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Greece and Rome in the British Empire: Contrasting Role Models

  • Krishan Kumar
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1 Hume, David, “Of the Study of History” (1741), in Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. Millar, Eugene F. (Indianapolis, 1987), 566.

2 Koebner, Richard, Empire (New York, 1965), 18. See also Pagden, Anthony, Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c. 1500–c. 1800 (New Haven, CT, 1995), 1128; Muldoon, James, Empire and Order: The Concept of Empire, 800–1800 (Houndmills, 1999), 1520. For Spain, see esp. Lupher, David A., Romans in a New World: Classical Models in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America (Ann Arbor, MI, 2003).

3 A rare exception is Jeanne Morefield. See n. 71 below.

4 The work of Jonathan Israel is most important here—see, for a general statement, “The Dutch Role in the Glorious Revolution,” in The Anglo-Dutch Moment: Essays on the Glorious Revolution and Its World Impact, ed. Israel, J. I. (Cambridge, 1991), 105–62. See also, for the seventeenth-century background to this “Dutch conquest,” Jardine, Lisa, Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory (New York, 2008).

5 The canonical account is Brewer, John, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688–1783 (Cambridge, MA, 1988).

6 This conventional view has not gone unchallenged—see, e.g., Elkins, Caroline, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (New York, 2004).

7 See Vance, Norman, The Victorians and Ancient Rome (Oxford, 1997), esp. pt. 2; Edwards, Catherine, ed., Roman Presences: Receptions of Rome in European Culture, 1789–1945 (Cambridge, 1999); Shumate, Nancy, Nation, Empire, Decline: Studies in Rhetorical Continuity from the Romans to the Modern Era (London, 2006).

8 This classic topic is now receiving renewed attention. For a lively account, with discussion of the relevant literature, see Heather, Peter, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History (London, 2006).

9 Maier, Charles, Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors (Cambridge, MA, 2006), 286, 7677.

10 Machiavelli, , The Discourses II.2, trans. Walker, Leslie J., ed. Crick, Bernard (Harmondsworth, 1970), 279. For the influence of Machiavelli on English political thought, see Pocock, J. G. A., The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ, 2003), pt. 3; Turner, Frank M., “British Politics and the Demise of the Roman Republic, 1700–1939,” Historical Journal 29, no. 3 (1986): 578–79.

11 See, on this, Armitage, David, “Empire and Liberty: A Republican Dilemma,” in The Values of Republicanism in Early Modern Europe, vol. 2 of Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, ed. van Golderen, Martin and Skinner, Quentin (Cambridge, 2003), 2947.

12 Pocock, Machiavellian Moment, 423–61.

13 See Hirschman, Albert O., The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph (Princeton, NJ, 1977).

14 David Hume, “Of Commerce” (1752), in Millar, Essays, 258–59. The original is in Livy, History of Rome 7.25.

15 Hume, “Of Commerce,” 260; see also 255. And for the general argument, see Pocock, Machiavellian Moment, 462–505; Armitage, “Empire and Liberty,” 39–40.

16 Quoted in Armitage, David, The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge, 2000), 142–43. See also, for a similar contrast between the Spanish and English Empires as the English conceived it, Pagden, Lords of All the World, 66–73, 86–89, 127–36, 184–85.

17 de Montesquieu, Baron, The Spirit of the Laws, trans. Nugent, Thomas, ed. Neumann, Franz, 2 vols. (New York, 1949), 1:161; see also 1:364–66.

18 Ibid., 1:341.

19 These two aspects of the Romans featured centrally in the debates about the legitimacy of Spanish rule in the Indies, in which the Roman model was a key point of reference: see Lupher, Romans in a New World.

20 I am grateful to one of JBS's reviewers of this article for making this point and supplying this example. For Gladstone's work on the Committee on Aborigines, see John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, 2 vols. (London, 1905), 1:358. Morley's account suggests that Gladstone's objection to intervention derived from a general commitment to the principle of self-government for the colonies (359–60). But it might also be thought that Gladstone's attitude at this period—the 1830s—was affected by the fact that this was a time when his father was coming under fire for the treatment of the slaves on his West Indian plantation and for his public defense of slavery: matters, Morley remarks, that may well have caused his son “uneasy moments” (22–25).

