Saturday, 23 August 2014

it happened on the way to the forum: metropolitan or pyrrhic victory

As Rome was developing militarily and diplomatically, securing alliances and growth by both strife and agreeable terms of surrender—extending much privilege to tribes that are willing to give up their sovereignty without a fight such as citizenship, protection and a retention of a good degree of autonomy, whereas resistance was inevitably overcome and all sorts of unpleasant punishments were meted out, including enslavement and displacement of the tribe with Roman settlers. Rome, by 304 BC with its victory over Samnium coalition, was in control of most of the Roman peninsula with the exception of the extreme south and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia and Corsica, which were known as Magna Grรฆcia.
Long ago, this area was settled by Greek colonists, however, these outposts grew into fiercely independent city-states, having no business with metropolitan (mother-city) Greece, nor Greece (never really a united empire with petty skirmishes among its own capitals) with them—concerned more with maintenance and eastern expansion. Alexander III of Macedonia (better known as Alexander the Great) finally realised a soupรงon of unity and security in having forged an empire that stretched from Greece to India. If not for the Persians, this might might have gone westward instead and would have handily defeated the emergent Romans and left a very different legacy for the world to inherit, but affairs beyond the Adriatic were not of much concern for the Greeks. Roman incursions and baiting conflict (since the Rome would not engage in a dishonourable, unprovoked war but were not beyond skirting integrity by proxy) were nothing to rattle the Greeks, until a relative of Alexander the Great concluded that his cousin had already conquered whatever lands east there was to be taken, and this certain Pyrrhus of Epirus thought that holdings in Italy might be worth pursuing. A minor territorial-waters dispute between the Romans and a Greek city gave Pyrrhus the excuse he sought for sending in his armies.
Whereas Roman ascendency had only been heretofore regarded as a local problem and no real threat, the fledgling empire suddenly found itself thrust on the international stage. Pyrrhus did not receive the reception he had expected when he brought his armies into Magna Grรฆcia, the colonies not interested in submitting to home-rule and the Roman fighting force was much more formidable an sophisticated than the hearsay that dismissed Rome as another barbarian tribe. Pyrrhus did manage a few costly gains and is forever embodied as the Pyrrhic Victory, saying that that the could not possibly survive another such win against the Romans. The involvement of this prince only served to delay the inevitable conquest of Magna Grรฆcia and introduced the Romans to Greek fighting styles and battle elephants, which made their later encounters with Hannibal during the Punic Wars to follow not completely new and unexpected. These elephants, incidentally, were initially terrifying apparitions to the superstitious Romans, but they quickly devised a counter-attack, like the Rebels against the AT-ATs on Hoth, of circling the creature from a fast moving chariot and binding them with rope. Rome came to dominate all of Italy—and eventually Greek lands in the eastern Mediterranean, and fundamentally brought about the end of the independent city-state as a form of government, meaning that no nation was to exist without some allegiance, league or territorial expansion.