Monday, 7 August 2017

Further Reflections on the Roman Military Studies Panel

For the next post on the Roman military studies panel/sessions at the Montreal CCC 2017, I'm going to give, effectively, a list of interesting points/comments/suggestions I jotted down.  There are fewer for the last couple of panels (I was getting tired - more of the material covered ground I was familiar with).  Here are some highlights (and apologies for overlapping with the first Montreal post).

Fred Drogula, "the Legalization of War".
Evidently early Roman warfare reads a bit like mob warfare, with wealthy clans engaging in raids led by patricians in charge of private war bands.  Ultimately they were looking for plunder.  Drogula asked how did military command become a legally sanctioned activity of the state given these beginnings  - and I wonder how and why it regressed (if you want to call it that) back to this state at the end of antiquity.  Additionally, the gradual expansion of the state led to a change in the nature of war.  Along the way, some intriguing parallels were drawn between early Roman warfare and early modern Italian warfare (think Medici, etc).

Jeremy, Armstrong, "On the Eve of Empire..."
The late fourth/early third century (BC) was a period of significant change, and this included a number of different facets of the Roman state such as:  weapons and armour, allies, citizenship, territory, naval power, military infrastructure, coinage, command, tactics.  Despite all these changes, much had been set in motion earlier.  The manipular legion was a big part of all this change.  Evidently, too, the legion wasn't very phalanx-like, and fighting with a phalanx goes against all we know about warfare in early Italy (it wasn't conducive to this - surprised to hear all this, because I'd assumed the phalanx was the early method, later changed. Goes to show what I know).  Indeed, he argues that the Romans were always manipular in a way because of the gentes, warbands, and tribes of early Rome, which when organized together tended to be divided into the sort of divisions that matched a maniple well.  Ultimately, take Polybius' legion versus phalanx discussion with a grain of salt.

Peter Vanderpuy, "Debt Structures, Warfare, and the rise"
He too noted the gentilicial, clan-based, warfare which characterized early Rome, which was in contrast to the more state-based approach of later times.  V provided an intriguing list of agrarian statues from the 12 tables (some of which had a very modern feel).  He got into the formation of all these new farms that is often associated with mid-republican Rome.  It got into issues of environmental history (more or less).  One interesting point (or series of points) he raised pertained to the costs associated with these new farms:  the suggestion was farming wasn't ingrained, for some would have had a much more successful go of things on this front than others.  Finally, following Berry-Wendell (to some degree), he said the primary cultural output at Rome was its warfare.

John Serrati, "Religion and Roman Warfare..."
His paper touched on gender, and a key figure was Bellona.  Bellona was present at the opening and the close of hostilities in Roman combat.  For him, it was surprising that a female deity had such a prominent place in such a male part of a patriarchal society.  That said, Athena had a big role in Athens too (this me), and it could hardly be praised for its gender equity.  Evidently, there's much we don't know about Bellona (I'd known almost nothing) - though much of early Rome IS murky.  Was Bellona Italian in origin?  Roman?  Who knows.  She served as a war god in Rome up until Sulla (and if this is true maybe we should consider this another strike against him?).  Should note some comparisons were drawn between her and Mars (who wasn't unloved at Rome).

Kathryn Milne, "The Middle Republican Soldier..."
The soldiery were vilified:  there was nothing inherently noble in serving.  So how did the state manage to ennoble the soldier, which it seems to have done at some point or other?  As they served farther and farther from home, his faraway actions were quite different from what he did when he was at home (and this parallels nicely with more recently materials, which she discusses in her thesis, and which I have a copy of).  One possible means of ennobling was the parade (triumph).  Others include decorations, the volume of spoils, and their exotic prizes.  She put a lot of stress on awards, which had a bonding effect, and which made soldiers feel good about themselves (and all this would be relevant to my research on the sixth century).  It was important that the awards be accepted by the community at large for them to have any meaning.  Some comments were made afterwards about the bodies (what did they do with them at the end of battles) and war's universality.

There are more comments from additional papers, but I'm typing this outside (it's 9:17pm at the moment) and it's getting dark, so I'll stop for the moment.  Cheers

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