From these works in which we have

From the very beginning Rome was built on the idea of
violence, all the way from the Palatine hills to the peak of the Roman empire
and its conquest of the ancient world; Rome acted in violence. Once
consisting of just a small colony within Italy, between the 8th-1st
Century, Rome was able to expand and grow to become the strong and successful
empire that we know of today. It is often considered to be the largest empire
in the ancient world with eventually managing to cover a total of 5 million
square km’s at its peak in 117 AD (Turchin, Adams and Hall, 2006). In order to
become so huge, Rome’s conquest saw them take control of lands from the
Mediterranean and then eventual domination of Europe, Asia and North Africa.
This however is no different to any other empire, as in order to remain so powerful
there must be actions in which the empire is able to remain stable through
complete control of the people it adds into its empire. Although to get to this
stage, it is generally through the use of violence and intimidation in which
this occurs, during this era however, violence was seen as the norm in terms of
resolving conflict, and although some actions may be seen as cruel and unjust,
it certainly was not out of the ordinary. The Roman empire was also effective
as it served as being one of the earliest most documented empire to have ever
existed, and therefore it is through these works in which we have seen other
empires copy the Romans and follow a similar model to the one in which the
Romans took. We have already covered the fact that in general terms, we see
violence play some part within the ideology of Rome’s empire, but how much of
it we can actually see through archaeology is limited. Through this essay, I
will aim to find to what extent we see violence contribute and begin to form a
part of the Roman nature of imperialism, as well as play a part in its everyday
life through the empire. This will be done be discussing archaeological
findings which hold relation to the ancient Roman empire and analysing how
effective such events would’ve been on a daily basis for the people within the
empire at the time, and then on a much greater spectrum and focus on the impact
it had towards the Roman ideology and across the empire as a whole. Violence
within Rome was seen through many of ways, although as the term violence has
become so closely linked to warfare that it is often the first thing we think
of it whenever the term is mentioned. Therefore, it is to no surprise that
perhaps the most popular way we see violence is through the Roman army, who
were effective as a military unit and often led Rome to glory. Violence however
didn’t stop there and became socially acceptable within Roman towns at this
time often acting as a function of amusement through the use of Gladiatorial
battles.  Gladiatorial contest was viewed by masses within arena
purposely built for them throughout the Roman empire. It was in 105 BCE, that
the beginning of gladiatorial combats was seen as a spectacle. The act of
violence, which saw human blood be spilled was seen as entertainment by the
citizens, and had its origins first traced back to it serving purposes for the
funerals of wealthy citizens funeral ceremonies in which the struggle to avoid
death was highlighted, however as it became more popular, people began to see
it as more of a sport and therefore resulted in the widespread spectacles of
bloodshed in which we often see popularly highlighted within ancient text (Hunt
et al., 2006). Within Rome at this time though, Gladiatorial contest began to
serve a number of different purposes symbolically. The Roman ideology of power
and influence was one of the more important aspects being expressed through the
staging of such spectacles, and therefore is why wealthy citizens would often
be more willing to put them on. For the person who funded these game, it gave
them a sense of power over the Gladiators fighting beneath them, with more
emphasis on it as the fate of the losing gladiator would be in their hands, and
therefore was up to them on if they were let to live another day or was killed.
As Rome was a growing empire, the whole aspect of power was an important thing,
and therefore it was essential that this was shown within the Roman cities at
this time. Power was further expressed through Gladiatorial games, as the
combatants were often slaves and prisoner of wars rather than their own people,
therefore the spectacles would often be effective in proving the strength of
Rome and just how far its empire had extended as the Romans would use these
spectacles to re-enact what had occurred within the war, while using the people
from the lands they conquered to add further insult. The widespread influence of violence through these
spectacles however has been shown through archaeological findings. In 2004 and
2005, an excavation occurred in the gardens of Driffield Terrace in York,
England. The findings from York’s Archaeological Trust revealed a Roman era
cemetery, in which eighty individuals were buried with, however, more
importantly out of these eighty buried bodies, forty-eight of which were buried
with their head decapitated and placed alongside their bodies in the grave
(Montgomery, Knüsel and Tucker, 2011, P.141). Such findings were considered to
be unusual but also unique due to the high numbers of decapitated bodies,
although some of these remains would also show examples of other cuts occurring
over the body. The bodies found consisted mainly of males with an age ranging
from mostly young to middle adulthood. With all of these little things adding
up, the general assumption for death is considered to be as a result of
inter-personal violence due to the majority of deaths being shown to have
occurred through decapitation or as a result of sustaining blows to the head as
well as postcranial blade injuries (Montgomery, Knüsel and Tucker, 2011,
P.153). The fact we also see a male dominant grave yard, further adds to the
fact that it is likely that these deaths occurred as a result of gladiatorial
combat. We know for certain that Gladiatorial spectacles were a big deal back
within Italy, so it isn’t too far-fetched to assume that they carried such
tradition with them on the lands they conquered. There have also been similar
findings in Ephesus, Turkey, where for the first time a gladiator graveyard was
believed to have existed, like the findings in York, the bodies also showed
signs of other wounds, but more importantly was the similarities between the
dead bodies. As like York, the Ephesus gladiator graveyard contained a mainly
male population of 98.5%, with only one female, with another similarity of all
males being aged between 20 and 30 years other than one male aged 45–55 years
(Kanz and Grossschmidt, 2006). Through the use of archaeology, the influences
of Rome and its empire as been clearly evident through gladiatorial spectacles,
as the results of such excavations within Turkey and Britain has proven the
extent of romanisation within its empire as the Roman concept travelled to both
the western and eastern sides of its empire. Ultimately, it is likely that such
spectacles of violence and bloodshed are likely to have served both practical
and significant purpose in Roman society. This has more so been made evident by
Donald Kyle, who expressed that the Roman citizens were attracted to the arena
“by the allure of violence, by the exotic and erotic sights, and by an
appreciation of the skill and courage of some of the participants” (2007, p.3).
