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Thread: RTR VIII's Academy of History

  1. #1
    Mausolos of Caria's Avatar Royal Satrap
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    Default RTR VIII's Academy of History

    Salvete, commilitones! Chairete, philoi!

    For everyone normal out there: Welcome, friends of RTR! This is our newly re-opened Academy of History. And even though the painting of Raphael might you remind you of Plato's original Academy, the painting itself is very inclusive of the other schools of philosophy, too. So yes, if you are an Aristotelian, or a Stoic, or an Epicurean, you are also very much welcome here- and we are in desperate need of sceptics!



    At Rome Total Realism we have a proud tradition of dicussing historical matters both within our team and within the community. This shall be continued after the release of RTR 8's 4.0 version. There is no strict restriction on topics concerning the area and the era portrayed by our mod, but of course we favour that! As I am the lead historian of RTR VIII, I will be here to moderate if needed, but please don't feel like you have to agree with me or any other team members just because we are "officials"- we like a healthy debate much more

    Of course sometimes you might feel like you are losing a discussion and no matter what arguments you bring, you can't convince anyone of your opinion. Pretty much like this:




    Or you just go crazy like good old Zeno when he found out in Elysium that the Stoic school he fathered largely disagreed with him:


    But who cares! It's about the fun, and about the learning- and I surely hope to learn a lot of new things from you guys So, please go ahead and suggest a topic, present a bold claim, or simply ask a modest question- let's have some craic! (Oh well, that's not too ancient Greek, is it? Whatever, some Guinness would be a nice addition to a Symposion)
    "Pompeius, after having finished the war against Mithridates, when he went to call at the house of Poseidonios, the famous teacher of philosophy, forbade the lictor to knock at the door, as was the usual custom, and he, to whom both the eastern and the western world had yielded submission, ordered the fasces to be lowered before the door of science."

    Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7, 112

  2. #2

    Default Re: RTR VIII's Academy of History

    The truly amazing thing about Rome was how they basically took over the world through sheer bullheadedness, proudly running headfirst into ambushes, training diplomats to be as undiplomatic as possible, and challenging a naval empire AND THEN deciding to actually figure out how the whole warship thing works and that they should probably start building all of them. While carthage went into the punic wars trying to balance all kinds of other conflicts and economic concerns, Rome went in 100% from the word go and never stopped, building fleet after fleet to be crushed by the far more experienced carthaginian navy, and sending an invasion force to carthage itself on the grounds of "we're losing, so... it." Hannibal had Rome bent over a barrel for years, but carthage was never commited enough to the conflict to capitalize on it and support him in a seige on Rome; he literally reached the limit of what military victory was capable of accomplishing on its own, and its only through Rome's unflinching opinion that they were hot no matter how bankrupt they were or how completely devastated their fighting age male population had become that they ever won. Cartharge definitely seemed to have valid political and economic reasons for leaving Hannibal to his own devices, but Rome had basically invented patriotism and no one, not even Rome, knew just how powerful that concept could be.

  3. #3
    Mausolos of Caria's Avatar Royal Satrap
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    Default Re: RTR VIII's Academy of History

    Interesting quote there, bhl. Let me disagree

    In my opinion, there are three decisive reasons for Rome's rise to the dominating power in the Mediterranean:

    1. Italy

    Today we live in a world where agriculture and fertile soils seem pretty negligible for the most developed countries. But even today, Italian cuisine is probably more famous and popular around the globe than any other. The reason for that lies in Italy's great fertility: From grain to fruits to livestock, all of that thrives in Italy. It was the chief reason for the high population density in Italy in antiquity, too. Here is what Polybios has to say, referring especially to the Plain of the river Po:

