Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.04.29

M. Jehne, R. Pfeilschifter, Herrschaft ohne Integration? Rom und Italien in republikanischer Zeit. Studien zur Alten Geschichte 4.   Frankfurt am Main:  Verlag Alte Geschichte, Pp. 336.  ISBN 10: 3-938032-11-1.  ISBN 13: 978-3-938032-11-4.  €54.90.  

Reviewed by Roman Roth, Peterhouse, Cambridge (
Word count: 1541 words

This volume, based on a conference held in Dresden in the autumn of 2004, sheds important new light on the debate over integration versus fragmentation in Republican Italy. As the editors point out in their introduction (7-22), recent scholarship (much of it produced by or in connexion with the Dresden research group) has demonstrated the importance of public rituals to the cohesion of Roman society during the Republic and beyond.1 At the same time, these rituals were largely confined to the city of Rome. Thus, they tended to exclude Roman citizens living further a-field and, most of all, the allied populations. This is just one example illustrating the apparent paradox of Republican Italy, which forms the starting point of the volume: a remarkable degree of formal cohesion (demonstrated, above all, by the military success enjoyed by the Romans and their allies at war), coupled with increasing evidence for the continuity and strengthening of local social and cultural traditions until the Social War. As far as the subsequent period is concerned, according to the editors' premise, it is indisputable that 'Rom in Italien aufging' (11). This issue may be open to more doubt than the editors are prepared to admit.2 However, the central theme of the book, the apparent paradox between unity and fragmentation, has been at the centre of much recent scholarship, primarily from archaeological points of view.3 By offering to the reader a collection of primarily text-based approaches to this problem, Herrschaft ohne Integration? constitutes a stimulating and often innovative volume. There can be no doubt that it will be important to anyone interested in the cultural and political history of Republican Italy.

Henrik Mouritsen's paper ('Hindsight and Historiography: writing the history of Pre-Roman Italy') forms a natural starting point to the volume. Here, M. reiterates and reinforces a number of the provocative theses presented in his 'Italian Unification'.4 The main tenet of M.'s argument is that the Social War was a true attempt at breaking away from Rome, not an armed uprising aimed at more integration by means of the Roman citizenship, as the communis opinio has it. This M. attributes to an anachronistic view of Roman Italy, which was shaped, in particular, by nineteenth-century European nationalism.

Citizenship is also the theme of the next contribution, 'Tribus et citoyenneté: extension de la citoyenneté romaine et expansion territoriale' by Michel Humm. H. proposes the thesis that the adlection of outsiders into the citizenry only became possible with the systematic use of the tribus by Appius Claudius Caecus, This provided an effective tool for the integration of new citizens, where the archaic system of the curiae had previously failed.

The argument of Bernhard Linke's paper ('Bürger ohne Staat? Die Integration der Landbevölkerung in der römischen Republik') de-emphasises the importance of formal political structures to the integration of Roman citizens living outside the city. By contrast, as L. suggests, the main integrative force within Roman society was founded in the family, and depended on the power of the pater familias. This is a challenging hypothesis: L.'s line argument is persuasive for the most part. I find difficulties, however, with some of the inferences he draws from rather shadowy source material in places. As with H.'s contribution, it is regrettable that Smith's recent work on the Roman clan may not have been available to L. at the time of writing his paper.5

Jean-Michel David's 'La prise en compte des intérêts des Italiens par le gouvernement de Rome' focuses on the role played by formal patronage in the integration between Rome and her allies. His focus on the importance of shared interests between Romans and allies (or their absence) to the question of successful integration is illuminating, and ties in with other recent studies by both archaeologists and historians.6

Rene Pfeilschifter ('''How is the Empire?" Roms Wissen um Italien im dritten und zweiten Jahrhundert v. Chr.'), by contrast, argues a case for minimal integration, precisely because Italian affairs did not usually touch upon Roman interests. With this radical thesis, P.'s contribution sets itself apart from the general tenor of the volume (with the notable exception of Mouritsen's contribution), i.e. that there were more or less formally defined routes of integration and shared fields of interest. His argument, based on careful analysis of literary evidence, needs to be taken seriously by those who tend to emphasise the extent of communication, especially between the Roman and other Italian elites during the mid-Republican period. However, P.'s paper could have gained from a greater consideration of recent archaeological works on the role of cultural connectivity in Roman Italy. In addition, the reader would benefit from a more explicit, methodological discussion of why certain episodes that are emphasised by the sources (such as the apparent desertion of Buxentium and Sipontum reported by Livy 39.18.2-7, 39.23.1-3) might be regarded as typical rather than exceptional.

The paper by John R. Patterson ('The relationship of the Italian ruling classes with Rome: friendship, family relations and their consequences') provides a systematic overview of the type of relations by which Rome was connected with her allies. Drawing on an impressive range of literary and epigraphic sources, P. successfully analyses the importance of private and personal connexions in underpinning the structure of Rome's Italian empire.

Heinrich Schlange-Schöningen offers a comparative study 'Zur römischen "Integration" der Marser und Messapier'. He is able to demonstrate that Roman views of these two people were contrasting: while the Messapians as a people disappear from historical accounts after 185 BC (after which only the region of Messapia is mentioned), the Marsians continue to feature prominently well into the Empire.

