Friday, March 4, 2011

Warlords of Rome.

I'm reading another book about ancient Rome, this one with the rather amusingly sensationalistic title of Warlords of Republican Rome, by Nic Fields.

Sort of like Warlords of Atlantic, or Warlords of Mars. Designed to attract guys who like thud and blunder and history books. Someone, um, like me.

The actual book starts off with a rather dry recitation of the organization, weapons and history of the military; the organization of the government; followed by a straightforward history of the end of the Republic.

He argues mildly and not very convincingly that Sulla wasn't as bad as all that -- after all, after defeating Marius and eliminating (by eliminating, I mean killing) his rivals, he did retire.

He argues -- again, rather unconvincingly -- that Pompey was the greater man, but Caesar got all the press because of his assassination.

And he portrays Cicero as a glory hound and craven hypocrite. (The whole Cataline conspiracy does seem almost made up -- except the pesky fact that some of the conspirators confessed and were garroted for the trouble...)

But once again, I'm struck by what seems to be the similarities between the end of the Roman Republic and today...

Try this passage, for instance:

"Yet one of the fundamental things wrong in this period was the constant failure of the Senate to acknowledge the social and economic problems of the day. Its members chose to believe that any Roman who did try to deal with these problems was a 'revolutionary'...."


The book is rife with passages like this, where if you simply substituted American for Roman wouldn't be out of place in describing today.


jared said...

Super interesting Dunc. I'd like to hear more about the passages that intrigue you if you get around to it.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"And he portrays Cicero as a glory hound and craven hypocrite."

He definitely was an egomaniac. I don't know if the "hypocrite" label fits.

Duncan McGeary said...

I agree. I don't think Cicero had much choice but to try to keep tacking to the prevailing winds -- or be exiled or worse. (He was exiled at one point...)

Duncan McGeary said...

jared, I'm about 2/3rds through, but if I catch any more passages like this, I'll post them.

Anonymous said...

Cicero gets it in the neck...