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message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3742 comments Mod
Book III
- The Fall of Troy: the Gods and Laomedon’s Perjury
- The Fall of Troy: the Gods and Paris’s Adultery
- Troy and Adultery, Rome and Fratricide
- The Sack of Troy by Fimbra
- The Peace of Numa’s Reign
- Gods brought in after Numa’s Reign
- The Seizing of the Sabine Women
- The War with Alba
- The Deaths of the Kings
- From the Expulsion of the Kings to the Second Punic War: the First Councils
- From the Expulsion of the Kings to the Second Punic War: Conflicts between Patricians and Plebians
- From the Expulsion of the Kings to the Second Punic War: Famines, Plagues, and Wars
- The Second Punic War: Hannibal
- The Second Punic War: the Destruction of Saguntum
- From the Second to the Final Punic War: the Maltreatment of Scipio and the Cultivation of Luxury
- From the Punic Wars to Augustus: the Massacre of the Romans under Mithridates
- Evils Internal to the Republic: Civil Strife and Civil War
- Civil War: Marius and Sulla
- Civil Wars in the Time of Augustus
- These Evils All Occurred Prior to Christianity, when the Gods Were Still Worshiped

I would summarized Book III as the following: all the evils that occurred to the Roman people prior to Augustus, and therefore prior to Christ, were never prevented by the pagan gods, and at their root was the sinful, even shameful, nature of the Roman people.

message 2: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3742 comments Mod
I wish I had gotten further in my summarizing of Roman history. I see the last few chapters of Book III speaks of the Gracchi Brothers, Marius, Sulla, and the Civil Wars. I'm sure some of that went over your heads. Let me get to it. It may take me a day or so.

message 3: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3742 comments Mod
Let me continue where I left off with ancient Roman history. Rome had been fighting wars for over two hundred years, on the Italian peninsula, then against Carthage, and then in the east against the remnants of Alexander’s Greek empire. Finally in mid second century BC it came to a rest. It had now an incredible empire, and with it came some changes. Two of these changes were critical to the Roman character. First, Rome had amassed incredible wealth, riches far beyond any civilization around them had ever had. The notion of the citizen soldier was no longer real. Rome paid for a professional army. Second it was left with huge number of soldiers who really had no place to retire to. I don’t know the specific number, but I imagine the Roman army that tens if not hundreds of thousands of men who were now technically Roman but yet were not Roman in citizenship or ancestry. In order to support the huge numbers for such an army, the Romans absorbed men from the surrounding areas and conquered areas. They had become Roman in the process of becoming a Roman soldier, but to give them citizenship would alter the political stability. They also needed places to retire.

This caused two political parties to form, the Optimates, who looked out for the interests of the established patricians, and the Populares, who looked out for the interest of the more common plebians. For the most part there was a political balance between the two. But if all these new men became citizens, then the Populares would overwhelm the Patricians. So the Optimates fought tooth and nail to prevent these new men from gaining the citizenship. Now just because you were a patrician, doesn’t mean you were not a Populare, and just because you were a plebian doesn’t mean you would not be an Optimate. It was way more complicated than just rich versus poor. Plebians weren’t necessarily poor. They were just not from the ancient families.

Enter the Gracchi brothers from a patrician family who supported the Populare cause. First the elder Tiberius. He tried to pass laws that would allot land to these returning aging soldiers. I don’t recall the intricacies of the political events, but at some point he was stymied and a large number of his followers rioted in the streets. This gave the Optimates cause to physically confront the rioters and in confrontation the rioters with Tiberius Gracchi were slaughtered in the streets of Rome. This only temporarily settled the matter. Ten years later, the brother of Tiberius, Gaius Gracchi, took up the same cause in the Senate. Gaius was a more skilled politician and was able to pass a good deal of the land laws, and then started to enact laws that would give citizenship to many of the absorbed men from the surrounding regions. This was just unacceptable to the patrician families because all these new citizens would be beholden to Gracchi, and thereby give him the potential to be a dictator. So it wasn’t so much as rich versus poor thing or even patrician versus plebian, but the potential of a dictator to rise from a new political balance. This was one of the biggest fears in Roman consciousness going back to when they overthrew the Kings. So a lynch mob was formed and slaughtered Gaius and his cohorts.

