A Companion to the Roman Republic by Nathan Rosenstein, Robert Morstein-Marx

By Nathan Rosenstein, Robert Morstein-Marx

This Companion presents an authoritative and updated evaluate of Roman Republican historical past because it is at the moment practiced.

  • Highlights contemporary advancements, together with archaeological discoveries, clean methods to textual assets, and the outlet up of recent components of ancient study
  • Retains the drama of the Republic’s upward push and fall
  • Emphasizes not only the facts of texts and actual continues to be, but in addition the versions and assumptions that students carry to those artefacts
  • Looks on the position performed through the actual geography and surroundings of Italy
  • Offers a compact yet specific narrative of army and political advancements from the beginning of the Roman Republic via to the dying of Julius Caesar
  • Discusses present controversies within the field

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But above all the element of achievement, which is often seen as a central distinction between the modern meritocracy and the class-based concept of aristocracy, is of course not in itself a decisive criterion, since at the root of every aristocracy lies a claim to achievement, as the name ‘‘rule of the best’’ itself shows, except that one did not give evidence of one’s capacity for achievement as one does today – by such feeble means as grades on examinations at the top universities for aspiring leaders in the economic realm, or among scientists, by the size of their grants, and so on – but by one’s ancestry and the accomplishments of one’s ancestors.

Rosenstein observed that many Roman magistrates who had suffered military defeat while in command during their period of office afterwards continued their careers without a setback. This seemed an astonishing phenomenon in a society so fixated on war and victory as Rome’s. 73 The group in which this solidarity operated, that is, was that of all magistrates, who were of course senators. The essential point however is that here we come upon a restriction upon competition that was self-regulating and evidently functioned well – which proves that senators and young politicians striving to enter the Senate were in a position to establish and respect such rules.

There is potential here to make a very considerable contribution to social history. For this purpose the most important sources are the Model Life Tables for pre-industrial societies, which alone make a quantitative approach possible; and demographic assertions without a quantitative basis remain impressionistic and of limited validity. That the application of the Model Life Tables has been accepted in general despite some criticism is also connected with a clear adjustment of goals found already in Hopkins’s work.

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