William Vernon Harris wrote the book titled ‘War & Imperialism in Republican Rome’. Oxford University Press published the book in the 1985. The author of this book attempts to review the grounds for wars and imperialism in Rome in 327 to 70 BC. It was the time when the Romans outstretched their empire to the Mediterranean. The book attempted to reviews the feelings of the Romans in their mission to get power and their actions. The urge for Romans to have power over all their neighbours was clearly reviewed. The Romans zeal for power gave them an attitude towards their opponents in wars. Just because, they needed to rise, they sought to have strength and power (Polybius, Walbank & Scott-Kilvert, 2003).
This book reviews how the Romans aim of going into war shifted from a defensive effort to an offensive one. They could not provide defense for themselves without offending their opponents (Harris, 1985). They attracted many enemies for their fear of nothing. Their fight was not of defense wholly but power. Williams records that, the Romans sought for anybody who would march against them in any case. Their concern for expansion made them behave differently. Polybius believed that a sane man could not go into war with his neighbor for the sake of winning. Additionally, a man could not go to the sea for the sake of getting to the other side. Romans as per the review of this book took their actions for the sake of ambition (Harris, 1985). Additionally, (Polybius, Walbank & Scott-Kilvert, 2003) observe that ambition was the driving force of the Romans. The book outlines the attitude of the Romans towards war, their expansion, self-defense, and imperialism even though the writer was not able to prove it all.
The book outlined the attitude of the Romans’ in the direction of war to be just. In Rome, war was normality and a regular activity. It was a positive thing for the Romans’ to fight to acquire their empire. They went into war annually and never hesitated in overcoming. This was clearly evidenced in that only four or five years there were no war in a period of eighty-six years. The Romans enjoyed getting into battle with their neighboring states for the sake of expansion. In the findings of Nicolet, the Romans found war as a necessary and an important annual event, as reflected in their religious calendar. It was an activity of formalism to the society (Harris, 1985).
The book reflects that war in Rome was important even to its citizens unlike to the campaigns that were against the people of Ligurian and the Spanish. Success in fighting posed a glorious achievement in Rome. The success of the Romans was by victory and not by mare not by chance (Polybius, Walbank & Scott-Kilvert, 2003). This made war of significant importance, which gave them the urge to pursue success. Additionally, the war-policy had some economic interest. Polybius recorded that, in Rome, nobody was in the position of holding political office before he would complete the annual military campaign for a period of ten years (Harris, 1985). This made war of importance for anyone willing to secure a place in the military office. On the other hand, the book portrays that the Romans fought in almost all their fight when they were secure in their military superiority. Therefore, participation in war and success was of significant importance to all aspiring military positions in Rome (Harris, 1985). War for the Romans was important to give fame.
The book reviews the extents to which citizens of Rome outside the senate were able to identify their economic interest because of war and the expansions. They regarded war to be an economic venture. The Romans fought for those areas that were believed to be areas with the source of wealth. Ordinary Romans were portrayed to have felt the worthiness of fighting for such places especially the mining areas. Their attitude of compulsion and enthusiasm whenever they fought for the valuables was evidenced. On the other side, the book points out the willingness of the several citizens to fight wars in Rome, and their wiliness to expand the power as essential elements. This was the reasons the decline of assiduity in the second century imparted the legionaries recruits of leaders in a negative and major way (Harris, 1985). This means that the Romans were people who sought for the best and would fight for it. They also loved to be in power and for them it did not matter how they got that power as far as they have it at the end.
The senatorial landowners benefited in a considerable way from expansion of power in Rome as portrayed in the book. This was a major reason for Romans to seek expansion that why to some extent, they went into war just to conquer their neighbors. Non-senatorial members performed long periods of military services and shared in the economic victory. The traders outside Italy benefited from the growth of power in Rome (Harris, 1985). This is evidence that power to Romans was an important aspect of their life that made them get to war in its search. Power and strength were among the major issues that led the Romans to war. The satisfaction that came alongside was essential for them. Additionally, the book highlight that political strength was an important key value for beneficial in Rome. This was because most of the men expected favorable treat by the Rome officials (Harris, 1985). Therefore, the Romans believed that strength would be gained after possession of power.
