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Thought Process
Rome: The Turbulence of Empire
Rome and its Enemies
( lots of them)
History and Myth of Progress
Tonight’s Dimestore Philosphy
Progression and Retrogression as
Simultaneous Dynamics
– Traditional Historical Grand Narratives – what they
reveal and what they hide
– America as savior of the allies/Defender of the free
– 1963-Present: Recovering lost voices
– 1970-Present: Postcolonial history and the fracturing of
the Grand Narrative
– 1980-Present: The Call for Synthesis
Can Humpty Dumpty be put back together?
Popular Images of Rome
Inspiration for Republicanism/ Defender of Damsel in Distress?
Hollywood Twofer: Rome and Egypt
An analogy for the Cold War?
Sound Far-fetched?
Consider we were defenders of Israel, but they had pushed all the way
to the Suez Canal in the 54 war.
The UK and France had threatened to invade to stop them; The USSR
was courting Egypt to their side.
We needed the Suez as much as our allies, but nuclear war was on the
Our analogy became Marc Antony (the US) taking Cleopatra (Egypt) as
his lover,
The play is from Shakespeare, and is set against the Plutarch's war
from the assassination of Julius Caesar in 40 BCE until Antony's
death in 30 BCE.
Also consider the timing of the release – Less than a year and a half
after the Cuban Missile Crisis and four months before the Dashing
President JFK is assassinated. Does JFK = Antony and
Is this an American reproduction of the Plutarch's civil war set against
the Cold War? Ir's eerie anyway you look at it!
Periods of the Roman Empire
Founding of Rome (April 21, 753 BCE)
From City to Empire (755 BCE - 27 BCE)
[email protected]
Imperial Regime
(27 BCE - 102 CE)
Imperial Peace (102 - 280 CE)
Troubled Century (192 - 280 CE)
Restoration and Fall (280 - 476 CE)
Romulus and Remus
Mars, Rhea Silvius and the Legend of Rome
In Latin, Lupa means “she-wolf” and “prostitute”
The Rise of Rome
The Roman Forum
Public Space Writ Large
Circus Maximus
• Horse and Chariot Racing
Help me in the Circus on 8 November. Bind every
limb, every sinew, the shoulders, the ankles and the
elbows of Olympus, Olympianus, Scortius and
Juvencus, the charioteers of the Red. Torment their
minds, their intelligence and their senses so that they
may not know what they are doing, and knock out
their eyes so that they may not see where they are
going—neither they nor the horses they are going to
(translated by H. A. Harris,
Sport in Greece and Rome,
Coliseum or Colosseum
• Gladiatorial Combat
• The Venatio (wild animal hunts/also held
at Circus Maximus)
– Trajan had 5,000 Animals killed in one day at
the opening of the coliseum in 80 CE
• Humiliores (Public Executions or lower
class criminals)
The Peak of Empire, 120 CE
Why Empires Fall
Occam’s Razor – Empires make
enemies; the bigger and more brutal
the empire, the more the enemies
King Shapur I and the Roman emperor
Valerian (kneeling), 210-273 CE
Shapur skinned Valerian and preserved him
Hannibal, Carthaginian general and
political leader 247-182 BCE
Punic wars (264-241 BCE, 218-201 BCE, and 149-146 BCE)
Extent of Carthaginian Empire
Elephants in the Alps
Wreaking Havoc In Italy
The “Servile Wars”
Or why empire + slavery is an equation for
social disaster
• First Servile War: 135 BC-132 BC on Sicily, led by
Eunus, a former slave claiming be a prophet, and Cleon
– Fought during the second Punic War
– 100,000 slaves militarily
– led by Cleon
• Second Servile War: 104 BC-103 BC on Sicily, led by
Athenion and Tryphon.
