Friday, July 26, 2013

Expansion of the Roman State (753 BC-AD 117)

Taking Control of the Palatine Hill (753-509)
Tradition tell us that the early history of Rome begins with the founding of the city by Romulus on the Palatine Hill near the Tiber River in 753 BC. At that time, and for more than a century, the Etruscans controlled Rome and other cities in northern Latinia. Etruscan control gradually weakened. The small unimportant city of Rome was able to break free of it in 509.

Of Latinia (509-272)
Romans then started fighting with other local municipal states to determine which one of them would replace the Etruscans as the dominant power in their region. By 396, Rome had proven it would rule as it battled to dominance over others in the Tiber River valley.

In 390, Celts from southern Alpinia sacked Rome. The Celts agreed to leave Rome for a 1,000 pounds of gold. When the Romans discovered they were using false weights, the Celtic leader replied, “Woe to the vanquished.” When Camillus, leader of the Roman relief army that had just arrived, heard this, he said, “Not by gold but by iron does Rome maintain its freedom.” He then led his army against the Celts and drove them out.

By 290, at the end of hostilities with ethnic Samnites, the Romans controlled central Latinia.

In 323, Alexander of Macedon had died in Babylon after conquering Hellenia, the Levant, Egypt, and lands beyond the Tigris River in Incognita. By 280, four relatively stable states had been established by his generals in those lands. In 280, these Hellenian rulers were the undisputed masters of military power in eastern Olympia.

In 280, Roman rulers began to expand their control into southern Latinia where, for centuries, coastal cities started by Hellenians had prospered. After losing a battle to the Romans, the rulers of the Hellenian city of Tarentum in southern Latinia appealed to Pyrrhus, a ruler in Hellenia, for help. He brought his feared Hellenian army into Latinia in response. Even though he kept defeating the Romans, he did so only by suffering unsustainable losses. Pyrrhus won every battle but lost the war. After suffering one too many Pyrrhic victories, Pyrrhus took his army back to Hellenia in 275.

When Pyrrhus left Latinia, the Romans knew they could beat the Hellenians and that no Hellenian power could halt the expansion of their power over all remaining Hellenian cities in Latinia. They completed taking control of them by 272. By then, they controlled all of Latinia south of the Arno River (which runs through today's Florence).

Of the Western Mediterranean Coast (272-201)
In 264, expansionist Rome started its long contest with Carthage over control of the western Mediterranean Sea. After the First Punic War (264-241), Rome took control of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica.

In response to these losses, Carthage took control of the southeastern third of Iberia. By doing so it gained control of that region's rich silver mines. That silver allowed it to slow Roman aggression while it redeveloped its ability to counterattack Rome.

That redeveloped ability led to the Second Punic War (218-201). Hannibal led his army, complete with war elephants, from Iberia, across the Alps, and into Latinia in 218. After winning initial victories against smaller Roman armies sent to stop him. Hannibal destroyed a much larger Roman army at the Battle of Cannae in 216. Afterward, Hannibal continued to lead his army across all of Latinia, defeating every Roman army raised to combat him, but failed to defeat the Roman state itself. He never got enough Roman allies to join him so that he could lay siege to the city of Rome and starve its rulers into submission.

In 210, Cornelius Scipio (236-183) led a Roman army to the southeastern region of Iberia controlled by the Carthaginians. In a surprise attack, Scipio's army captured the important coastal city of New Carthage. Scipio next defeated Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal at the Battle of Baecula in 209. Scipio's careful diplomacy won the allegiance of many local leaders. With their support, he defeated the Carthaginians at the Battle of Ilipa in 206. Afterward, the Carthaginians abandoned southeastern Iberia to Rome.