Francisco Pina Polo ('Deportation, Kolonisation, Migration: Bevölkerungsverschiebungen im republikanischen Italien und Formen der Identitätsbildung') discusses patterns of integration as the result of coercive measures. Although his faith in the accuracy of the literary tradition may be overoptimistic in places, P.P. makes a persuasive case for the importance of colonisation etc. in intensifying cultural and economic ties across the peninsula. At the same time, he is able to demonstrate that this did not lead to a homogenisation of Italian cultures during the second century BC.

A demographic perspective of integration is provided by Walter Scheidel's contribution ('The demography of Roman state formation in Italy'). Drawing on some recent work of his own,7 S. develops a 'model of integration' in three stages, culminating in the great migrations brought about by the civil wars of the first century BC. Some of this might come across as overly schematic; however, the range of S.'s discussion is impressive and, in particular, his demographic analysis of diachronic changes in military and political participation persuasive.

Nathan Rosenstein ('Recruitment and its consequences for Rome and the Italian allies') considers military participation from another angle. Building on his recent monograph, R. makes a strong case for the importance of military mortality as an -- initially successful -- regulating factor in Roman demography.8

Martin Jehne's contribution ('Römer, Latiner und Bundesgenossen im Krieg. Zu Formen und Ausmass der Integration in der republikanischen Armee') convincingly analyses the extent to which the early and mid-Republican army functioned as a 'melting pot' for rural and urban Roman citizens. By contrast, the allies fought in separate contingents, possibly drawn up according to ethnicity:9 armed service, according to J., did not have any significant integrative effects on them. As the citizen legions were increasingly conscripted exclusively from the rural population during the second century BC, military recruitment eventually ceased to be important to the integration of the citizen body as well.

Maurizio Bettini ('Forging Identities. Trojans and Latins, Romans and Julians in the Aeneid') offers an in-depth analysis of the construction of ethnic identities in Virgil's epic. This highlights a very important aspect of the study of Republican Italy, namely the dependence on later accounts and their (re-) fashioning of the past. The very detailed character of B.'s paper makes it hard to follow in places. However, it constitutes an essential aspect of the volume and its significance within the study of Republican Italy.

Hartmut Galsterer's 'Rom und Italien vom Bundesgenossenkrieg bis zu Augustus' rounds off the volume admirably. G.'s article offers a wide-ranging analysis of what he sees as the formation of the culture of Roman Italy during the first century BC. His fundamental tenet is that Rome and Italy, especially at the level of the elites, had been verging towards integration for some time before the Social War. This resulted in an accelerated process of unification following the award of citizenship to the allies.

To conclude: Herrschaft ohne Integration? is a fundamental contribution to the history of Republican Italy. Every contribution to this volume has something important and new to say and, on the whole, complex arguments are expressed with admirable clarity. My only reservation is that, in some cases, it proves difficult to reach satisfactory conclusions without consulting archaeological and epigraphic evidence. Much more important, however, is the thematic coherence of the volume, while providing room for a number of dissenting accounts. In this way, the book provides a reflection of an ongoing, fruitful debate among scholars from Europe and North America. The editors and contributors ought to be congratulated on producing a collection of essays which will be required reading for those interested in the history of Republican Italy for many years to come.


1.   E.g., B. Linke and M. Stemmler (eds), Mos Maiorum. Untersuchungen zu den Formen der Identitätsstiftung in der römischen Republik (Historia Einzelschriften 141) (Stuttgart 2000); A. Haltenhoff, A. Heil and F.-H. Mutschler (eds), Römische Werte als Gegenstand der Altertumswissenschaft (Munich/Leipzig 2005); cf. also K.-J. Hölkeskamp, Rekonstruktionen einer Republik. Die politische Kultur des antiken Rom und die Forschung der letzten Jahrzente. (Munich 2004). These and many other, fundamental contributions to the history of the Republic are too often ignored by British and American students and colleagues alike.
2.   E.g. A. Giardina, Italia romana: storie di un'identità incompiuta (Rome 1997).
3.   For an overview, see the contributions to S.J. Keay and N. Terrenato (eds), Italy and the West. Comparative Issues in Romanization (Oxford 2001).
4.   H. Mouritsen, Italian Unification. A Study in Ancient and Modern Historiography (BICS Supplement 70) (London 1998).
5.   C.J. Smith, The Roman Clan. The gens from Ancient Ideology to Modern Anthropology (Cambridge 2006).
6.   E.g., N. Terrenato, 'Tam firmum municipium: the Romanization of Volaterrae and its cultural implications', JRS (1998) 88, 94-114; see also J. Keller, Römische Interessengeschichte. Eine Studie zu Interessenvertretung, Interessenkonflikten und Konfliktlösung in der römischen Republik des 2. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (PhD dissertation, Munich 2004).
7.   Especially: W. Scheidel, 'Human mobility in Roman Italy, 1: the free population', JRS 94 (2004), 1-26.
8.   N. Rosenstein, Rome at War. Farms, Families and Death in the Middle Republic (Chapel Hill 2004).
9.   But cf., for example, V. Ilari, Gli italici nelle strutture militari romane (Milan 1974), for a contrasting view of the organization of the allied contingents.

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