From Barbarians to New Men: Greek, Roman, and Modern Perceptions of Peoples of the Central Apennines

From Barbarians to New Men: Greek, Roman, and Modern Perceptions of Peoples of the Central Apennines

From Barbarians to New Men: Greek, Roman, and Modern Perceptions of Peoples of the Central Apennines

From Barbarians to New Men: Greek, Roman, and Modern Perceptions of Peoples of the Central Apennines

Synopsis

The Central Appennine peoples, alternatively represented as decadent and dangerous barbarians or as personifications of manly wisdom and virtue, were important figures in Greek and Roman ideology. This unique study considers the ways in which these perceptions developed--reflecting both the shifting needs of Greek and Roman societies and the character of interaction between the various cultures of ancient Italy--to illuminate the development of a specifically Roman identity through the creation of an ideology of incorporation.

Excerpt

The enduring fascination of images of peoples of the Central Apennines may be seen in Salmon's monograph of 1967, Samnium and the Samnites, a work that evokes the character of the Samnites by drawing heavily on images from Horace and Livy. It was not my intention to rewrite Salmon's book: in particular, I have not set out here any comprehensive description of aspects of life in the Central Apennines, drawn together from material and literary evidence. This is partly because the sheer quantity of material evidence available today would render such a task even more ambitious than it was in 1967. More importantly, however, this is because my focus is on images of peoples of the Central Apennines, shifting according to the perspective of the observer.

Of course there were in antiquity no 'peoples of the Central Apennines', in the sense that no peoples called themselves, or were referred to, by this name. As the changing nature of images, definitions, and self-definitions is one of the major themes of this book, it is important to use as a collective name a neutral, geographically descriptive title deliberately free of ethnic overtones, unlike the widely used 'Sabellic', or 'Sabellian', modern terms which are based very precariously on the comparatively late Latin Sabellus, a collective for Sabines and Samnites. A map is given of conventionally accepted 'territories' of peoples of the Central Apennines by the early third century BC, but it is not without problems. The modern consensus is that, by the early third century, self-definition along the lines of the various peoples named in Roman sources for the conquest of Italy is stronger than before, but such a map obviously gives a false impression of a fixed and static situation, and cannot possibly represent the periodic heightening of a sense of connection or difference, let alone changes in self-definition.

The 'peoples of the Central Apennines' must also remain a loose definition, as the assertion of connections between various individual peoples varied according to different circumstances, and at other . . .

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