In 204, Cornelius led a Roman army from Sicily to Carthaginia. In 203 it ambushed and destroyed a Carthaginian army. Rulers in Carthage hastily ordered Hannibal to bring his army back from Latinia to protect them. In 202 Scipio's smaller army defeated Hannibal's at the Battle of Zama and the Second Punic War ended. Despite the bitter opposition of the Roman Senate led by Cato the Elder, Scipio chose not to destroy the city of Carthage and even allowed Hannibal to become its leader. As a result of the Second Punic War, Carthage lost control of Iberia and all cities along the Mediterranean coast outside the immediate vicinity of Carthage itself.

Of Hellenia (200-146)
Having decisively defeated the Carthaginians in the western Mediterranean, Roman rulers turned their attention to seizing control of lands to the east. They started by attacking the regional states in Hellenia. In 200 the Romans first attacked Macedon, Alexander's old kingdom, which was ruled by a descendant of one of Alexander's generals. Then they picked on poor Sparta, which only wished to be left alone to enjoy its peculiar way of living, defeating it in 195. Rome fought other small Hellenian states, separately or together, until 146 when it defeated the last alliance of all possible Hellenian states and all of Hellenia became two Roman provinces.

Of Carthaginia (149-104)
Romans displayed the full destructive spirit of the Olympian gods they so devotedly served when, despite all lies and illusions to the contrary, they laid siege to the city of Carthage in 149 for no other reason than they could. After three years the city fell. The Romans sold surviving Carthaginians into slavery, then spent 17 days completely destroying the city by fire: a grand sacrifice to Jupiter god of politics.

With Carthage annihilated, the Romans attacked its neighbor Numidia. After being initially defeated in 110, the Roman army proved victorious in subsequent battles and succeeded in eliminating all further resistance by in 104. With that the Romans completed taking control of the geocultural province of Carthaginia.

The Alpinian Challenge (113-102)
In 113, two tribes from the geocultural province of Germania, the Cimbri and the Tuetons, migrated southward into Alpinia. Alpinia borders Latinia to the north. When the Germanians moved in, the Romans got nervous and in 112 decided to send an army into Alpinia and order the Germanians to return north. The Germanians were going to until they became aware of an ambush planned for them by the Romans. Enraged, they attacked and completely destroyed the Roman army. Roman armies confronted them twice in 109 and once in 107 and lost each time. In 105 the Romans fielded an army of over 80,000 soldiers—its largest ever—to destroy these Germanians. The opposite occurred. In 105 at the Battle of Arausio, the Romans suffered their greatest defeat since Hannibal crushed them at Cannae a century earlier.

The Senate and People of Rome gave unprecedented authority to Gaius Marius, victor against the Numidians (and uncle of Julius Caesar), to reorganize the army. Until then the Roman army consisted of trained but amateur militias of landowning males. Marius replaced this with a permanent army of well-trained professionals using standardized equipment. When this army met the Teutons in 102, it slaughtered them. When it met the Cimbri the next year at the Po River, it slaughtered them too. To avoid slavery, the Cimbrian women killed their children then committed suicide.

Of Anatolia and Levantia (133-63)
In 133, the ruler of Pergamum, a large state in western Anatolia, died and left his kingdom to Rome. The Romans incorporated his state into theirs and, over the next 50 years, tens of thousands of Romans emigrated to it. During that time the Romans also developed alliances with several small states in central Anatolia.

In northeastern Anatolia, Mithridates 4th (134-63) became ruler of Pontus in 120. Thirty busy years later he had conquered all of Anatolia except for the western region controlled by Rome. To gain control of it, he coordinated an attack on all Roman immigrants living in the region. In May 88, under his orders, municipal authorities simultaneously killed as many as 80,000 Roman immigrants living in their cities. This ended any meaningful Roman presence in the region and compelled those same authorities to unite with Mithridates against the Roman response. Mithridates finished his plans for expansion by taking control of some Hellenian territory which included Athens.

Rome responded by sending an army to retake control of western Anatolia. It landed first in western Hellenia and, as it marched east toward Athens, Hellenian cities quickly affirmed their loyalty to Rome. Athens refused to, its leaders seeing their resistance as a valiant affirmation of freedom against Roman domination. The Roman army sacked the city in March 86. By 85 it had retaken control of all Hellenia and western Anatolia.