21 See Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Minute on Indian Education” (2 February 1835), in Imperialism and Orientalism: A Documentary Sourcebook, ed. Barbara Harlow and Mia Carter (Oxford, 1999), 56–62. It was in this minute that Macaulay advanced the argument—which became a popular one among liberal imperialists—that Anglicizing the Indians would have the same beneficial effects as the Romanization of their provinces (including Britain) had had in the Roman Empire. See generally on this parallel, Mantena, Rama Sundari, “Imperial Ideology and the Uses of Rome in Discourses on Britain's Indian Empire,” in Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire, ed. Bradley, Mark (Oxford, 2010), 5473.

22 Darwin, John, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830–1970 (Cambridge, 2009), esp. 2425.

23 Smith, Adam, The Wealth of Nations (1776), ed. Seligman, Edwin R. A., 2 vols. (London, 1910), 2:55–56. Smith notes that the Latin and Greek words for colony have very different meanings. “The Latin word (Colonia) signifies simply a plantation. The Greek word (apoikia), on the contrary, signifies a separation of dwelling, a departure from home, a going out of the house” (56).

24 Ibid., 2:64–65.

25 Ibid., 2:68.

26 Ibid., 2:113, 120. For a discussion of Smith's views on the American colonies, see Pitts, Jennifer, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France (Princeton, NJ, 2005), 5258; Krishnan, Sanjay, Reading the Global: Troubling Perspectives on Britain's Empire in Asia (New York, 2007), 5052.

27 On the influence of Smith's ideas about empire in the nineteenth century, see Benians, E. A., “Adam Smith's Project of an Empire,” Cambridge Historical Journal 1, no. 3 (1925): 249–83. For the idea of an imperial federation, see Bodelsen, C. A., Studies in Mid-Victorian Imperialism (1924; repr., London, 1960), 130–45, 205–14; Bell, Duncan, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order, 1860–1900 (Princeton, NJ, 2007), 1220, 92–119. Bell though, unlike Benians, is rather reluctant to allow Smith the paternity of the idea (see 67–69).

28 Quoted in Muthu, Sankar, Enlightenment against Empire (Princeton, NJ, 2003), 252. For the Enlightenment critique of empire, and with it of Rome as the supreme example, see also Pagden, Lords of All the World, 178–200.

29 On philhellenism in France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, see Vidal-Naquet, Pierre, Politics Ancient and Modern, trans. Lloyd, Janet (Cambridge, 1995); for England, see Jenkyns, Richard, The Victorians and Ancient Greece (Oxford, 1980); Turner, Frank M., The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain (New Haven, CT, 1981). On the influential role of Germany and in particular J. J. Winckelmann and Wilhelm von Humboldt in all this, see Bernal, Martin, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, vol. 1, The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785–1985 (New Brunswick, NJ, 1987), 281336.

30 Armitage, Ideological Origins of the British Empire, 173.

31 For Grote and his influence, see Turner, Frank M., “The Debate over the Athenian Constitution,” in Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, 213–63, and “The Triumph of Idealism in Classical Studies,” in Contesting Cultural Authority: Essays in Victorian Intellectual Life (Cambridge, 1993), 322–61; Jenkyns, Victorians and Ancient Greece, 333–34; Bernal, Black Athena, 1:326–30.

32 For the account of the Greek colonies, see George Grote, A History of Greece, 3rd ed., 12 vols. (London, 1846–56), 3:230–70, 4:26–68. Grote remarks, with evident approval, that “nothing short of force will efface in the mind of a free Greek the idea of his city as an autonomous and separate organization”—whether in his “primitive country” or “colonial settlements” (4:68).

33 On the “separatist” attitudes of Cobden and the Manchester school toward the colonies, see Bodelsen, Studies in Mid-Victorian Imperialism, 32–60. As Richard Koebner and Helmut Dan Schmidt point out, however, free trade and its policies “were liable to opposite interpretations. … It was possible to regard Free Trade as a principle upon which a new, essentially federal, system of imperial relationships was to be built. On the other hand, it was also possible to view the introduction of Free Trade and the gradual liquidation of the Colonial System as the initial step towards the final dismemberment of the Empire” (Imperialism: The Story and Significance of a Political Word, 1840–1960 [Cambridge, 1965], 68–69).

