Adam Zimmerman Dr. Wendy Cotter C.S.J. New Testament 13 November 2012
Prologue The concept of power naturally emerges when we examine the context of cultural representations and their motives. The El Djem Mosaic (Figure 1.1) represents power so vividly that it is worth looking at in order to understand the global superpower of antiquity that is: Ancient Rome. The image depicts a centralized power relationship between Rome and the provinces. This is articulated by the circular design of the panels and the subjects depicted in each one. Rome is at the center and is the only figure who is armed, illustrating it’s supreme military power. Rome also holds an orb, the globe of the universe, and her shield is engraved with Medusa’s head, symbolic of the power to ward of death and evil simply by it’s gaze. The power this image portrays did not emerge naturally. As with most great powers the empire of Rome was born from violence. Following Julius Caesar’s death, Augustus, born Gaius Octavius, and Mark Antony divided the empire between them. Augustus ruled Rome while Antony took to the East and eventually resided in Egypt, an independent and rich kingdom ruled by his lover, Cleopatra VII. This affair was seen as treason in the eyes of Octavius since Cleopatra was the queen of another country. To avenge his fathers death, in 41 BC Augustus annihilated the Egyptian forces causing Antony and Cleopatra to commit suicide. Returning home, Augustus was a hero and soon became the undisputed ruler of Rome. The goal then turned from winning the war to winning the peace. Shortly afterward, from 27 BCE - 180 CE began an era of Roman peace, the Pax Romana. The Roman’s viewed peace not as an absence of war, but more like a situation where all the opponents had been beaten down and lost the ability to resist. Many methods of control were required to maintain this peace. As a matter of fact, Augustus pretended to be restoring
republican traditions of his father but, in fact, was running a full fledged dynastic monarchy in attempt to maintain control. This dictatorial institution paralleling and fueling the Pax Romana is known as the Principate, characterized by the effort of the emperors, put in place by Augustus, to preserve the illusion of the continuance of the Roman republic. The purpose was to establish political and economic security desperately needed following the brutal civil wars. Therefore, although deluded, Rome’s citizens were relatively secure and the government maintained stability, law, and order. I. Military After his defeat of Mark Antony, Augustus put into effect a scheme of imperial defence. The army had grown to a strength that was far beyond the requirements of a peace establishment. Augustus reduced the military forces and provided many soldiers with land around the Mediterranean. Strategically, this contributed to the growth of the Roman Empire by reinforcing boundaries with men who had been trained to protect and ensure the security of Roman citizens such that “revolts inside the provinces or invasions from beyond the frontiers could [only] be suppressed by a strong system of garrison defense, and for this only disciplined and experienced troops could be safely employed” (Parker). Economically, the distribution of land allowed Augustus to expand the empire while maintaing loyalty in these newly conquered outlying provinces. The army that was left consisted of basic citizens lending themselves as part of their service to the state and was known as the Roman Legion. The legion was dispersed across the forming Roman empire with garrisons stationed in Spain, Germany, Vindelicia, Illyricum, Macedonia, Syria, Egypt, and Africa. This alone, portrays the expansion that had occurred during the reign of Augustus and where Rome stood upon his death.
While the army consisted of voluntary citizen garrisons, the power of Rome’s military cannot be overstated. The first century, Roman-Jewish historian, Titus...