Essay Outline: Assessing the Success of Ancient Rome through the Manipulation of the Physical Environment by the Romans
The success of Ancient Rome in its efforts for territorial expansion and establishing the Roman state lies on the proficiency of Romans in manipulating their physical environment, made through their immensely devastating military power and the effects of their devastation in terms of eliminating population and transfer of land use.
Supporting Point 1:
Immense military power has enabled the Romans to conquer several lands within Europe – first, by conquering the whole of the Italian Peninsula and then by spreading throughout the rest of the continent.
Ancient Rome was divided into three eras – the Kingdom, the Republic and the Empire. Although there is an understanding that the records on the Roman Kingdom were vague and seemingly mythical at best due to the poor standards of compiling historical records that time, there is nevertheless a notion that Ancient Rome was already undergoing expansion by that time. With Ancient Rome starting out as a city-state according to the legend of Romulus and Remus, its territories have expanded to cover most of Europe today – a phenomena largely unachievable without emphasis on constructing competent military forces. Livy (& Luce, 2009) and Cassius Dio (1925), both being Roman historians, have overseen much of the evolution of the Kingdom of Rome in their capacities during their lifetimes, particularly the takeover of the entire Italian peninsula.
A chief testimonial to the power of the Roman Empire is the Punic Wars, which was divided into three episodes between Rome and Carthage and overseen primarily by the Greek historian Polybius (et al., 2010). The Carthaginian Empire, which governed Carthage, was immensely highly powerful back then and has preceded the Romans in terms of dominating the entire Mediterranean Sea. Both the Romans and the Carthaginians first crossed paths when the settlements at Sicily – an island in the Mediterranean Sea located between Rome and Carthage, called for both of them to help iron out its domestic political concerns. Yet, the Romans and the Carthaginians eventually tussled against one another in their respective bids for dominance in the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans sought to work hard to match the prowess of the Carthaginians in terms of its naval forces by training sailors and developing sea boarding techniques. A series of battles across the three Punic Wars ultimately caused Rome to win, much to the peril of the Carthaginians as the Romans successfully eliminated Carthage completely through pillaging that led to total destruction. Today, there remains almost no trace of the Carthaginian Empire having ever existed (Cary, 1919; Polybius et al., 2010; Scullard, 2002; Walbank, 1945).
Supporting Point 2:
Population elimination resulting from massive military conquests thoroughly enabled Ancient Rome to create an environment of hostility and submissiveness.
The Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage entailed the deaths of several Carthaginians – soldiers and civilians alike. The resolute destruction of Carthage by Rome resulted to the availability of vast tracts of land available for wealthy Romans to dispose. Highly notable is the fact that such phenomena have enabled the Romans to switch from a democratic government towards a more autocratic one. The availability of land due to conquests has given wealthy Romans with greater favor, as their ability to purchase large tracts of land became instrumental for securing territories for Rome. The emergence of latifundia – plantations established by wealthy Romans above their newly-acquired lands from conquests, eliminated independent yeomen farmers, with many of them becoming slaves to land supposedly their own in the process (Polybius et al., 2010; Scullard, 2002).
Supporting Point 3:
Transfer of land use became the norm among Romans due to the elimination of populations resulting from military conquests (Polybius et al., 2010).
Farms, in particular were highly targeted as the death of owners during military conquests have left their lands ownerless and were put on sale to wealthy Romans that utilized slave labor. Every conquest done by the Roman military has entailed the availability of land; the resulting displacement of yeomen farmers entailed their capture as slaves for wealthy Romans – a process that went on throughout the Republic and Empire eras, eventually falling out due to the waning influence of the central government, changing loyalties among commanders and pressure coming from attacks by Germanic tribes (Heather, 2007; Polybius et al., 2010; Scullard, 2002).
Specifically, the Romans relied on their massive military power to cause distortions in the physical environments of all the lands they conquered. The immensely devastating consequences of Roman military power has brought Romans more lands to conquer, which naturally caused the death of several people, seizure of their land properties and capture of people – particularly yeomen farmers, as slaves to newly-owned lands of wealthy Romans.
Without the military power of the Romans, it would have been impossible for Rome to have captured much of Europe throughout the existence of their civilization. Destruction via military forces has naturally caused the deaths of people in all lands the Romans sought to conquer. The seizure of foreign lands battle after battler, borne out of any lack of resistance, caused them to become highly powerful and institutionalized in terms of expanding their territorial acquisition. The downfall of Rome was also due to the inevitability of a weakened center, command changes due to loyalty issues and attacks by surrounding Germanic tribes.
Cary, M. (1919). A forgotten treaty between Rome and Carthage. Journal of Roman Studies, 9, 67-77.
Cassius Dio. (1925). Roman History, Volume II. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Heather, P. (2007). The fall of the Roman Empire: A new history of Rome and the barbarians. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Livy, & Luce, T. (2009). The rise of Rome: Books one to five. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Polybius, Waterfeld, R., & McGing, B. (2010). The histories. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Scullard, H. (2002). A history of the Roman world 753 BC-146 BC. United Kingdom: Routledge.
Walbank, F. (1945). Polybius, Philinus, and the First Punic War. The Classical Quarterly, 39 (1-2), 1-18.