Who Won the Social War? (Ancient Rome)

Topics: Ancient Rome, Roman Empire, Roman Republic Pages: 5 (1632 words) Published: November 4, 2012
Who won the Social War?
The allies war with the Romans involved hundreds of thousands of men and lasted for three years, this war was a turning point for Rome's political relations with its allies and was significant in the fact that Rome had to readjust politically. When looking at the Social War many confine the meaning of victory in terms of the battlefield, missing out on a vital aspect of war, the terms of peace and the political outcome. It cannot be determined, whether an army, even if victorious in individual battles, decisively won the war, or whether their success on the battlefields' was believed to be temporal and not immune to change. This essay will attempt to investigate the question, backed up by literary evidence from the likes of Appian, Livy and Polybus. It would be logical to first assess what the aims of the Italian allies were in making war on Rome, then to determine whether their objectives were met and on what terms. The causes of the Social War are commonly seen as Rome's refusal to grant Roman citizenship for the Italian allies. The allies in central and southern Italy had fought alongside Rome in several wars, overtime they began to chaff under Rome's autocratic hand, desiring the privileges and better equality the citizenship would bring them. Events came to a head in 91 BC following the assassination of the Roman tribune Marcus Livius Drusus, who attempted to pass a legislation that would have given citizenship to all Italians and settled a number of disputes. They saw the citizenship as vital to their business' abroad and saw an opportunity for fairer treatment by the Roman senate, 'Their desire to become Romans reflects the success of Rome in unifying them in sentiment and was stimulated by the Cimbric war and by the career of Marius', indeed many saw the citizenship as their due for the sacrifices on their behalf for the expansion of Rome, " At the same time...the consuls send their orders to the allied cities in Italy which they wish to contribute troops, stating the numbers required". Furthermore, the Italians 'preferred Roman citizenship to possession of the fields', Rome's policy of land distribution had led to great inequality of land ownership and wealth and led to the "Italian race...declining little by little into pauperism and paucity of numbers without any hope of remedy". After the murder of Drusus, one of the last pro-Italians, the Italians began preparing for war: "The first act of war was by Picentes, who killed proconsul Quintus Servilius in the town Asculum, with all Roman citizens who were in this town. The people put on the war dress". Dispute arises over the exact aim of the Italians in the Social War, what is important to note however, is the fact the Italians were not impatient and undiplomatic; their revolt was their final resort. 'Even at the very last, when they had already taken up arms, the insurgents were to make one more appeal to the senate to concede the franchise', this is backed up by Appian "The Italians in despair of any other remedy, went on with their mobilization". A commonly accepted view is that the rebels were fighting in order to share in the Roman citizenship, Empire and power, going further than local autonomy. Indeed, there were many close ties between Italian and Roman aristocrats, running deeper than just trade and business ties. Another view is that the Italians wanted a complete autonomous state as shown by the creation of an independent capital and coinage, and the risk on their part of inciting a war on such a large scale, "they had forces in common amounting to about 100,000 foot and horse. The Romans sent an equal force against them, made up if their own citizens and of the Italian peoples who were still in alliance with them". Many see the allies choice of creating their own coinage as a potent one, the choice of their designs can be interpreted as their solidarity with one another and their hostility towards the Romans, as shown by...

Bibliography: Brunt, P.A. 'Italian Aims at the Time of the Social War ', in Fall of the Roman Republic (Oxford, 1988), pp. 90-109.
Brunt, P.A
Brunt, P. Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic (Oxford, 1971).
Bagnall, N. The Punic Wars (London, 1990).
Gabba, E. Republican Rome, the Army and the Allies (Oxford, 1976).
Goldsworthy, A. The Army at War, 100 BCAD 200 (Oxford, 1996).
Frier, B.W. Roman coinage and army pay: techniques for evaluating statistics (1981), pp. 285-295.
Scullard, H.H. From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 BC to AD 68 (London, 1982).
Salmon, E.T. 'Notes on the Social War ', in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association (Michigan, 1958), pp. 159-184.
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