Monday, 7 August 2017

Hannibal Eras Course - What I got from the Roman Military Studies Panel at CCC 2017

As I mentioned in the previous post, more than half of the presentations at the Montreal Celtic Conference in Classics 2017.  Additionally, as I might also have suggested, many of the papers gave me lots to think about for the new 3rd/4th year course I'm teaching in the fall, Hannibal.  Though  Hannibal dominates the title, it's less, specifically, about the man, and more about the three wars between Roman and Carthage.  Hannibal is merely meant to suck people in (though it's not yet clear if that's happening).  The point of putting this here is that it forces me to go over the notes I made, and it allows for something like an outline to come together.

In essence, a number of questions in the papers gave me some questions that might be worth tackling in the course including, in no particular order, and from the specific to the general:

1)  How was the army of the mid-republic organized and how did it fight?  (brings to mind Daly's books - how much face of battle business ought I get in to?  And there's the maniple/phalanx business, discussed by Polybius and Koon)

2)  Why did they (the Romans - it's a Romanocentric course for any number of reasons) go to war at all in each of the three cases (first through third)?  (brings to mind the imperialism discussions - the Romans were excessively bellicose a la Harris, maybe they weren't a al Eckstein)

3)  What were the costs associated for all those involved (the Roman government/state, its people, and more)?  (farms were deserted in the aftermath, maybe they weren't, and what role do slaves play in all of this)

4)  What does it mean for our understanding of things if we're so reliant on later (save, to some degree, Polybius) information (Livy, Appian, etc.)?  How do they colour how the war was initially received?  And they need not be histories alone, for the story of Aeneas and Dido from Vergil's Aeneid provides an interesting case.

5)  Is it at all possible to provide balance to a discussion that will be dominated by pro-Roman sources?

6)  What role did the war play in the expansion of the Roman state and its development?

There are some basic questions, which I jotted down at the conference, though which I'd thought about before, like:

7)  What are the sources for the war/s?

8)  What shape was the Roman state in when they started?  In between?  At the end?

9)  What was the course of events in the war?  This is perhaps the most obvious of questions, and it will undoubtedly make up a big chunk of our discussion.  But I'd like quite a lot of our time spent discussing the big issues.

Then there are some additional notes that I made, relevant, though less questions, per se:

10)  Worth discussing whether there was a religious component to the wars, and what it was.  This could range everywhere from the rituals performed before battles (the sacred chickens) to the opening/closing of the doors of the Temple of Janus.

11)  Evidently, both Livy and Polybius note deserters in the war:  if/when I find the references, it would be worth bringing up and connecting it to how Roman soldiers (regular ones) might have experienced the wars.

Finally, some interesting comments.  One is an interesting characterization of the second Punic war  from Michael Fronda - or at least it's jotted down on his handout. 

12)  The 2nd Punic War could be seen as the "big die off".  

13)  The period after that second war was described as one of innovation.  Along those lines, many people (invariably men) come up and become prominent who have no established background.

14)  There's a big boom in Hellenization after the war, though what kind of Hellenization that might have been wasn't clear to me.  Presumably the bringing of all the art to Rome (conquered Greece quote from Horace), though also the (continued) use of Greek as the language of choice for Roman writers, to a point, and the increasing number of Romans educated by/in Greeks/Greek.

And that's that.  I also made a reading list (which might be too ambitious in the time I have, but it includes books by Eckstein, Rosentein, Hoyos, Lazenby, Fronda, Drogula, and maybe too Boronowski, Levene (how much Livy versus Polybius discussion ought I have?), and the various entries in the Wiley companion).  Here's to hoping these points help make for an interesting course, which proves useful not only for the students, but me too.

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