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Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome

Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome

Arthur M. Eckstein
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Pages: 389
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnhg6
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  • Book Info
    Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome
    Book Description:

    This ground-breaking study is the first to employ modern international relations theory to place Roman militarism and expansion of power within the broader Mediterranean context of interstate anarchy. Arthur M. Eckstein challenges claims that Rome was an exceptionally warlike and aggressive state—not merely in modern but in ancient terms—by arguing that intense militarism and aggressiveness were common among all Mediterranean polities from ca 750 B.C. onwards. In his wide-ranging and masterful narrative, Eckstein explains that international politics in the ancient Mediterranean world was, in political science terms, a multipolar anarchy: international law was minimal, and states struggled desperately for power and survival by means of warfare. Eventually, one state, the Republic of Rome, managed to create predominance and a sort of peace. Rome was certainly a militarized and aggressive state, but it was successful not because it was exceptional in its ruthlessness, Eckstein convincingly argues; rather, it was successful because of its exceptional ability to manage a large network of foreign allies, and to assimilate numerous foreigners within the polity itself. This book shows how these characteristics, in turn, gave Rome incomparably large resources for the grim struggle of states fostered by the Mediterranean anarchy—and hence they were key to Rome's unprecedented success.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93230-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xvii)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xviii-xxii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Political Science and Roman History
    (pp. 1-11)

    International politics in the ancient Mediterranean world was long a multipolar anarchy—a world containing a plurality of powerful states, contending with each other for hegemony, within a situation where international law was minimal and in any case unenforceable. None of these powerful states ever achieved lasting hegemony around the shores of the great sea: not Persia, not Athens, not Sparta; not Tarentum, not Syracuse, not Carthage. Alexander III the Great, the fearsome king of Macedon, might have established a permanent political entity encompassing the entire Mediterranean, but the conqueror of Asia died prematurely in Babylon in 323 B.C., at...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Realist Paradigms of Interstate Behavior
    (pp. 12-36)

    The purpose of this chapter is to set forth the basic elements in the Realist approach to interstate behavior—the core hypotheses of Realist theory. The Realist approach in analyzing interstate behavior is founded on three fundamental concepts: the prevalence of anarchy in the world of states (i.e., the lack of international law); the resultant grim self-help regime imposed upon all states and its impact upon the constellation of state actions (including especially power-maximizing conduct); and the importance of the stability or instability of balances of power.

    Contemporary Realist theoreticians begin by arguing that the explanation of much of the...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Anarchic Structure of Interstate Relations in Classical Greece
    (pp. 37-78)

    Ancient Greek city-states existed in a world that was essentially bereft of international law. The result was a constellation of heavily militarized and diplomatically aggressive societies among which war was common. The character of those societies no doubt contributed to the general atmosphere of interstate violence, but the fact of pervasive interstate war is to be attributed in great part to the prevailing system of militarized anarchy in which all these states had to live, and in which they struggled to survive. Thus it is not surprising that Hellenic intellectuals, in particular Thucydides, were the ultimate founders of the grim...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Anarchic Structure of Interstate Relations in the Hellenistic Age
    (pp. 79-117)

    If we now turn from the fifth century B.C. to the third century B.C. and the world of the Hellenistic states—the states with which the Roman Republic historically had to interact—we find that nothing in the character of the interstate system in the eastern Mediterranean has changed except that the scale of states, the resources available to them, and the scale of the constant wars among them have all increased. In what follows, I will (again) admittedly be generalizing. Yet the broad outlines of Hellenistic interstate politics seem clear—and stark—enough.

    The Greco-Macedonian interstate system that arose...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Terrores Multi: The Rivals of Rome for Power in Italy and the Western Mediterranean
    (pp. 118-180)

    The governing elites of states learn about interstate relations from experience, which affects, informs, and limits their perceptions of the outside world and hence the decisions about it that they are subsequently likely to make.¹ Realist theoreticians argue, in addition, that the subtle pressures upon the culture and behavior of a state deriving from the interstate structure of which that state is a part are best observed over long stretches of time.² Hence the purpose of this chapter is to survey the societies that Rome confronted over the long term before her involvement with the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Rome and Roman Militarism within the Anarchic Interstate System
    (pp. 181-243)

    At the end of chapter 4 above, we saw that the Greek historian Polybius proposed an at least partly systemic explanation for the Roman decision of 200 B.C. to respond to the pleas of Greek states for Roman intervention in the East. His hypothesis is crucial to this study. Are modern scholars to understand this world-historical event as partly the result of impersonal forces generated by what Polybius terms the emerging “interconnectedness” (symplokē) between geopolitical events in the eastern and western Mediterranean, combined with the inability of Ptolemaic Egypt to maintain its place as a balancer of Macedon and Syria...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Roman Exceptionalism and Nonexceptionalism
    (pp. 244-316)

    The previous discussion has established that Rome was a highly militaristic state, but that it existed in a highly militarized and anarchic environment, and within that environment it was not exceptional in the intensity of its militarism. Further, the primordial fact of constant warfare in the ancient Mediterranean and indeed throughout the entire premodern world means that the question regarding Roman exceptionalism is not why Rome was constantly at war, because ancient states often were.

    But if the basic reason for Rome’s exceptional success within the Mediterranean multipolar anarchy was not the exceptional bellicosity and militarism of Roman society, what,...

  13. APPENDIX TO CHAPTER 6: Roman Commanding Generals Killed in Battle with Foreign Enemies, 340s–140s B.C.
    (pp. 317-318)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 319-342)
  15. Index
    (pp. 343-369)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 370-372)