This resorting to violence to achieve political objectives had a lasting impact on Roman society. One of the men who rose from the surrounding city states who became an outstanding general was Gaius Marius. Even though the expanding conquest had halted, there were still instabilities to put down. Marius was apparently brilliant as a general, winning wars in the north against the Gauls and Germanic tribes, the south in Africa, and in the east. He also entered politics as a Populare and created situations where he was elected consul seven times, five times in succession. As I mentioned, a consul could only be elected for a one year term and never in successive years except in dire need. Whether legitimately or not, I don’t know, Marius was able to create such a situation for five straight years, and he used violence to get the vote to go his way. The very fear the patricians had in the Gracchi was realized with Marius.

The patricians then turned to one of Marius’ military underling, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, an Optimate and from one of the ancient families. In what I think was the very first of Rome’s civil wars, Sulla first defeated Marius on the field, and while away, the Populares formed another army, and Sulla called back defeated that second army. Sulla prevented Marius from becoming dictator but then he himself declared himself dictator in order to rid this ongoing issue of power imbalance once and for all. He created a proscription list with the names of all those who remotely were associated with Marius, thousands of men and their families, and offered reward leading to their deaths. Rome and the surrounding cities became a blood bath as people raced from house to house identifying people and slaughtering them on the spot. Even though Sulla had saved the Republic from a dictator, he committed one of the most heinous acts in Roman history. With that accomplished and even though he could have remained dictator, Sulla turned the government back to the Senate.

What had started as simple violence in the streets to put down rioters from the first Gracchi had escalated to Civil War and proscription lists. As you can see, St. Augustine had put his finger on the very nature of supposed Roman virtue.

More on the Republic in a day or two.

message 4: by Galicius (last edited Jan 28, 2020 05:59PM) (new)

Galicius | 444 comments Great rundown on Rome BC, Manny. I was trying to put a timeline on it and found one in an accompanying booklet that I recently covered in a series of lectures on St. Augustine by Phillip Cary. Perhaps this timeline will be of interest to our readers:

Roman Kingdom and Republic
753 BC According to legend, Romulus founds Rome.

753–509 BC Rule of the seven Kings of Rome.

509 BC Creation of the Republic.

390 BC The Gauls invade Rome. Rome sacked.

264–146 BC Punic Wars.

146–44 BC Social and Civil Wars. Emergence of Marius, Sulla, Pompey and Caesar.

44 BC Julius Caesar assassinated.

message 5: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3742 comments Mod
Yes, I still have to get to the Pompey and Caesar civil wars and then to Augustus over Marc Anthony to conclude the BC.

message 6: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3742 comments Mod
Once the Romans had breached a taboo of Civil Wars, it would become a terrible disposition in their Roman identity. Roman Civil Wars were particularly brutal. The Roman army had developed superb fighting techniques on top of their military strategies. When the Roman armies faced non-Romans, it was decisive early and the opposition capitulated. When Roman armies fought against each other, it was particularly bloody since their techniques were matched. From the Marius and Sulla Civil War, other Civil Wars followed. Shortly after a Senator who had supported Sulla, Lucius Sergius Catilina, known as Catiline, tried to overthrow the government. He didn’t even bother with political intrigue. He got possession of an army but he was put down.

I think a sort of “greatest man idol” syndrome captured the Romans. It started with all the conquering generals, such as those in the Scipio family, that had led to the empire, and then came down to Marius and Sulla. The competitive nature between the families, politicians, and generals, led to a mentality of striving to be the greatest man. Julius Caesar was known to have said that he would rather be the greatest man in a small, poor town than to be the second man of Rome.” I doubt he meant it, if he actually did say it, but you can understand the values behind that quote. Generals and politicians were seeking to be the top honcho, and yet as they were rising to that top spot the rest of the Senate would tear them down in fear that they would become a dictator.

