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‘Genocide’ and Rome, 343-146 BCE: state expansion and the social dynamics of annihilation

Colwill, David 2017. ‘Genocide’ and Rome, 343-146 BCE: state expansion and the social dynamics of annihilation. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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As the nascent power of Rome grew to dominance over the Mediterranean world in the Middle Republic, they carried out mass killing, mass enslavement, and urban annihilation. In doing so, they showed an intention to destroy other groups, therefore committing genocide. This study looks at the kinds of destruction enacted by Romans between 343 BCE and 146 BCE, using a novel application of definitions and frameworks of analysis from the field of Genocide Studies. It proposes typologies through which the genocidal behaviours of the Romans can be explored and described. Mass killing, enslavement, and urban annihilation normally occurred in the context of siege warfare, when the entire population became legitimate targets. Initial indiscriminate killing could be followed by the enslavement of the survivors and burning of their settlement. While genocide is a valid historiographical tool of analysis, Roman behaviours were distinct from modern patterns of mass killing in lacking a substantial component of racial or ethnic motivation. These phenomena were complex and varied, and the utter destruction of groups not regularly intended. Roman genocidal violence was a normative, but not typical, adaptation of the Romans of the Middle Republic to the ancient anarchic interstate system. In antiquity, there was no international law to govern conflict and international relations, only customs. This study posits that the Roman moral-based custom of fides as an internal preventative regime that inhibited genocide through rituals of submission to Roman hegemony. This process was flawed, and cultural miscommunication risked causing mass violence. Furthermore, the wide discretion of Roman commanders accepting submission could result in them flouting the moral obligation to protect ii surrendered groups. In such cases, attempts at punishment and restitution from other members of the elite were only partially effective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 February 2018
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2021 01:12

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