– Rerun of 1st Sevile War on Sicily
• Third Servile War: 73 BC-71 BC in Italy, led by
– Spartacus and Crixus, and 120,000 former slaves
Spartacus, Third Servile War,
73-71 BCE
"he did not consider himself ready as yet for that kind of a fight, as
his whole force was not suitably armed, for no city had joined him,
but only slaves, deserters, and riff-raff"
72-71 BCE, Initiative to Spartacus
The Tide Turns, 72-71 BCE
Marcus Licinius Crassus and
Pompey, 71-70 BCE
6,000 Slaves Crucified on the Road Between Capua and Rome
Wrapping up the Servile Wars
Fate of Spartacus Remains Unknown
Cilician Pirates Betray Spartacus’ Army and
Back Out of a Deal to Take Them to Sicliy
Pompey Orders the Crucifixion of Survivors
Large Landholders turn to Sharecropping
Senate Reforms Laws on Treatment of
Mithridates VI Eupator, King of
Pontos, 120-63 BCE
Spoke 22 Languages
Pontus and the Mithridatic War,
88-85 BCE
• Mithridates Conquers Anatolia
• Slaughters 80,000 Romans in Turkey
• Pompey Launches Expedition Against
Mithradtes, 88-85 BCE
The Death of Mithridates
• Mithridates had tried to make away with himself, and after first
removing his wives and remaining children by poison, he had
swallowed all that was left; yet neither by that means nor by the
sword was he able to perish by his own hands. For the poison,
although deadly, did not prevail over him, since he had inured his
constitution to it, taking precautionary antidotes in large doses every
day; and the force of the sword blow was lessened on account of the
weakness of his hand, caused by his age and present misfortunes,
and as a result of taking the poison, whatever it was. When,
therefore, he failed to take his life through his own efforts and
seemed to linger beyond the proper time, those whom he had sent
against his son fell upon him and hastened his end with their swords
and spears. Thus Mithridates, who had experienced the most varied
and remarkable fortune, had not even an ordinary end to his life. For
he desired to die, albeit unwillingly, and though eager to kill himself
was unable to do so; but partly by poison and partly by the sword he
was at once self-slain and murdered by his foes.[4] (Book 37,
chapter 13) – Dio Cassius, Roman History
More of Rome’s Enemies
Alaric, leader of the Visigoths
360-411 CE
Arminius, ruler of the Cheruscans
19 BCE-19CE
Attila, King of the Huns
410-435 CE
Varus, give me back my legions! – Augustus’ dying words
Boudicca and the Iceni Revolt
Rome’s Greatest Contributions
(albeit a double-edged one):
Roman Law and Latin
Justian’s Code + Roman Catholic Law =
Modern Law
The Twelve Tables (more like a bill of
rights crossed with the Code of
Hummarabi) 449 BCE
 Justinian’s Code (Corpus Juris Civilus) 530 CE
– Basis or European Law (civil and criminal)
– Codex of evolving Roman Law
• Hadrian, Trajan, Augustus
• Lost and Recovered in 1070 CE spurring
the Gregorian Reforms by the Catholic
The Enemies Within: Family Values,
Christianity and the Catholic Church
Honistores, Humiliores and Slaves
The Beginning of the End of Patrimony –
Changes in Marriage and Divorce Laws
• Changes under Trajan
and Hadrian
• Pater Familias – The
Absolute Power of the
Male Head of Household
• Power over life and death
of children and over wife
as a daughter
• Wives not sequestered as
in Greece/ Role as
• Limited Political Roles
• Origins of the Nuclear
Changes in Family Dynamics
179-400 BCE
• Marriage expanded to the idea of affection
and attraction as basis
• Inheritance laws liberalized to allow
women to inherit husband’s estate
• Children not subject to arbitrary infanticide
• The rise of a “tyranny of the children?”
– Did Rome decline because of spoiled children
gone soft?
Christians and Rome
The Roman Production of Martyrs
• Crucifixion of Peter
• Third Servile War
• Jesus of Nazareth
Growth of the Christian Church
The Stoics
– philosophy as a kind of practice or exercise (askêsis)
in the expertise concerning what is beneficial (Aetius,
– only the sage is free while all others are slaves
– emotions like fear or envy (or impassioned sexual
attachments, or passionate love of anything
whatsoever) either were, or arose from, false
• The decline of Rome and the rise of new
philosophies/religions: Neo-Platonism;
Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity
– Plotinus, Plocus and the end of Stoicism
– Gnosticism, Manicheism
Early Christian Women
• And he took me unto another pit, and I
stooped and looked and saw mire and worms
welling up, and souls wallowing there, and a
great gnashing of teeth was heard thence
from them. And that man said unto me:
These are the souls of women which forsook
their husbands and committed adultery with
others, and are brought into this torment.
Another pit he showed me whereinto I
stooped and looked and saw souls hanging,
some by the tongue, some by the hair, some
by the hands, and some head downward by
the feet, and tormented (smoked) with smoke
and brimstone; concerning whom that man
that was with me answered me: The souls
which are hanged by the tongue are
slanderers, that uttered lying and shameful
words, and were not ashamed, and they that
are hanged by the hair are unblushing ones
which had no modesty and went about in the
world bareheaded (γυμνοκεφαλοι).
– Gospel of Thomas
The Founding of the Catholic
• 313 CE: Edict of Milan: Rome neutral
toward religion
• 325 CE: Council of Nicea
• February 27, 380 CE: Theodosius
declares the Catholic Church the official
church of Rome
• 382 CE: Pope Damascus I sets the Canon
of the Bible
• 395 CEAugustine elevated to Bishop of