34 Sir Lewis, George Cornewall, An Essay on the Government of Dependencies (1841; repr., Oxford, 1891), 228. For Wakefield, the Mills, and other “Colonial Reformers” inspired by the Greek example, see Bodelsen, Studies in Mid-Victorian Imperialism, 14–19; Taylor, Miles, “Imperium et Libertas? Rethinking the Radical Critique of Imperialism during the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 19, no. 1 (1991): 47; Bell, Idea of Greater Britain, 214–15.

35 Lewis, Essay, 106–12, 227–28.

36 On Gladstone the Greek scholar, see Turner, Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, 159–70, 236–44, and “Why the Greeks and Not the Romans in Victorian England?” in Rediscovering Hellenism: The Hellenic Inheritance and the English Imagination, ed. G. W. Clarke (Cambridge, 1989), 70–72; Jenkyns, Victorians and Ancient Greece, 199–210.

37 W. E. Gladstone, “Our Colonies” (1855), in Harlow and Carter, Imperialism and Orientalism, 363–78, quotes at 370. Gladstone refers to the “golden age” of British colonization, in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when the American colonies were founded on essentially Greek principles and enjoyed “a freedom almost as complete, for every practical purpose, as that which the Greek colonies formerly enjoyed” (372). This echo of Adam Smith is also found in John Morley (John Stuart Mill's disciple and biographer of Gladstone), “The Expansion of England,” Macmillan's Magazine 49 (1883–84): 241–58. It was, it seems, Grote's midcentury History of Greece that brought home to Gladstone the power of the Greek mode of colonization, shifting his focus away from the Roman municipium as a model for self-governing units within a wider whole: see Paul Knaplund, Gladstone and Britain's Imperial Policy (London, 1966), 12–13, 15.

38 Gladstone, W. E., “England's Mission,” Nineteenth Century 4, no. 19 (1878): 560–84, quotes at 569, 571–72. For the debates on empire in the 1870s, sparked by Disraeli's Crystal Palace speech of 1872 and the Royal Titles Bill of 1876, conferring the title of Empress of India on Queen Victoria, see the documents in Harlow and Carter, Imperialism and Orientalism, 361–87; Cain, P. J., ed., Empire and Imperialism: The Debate of the 1870s (Bristol, 1999); Bodelsen, Studies in Mid-Victorian Imperialism, 79–145; Koebner and Schmidt, Imperialism, 81–165; Taylor, “Imperium et Libertas?” 13–14; Vance, Victorians and Ancient Rome, 228–32.

39 Some prominent proponents of the idea of “Greater Britain” were drawn to the Greek model of more or less independent communities linked in a community of sentiment and character—a “commonwealth,” as several of them termed it. See, e.g., Froude, James Anthony, Oceana, or England and Her Colonies (New York, 1886), 1112. However, other champions of the Greek model, such as the historian Edward Freeman, while sympathetic to the idea of “Greater Britain,” saw it as antithetical to any idea of “Imperial Federation”—indeed to any idea of “empire,” in the strict (Roman) sense. See Freeman, Edward A., “Imperial Federation,” appendix in Greater Greece and Greater Britain: And George Washington, the Expander of England (London, 1886), 104–43. Even the inventor—or at least popularizer—of the term “Greater Britain,” Sir Charles W. Dilke, had strong reservations concerning an “absolute Imperial unity or federation” (see The British Empire [London, 1899], 137, 143).

40 For the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century persistence of philhellenism, see Turner, Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, 244–63; Jenkyns, Victorians and Ancient Greece, 264–346. Bernal considers that, in various forms, philhellenism persists into our own times, and not just in departments of classics: Black Athena, 1:400–450.

41 It was obviously not easy to accommodate the Quebecois of Canada and the Afrikaners of South Africa in this model, but that problem was usually ignored, at least up to the Boer War.

42 Seeley, J. R., The Expansion of England (1883; repr., Chicago, 1971), 3538. For the advocacy of the United States as a model of an imperial federation that can incorporate Greater Britain, see 126, 235–36. See also, on the appeal of America to British federalists, Bell, Idea of Greater Britain, 231–59.

