rural:
    …None of the evidence… suggests that first-century Nazareth was anything other than a
    modest village void of public architecture. The massive layer representing the Christian
    construction of … Holy Land, rests atop a frail and elusive layer representing a simple Jewish
    peasant life: excavations underneath later Christian structures uncovered no synagogue, but also
    no fortification, no palace, no basilica, no bathhouse, no paved street, nothing. Instead, olive
    presses, wine presses, water cisterns, grain silos, and grinding stones scattered around caves tell
    of a population that lived in hovels and simple peasant houses…
    The tiny village of Nazareth, off the main road, over the hill but still within walking
    distance of the city of Sepphoris, was Jesus’ home. The peasant families there hoped to eke out a
    living, pay their taxes, have enough left over to survive, and avoid attention from officials…
    Roman urbanization and Herodian commercialization brought the Pax Romana’s
    economic boom to Lower Galilee, but that dislocated the ancient safety nets of peasant kinship,
    village cohesion, and just land distribution. It did not, of course, impoverish the entire area. It
    enriched it (for whom?), but it also involved profound changes and dispossessions as smaller
    farms were amalgamated into larger holdings and freehold farmers were downgraded into tenant
    farmers or day laborers…
    It is precisely such dispossessed peasants, the newly rather than the permanently
    destitute as it were, that became the itinerants of the Kingdom program. It is to those that Jesus
    can say…”Blessed are the destitute.” That is a more correct translation than “Blessed are the
    …[Augustus] was deified personally and directly by senatorial decree upon his death in
    14 C.E. How exactly did one distinguish between politics and religion in such adulation? Could
    you oppose Augustus politically but not religiously, religiously but not politically? Indeed, from
    Augustus’s own viewpoint, why would anyone want to oppose the Pax Romana, his new world
    order of political reformation and moral rearmament, his hard roads free of bandits and his sea
    lanes free of pirates, his cities linked by common culture and economic boom, and his legions
    guarding the periphery…?
    Where, across the spectrum of resistance, do we locate Jesus? He is not among the
    nonresisters… Jesus of Nazareth died under a mocking accusation that was also a serious
    indictment, accused as illegal “King of the Jews” by Rome. Rome, and Rome alone, decided who
    was and who was not King of the Jews. But that title and that fate, in their full religio-political
    meaning, indicate that Jesus was executed for resistance to Roman law, order, and authority…
    (John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, Excavating Jesus. San Francisco: Harper, 2002
    pp. 31-2, 36, 127-8, 137, 172-4) [368 pp total, 427 words]
    The Question: How was the early message of Christianity influenced by Jesus’ world? Why
    would it be seen as subversive and anti-Roman?
    Reed and Crossan pool their talents in archaeology and theology to suggest that the original
    venue inspired a message that was directed towards the economic losers, and a Jesus who
    advocated social reform. However, this is not the Christianity that emerged in the writings of
    Paul within 30 years after the Crucifixion, argues Meeks:
    Paul was a city person. The city breathes through his language. Jesus’ parables of
    sowers and weeds, sharecroppers and mud-roofed cottages call forth smells of manure and earth,
    and the Aramaic of the Palestinian villages often echoes in the Greek. When Paul constructs a
    metaphor of olive trees or gardens, on the other hand, the Greek is fluent and evokes schoolroom
    more than farm; he seems more at home with the clichés of Greek rhetoric, drawn from
    gymnasium, stadium, or workshop. Moreover, Paul was among those who depended on the city
    for their livelihood. He supported himself… making tents… This life as an artisan distinguished
    him both from the workers of the farms, who… were perhaps at the very bottom of the social
    pyramid in antiquity, and from the lucky few whose wealth and status depended on their
    agricultural estates. The urban handworkers included slave and free… but all belonged
    thoroughly to the city… The author of Acts hardly errs when he has Paul boast to the tribune,
    astonished that Paul knows Greek, that he is “a citizen of no mean city” (Acts 21:39 RSV)…
    …within a decade of the crucifixion of Jesus, the village culture of Palestine had been left
    behind, and the Greco-Roman city became the dominant environment of the Christian
    movement… The movement had crossed the most fundamental division in the society of the
    Roman Empire, that between rural people and city dwellers, and the results were to prove
    The Pauline world was one in which, for urban and mobile people, Greek was the lingua
    franca, but upon which the overwhelming political fact of Rome was superimposed… Paul’s
    mental world is that of the Greek speaking eastern provinces, specifically that of the Greekspeaking Jew. Still it is a Roman world – the existence of [Paul’s letter to the Romans] and the
    travel plans outlined in its chapter 15 indicate how central Rome is… even though it is Rome as
    seen from the cities of the East. (Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World
    of the Apostle Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983 pp. 9, 11, 50) [320pp total, 329
    The Question: What happens to Christianity as it goes from rural to urban in a Roman world?
    While in one sense we could talk about Christianity being originally a counter-Roman
    movement founded on the actions of an executed seditionist, in relatively quick time Christianity
    had become a religion made understandable to Romans by Romans. How was a Christian
    message able to survive in a world where Romanization at its core required loyalty to the emperor
    and Empire?
    Roman belief found spiritual animation in all places and aspects of life, but the harmonic
    relationship between man and divine involved ritual, sacrifice and cultic practice for the gods,
    named or anonymous, for every action, event or place. Romans might also ‘invite’ deities of
    rivals to reside in Rome, promising a temple and priests if that deity would give the victory to the
    Romans. The city grew thick with small temples with a variety of beliefs. As far as the Romans
    were concerned, no god should be ignored, although the practices of its worshippers might have
    to be curtailed if they opposed the needs of the state. For instance, after a scandal in the Republic
    over the uninhibited worship of Bacchus by peripheral groups like slaves and foreigners (who
    were accused of holding orgies and corrupting initiates), the Senate prohibited worship, but did
    not censure the god himself.