Therefore, showing that at least to some extent violence was an influential
aspect of ancient Rome, and through the mass gatherings at these spectacles, Roman
ideology could be best expressed.  The idea of violence within the ancient Roman era was
perhaps more clearly seen and documented about through the Roman military and
war-like events, which in modern era is often considered as being the ugly side
of the ancient Rome and its conquest for an empire. However, it was only
through the use of its military force that Rome could be able to instil fear in
his people and therefore be strong enough to run an empire. Violence within
it’s actual military was shown to occur through acts of punishment on its own
men. The idea of having to following orders without any choice was not
something which many could be expected to do, so those who was in the military
often learned an important aspect of the Roman world was to be disciplined and
obedient, traits which were often instilled to the men through the fear of
being punished through violence, with even the smallest of offences getting
corrected by some sort of punishment. One example of such a punishment is shown
through soldiers being stoned to death by their own men if they had showed any
sign of cowardice while fighting or signs of negligence toward their position
(Nippel, 2003). Although such treatment of the soldiers seems harsh, it
consistently proved to work, as the men began to look out for each other as
they knew it was the best possible chance to survive in what they had to endure
to maintain an empire. The fear that was also instilled in these men though the
act of violence is exactly what also made the Roman military the force it was,
and therefore as a result of this we see violence just become the norm for
Roman imperialism. The ancient Romans, time and time again had also shown
time and time again to be motivated to expand through war. As an actual empire,
the Romans most notable war came against the Persians, which first began in 92
BC and lasted well into the 7th Century AD, making this the longest
conflict to have ever occurred in history (Duducu, 2015). Such conflict saw
what can only be described as a continuous struggle occur by both sides, with
control often changing, and specific area and towns be continually sacked,
captured, traded and destroyed. Violent nature such as these it what made Rome
the empire that everyone began to become familiar with, and therefore it is
because of these actions that the Romans were able to express the imperial
ideas. Violent war-like behaviour has also been shown through the use of
archaeological findings, as for example at Ham Hill, Somerset, where an
excavation which ran from 2011-2013 saw archaeologist uncover one of Britain’s
largest hill fort from the Iron ages. Found here was hundreds and thousands of
bodies which had been massacred, and often dated back to the time in which the
Romans began to arrive in Britain, in the first or second century. The bodies
found had shown more damage then the standard corpse as each one was either
chopped into pieces or were removed of their flesh. There was a number of
theories as to why the bodies were like this, and although it has been
speculated that the Britons at this time acted in such a way, there is also
evidence to show a Roman military presence had occurred at the same time. This
is evident through there being ballista bolts being found in and around the
bodies (Brittain, Evans and Sharples, 2015).
Through such evidence, this indicates towards a Roman military occupation on
this site after their conquest of Britain, and also as a result of other
research, similar findings were recorded in the nearby hill forts at Hod Hill and
South Cadbury, which therefore perhaps shows that the Romans were willing to
secure an expansion of its empire through military actions. Ultimately,
as a result of the Romans war-like behaviour, ideas have arisen of Rome being
an empire which looked to establish cities, which acted as militaristic
societies who in turn created what can be expressed as war machines, with a
sole dedication of extending the Roman imperial expansion (Schumpeter 1955, as
cited in Mattingly, 2013, p.15). The idea behind
the Roman conquest from what has been shown through archaeological
findings has shown that the Romans had no problem using violence, and therefore
the expansion of the Roman empire is perhaps best described as being one of
aggressive expansionism through the amount of violence that occurred. To conclude, I believe that violence was a significant
part of Roman imperialism, and life in the Empire, and therefore because of
this we see modern reimagining’s of this era often be made up of a collection
of wars, coups, revolts, persecutions, assassinations and murders (Mattingly,
2013, p.4). There is no precise answer as to why violence played such a key
role within Roman society, however it is often assumed that the traditions of
wars and spectacles had become a common practice and were often the reason for
instilling discipline and control across the Roman empire. Through this,
violence was therefore just accepted as being something which was seen as
normal resulting in Rome being considered as a cruel society in which brutality
was part and parcel of it and its culture. Violence was so widespread and
formed such a natural part of life in the Roman empire that for centuries it
had been devoted to war, with mass participation being encouraged for citizens
in battle (Hopkins, 1985). So much evidence on the ancient Roman has been found
out through the works of ancient historians or through archaeological
excavations, in which through the acts of digging or scientific analysis.
Through this, they have been able to trace back to an estimated time and quite
possibly cause of death. This has been important in the study of violence
within ancient Rome, as it allows us to assume reasons as to why this sort of
violence was such a huge part of their society and it what ways it impacted
their empire. More so significant is that through archaeological evidence, with
some confidence we can judge to what extent the empire was able to grow to.
Therefore, violence could be regarded as the driving force within the Roman
empire and its imperial aims, as it was pretty much a key factor in keeping
those back home happy, while also extending their influence. However, to
actually use the word violence is difficult, as it is one which shows lack of
clarity and distinction, and therefore the way violence is seen by scholars is
affected resulting in repercussion occurring in understanding its role in
society (Frayer, 1997).

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