Italian Manpower, 225 B.C.-A.D. 14

Italian Manpower, 225 B.C.-A.D. 14

Italian Manpower, 225 B.C.-A.D. 14

Italian Manpower, 225 B.C.-A.D. 14


'The book is of first-rate importance. It is a fundamental subject, extremely well done.' The Times Literary SupplementIn this book, first published in 1971, the author seeks to determine within broad limits the size of the Italian population in the period covered, chiefly on the basis of Roman census figures and of estimates of the number of men under arms year by year; use is made by way of analogy of demographic data from other ages.


When lecturing at Oxford in 1959 on the social and economic conditions of the late Roman Republic, I became aware of the need for a new account of demographic developments in Republican Italy. Although in my view K. J. Beloch had discovered the essential truth as long ago as 1886, his findings had never been expounded in English, and more important, objections to them had not been fully answered, and rival hypotheses, based on erroneous arguments and assumptions, retained a delusive attraction for scholars. Moreover, Beloch himself, while relying in part on evidence about the number of men called up for military service, did not bring out the extent of the burden such service must have imposed on the Italians (unless they were far more numerous than he supposed), and the significance of his population estimates for understanding general conditions in Italy was not appreciated. The society and economy of ancient Italy were moulded by war, with its concomitants of conscription, confiscations, devastations, and endemic violence. It was with the aim of linking the history of Italian population with the consequences of war that I undertook to write this book.

The undertaking was larger than I foresaw. Pope has aptly described the scholar's experience.

Fired at first Sight with what the Muse imparts,

In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts,

While from the bounded Level of our Mind,

Short Views we take, nor see the Lengths behind,

But more advanced, behold with strange Surprize

New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise!…

Th' increasing Prospect tires our wandring Eyes,

Hills peep o'er Hills, and Alps on Alps arise.

New problems continually appeared, distinct from, yet in various ways essentially connected with, those which were my original concern. These connections, along with my main conclusions, I have tried to make plain in the first chapter, and perhaps the reader may find that the book is not such an ill-assorted congeries of material as a glance at its contents might suggest. But it was not easy to devise a title less than a page in length that would fully cover those contents; Italian Manpower has the merit of brevity and was the best, after taking advice, I could think of.

Retarded by teaching, administration, and research in unrelated subjects, the book had to be laid aside for nine months almost every year and . . .

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