43 Freeman, “Greater Greece and Greater Britain,” 41–43, and “Imperial Federation,” 135–40. For the objections to the term “empire,” in the cases of both Greece and Britain, see “George Washington, the Expander of England,” 76–77. It is in this piece too that Freeman makes the strongest plea that any concept of Greater Britain must include the United States. Thus, both the exclusion of the United States and the inclusion of India must make any scheme of Imperial Federation, as well as any idea of Greater Britain on the Greek model, doubly doubtful: Freeman, “Imperial Federation,” 105.

44 Freeman, “Imperial Federation,” 140.

45 It is interesting that Dilke, Charles W., however, includes India in “Greater Britain,” convinced that the spread of the English language there can spearhead the civilizing process. But he too looks forward to the time when Indians will be ruled by Indians and, so, similar to the white dominions at least constitutionally: Greater Britain: A Record of Travel in English-Speaking Countries during 1866 and 1867, 3rd ed. (London, 1869), vii, 543–60.

46 Aeneid 6, 847–53. For the turn to Virgil, and more generally to Rome, in this period, see Jenkyns, Victorians and Ancient Greece, 333–37; see also Vance, Victorians and Ancient Rome, 141–43; Jasper Griffin, “Virgil,” in The Legacy of Rome: A New Appraisal, ed. Richard Jenkyns (Oxford, 1992), 137–40; Richard Faber, The Vision and the Need: Late Victorian Imperialist Aims (London, 1966), 22–26; Phiroze Vasunia, “Greater Rome and Greater Britain,” in Classics and Colonialism, ed. Barbara Goff (London, 2005), 58.

47 Quoted in W. F. Monypenny and G. E. Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, rev. ed., 2 vols. (London, 1929), 2:1367. See also C. C. Eldridge, Disraeli and the Rise of a New Imperialism (Cardiff, 1996). The return to Rome, in a more positive vein, was helped by the at least partial overthrow of the declinist approach—the moralizing concern with Roman “decadence”—that had characterized the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries. See on this Linda Dowling, “Roman Decadence and Victorian Historiography,” Victorian Studies 28, no. 4 (Summer 1985): 579–607; see also Vance, Victorians and Ancient Rome, 54–79; Richard Hingley, Roman Officers and English Gentleman: The Imperial Origins of Roman Archaeology (London, 2000), 109–55.

48 Quoted in Vance, Victorians and Ancient Rome, 226.

49 Claudian, “On Stilicho's Consulship,” bk. 3, 150–54, in Claudian, trans. Maurice Platnauer, 2 vols., Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA, 1972), 2:52–53. On the use of this passage by British imperialists such as Cromer, see Vance, Victorians and Ancient Rome, 233–34, 254; see also Koebner, Empire, 15. It is quoted by Lewis, Essay, 128 n. 2, 129 n. 1.

50 For Roman attitudes to citizenship and a comparison with British ideals and practices, see Brunt, P. A., “Reflections on British and Roman Imperialism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 7, no. 3 (1965): 267–88, esp. 270–74.

51 Sullivan, Robert E., Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power (Cambridge, MA, 2009), 420–33; Majeed, Javed, “Comparativism and References to Rome in British Imperial Attitudes to India,” in Edwards, Roman Presences, 9294.

52 Sullivan, Macaulay, 258. See also Catherine Edwards, “Translating Empire? Macaulay's Rome,” in Roman Presences, 70–87.

53 The influence of Machiavelli and the neo-Harringtonian “commonwealth men” of the eighteenth century, with their concern over the corrupting effects of commerce and luxury, is clear in these negative assessments of the Roman Empire. It is particularly strong in Froude, who also brings Horace to his aid: see James Anthony Froude, “England and Her Colonies” (1870), in Cain, Empire and Imperialism, 38–41, and Oceana, 9–11. See also Stephan Collini, Donald Winch, and John Burrow, That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Intellectual History (Cambridge, 1983), 188–90; Peter J. Cain, “Empire and the Languages of Character and Virtue in Later Victorian and Edwardian England,” Modern Intellectual History 4, no. 2 (2007): 258–61. For the long shadow of Gibbon over Victorian historiography and its struggle to throw it off armed with the weapons of German scholarship, see Dowling, “Roman Decadence and Victorian Historiography”; see also Adam Rogers and Richard Hingley, “Edward Gibbon and Francis Haverfield: The Traditions of Imperial Decline,” in Bradley, Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire, 189–209.

