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Image and ideology : Roman imperialism and frontier policy in the second century A.D.

Wilson, Andrew Crawford

Description

When Gibbon wrote that "The principal conquests of the Romans were achieved under the republic; and the emperors, for the most part, were satisfied with preserving those dominions which had been acquired ... " he echoed a sentiment that has been accepted almost unquestioningly ever since. For the subsequent two centuries the accepted view of the external policy of the Roman empire has placed too much emphasis on the Varian disaster and the consequent consilium coercendi intra terminos imperii...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorWilson, Andrew Crawford
dc.date.accessioned2013-10-18T04:39:14Z
dc.date.available2013-10-18T04:39:14Z
dc.identifier.otherb18512902
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/10623
dc.description.abstractWhen Gibbon wrote that "The principal conquests of the Romans were achieved under the republic; and the emperors, for the most part, were satisfied with preserving those dominions which had been acquired ... " he echoed a sentiment that has been accepted almost unquestioningly ever since. For the subsequent two centuries the accepted view of the external policy of the Roman empire has placed too much emphasis on the Varian disaster and the consequent consilium coercendi intra terminos imperii of Augustus2 and so has failed to accept imperialist motivations in any post-Augustan territorial increase. The framework for most modem discussions of the principate has been that any expansion after 9 A.D. was purely the result of exceptional strategic or political requirements. Claudius' annexation of Britain is not recognized as the blatant territorial aggrandizement it was, but is dismissed because necessitated by considerations of internal politics. The annexations of Dacia and Arabia by Trajan, and his later Parthian expedition, are excused as being responses to external aggression, or as attempts to increase the security of the empire by establishing so-called 'scientific frontiers' 3. Hadrian, by abandoning all Trajan's conquests east of the Euphrates and his subsequent lack of interest in campaigning, is often viewed as having returned to the policy of Augustus. Antoninus Pius, despite the fact that under him the imperial frontiers in Britain and of the Rhine provinces reached what was to be their greatest extent, is seen as following in Hadrian's footsteps. Marcus Aurelius is still respected as the archetypal 'philosopher-emperor' who was unfortunate in having to spend most of his reign fighting wars to defend the empire against encroaching barbarians. Septimius Severns, in purely territorial terms the most expansionist post-Augustan emperor, is widely regarded as untypical and an aberration. In spite of the apparent contradictions inherent in such a position, it is still the dominant view of Roman frontier policy under the Principate. In my view a better framework for analysis of Roman imperialism in the post-Augustan world sees external policy during the Principate as being dependent on a continuing state of tension between those elements of the ruling class that held to the politics of expansion, and those which adhered to the politics of the 'surfeited empire'. There can be no doubt that such differences of opinion existed and had an effect on emperors. Despite Luttwak's view of the matter, external policy during the Principate was demonstrably inconsistent. This helps explains why Tiberius, having helped Augustus acquire more territory than any other Roman leader, was content to keep the empire as it had been left to him, and why Claudius, impelled by political needs, accepted the ideological option and annexed Britain, earning in the process four triumphs. The Flavian emperors, very much 'new men' after a century of the JulioClaudians, and needing military prestige, made provinces of most of the client kingdoms of Asia Minor as well as adding the Agri Decumates to the empire, a valid, if easy, method of enlarging the empire…
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.titleImage and ideology : Roman imperialism and frontier policy in the second century A.D.
dc.typeThesis (Masters)
local.contributor.supervisorRawson, Beryl
dcterms.valid1992
local.description.notessupervisor: Professor Beryl Rawson. This thesis has been made available through exception 200AB to the Copyright Act.
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)
dc.date.issued1992
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University, Department of Classics
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d7789bdd804a
local.mintdoimint
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02Whole_Wilson.pdfWhole Thesis9.85 MBAdobe PDFThumbnail


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