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Full Version: Who were the Romans?
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Anonymous

This may not seem such a daft question as I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that what we consider 'Roman' is an idealist notion, and that the Romans were as much a product of their interaction and cultural assimilation of other polities (an issue Greg Woolf explore brilliantly in 'Becoming Roman' about Gaul). In other words, 'Rome' didn't really exist except as a concept.<br>
What do others think? <p></p><i></i>
Rome was around for a long time and this abstract impression you have of "Rome" might be due to the distance in time we have with that world. But they were very much real people and I think they would have be surprised to hear that someone thought of them as only an "ideal". Cultures are not rigid things: they grow, evolve, adapt, change, wither away and die. When we study them from a distance in time we must not forget that they were the expression of real people that lived out day after day their existence.<br>
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But there is deeper aspect to what you say and at which maybe you are driving at.<br>
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Very early in its history Rome had the problem of deciding how to interact and propose itself to others. Rome did something quite original in world history. It decided to allow "others" to become citizens. Not citizens of second class, but real 100% citizens! It wasn't easy to do this BUT it was done: many "original" romans resisted this extension, but the process couldn't be stopped because it was intrinsic to Rome. It was an IDEA. The logically coherent extension of this process of extending citizenship actually happened again and again, at different scales, thru out Rome's history.<br>
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Being "roman" was something that many strived for and did their best to become and remain. This was true for many centuries and had nothing to do with coming from Italy. Being roman was not a geographic or racist concept but a cultural one. Of course lets not forget the romans copied much from others. The romans did impose themselves militarily and culturally but if one were to compile a classification of the worst bulldozers of recorded history (a bad guy rating), then I don't think they were the worst. Far from it. Why else did everyone want to become a roman citizen?<br>
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Think of the length of time over which the citizenship of Rome was continuosly extended to "others". It happened thruout roman history starting as far back as the earliest alliances with other nearby Latin tribes, through out the expansion into Italy, the expansion into Spain, Africa, Gaul, then Greece....etc.<br>
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The history of the extension of roman citizenship follows the growth of the empire and no geographical or racial stopping to this process could be logically concieved! It was the very IDEA of Rome. It culminated with Caracalla that made every free man residing in the empire a citizen. That this IDEA really worked and was an attractive one is demonstrated by how vigorously the various peoples fought for Rome. Think of the distance in time and the different scale involved in the following two instances: Italics siding with Rome against Hannibal; the provincials fighting to save the empire in the 3rd century (the Illyrian emperors).<br>
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True. "Rome" was an idea. But ideas are REAL and not simply abstract things because people not only believe them but ACT according to them. They live, kill, fight, die, build, destroy according to ideas.<br>
<p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/ugoffredo.showPublicProfile?language=EN>goffredo</A> at: 1/19/02 4:15:42 pm<br></i>
One of the most moving instances is the 6C Britons still describing themselves as "Romani" 200 years after the famous letter from Honorious. <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

It's like being an American. People in California are members of the American empire as much as the patricians in Washington DC. <p><BR><p align=left><font color=gold><font size=2>
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CASCA TARQVINIVS GEMINVS<BR>
<a href=http://www.legio-ix-hispana.org> LEG IX HSPA COH V CEN VIII CON III </font></font><BR>
<font color=gold><font size=2>
VIRES ET VALOR PRO GLORIA ROMAE<BR>
_________________________________</font></font></p><i></i>
Funny that if you asked your man from washington/california what he was would he say American first. Certainly if you asked a Welshman or a Scot he would say welsh /scottish before British but I as a lancastrian I would say at once English /British <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

"American," would be the first reply. I think the only exception are the people from Texas... <p><BR><p align=left><font color=gold><font size=2>
_______________________________<BR>
MILES CASCA TARQVINIVS GEMINVS<BR>
<a href=http://www.legio-ix-hispana.org> LEG IX HSPA COH V CEN VIII CON III </font></font><BR>
<font color=gold><font size=2>
VIRES ET VALOR PRO GLORIA ROMAE<BR>
_______________________________</font></font></p><i></i>