A History of the Roman World from 753 to 146 B. C

A History of the Roman World from 753 to 146 B. C

A History of the Roman World from 753 to 146 B. C

A History of the Roman World from 753 to 146 B. C

Excerpt

The two crowning achievements wrought by the Roman People during the period covered by this volume were the unification of Italy and the founding of an overseas Empire. The Greeks had revealed aspects of the spirit of man before undreamt of; the Romans could only gaze up at many of the peaks that their predecessors had scaled and show their admiration by a humble imitation and by passing on the legacy to later generations. But in one sphere the Greeks of the city-state, despite their genius, had failed: their rejection of permanent co-operation among themselves at length proved fatal, and noble strivings after independence often degenerated into petty bickering and quarrels. But the peculiar genius of the Roman People, their predilection for law and order, and their powers of organization and administration, unlocked the doors at which the Greeks had hammered in vain: a city-state proved itself able to weld the various peoples of a country into a nation and to govern an empire.

In the first half of the nineteenth century Prince Metternich declared that Italy was 'only a geographical expression'; the succeeding century has witnessed the growth of a united nation. The Austrian Chancellor's dictum could be applied with truth to Italy during the early days of the Roman Republic, while, by the middle of the third century B.C., the whole country was united within the framework of a confederacy, designed by Rome, which was strong enough to withstand the disruptive influence of foreign invaders, whether Pyrrhus' professional soldiers, drilled in the latest methods of Hellenistic warfare, or Hannibal's untiring military genius. If the final unification of Italy was not achieved till the first century B.C., she was at any rate welded by the genius of Rome into a confederation, the like of which the Greek world had never seen.

When Rome had transformed Italy into a world power, she came, partly by design, but more by accident, into contact with the Mediterranean world, with Carthage in the West and the Hellenistic Monarchies in the East. Her struggle with Carthage was a life-and-death tussle, and modern Western civilization . . .

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