Hostilities between Roman rulers and Mithridates continued sporadically until 66 when a Roman army commanded by Pompey definitively defeated the army of Mithridates. That left Rome in control of Anatolia. Pompey continued south and in 63 made central Levantia into a Roman province. During that time, some Jewish leaders fighting a civil war against others in Jerusalem appealed to Pompey for help. With his help they laid siege to Jerusalem and captured it in three months. During the siege of Jerusalem, Pompey learned of the suicide of Mithridates.

Of Gallia (59-50)
Julius Caesar became the Roman ruler of western Alpinia in 59. To attain glory, make money, and gain political power in Rome, he launched his conquest of the geocultural province of Gallia in 58. By 55 he had successfully fought his way to the Channel and established political and commerical relations with people in Britannia during expeditions that year and the next. In 52 he defeated an alliance of Gallian peoples led by Vercingetorix. By 50 he controlled all of Gallia. Plutarch wrote that perhaps a million Gallians were sacrificed to Mars as part of Julius' quest for glory. Julius himself wrote of his experiences in his book Commentaries on the Gallic War.

Julius Caesar completed Roman control of Gallia in 50 BC. He and Pompey then fought for control of the Roman state. Pompey was murdered in 48, Julius finally defeated Pompey's army in 45, only to be murdered himself in 44. Octavius, his adopted son, and Mark Antony, his most capable general, avenged his death by attacking the armies of the assassins Marcus Brutus and Cassius near Philippi in Macedon in October 42. Both Brutus and Cassius committed suicide as a result.

Of Egypt (30)
Once Octavius and Mark Antony had avenged the death of Julius, they fought each other for control of the Roman state. Octavius defeated Mark Antony at the naval Battle of Actium, on the western coast of Hellenia, in 31. In 30 Octavius then attacked Alexandria, Egypt, where Mark lived with Cleopatra. Both Mark and Cleopatra committed suicide in response. Octavius then incorporated Egypt into the Roman state.

Of Iberia(210-19)
The Romans began exerting their control of Iberia in 210 during the Second Punic War. They occupied all of Iberia by 25 and ended the last rebellion against their control in 19.

Of Alpinia (by 15 BC)
Roman armies under the command of Tiberius and his brother Drusus took control of this geocultural province in 15 BC.

Not of Germania (AD 9)
In AD 9, the Germanian leader Arminius led three Roman legions into his brilliantly planned ambush known as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. In three days of slaughter almost every Roman died. After that, Roman rulers regarded the Rhine River as one boundary of the Roman state and no longer attempted to exert their control beyond it.

Of Southern Britannia (43-61)
Julius Caesar made two brief expeditions into Britannia in 55 and 54 BC. A Roman army intending to permanently control southern Britannia didn't invade it, however, until AD 43. It initially established its control by winning a series of battles. In 61, however, Romans whipped a widowed queen named Boadicea and raped her two daughters. Britannians rallied to her cause and avenged the outrages by killing Romans and burning down several of their newly-built cities. Their rampaging ended only when a Roman army, with much smaller numbers but much greater skill, slaughtered Boadicea's supporters in battle. With her suicide Roman control of southern Britannia remained secure for over 300 years.

Of Southern Sarmatia
The Roman ruler Trajan personally led a series of military campaigns which expanded the peoples and lands which the Roman state controlled. To begin with, he invaded southern Sarmatia (today's Romania) in 101 and established Roman control by 106.

Of Mesopotamia Briefly (114-117)
Trajan also led a successful military campaign against the Parthians in Mesopotamia in 114. Following his death in 117, however, his successor Hadrian abandoned Mesopotamia as indefensible. At the opposite end of the Roman state in Britannia, Hadrian had a defensive wall built marking the northern limit of the Roman state.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.