VIEWS: 51 PAGES: 28 CATEGORY: World History POSTED ON: 5/2/2010
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Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic Outline • Plato’s philosophy (conclusion) – Darwin and Plato – Crito – The Near Death Experience of the Soldier Er and the Purpose of Life (teleology!) • Rome – Cosmopolitan versus Greek Polis law – Similarities and Differences between Greek and Roman origins Return to Darwin • “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick.” Charles Darwin • New York Times, Feb. 10, 2009 D4 The problem • Recall Darwin’s main theory: – Chance variation – Natural selection: the external environment, not the purposeful action of individuals, selects those individuals that are fit to survive • The peacock’s tail seems to be an obstacle to survival • Thinking about this made Darwin sick, because it seems to contradict his theory. Darwin’s solution • "We may conclude that…those males which are best able by their various charms to please or excite the female, are under ordinary circumstances accepted. If this be admitted, there is not much difficulty in understanding how male birds have gradually acquired their ornamental characters," Darwin wrote. The answer is love of beauty • “At the time, Darwin's theory on female choice in animals, and birds in particular, was revolutionary, and he spent pages justifying a bird's appreciation of beauty and the quality of "love" that must be felt between a pair bonding for life.” • http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/20 02/09/0909_peacock.html Teleology in evolution? • Why does the peahen choose her mate? • Because of its beautiful tail feathers • > Its not the external, unconscious environment that selects, but the female peahen: – Teleology, purposeful choice, in evolution • Why does the peahen have a love of the beautiful? Why is nature so beautiful? • Plato’s answer: Beauty rules all of life Argument of the Crito • 1) Crito’s appeal to Socrates: save yourself (family, friends, etc.) • 2) S: We must not do anything wrong. Right? • 3) C: What could be wrong with fleeing an unjust sentence? • 4) S: Imagine putting this question to the Laws, and having them reply. The Laws are your true parents • “Are we not, first, your parents? Through us your father took your mother and bagat you. Tell us, have you any fault with those of us that are the laws of marriage? “I have none,” I should reply. “Or have you any fault to find with those of us that regulate the nurture and education of the child, which you, like others, received? Did we not do well in bidding your father educate you in music and gymnastics?” (Plato’s Crito) Nature of Law • The laws give us birth, education. • We can change states, choose other laws. • We actively participate in law-making. • => Voluntary agreement with the Laws (like a contract in business) Was Socrates Unjustly Condemned? • The procedure of the law has not been violated. • Even if the court makes a mistake in judgment, it does so according to the Laws and so must be obeyed. • What if everyone could escape a court decision? • -> The laws would be destroyed. Plato’s argument for the immortality of the soul • 1) Eternity of Beauty, of certain truths of geometry • 2) We can know these truths • 3) So we have in us something that immortal which enables us to know immortal Reality • 4) I.e, the God-like element is within us, the soul. Real nature of knowledge • 5) To know something is to commune with that thing – to identify with it, be one with it. – I.e., real knowledge is more like love: a transcendence of separate ego identity – E.g., experience of transcendence (“losing yourself”) in creative knowledge or love. NDE of the Soldier Er • Er’s voyage to the Elysian Fields • Next life lottery • Odysseus’ choice • Recall teleology: what is the purpose of my existence? Why was I born to my parents? Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic • Charles Gibbon: History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – Spodek lists Gibbon’s reasons for fall of the Empire (197-8) • Empire presupposes the fall of the Roman Republic • Why did the Republic fall? How did it arise? Roman Timeline • 1) 494-440: “struggle of the orders” > republic: “Twelve Tablets” of the Law, 451 • 2) 405-264 Internal, Italian wars • 3) 264-146 Struggle with dominant external power of Carthage (3 Punic Wars) • 4) 134 -71 BCE --Renewed class warfare: 3 Slave wars: • 5) Fall of Republic (Emperor Augustus Caesar, 27 BCE - 14 CE) • 6) Fall of Empire 476 CE New order of events • Greece: – 1st defend itself against aggressive land-power of Persia – Then fight among themselves for power • Rome: – 1st fights with Italian neighbors for power – Then takes on the dominant sea-power of Carthage Greek and Roman Empires • Greek empire under Alexander – Short duration of unity: 331 – 323 (BCE) – Division soon after death of Alexander • Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt to 31 BCE: Octavian, who becomes Augustus Caesar, defeats Anthony and Cleopatra at Battle of Actium • Seleucid empire (Persia) lasts to 200 BCE • Roman empire: long duration – Empire from 27 BCE to 476 CE • Why this striking difference? Similarities of origin • Iron-age agriculture on rain-watered lands • Freedom of independent peasants • Internal inequalities > debt enslavement • Early “struggle of the orders” – Roman phalanx – Plebeians refuse to fight for patricians > veto • > Republican institutions Reason for success of Plebs • Military power based on iron • Power of the phalanx • Dependence of Roman aristocracy on free, prosperous peasant army • No already existing state • = Similar to Greece Role of Commerce • Most peasants elsewhere: subsistence producers • Greece and Rome: produce for international market – Dry summer climate of Mediterranean good for Olives, Winter – =Wealth from peasants elsewhere – > Greater freedom possible for local peasants Difference: Geographic Challenge for Romans • Athens, Sparta: divided by mountains • > Greek: narrow polis law for locals only • Rome is open to Italian territories • > Rome: law for others too • Roman stick and carrot creates all Italian army – Stick: war – Carrot: Roman citizenship Reason for differences • Romans must deal with neighbors from the start – “Rape of the Sabine Women” • Hence Roman law is “cosmopolitan” • Hence: Rome first unites with others in Italy creating a powerful army of many nationalities • Hence: Rome builds a long-lasting empire Polis law and Cosmopolitan Law • Alexander: Pharaoh in Egypt, King in Persia • No Greek system of law: = Polis law – only Athenian, Corinthian, etc. – Legacy of Greek empire: cultural (phil, art …) • Roman empire is based on Cosmopolitan law Republican Institutions • > Plebian Assembly, Tribune with Veto power • Aristocracy: Senate • Two consuls (Presidents) elected annually • Other assemblies – Military: Centuriate Assembly – Assembly of the People: moderates conflict Limitation of Roman freedom • Law forbids enslavement of Romans • Patricians continue to expand wealth using foreign slaves conquered in Roman wars • > Pressure to expand, conquer • Roman peasant dies in battle • Lands bought up • > Impoverishment > urban proletariat Irony of History • Only some are free (Hegel) • Greece: – Accept Principle of enslaving others – Romans enslave them • Rome – Cheap slave-produced grain ruins small farmer – = Destruction of free Roman army, fall of Rome
"Rise and Fall of Roman Republic"