    With expansion into the east came interaction with a new type of religious experience
    generally called mystery religions, promising a revelation (Greek mistai “to reveal”) that would
    bring meaning to existence and perhaps a promise of regeneration in some form after bodily
    death. Some of the cults were quite ancient, and had worshippers from various classes in Rome
    as early as the Republic. Others, like the cult of Mithras, a somewhat enigmatic eastern import,
    had very restricted bodies of worshippers. Most had rituals and secret understandings to guide a
    believer towards a path of enlightenment.
    Other imported religions, like Judaism, came with a lot of uncomfortable baggage. By
    the time the Romans had conquered Judea, Judaism had evolved into a structured monotheism,
    backed by ancient writings, a priestly structure and distinctive practices. Several Jewish groups
    outside Judea had Hellenized or Romanized to some degree, and the Judean coast and court of
    King Herod were also comfortable with Roman ways. Rome was originally welcomed as a
    champion against Greek domination, but the honeymoon soon wore off in conservative Jerusalem
    and countryside.
    In some quarters Judaism took on a nationalistic theology upholding Judean autonomy.
    Activist Judean groups like the Zealots used terrorism to try and shift the Romans. By 65 the
    Judeans were at war with Rome, ending with the Roman destruction of the huge temple in
    Jerusalem and the final defeat at the mountain stronghold at Masada.
    Radical Judaism was in some part a reaction to the Romanization adopted by imperial
    Jews and the upper class priesthood of Judea. At first Christianity was one of several Jewish
    sects looking meaning, renewal and a messiah to unite the people, as promised in the Jewish
    prophetic writings. Christians believed the messiah had come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth,
    whose teachings emphasized social justice, but not a physical overthrow of Rome.
    Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14They
    came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men,
    because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with
    the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
    But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a
    denarius and let me look at it.” 16They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is
    this? And whose inscription?”
    “Caesar’s,” they replied.
    Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
    And they were amazed at him. (Mark 12:13-17) [139 words]
    The Question: Is the question rather to pay Caesar’s taxes or to carry Caesar’s coins? Is this
    passage a resistance to Romanization or an acceptance of it?
    Jesus attracted large crowds, and it is believed that ca 33 CE religious authorities who may have
    sought to curry favor with the Roman governor Pontius Pilate handed him over for trial. He was
    crucified, the standard punishment for non-citizens found guilty of sedition.
    His followers claimed that he rose from the dead, and instructed them to teach this new
    “way” before ascending. Within ten years Paul, an educated Roman Jew and Christian convert
    from Tarsus, Anatolia, won over Peter, Jesus’ closest disciple and the informal leader of the
    movement, in his argument that non-Jews – Gentiles – must be included whether or not they kept
    Jewish customs. The Way opened itself to criticism for its insistence on venerating what in
    Roman perspective was an executed criminal who opposed the Empire. While the antiquity of
    the Jewish God gave acceptance to an otherwise unusual religion, there was no such validity for
    this new belief and Christians were branded as atheists. Our first verified Roman reference to
    Christianity comes from a letter by Pliny, a governor in Pontus-Bithynia to Emperor Trajan.
    …I have never been present at the examination of the Christians [by others], on which
    account I am unacquainted with what uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they used
    to be punished; nor are my doubts small… whether it may not be an advantage to one that had
    been a Christian, that he has forsaken Christianity? Whether the bare name, without any crimes
    besides, or the crimes adhering to that name, be to be punished? In the meantime, I have taken
    this course about those who have been brought before me as Christians. I asked them whether
    they were Christians or not? If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and
    a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I
    ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort
    whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished…. A libel was sent
    to me, though without an author, containing many names [of persons accused]. These denied that
    they were Christians now, or ever had been… Others of them that were named in the libel, said
    they were Christians, but presently denied it again; that indeed they had been Christians, but had
    ceased to be so… All these worshipped your image, and the images of our gods; these also cursed
    Christ. However, they assured me that the main of their fault, or of their mistake was this:-That
    they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to
    Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do
    anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they
    would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required
    back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but
    innocent meal, which they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and
    wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles. These examinations made me think it necessary to
    inquire by torments what the truth was; which I did of two servant maids, who were called
    Deaconesses: but still I discovered no more than that they were addicted to a bad and to an
    extravagant superstition. Hereupon I have put off any further examinations, and have recourse to
    you, for the affair seems to be well worth consultation…
    My Pliny,
    You have taken the method which you ought in examining the causes of those that had
    been accused as Christians, for indeed no certain and general form of judging can be ordained in
    this case. These people are not to be sought for; but if they be accused and convicted, they are to
    be punished; but with this caution, that he who denies himself to be a Christian, and makes it
    plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods, although he had been so formerly, may be
    allowed pardon, upon his repentance. As for libels sent without an author, they ought to have no
    place in any accusation whatsoever, for that would be a thing of very ill example, and not
    agreeable to my reign. (Pliny, Letters tr. William Whiston)
    [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/pliny.html 559 words]
    The Question: What can we derive about the “crime” of Christianity? What was the Roman
    Prosecution, not persecution was the spirit of the age. On the other hand, outright rejection of the
    core – the veneration of emperor and Empire – could not be tolerated.
    In general Christians survived and even prospered over the first two centuries CE.
    Christianity promised redemption and salvation unconditional to status or gender, an afterlife
    based on a moral code rather than ritual, and community support. Other mystery religions also
    grew in popularity through the second century, but Christianity was the most…

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