With Dr Eireann Marshall
This series includes three spotlight lectures and a Virtual Tour of Rome with our exclusive footage.
It is not surprising given the length of Rome’s tenure of power that it had a number of enemies who both threatened its existence but also helped to define the qualities Rome most associated with itself. The most famous of all of Rome’s enemies, Carthage, loomed large in Rome’s imagination long after the Punic wars, with the quotation Carthago delenda est, being remembered by all sections of the populace centuries after Cato the Elder demanded the destruction of the Punic city.
Rome didn’t only revile its enemies but admired and even aggrandised them, if nothing else, in order to make their victory over them even greater. The terror which Hannibal unleashed on the Italian peninsula at the end of the 2nd century BC and the disastrous defeats he meted out on Rome encouraged Romans to admire him more than vilify him. Likewise, both Vercingetorix, who impressively organised Gauls against Caesar, and Boudicca were admired by Romans for their skill.
Tacitus, in particular, sees Boudica as a beacon of freedom which his fellow Romans craved. Enemies, especially powerful foreign women, however, also stood for everything Romans despised. Who could forget the way in which Cleopatra, mistress of two powerful Romans and quelled by Octavian, was described in terms of her passion, terrifying sexuality, and power?
This series explores these enemies in order to understand how close Rome came to losing and also how they helped to forge Rome’s identity.