- Series: Studies in the History of Greece and Rome
- Hardcover: 339 pages
- Publisher: University of North Carolina Press; New edition edition (December 31, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807828394
- ISBN-13: 978-0807828397
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,431,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rome at War: Farms, Families and Death in the Middle Republic (Studies in the History of Greece and Rome) New edition Edition
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Rosenstein offers a radically new interpretation of the impact of military service on the peasant economy. Its stimulating insights and sophisticated modelling make this work a major contribution to the debate on one of the most crucial issues of Roman Republican history.(John Rich, University of Nottingham) Rosenstein argues that Roman warfare had critical demographic consequences that have gone unrecognized by previous historians: heavy military mortality paradoxically helped sustain a dramatic increase in the birthrate, ultimately leading to overpopulation and landlessness. "Represents a much needed re-evaluation of the impact of Roman warfare on agriculture and the Roman 'peasant class' during the third and second centuries B.C." -- "Journal of Roman Studies" "An important book, packed with big ideas. . . . Challenges many long-held assumptions. . . . A ground-breaking book, which deserves to be read carefully by anyone who is interested in the history of the middle Republic." -- "International Journal of the Classical Tradition" "Contributes greatly to our understanding of one of the more important issues in Republican history." -- "Historian"
Radical and thought-provoking.--Scholia Reviews
This is a fine book. Rosenstein brings a welcome new approach to the difficult question of how war and agriculture, two of the most prevalent practices of the ancient Roman world, interacted. . . . Salubrious and compelling.--Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Represents a much needed re-evaluation of the impact of Roman warfare on agriculture and the Roman 'peasant class' during the third and second centuries B.C.--Journal of Roman Studies
Rosenstein offers a radically new interpretation of the impact of military service on the peasant economy. Its stimulating insights and sophisticated modelling make this work a major contribution to the debate on one of the most crucial issues of Roman Republican history.--John Rich, University of Nottingham
Contributes greatly to our understanding of one of the more important issues in Republican history.--Historian
In this important new book, Nathen Rosenstein offers a comprehensive challenge to the traditional historiographical explanation of the economic and political crisis in the Gracchan era. . . . Well-written and accessible. . . . [Rome at War: Farms, Families, and Death in the Middle Republic] should inspire debate and discussion on one of the most important problems in Roman history.--New England Classical Journal
An important book, packed with big ideas. . . . Challenges many long-held assumptions. . . . A ground-breaking book, which deserves to be read carefully by anyone who is interested in the history of the middle Republic.--International Journal of the Classical Tradition
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Previous accounts of the Roman Empire have viewed Rome's territorial growth in the following lens. Roman armies took men of their farms for service in foreign quarters. This led to untended farms that needed labor. Subsequently, Rome was more willing than many of its neighbors to take men of their farms for military service. This gave Rome a manpower advantage on the battlefield, and Rome's military conquests were used to supply slaves and refugee labor to work its own farms.
This book turns this argument on its head by introducing another factor; high birthrates. The conscription of some portion of Roman men into the armies was compensated by high birthrates which proved enough people on the farms to keep them fully functional. Therefore, Roman farms had enough labor to feed its armies year-round, and its armies were fully manned to fight year round. But this process survived as long as Roman soldiers were constantly marching outwards to conquer new lands, and lose some of its men in the process. Eventually, enough kingdoms bowed willingly to Roman rule without minimal bloodshed that overpopulation became the problem. Specifically, there were too many Romans without land, and these would crowd into the cities and fall prey to the wiles of rival politicians who began fielding these landless souls as their own armies to settle contests outside of the legislative arena. Hence the transformation from Republic to Empire was fueled at its base by overpopulation.
All in all a very important book in the study of a very important subject. The work is well referenced and thorough; but alas it is quite boring and academic in writing style. I do not recommend it for the armchair historian.
The subject is interesting. What impact did the frequent Roman wars between about 200 and 50 BC have on Roman agriculture? Was there an increase in the number of slaves and large landowners? Were small farms impoverished during this period as a result of Roman wars. How many Roman soldiers died in war? In 190 pages of related essays and 150 pages of appendices, notes, and a vast bibliography the author takes on these subjects. Whew! It was all a bit much. I need a little more background, more of a concession to my ignorance. Suffice it to say that this is not a book for the casual reader.
If you are an expert, however, you will probably find Rosenstein's exhaustive arguments and questioning of the conventional wisdom to be stimulating. Essentially, the author finds that the growth of slavery and the the destruction of the small landowners of Rome was less important during this period than believed by previous scholars. Along the way are some interesting facts such as (Table 2) a list of Roman battles and battle deaths between 200 and 168 BC. If that sounds like your cup of tea read this book.
Though written as an academic work, the book is well written and reasonably easy to follow. Anyone who has a sincere interest in ancient history, and particularly that of Rome, will likely find this book interesting, but the reader who likes good research will enjoy it more. More interestingly for me was the fact that the book takes apart long-held points of view and dissects them methodically -- a good model for anyone who wants to read how research is done well and presented.