Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Roman War Machine and the Lessons of Masada

Today I will give the first of two lectures about the Roman world. Between this lecture and the one on Friday, you will be able to write another "lagniappe" test question for Monday.

The first lecture will look at the importance the Roman War Machine - that is, how the army became, in many ways, the basis of the Roman state.

YOUR BOOK was contradictory about the influence of the Hellenistic world and Greece upon Rome. I will start by clarifying some of this. 

Rome was founded upon successful warfare. This method of rule never ceased. Military rule constituted what I like to call "both achingly orderly, and achingly chaotic."


The consolidation of the Italian peninsula, Carthage war: the basis for Roman ingenuity.

The Roman Legion - earlier Legions were about 3,000 men, later ones 5,000, had a life of their own. Their generals were quite powerful, and the men generally had great ├ęsprit de corps. Your book mentions being conscripted for a term of 10 years. But how different is this really from a professional army? We'll consider this. As for the power of armies, the HBO series Rome is a pretty good depiction. The army was very well organized, and organized for the long haul. Think of Alexander's army, but run by a talented MBA.

In addition to the Legions came Auxiliaries - We'll talk about them and their role.

We'll look at the role of the army in Rome's civil affairs later

Then we will look at the Masada - to wit, what it can tell us about the history of Judaism, what it can tell us about the rule of Imperial Rome, and its ongoing cultural significance.

The Jewish War 66-73 CE

A contemporary account of the mass suicide at the Masada and some useful images.

You should know who the Zealots were and why they remain important.

This is a pretty good video showing key sites at Masada as it is seen today. Much of the archeological record from the time of the siege remains visible to the naked eye.


Masada from Todd Doucette on Vimeo.

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