On the other hand, the Romans were portrayed to be people who wanted to expand their boundaries to the neighboring state. Rome posed a threat to a significant number of its neighbors; any states that bonded Rome and had valuable grounds were not lucky. This was clear as evidenced by the Romans when they got into war with Spain and kingdom of Pergamum to get their mining districts (Harris, 1985). The quest for power made them fight almost all their neighbors. In Plautus and Terence ages, a phenomenon was crucial for the Romans. This was there rise to be effective masters from regional power (Leigh, 2004). This book highlights how the Romans accepted to be the world’s masters. Scipio Nasica advocated for hostile power in retaining strength for Rome statute (Harris, 1985).
Power was almost everything for the Romans and was very important. Those who did not have power were considered poor and had no choice but to toil hard to get money from those in power. Harris claimed that the Romans slave acquisitions were economically important. The book reviews the fundamental importance of slaves and their trade in providing the Rome expansion (Harris, 1985). Slave supply and their ready market in the Mediterranean was an economical motivation as portrayed . Although slaves were not a major issue of concern, their purpose was highly that of providing expansion to the Roman (Harris, 1985).
Additionally, the book reviews that the Romans in their own view got into war with their opponents as a way of self-defense. War decisions were based in the pressure of others than their drive. They felt that their vital interests were endangered all in the aim of ridding themselves from frightening neighbours (Harris, 1985). The Romans and the citizens favored and supported foreign policies that were aggressive. Rome had emerged out of their mindful institutionalization at the end of the Punic war II (Leigh, 2004). Out of anxiety by the Rome senate, they got into the Macedonian war II and the Punic wars III (Harris, 1985). This was because the senate had insisted on defending Rome against a danger that was not there as he had foreseen. This was a clear indication that the expansions were geared to strengthening the Rome bounders. Though they claimed to be doing self-defense in reality, it was not. Their main aim there was the expansion of their empire and gain of more power.
The book reviews that in the writing of Cicero’s philosophy, the Romans argued that their wars were in self-defense. As much as there were people who believed that Rome fought in defense of its empire and allies, others believed differently (Harris, 1985). Their wars were not generated by any necessity to go into war, but a search of honor and dignity. Many claimed that Rome did not always go into war for defense. The Romans sought for power and strength in conquering those that bordered them. The book notes that the power of the Romans was through war and conquers. All the states that the Romans fought in most were states that had something valuable like minerals or those that posed some threats on their border (Harris, 1979). The threat did not have to be tangible, for them if they had suspicions that were good enough to get into war. The book shows how the Romans acquired territory of other nation through the establishment of economic hegemony. Their behaviors were aggressive when it came to other nations and ruling their territory. On the other side, the book reviewed how Cilicia, Phrygia, and Lycaonia showed how Rome had the perfect will of annexing its territory whenever they felt the need (Harris, 1985).
The Romans without hesitation took any opportunity that arose with the need to annex a territory with its profitable benefit, merging. This though does not mean that they were able to annex all their desired territory. Pompey had done all he could to prevent any other person from obtaining Egypt. He was not able to annex Cyrene and Egypt. The Romans were people after power, and it did not matter how they were to get it (Harris, 1979). The issues of fighting and annexing to get in control were their main options. The book clearly highlights the importance war in Rome, the attitude of the Romans, and their reasons of getting to fight as their way of obtaining power.
In conclusion, the book portrays the Romans to be a state that was after power more than defense. They were people who took pleasure in war for the sake of conquering other states not because it was so necessary but because they wanted to do so. They felt it was necessary for them to go to war since the war was a major thing that had all the importance to them. The book criticizes the Romans for their greed for power and failure to be human. According to Polybius (Harris, 1979), the warfare of the republican was never put at stake in whatever way or manner. The Romans seemed to be people who were more on power acquisition. Thus, offending other people did not matter to them as far as they got what they wanted. The book was clear in showing how the Romans acquired their power and strength over other nations. It only failed in showing the reaction of the conquered nation and their attitude after defeats. On the other hand, the book focuses so much on Rome and forgets the other states that were engaged in a fight with Rome. ‘Rome in War & Imperialism in Republican Rome327 to 70 BC’, is a good book that is very good and interesting. Anybody with the zeal to learn the history of Rome would find this book to be very amazing. It is a necessary book for zealous historians who wish to learn the history especially of Rome.
Harris, W. V. (1979). War and Imperialism in Republican Rome: 327-70 B. C. New York: Oxford University Press.
Harris, W. V. (1985). War and Imperialism in Republican Rome: 327-70 B. C. New York: Oxford University Press.
Leigh, M. (2004). Comedy and the Rise of Rome. New York: Oxford University press. Polybius, Polybius (Author)
Scott-Kilvert, I. (2003). The Rise of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics. England: Penguin Classics.