One Answer

  1. It is difficult to answer this question because we have almost no knowledge of the Roman decision-making process on foreign policy issues. That is, sources tell us (and, as a rule, already in retrospect) about the results of certain negotiations and campaigns, sometimes (again in retrospect) mention discussions (for example, Cato's point of view regarding the need to destroy Carthage had its own serious opponents who noted that the loss of such a powerful enemy would have a bad effect on Rome itself, which the presence of this enemy disciplined and tempered). However, we do not have minutes of discussions with a detailed list of opinions. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether the political elite included those who raised the issue of ethical considerations in certain campaigns.

    I would advise you to pay attention to two points that immediately come to mind if you have some familiarity with the sources. First, it is the story of Scipio Aemilianus, who mourned the defeat of Carthage. This situation is described in Polybius, who personally knew Scipio and witnessed this scene (Polyb., Hist., XXXIX, 5; 6 in the edition of the translation by F. G. Mishchenko; App. Lib., 132-135). What upset Scipio? In addition to the perfectly reasonable remark that such a fate might one day befall Rome (and it was five and a half centuries later!), Scipio also expressed pity for the defeated enemy. Secondly, it is the famous Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus. In his treatise De origine et situ Germanorum, the Germans are highly idealized, which is contrasted with the drowning in luxury and idleness of Tacitus ' own contemporaries. From this comes the curious idea that Rome brings with it, under the guise of certain benefits, only a decline in morals. He expresses something of this kind in the biography of his father-in-law, Julius Agricola (Agricol., 21), describing how the Britons, through their acquaintance with Roman education, became addicted to Roman fashion and lifestyle: idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset (“and what was called enlightenment / civilization among the conquered [Britons] was in fact part (the first stage) of slavery”). No less remarkable is the fact that similar thoughts were put into the mouth of the Pontic king Mithridates by another moral historian, Sallust.

    Of course, these cases are isolated. In principle, Rome is an example of a powerful state that steadily grew over several centuries of a rather aggressive and brazen foreign policy, and then for several centuries rather stubbornly defended its achievements. It is also useful to learn the identity of the Romans (somewhere from the second century, when Carthage was defeated) as always-the victorious people, as the people of the rulers of the circle of the earth. Therefore, it is natural that all relations with neighbors were built on the principle of their subordination to Rome, and in case of insubordination, the question was raised about how much these neighbors threaten the Roman state. So foreign policy was determined by expediency, benefit for the Roman state. However, as we can see from the examples above, the principles of ethical treatment of neighbors were not completely alien and unknown to the Romans. Another thing is to find their real application in foreign policy.

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