Hellenistic Culture and Society
This book shows how these characteristics, in turn, gave Rome incomparably large resources for the grim struggle of states fostered by the Mediterranean anarchy—and hence they were key to Rome's unprecedented success. I hope that this book will stimulate the production of other similarly sophisticated studies.
Book Preview Click the Google Preview button to view an excerpt from the book. More by Arthur M. Toggle navigation Raru. Edit Cart Checkout Close. Recipient Name. Recipient Email. Eckstein points out that every ancient state, whether small or large, whether cosmopolitan or tribal, used violence in the international arena. Violence was endemic to the system as a whole as per the Realist school of thought. It was not the special province of a Roman pathology. Ekstein's next chapter focuses on the culture of Roman militarism.
About the Book
That the internal attributes of a given culture may exert some influence on international politics is not in dispute. What Realists object to is when internal factors are placed as the determining factor in international relations. Any state, no matter its given culture, may react violently to defend its interests in the face of anarchy. In any event, all of Rome's neighbors held an internal culture that glorified the warrior ethos.
Furthermore, as Ekstein observes, the internal culture of Rome may actually have been a shade less violent than its neighbors. Case in point: the state religion of the Roman Republic officially only sanctioned defensive wars; no other culture had religious qualms to a war of outright aggression. Ekstein's last chapter deals with the aftermath of the Second Punic War. Rome, having become mistress of the Western Mediterranean, was drawn into the power vacuum of the Eastern Mediterranean caused by the disintegration of the Ptolemaic regime.
Roman diplomacy and might secured the East and thus made Rome the undisputed master of the Mediterranean. Through all of this it was Rome's policy of inclusive citizenship and alliances, not its violence, that led Rome to final victory. Rome could draw on more manpower than any single enemy because of its armies of citizens and allies. Ultimate victory was thus assured.
The glory of Ekstein's work is that he does a wonderful job of ending the Evil Empire myth of Rome.
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The negatives of Ekstein's work is that it often dry and perhaps overly verbose. It is not a fast and easy read by any means, and reads more like a PH. D dissertation than a novel for the general public.
Political science is an acquired taste and not nearly as exciting as the general political narratives that usually pass for Roman history. This book will simply not be for everyone's tastes. Nonetheless, if there is any book in the last decade on classical studies that needed to be written, it was this one. I recommend it on that level, and I commend professor Eckstein on his work. Discuss and order this book online at Amazon Get it now!
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