Chapter Two

Chapter Two didn’t take all that much work to get to the stage I want it to be at for this draft. It’s not that long since I worked on it, and when I did I knew what I was trying to do in the book as a whole. So the structure, argument and hooks fit with the overall plan. That said the earliest elements of this chapter date back to April 2006. This time round there was mainly just work on some odd references and formatting issues.

The basic structure of the chapter is the following: a reading of Caesar and particularly the military-geography terms he uses; a discussion of Cicero in relation to the res publica; an account of the historians Sallust, Livy and Tacitus, particularly the latter; a discussion of the notion of the imperium in relation to Augustus; and then an analysis of the word, concept and practice of the limes. The last goes right up to Ammianus Marcellinus and the author of De rebus bellicus. Along the way there are readings of the civil war, land reform, the founding myth of Rome, the names of Octavian/Augustus – I added a bit more from Cassius Dio this time round – and the Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum.

The last is the compendium of works of the Roman land surveyors, which as well as being interesting on practice, raises all sorts of textual issues. The discussion I had previously drafted was mainly on Frontinus, but the key thing I’ve added is an account of Siculus Flaccus, De condicionibus agrorum. Given the use he and Frontinus make of the word territorium it would be very useful if we were able to date their writings more precisely. The way they use the word is much closer to Ammianus Marcellinus , or at least jurists like Pomponius, than the more familiar classical writers who use the word – Cicero, Varro, Seneca, Pliny the Elder. Frontinus can be dated fairly exactly – he was born 17 years after Pliny the Elder and 16 before Tacitus – but did he write the text ascribed to him? Was it amended later? It’s possible that some of his most quoted comments are later glosses, rather than part of the original text. Equally it’s strange that Frontinus – who also wrote on military strategy – only uses this vocabulary in this one text. With Siculus Flaccus it’s even less certain: Oswald Dilke thinks his text dates from the 3rd century CE; Brian Campbell from the 2nd. It seems the question of dating is not going to be resolved. 

The other addition I made is a very brief discussion of the rape of the Sabine women at the founding of Rome. There are accounts in Livy and Cicero. Robin May Schott had encouraged me to include this, and her chapter in the recently published Birth, Death, and Femininity; Philosophies of Embodiment, was helpful. It led me to Melissa M. Matthes’s book The Rape of Lucretia and the Founding of Republics, which was also useful. (By a strange and unfortunate coincidence, Robin – whom I met in Copenhagen when I was talking there in May – was speaking at the University of Washington last Friday, at exactly the same time I was speaking here.)

Chapter Two was very long already, so I didn’t have room to add more. I’d already made a decision that the material on Roman cartography would appear elsewhere, and I’ve moved the few comments on Strabo there too. I did finally get to read James Romm, The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought. Annoyingly, there are a very few stray references that I can’t resolve here. The library doesn’t have, for instance, the Loeb bi-lingual edition of Cassius Dio’s Roman History. There is a new book by Richard Talbert entitled Rome’s World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered which does appear to be out, but I’ve not yet found a copy. But aside from these, I think the chapter is pretty much done.

On to Chapter Three…

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3 Responses to Chapter Two

  1. Scu says:

    Do you plan to do a lot with military-geography thought? It seems outside of the main focus of the book, but I am curious. Back when I was an undergrad and a master’s student, I was writing on societies of control and the issues of war, and I got fairly interested in the subject if not very conversant. The work of Henri Jomini was particularly important for me.

  2. stuartelden says:

    There are various discussions of strategic texts, but it’s not a key focus. I say a bit about the notion of ‘terrain’ and how territory is often effectively seen as that, as a political-strategic space, in the introduction. Some other discussions in the chapters. But Jomini (and indeed Clausewitz) are outside the temporal scope of the book.

  3. Pingback: The Birth of Territory – Chapter Updates | Progressive Geographies

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