54 Hobson, J. A., Imperialism: A Study, 3rd ed. (1938; repr., London, 1988), 366–67. For the general anxiety about corruption and decline in this period, linked often to empire, see von Arx, Jeffrey Paul, Progress and Pessimism: Religion, Politics and History in Late Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge, MA, 1985).

55 That the fear of “Caesarism,” as it had developed at Rome, was the principal concern of liberal and radical critics of empire during the nineteenth century is argued by Taylor, “Imperium et libertas?” See also Betts, Raymond F., “The Allusion to Rome in British Imperialist Thought of the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” Victorian Studies 15, no. 2 (December 1971): 153–54.

56 Evelyn Baring, First Earl of Cromer (1841–1917), was Commissioner of the Public Debt in Egypt and, over four decades (1877–1907), virtual ruler of the country. See Owen, Roger, Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Proconsul (New York, 2004). Sir Charles Prestwood Lucas (1853–1931) was an Oxford classicist who joined the Colonial Office, becoming joint head of the Dominions department and after retirement a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a prolific writer on the British Empire. His book series, A Historical Geography of the British Colonies, to which he contributed many volumes himself, was highly influential. James Bryce (1838–1922), later Viscount, was a well-known lawyer and historian who went on to serve in the Liberal administrations of Gladstone, Roseberry, and Campbell Bannerman in the 1890s and 1900s. From 1907–13 he was British Ambassador to Washington. For the professional and social background of these authors, and the influence of their works, see Vasunia, “Greater Rome and Greater Britain,” 38–64—although, in stressing their upper-crust, Oxbridge provenance, Vasunia is too inclined to my mind to assume “guilt by association.” See also on these thinkers—with a similar stress on the influence of their class and educational backgrounds—Phillip Freeman, “British Imperialism and the Roman Empire,” in Roman Imperialism: Post-colonial Perspectives, ed. Jane Webster and Nicholas J. Cooper, Leicester Archaeology Monographs no. 3 (Leicester, 1996), 19–34; Hingley, Roman Officers and English Gentleman, 25–27, 44–54; Majeed, “Comparativism and References to Rome in British Imperial Attitudes to India,” 88–109. Other contemporary works in the same vein as those by these authors included Holland, B., Imperium and Libertas: A Study in History and Politics (London, 1901); Cramb, J. A., The Origins and Destiny of Imperial Britain (London, 1915).

57 Cromer, Earl of, Ancient and Modern Imperialism (New York, 1910), 9, 14.

58 Sir Lucas, C. P., Greater Rome and Greater Britain (Oxford, 1912), 1, 22; see also 152–55.

59 James Bryce, The Ancient Roman Empire and the British Empire in India, and The Diffusion of Roman and English Law throughout the World (Oxford, 1914), 4. Bryce's two essays had first appeared in his Studies in History and Jurisprudence, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1901). They were both reprinted in 1914, specifically with candidates for the Indian Civil Service in mind.

60 Lucas, Greater Rome and Greater Britain, 35–48; Bryce, Ancient Roman Empire and the British Empire, 2–3. See also on this, Bell, Idea of Greater Britain, 63–91; David Deudney, “Greater Britain or Greater Synthesis? Seeley, Mackinder, and Wells on Britain in the Global Industrial Era,” Review of International Studies 27, no. 2 (April 2001): 187–208.

61 Lucas, Greater Rome and Greater Britain, 61.

62 Cromer, Ancient and Modern Imperialism, 18. More recent scholars concur with this relative estimate. “Rome,” says Moses Finley, “was a land empire, ultimately reaching about half the size of the continental United States today” (“Empire in the Greco-Roman World,” Greece and Rome, 2nd ser., 25, no. 1 [April 1978]: 6).

