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Kai Brodersen

Appian (Ἀππιανός) of Alexandria, Greek historian. Born in Alexandria (1) at the end of the 1st centuryce, died in Rome c. 160ce; the inscription on a particular Roman sarcophagus (IGUR IV 1700) suggests that it may well be his. Appian experienced the Jewish uprising of 116/7ce, became a Roman citizen, moved to Rome as an advocate, and eventually gained, through the influence of his friend M. Cornelius Fronto, the dignitas (“honorary position”) of a procurator under Antoninus Pius, which enabled him to devote his time to writing his Roman History. After the preface and Book 1 on early Rome in the period of the kings, this work is arranged ethnographically, dealing with the individual peoples as Rome conquered them: Book 2 covers the Italians; Book 3, the Samnites; Book 4, the Celts; Book 5, the Sicilians; Book 6, the Iberians; Book 7, Hannibal; Book 8, the Carthaginians (as well as the Libyans and Nomads); Book 9, the Macedonians and Illyrians; Book 10, the Greeks and Ionians; Book 11, the Syrians (Seleucids) and Parthians; and Book 12, Mithridates VI.


Bellum Civile  

Christopher Pelling

Bellum Civile (“Civil War”), title of three works.

(1)*Caesar's commentaries on the war begun in 49 bce: Caesar is unlikely to have used the title himself.

(2) Lucan's epic (see annaeus lucanus, marcus): this, or De Bello Civili, is the best-attested ancient title, though the popular alternative Pharsalia (cf. 9. 980–986) is regaining some scholarly fashion.

(3) The poem of 295 hexameters introduced into *Petronius Arbiter's Satyricon (119–124).

Some criticism of Lucan is clearly suggested, especially his suppression of divine machinery; but interpretation is not straightforward, given the satirical characterization of the speaker Encolpius.


Cornelius Sulla Felix, Lucius, dictator and consul, 138–78 BCE  

Alexandra Eckert

Sulla (138–78 bce) is a pivotal figure in Roman history. He was the first to inflict civil war on his fellow citizens by marching his army on Rome twice, in 88 and 83/82 bce. During the war against King Mithridates (87–85 bce), he plundered Greek sanctuaries, sacked Athens, destroyed the Piraeus, and raided Boeotia. He also imposed punitive indemnities on the cities of the province of Asia. Sulla returned to Italy in the spring of 83 bce and conquered Rome for a second time in 82 bce. As victor in the civil war, he was appointed dictator, assumed the title Felix and carried out a programme of constitutional reform. Yet, Sulla delegitimized his victory by unprecedented post-war violence. His punitive measures encompassed not only the proscriptions which were directed primarily against wealthy members of the Roman elite, but also mass executions, arbitrary assassinations by his marauding soldiers, and collective punishment of Italian municipalities which affected all strata of Roman society. The 70s and 60s bce saw efforts to repeal Sulla’s legislation and to cope with the effects of his punitive measures.



Harriet I. Flower

Servilia (c. 100 bce–?) was one of the most prominent women in the generation of Cicero and Caesar and the older half-sister of Cato Uticensis, who would become a martyr for the republican cause. She was the mother of Marcus Brutus, a leader in the plot to assassinate Servilia’s long-time lover, Gaius Julius Caesar, the dictator. Cicero describes her as having her own political views and as working to influence the chaotic events that unfolded rapidly after Caesar’s murder on the Ides of March 44 bce. Her life exemplifies many aspects that were traditional in the personal aspirations and family situation of elite women in republican Rome, as well as the uniquely harsh experiences of violence, civil war, and political disintegration that few in her generation escaped. Servilia is the subject of the first large-scale book treatment of a Roman family organized around the life of an individual Roman woman, published by Susan Treggiari in 2019.



Frederik Juliaan Vervaet

Soon after the establishment of the Republic (traditionally dated to 509 bce), an aristocratic democracy marked by collegial rule and limitation of tenure, the Romans introduced the office of dictator, initially to create an additional and ranking military command whenever required. Appointed by the chief annual magistrate by decree of the Senate, the dictator had no equal colleague, the main constraints on his authority being his official commission as defined by the Senate and the obligation to abdicate promptly following the completion of this specific task. From 363 to 301 bce especially, the dictatorship became a frequent fixture of the Republican machinery of state, thereafter being used only infrequently until the Second Punic War, which saw another spate of appointments. Rather than being created to deal with external or internal emergencies, dictators were mostly appointed according to the exigencies of the moment to execute one or more routine tasks ranging from military commands to the conduct of obscure religious rituals normally undertaken by consuls or praetors. Significantly, the office played an important and constructive role in the resolution of the so-called struggle of the orders and the gradual shaping of the Republican polity. Throughout the Early and Middle Republic, the Senate retained close control over the dictator and his activities. After the Second Punic War, as Roman power rapidly expanded across the Mediterranean and prorogation of consular and praetorian power became the norm, the office of dictator lapsed completely. The age of civil war (88–30 bce) saw first Sulla and then Caesar revive the dictatorship, albeit by means of constitutive laws and in vastly enhanced and autocratic form.