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This book narrates the early history of Rome, one of the most successful imperial powers of world history. Although the story told here ends with the subjugation of Italy and thus does not treat the great wars of overseas conquest, during Rome’s advancement from a small town on the Tiber River to the ruling power of the Italian peninsula the Romans in large measure developed the social, political, and military institutions that formed the foundations of their later imperial greatness. Throughout human history there have been many nations or peoples who have greatly extended their power or territory by conquest, but only a small number of such states have been able to retain their conquests beyond three or four generations. Conquest requires little more than the successful application of military might, whereas the lasting success of an imperial power depends upon its ability to adapt military, political, social, economic, cultural, and religious institutions to accommodate change over time and to serve more than the narrow self-interest of a ruling oligarchy. Unlike many ancient Greek city-states, such as Athens and Sparta, which excluded foreigners and subjects from political participation, Rome from its beginning did not hesitate to incorporate conquered peoples into its social and political system. Allies and subjects who adopted Roman ways were eventually granted Roman citizenship and became fully participating members in Roman society. Rome’s early development occurred in a multi-cultural environment, and its institutions and practices were significantly affected by such diversity . Since the site of Rome, situated twelve miles inland from the sea on the Tiber River that separated Latium from Etruria, commanded a convenient river crossing and lay on a land route from the Apennines to the sea, geography brought together three distinct peoples at the site of early Rome: foreword 1 Latins, Etruscans, and Sabines. Though Latin in speech and culture, the Roman population must have been somewhat diverse from earliest times, a circumstance which doubtless goes far in explaining the openness of Roman society in historical times. Given present-day interests in issues of ethnicity, multi-culturalism, and cultural diversity, Rome’s successful unification of the diverse peoples of early Italy is a subject worthy of careful and serious study. This volume is aimed at three rather different constituencies: the general educated reader interested in having a general but sophisticated account of early Roman history, the college undergraduate enrolled in survey or more advanced courses on ancient Rome, and the more specialized graduate student and professional scholar of classical studies and ancient history. Attempting to satisfy three such divergent groups is likely to be overly ambitious; and although the author has tried to keep them constantly in mind, some portions of the narrative will inevitably serve one group better than the other two. On the one hand, in order to produce a coherent narrative, much of the book necessarily sets forth many issues on which there is substantial agreement among modern scholars. This will best serve the needs of the general educated reader and college undergraduate. On the other hand, however, the study is much more than a mere general survey or statement of current orthodoxy. It contains many original interpretations by the author and bears clear signs of his particular interests, which are intended to engage the more specialized reader and instructor. The book will be best understood and appreciated when read concurrently with Livy’s first ten books, the Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, or Plutarch’s biographies of Romulus, Numa, Publicola, Coriolanus, Camillus, and Pyrrhus. In fact, the book’s organization is patterned to some degree after the arrangement of Livy’s first ten books, which are our single most important source on early Rome. The first three chapters serve as an introduction to the subject as a whole by treating the prehistoric, cultural-historical, and historiographical background. Chapter 4 corresponds to Livy’s first book in treating the period of the early kings; and following the excursus on early Roman religion in chapter 5, chapters 6 and 7 correspond to Livy’s second and third books. Chapter 8 covers the same material found in Livy Books IV–VI, and chapter 9 is parallel to Livy Books VII–IX. Modern scholarship on early Roman history in some ways resembles that of the Homeric poems and their historicity. Differences of opinion and interpretation largely hinge on individual scholars’ divergent assessments of the relative historical value or worthlessness of the data. These problems of evaluating...


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