63 Cromer, Ancient and Modern Imperialism, 18.

64 Lucas, Greater Rome and Greater Britain, 131–55.

65 Bryce, Ancient Roman Empire and the British Empire, 70–71. Compare Cromer: the Romans “Romanized the races who were at first their subjects and eventually their masters” (Ancient and Modern Imperialism, 73; see also 37–38). Lucas commented that “the Romans were the one people in the world who gradually and surely expanded a town into a worldwide community” (Greater Rome and Greater Britain, 94). For a general concurrence with the view that Rome had opened its highest offices to all citizens, of whatever race or ethnicity, see Brunt, “Reflections on British and Roman Imperialism,” 274, 282, 287. Although eschewing any direct comparison with the British Empire, Seeley too had noted that Rome had not been brought down by the “spirit of nationality” that had destroyed most empires; it had indeed triumphantly solved the nationalities question by incorporating its subject peoples, binding them to its rule. “Rome destroyed patriotism in its subject races” (Professor [J. R.] Seeley, “Roman Imperialism II: The Fall of the Roman Empire,” Macmillan's Magazine 20 [August 1869]: 283). Given Seeley's attitude toward India, as expressed at length in The Expansion of England, it is hard not to think that parallels with the British Empire were not far from his mind.

66 Bryce, Ancient Roman Empire and the British Empire, 58–59; see also 68–70. For Cromer's similar view of the essential difference between the Roman and the British Empires in this respect—what he called the failure of “assimilation” in the British case—see Ancient and Modern Imperialism, 72–77. See also Lucas, who especially emphasizes, in the British case, differences of religion not importantly present in the Roman case (Greater Rome and Greater Britain, 77–78). On the thinking of Cromer and others on race as a problem in the British Empire and its difference from Rome and other ancient empires in this respect, see Emma Reisz, “Classics, Race, and Edwardian Anxieties about Empire,” in Bradley, Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire, 210–28.

67 Bryce, Ancient Roman Empire and the British Empire, 73–78. Cromer was the most emphatic of all, declaring that “we have not the smallest intention of abandoning our Indian possessions, and … it is highly improbable that any such intention will be entertained by our prosperity” (Ancient and Modern Imperialism, 126–27). For Lucas's similar view, with the added point that the retention of India and the other dependencies would add to the attraction of the British Empire for the white Dominions, see Greater Rome and Greater Britain, 176–78.

68 Lucas, Greater Rome and Greater Britain, 170.

69 Betts, “Allusion to Rome in British Imperialist Thought,” 154; see also on Adderley, Koebner and Schmidt, Imperialism, 91–93. In response, Lord John Russell stressed the unity of the British Empire and called on the example of Rome to show that it was possible to run a great empire composed of many diverse peoples. He quoted Virgil: “Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento” (Remember, Roman, by your empire to rule the world's peoples; quoted in Kobener and Schmidt, Imperialism, 94).

70 Quoted in Jenkyns, Victorians and Ancient Greece, 337.

71 Jeanne Morefield shows that the Greek example, built around the “commonwealth” idea, was given a much-extended lease of life through the influence of Alfred Zimmern's The Greek Commonwealth (1911), particularly among the important Round Table group of imperial theorists and policy advisers (who included Zimmern himself) in the early part of the twentieth century (“‘An Education to Greece’: The Round Table, Imperial Theory and the Uses of History,” History of Political Thought 28, no. 2 [Summer 2007]: 328–61; see also her Covenants without Swords: Idealist Liberalism and the Spirit of Empire [Princeton, NJ, 2005]). Zimmern drew on Greek experience for his elaboration of the idea of the “third British Empire” as a commonwealth of self-governing nations: Zimmern, Alfred, The Third British Empire, 2nd ed. (London, 1927); see also, on Zimmern's idea of empire, Mazower, Mark, No Enchanted Place: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, NJ, 2009), 66103. Disillusioned with Britain after the Second World War, Zimmern moved to America and decided that it was in America that Greek ideals might best be realized. See his Athens and America,” Classical Journal 43, no. 1 (October 1947): 211.

72 Keith, Arthur Berriedale, The British Commonwealth (London, 1941), 89.

73 Quoted in Weight, Richard, Patriots: National Identity in Britain, 1940–2000 (London, 2003), 165. Britain as Greece to America's Rome became a common trope in the postwar years, not always to the comfort of either country. On the early idea of America's replacing Rome as the civilizing force in the world, see Margaret Malamud, “Translatio Imperii: America as the New Rome, c. 1900,” in Bradley, Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire, 249–83.

Greece and Rome in the British Empire: Contrasting Role Models

  • Krishan Kumar


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