Analysis of “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome” by William Harris

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2 December 2021

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Author William Harris’ work “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome”, 327-70 BC, first revealed in 1979, produced notable controversy for Roman historians. In writing the work, the writer makes a degree of projecting his personal ideas onto the already confirmed theories of previous historians. His e-book, though a priceless insight into the practices and proceedings of Ancient Rome, is troublesome for a number of reasons. Throughout the guide, Harris makes a habit of projecting ideas and concepts onto the pondering and writings of the Romans.

Not solely does Harris regularly make these projections, he additionally makes frequent assumptions, and extrapolates info from Roman major sources that, in some instances, simply does not exist.

One of Harris’ most notable factors in War and Imperialism is his concept that members of the Roman Senate held a ‘warmongering’ mindset, and that their only mission was to continuously wage struggle on other nations. Roman historian A.N. Sherwin-White’s 1980 evaluate of War and Imperialism demonstrates marked disdain for the e-book.

Sherwin-White’s primary problem with Harris’ writing is how usually he chooses to alter the primary sources from which his research no doubt largely originates. The second a part of the e-book, in accordance with Sherwin-White, is basically a detailed overview of the origins of the more essential Roman wars from 320-70 B.C. Harris strives to determine why these wars have been fought. In so doing, the writer assumes that the one resolution for the Roman Senate was violence. Sherwin-White observes that War and Imperialism’s stance on this is incorrect.

The idea that each individual member of the Senate held a proclivity for warfare comes directly from Harris. In actuality, based on Sherwin-White’s analysis, major sources report that the imply variety of Roman victories annually was lower than two. Sherwin-White also notes the way in which Harris uses his own broad explanation to account for the origins of every struggle that he discusses. The issue with this is that Harris’ rationalization just isn’t only the same for every war, but he additionally blatantly ignores the detailed info on the identical subject, which is located within the main sources.

Another issue that Sherwin-White takes with War and Imperialism is the truth that Harris’ narrative constantly leaves out key statistics and facts that, if included, immediately change conclusions throughout. Harris’ idea of the Romans as a fearless and powerful folks isn’t always correct. Sherwin-White’s example of this, one thing he says that the reader is told nothing of, is the truth that in the 3rd century, many Roman officers lived in fear that their survival and the existence of their empire was continuously at stake. He additionally neglects to mention the reality that the Roman army shrank drastically through the timeframe War and Imperialism research. As the Roman economic system dipped, the navy shrank because of the economy, however, the military’s commitments increased. Because each of those examples totally disprove Harris’ ‘warmongering’ theory, they’re left out of his work, and go away the reader with no choice but to imagine that the author’s prose have to be correct.

Roman historian J.A. North’s review of Harris’ work, whereas definitely less scathing than Sherwin-White’s, still presents the e-book in a relatively negative light. As each reviews note, Harris presents the concept of the Romans as aggressors, primarily due to the wars they fought in and their massive territorial growth. North’s reply to this suggestion is that it’s a poor selection on Harris’ half to assume that Roman growth meant the Romans became violent in all elements of life. There is a small issue that North takes with Sherwin-White’s evaluate he believes that Sherwin-White spends too much time disagreeing with Harris, and does not allot sufficient time in his evaluate to precise discussion of the e-book and the factors raised inside.

Harris’ work didn’t come at a time of world peace. The Cold War waged on, World War II had been over for lower than forty years, and the worldwide effects of the Vietnam War and European colonialism nonetheless lingered. All of those occasions concerned a fantastic energy making an attempt to insert their beliefs – political, non secular, or otherwise – into the tradition of other nations. This is the view of the Romans that Harris takes in War and Imperialism. He paints them as an aggressive, war-hungry nation, with their solely interests being buying territory and displaying violent tendencies in all of their actions. As Sherwin-White and North point out of their evaluations, this mindset is detrimental Harris’ option to ignore so many key components that accurately describe the Ancient Romans results in his skewed perception of their vicious and altogether unreasonable methods.

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"Analysis of “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome” by William Harris" StudyScroll, 2 December 2021,

StudyScroll. (2021). Analysis of “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome” by William Harris [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 9 August, 2022]

"Analysis of “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome” by William Harris" StudyScroll, Dec 2, 2021. Accessed Aug 9, 2022.

"Analysis of “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome” by William Harris" StudyScroll, Dec 2, 2021.

"Analysis of “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome” by William Harris" StudyScroll, 2-Dec-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 9-Aug-2022]

StudyScroll. (2021). Analysis of “War and Imperialism in Republican Rome” by William Harris. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 9-Aug-2022]

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