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This volume of the second edition of the Cambridge Ancient History traces the history of Rome from its origins to the eve of the Second Punic War. Although the period covered is essentially the same as in the undivided Volume VII of the first edition, the treatment of the material is completely fresh and is much more extensive. Account is taken of new scholarly insights and of the considerable amount of new evidence, much of it archaeological, which has become available since the first edition was published. After a survey of the sources of our information the origins of Rome are discussed, beginning with the first discernible traces of the bronze Age settlement and going on to an assessment of the regal period. The complex and often controversial history of the early Republic is examined with reference to its internal development, the evolution of its relationships with the Latins, and the remorseless, if occasionally erratic, advance of Roman power in parts of Italy less immediately adjacent to the city. These developments are traced further in relation to the intervention of Pyrrhus and its aftermath, leading to consideration of Rome's relationships with Carthage, the First Punic War, and the beginnings of overseas empire. Rome is considered from a different perspective in a chapter on society and religion.
Volume VIII of the second edition of The Cambridge Ancient History, like its counterpart in the first edition, deals with the comparatively short but eventful period in which Rome acquired effective political mastery of the Mediterranean lands. From the Carthaginians in Spain, the Second Punic War and the first Roman involvement across the Adriatic, the advance of Roman power is traced through the conquests in Cisalpine Gaul, Spain and Africa in the west and through the conflicts in the east with Macedonia, the Seleucid empire, and finally the Greeks. Interspersed with these themes are chapters on the Seleucids and their rivals and on the Greeks of Batria and India, on the internal political life of Rome, and on developments in Rome's relationship with her allies and neighbours in Italy. In conclusion, two chapters explore the interaction between the Roman and Italian tradition and the Greek world, the first dealing mainly with intellectual and literary developments, the Second Punic War and the first Roman involvement across the Adriatic, the advance of Roman power is traced through the conflicts in the east with Macedonia, the Seleuid empire, and finally the Greeks. Interspersed with these themes are chapters on the Seleucids and their rivals and on the Greeks of Bactria and India, on developments in Rome's relationships with her allies and neighbours in Italy. In conclusion, two chapters explore the interaction between the Roman and Italian tradition and the Greek world, the first dealing mainly with intellectual and literary developments, the second with the material evidence for such interaction at many levels ranging from the basis of economic production to architecture and major works of art. This new edition has been completely replanned and rewritten in order to reflect the advances in scholarship and changes in perspective which have been achieved in the half-century since the publication of its predecessor.
The constitutional arrangements with which Rome emerged from the Second Punic War differed scarcely at all in form from those with which she had embarked upon that great struggle. Their essence remained the threefold structure of magistrates, Senate, and assemblies of the citizen body, the structure which the Greek observer Polybius was shortly to characterize as a 'mixed' constitution. Polybius saw that in the Roman governmental system the role of the Senate was central, that his aristocratic element predominated. This chapter examines the nature of Roman politics in the period. The idea that a major source of political power was a network of social connections which tended to be passed from one generation of a powerful family to the next prompted a further influential hypothesis. The combination of oligarchic predominance and popular electoral institutions had a further consequence which tended both to reinforce the pattern as a whole and to create ample scope for political competition conceived in personal terms.
The span of time embraced by this volume is short. Some who could recall personal memories of its beginnings - perhaps the news of Hannibal's crossing of the Alps, or of the disaster at Cannae - witnessed events not far from its close; such people witnessed also an astonishingly rapid and dramatic sequence of developments which gave Rome the visible and effective political mastery of the Mediterranean lands. The beginnings of this change lie far back in the history of the Romans and of other peoples, in events and institutions which are examined in other volumes in this series (especially in Volume vn.2); but the critical period of transition, profoundly affecting vast territories and numerous peoples, lasted little more than half a century. In one sense a single episode, it nonetheless comprised a multiplicity of episodes which varied greatly in scale and character and in the diversity of those who, whether by conflict, by alliance, or by the passive acceptance of new circumstances, passed under Roman domination. Furthermore, the Romans themselves experienced change, and not merely in the degree of power and surpemacy which they enjoyed. That power, along with the material fruits and practical demands of empire, brought consequences of great moment to their own internal political affairs, to relationships within their society and between them and their Italian neighbours, to their cultural life and to the physical expressions of that life.