    "Its fertility is not easy to describe. It produces such an abundance of corn, that often in my time the price of wheat was four obols per Sicilian medimnus2 and that of barley two obols, a metretes of wine costing the same as the medimnus of barley. 2 Panic and millet are produced in enormous quantities, while the amount of acorns grown in the woods dispersed over the plain can be estimated from the fact that, 3 while the number of swine slaughtered in Italy for private consumption as well as to feed the army is very large, almost the whole of them are supplied by this plain. 4 The cheapness and abundance of all articles of food will be most clearly understood from the following fact. 5 Travellers in this country who put up in inns, do not bargain for each separate article they require, but ask what is the charge per diem for one person. 6 The innkeepers, as a rule, agree to receive guests, providing them with enough of all they require for half an as per diem, i.e. the fourth part of an obol, the charge being very seldom higher. 7 As for the numbers of the inhabitants, their stature and beauty and their courage in war, the facts of their history will speak." (Polyb. II, 15, 1-7)

    Apart from this fertility, Italy also offered a mix of all climates, from snow capped mountains to wide plains, to beaches and rocky cliffs, to hillsides and valleys. It is crossed by many rivers, has a multitude of lakes and offers excellent harbours- not too many, however, and the rest of the coastline is easily defendible. All this means that the Romans, once they basically controlled the majority of the peninsula, found themselves in the best strategic position available in the oikumene: Commanding a fertile land with almost endless resources of food, water, animals and - most importantly- men, with natural barriers and fine harbours.
    However, the Romans still needed to manage these resources in a sensible way, and they came up with the Socii system. It guaranteed a large pool of manpower, diversified weapon arms and a relief of direct administration. By utilising it to the maximum, the Romans were always able to raise ever new, well composed armies. Even when they had enough men at their disposal, Italic cavalry and Italic skirmishers were always valuable additions to their army.



    2. Political culture and structure


    The nobility of Rome had a very competitive culture. They vied for prestige and glory among each other at hunting, at honoring the Gods, at politics, at warfare, and so on. This in itself would be no argument for an effective expansion of their political might- after all, Greek culture was, if anything, even more competitive. After all, they had the Olympic Games, and many similar events, the absolute apogee of men competing for glory for their home.
    However, Rome added it special political system to this. Aimed at preventing a single man from taking over power (which it ultimately, but only very ultimately, failed to do) it also put its office holders under a lot of pressure to do something spectacular. Half a lifetime and half a fortune could be spent on a political career, and then you only had a single career as a praetor or consul to make as much profit (not only in a financial sense, but primarily) as possible to make up for it. Otherwise the whole effort wouldn't have been worth it, and you often had a family name to stand up to, too. The easiest solution for gaining glory and riches was making war on someone adjacent to the designate province. Of course, they might fail and be defeated, or even die in battle. And they often did. The reason that this did rarely produce a bigger backlash is to be found in reason No 1. above: There was always enough manpower to replace the losses.
    Another feature that supported the conviction of Roman nobles to actually risk their lives in this way was their religious determination. At the start of each war the SPQR led, a priest would actually declare it just and as a "defensive" effort to reclaim something lost, or to avenge an injury. Of course the men at the helm probably knew better, but their lesser peers and the common soldiers were often utterly convinced that the Gods would give them victory- no matter how many setbacks they might suffer on the way to it. The Greeks would sue for peace after a defeat in battle- the Gods were not to be relied on, after all- the Romans would not even consider it.


    3. Political stability

    Looking back at the history of the Roman Empire, civil wars play a major role. Everyone knows about Sulla vs Marius, Caesar vs Pompey or Marc Antony vs Octavian. However, in the grand scheme of things, civil unrest was very untypical for the Roman Republic. While the Greek poleis were plagued by constant staseis, while the Hellenistic Empires had to face almost annual native rebellions and declarations of usurpers and while tribal confederations would fall apart as fast as they were formed, the Roman political society was admirably stable. After largely solving the social tensions between plebs and patres in the first half of the fourth century, there was nothing even remotely resembling civil war until the Gracchi affair. This allowed the Consuls to mobilise men from the whole society for war, and it allowed the Senate to virtually act without plebeian resistance. Oh what the Greeks or Carthaginians would have given for that!

    I might have forgotten one or two things here, and 2 and 3 can also be structured very differently. What do you guys think?
    "Pompeius, after having finished the war against Mithridates, when he went to call at the house of Poseidonios, the famous teacher of philosophy, forbade the lictor to knock at the door, as was the usual custom, and he, to whom both the eastern and the western world had yielded submission, ordered the fasces to be lowered before the door of science."

    Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7, 112

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