In time three men would come together to pool their electorate to corner the power in Rome: a rich business man, Marcus Licinius Crassus, a great general, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, otherwise known as Pompey the Great, and a poor but from an old patrician family who was an incredibly skilled politician, Gaius Julius Caesar. What’s fascinating is that the deficiencies of each was compensated by the strengths of the others. And in gaining this power, each sought to edge out the other by gaining what they lacked. Crassus was rich and he could buy votes but he would never get the respect of men unless he was a conquering general. So he brought together army, almost lost to the escaped gladiator slaves of Spartacus fame (Pompey had to come by and win it) and then went east on campaign against what is roughly the Persians of his day and was spectacularly defeated and killed. Pompey, who had both wealth and a great military career, during this time would stay in Rome and build his political connections.

Julius Caesar, being poor (by patrician standards; apparently his family had fallen on some hard times) and not having come up through the military took a command to manage the northern border against the Gauls. One got rich through the military (tax collecting, looting) and one got military experience. However Caesar’s commissioned did not include conquest. There had been treaties signed with the various Gallic tribes, but Caesar found reason to claim violations to the treatises or he found reason to protect a particularly friendly Gallic tribe against a more hostile one. In the end, after a ten year period, he conquered all of Gaul. All the while he wrote commentary of his exploits back home in letters which were read to the people, a brilliant political stroke. Even though he had been away for ten years, he had become this top man. But by his conquest, he had violated his commission, and therefore the Senate back home found justification to set charges against him, and was ordered to leave his army north of the Rubicon River and come to Rome to face the charges. Well, he knew this was only going to lead to his execution, so not only did not keep north of the Rubicon, he crossed the Rubicon and marched his army toward Rome. Panic set out in Rome. If Sulla had created murderous proscription lists, what would Caesar do? Armies were set against Caesar, Civil War ensued, and Caesar roundly defeated his opposition. The Senate’s only hope was for Pompey to stop Caesar. It was not clear that Pompey would fight his old partner; after all, Pompey had also married Julius Caesar’s daughter, but she had died in childbirth. But the potential glory of that top man of Rome must have swayed Pompey over, and after a series of battles, of which Pompey almost won, the two met in a decisive battle north of Greece where Caesar conclusively won. Pompey tried to escape to Egypt, which was not a Roman province at the time, but the Egyptians suspicious of Romans murdered him.

Julius Caesar had won. There was no more armies to challenge him. He marched on Rome, seize the reins of government, and declared himself dictator. He held power for two or three years, and you probably know of his assassination. The assassin who put the final knife in him was Marcus Junius Brutus, an officer under Caesar. What you may not know is that Brutus was a descendent of the Brutus who killed the last tyrant king of Rome some five hundred years earlier. Shakespeare’s play is quite accurate on the major events, though of course he embellishes and creates the individual personalities. What is also sometime suspected is that Brutus was the actual blood son of Caesar himself, who had had an affair with Brutus’ mother many years earlier.

Let me bring the Republic to a close. Caesar’s death prolonged the Republic in name only. After the assassination, factions were formed. On one side the Senate and the assassins; on the other the natural heirs to Caesar’s legacy: Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, a longtime friend of Caesar’s and an underling, Mark Anthony, Caesar’s second in command, and nephew and later adopted son, Gaius Octavius, later to be known as Augustus. Another series of Civil Wars occurred, first to defeat the assassins. With their defeat Mark Anthony marched into Rome and held a murderous proscription similar to that of Sulla, slaughtering the great and ancient families. Once victory had been achieved, Octavius ruled the west, Mark Anthony the east, and Lepidus was given Africa I believe. From here Lepidus fades, leaving Octavian and Anthony to face each other. Octavian defeats Anthony in 31 BC and by 27 BC is granted the powers of permanent consul, in effect Emperor, changing his name to Augustus. With that, the Republic was officially finished.

message 7: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3742 comments Mod
Just a note. I'm a little behind and with the Super Bowl tonight I will not be able to put up Book IV until tomorrow night.

message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 192 comments Enjoy the game Manny and all!

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