Rise and Fall of Roman Republic

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					Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic
• 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
• 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
• 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
        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
  – 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
• 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
• -> The laws would be destroyed.
Plato’s argument for the immortality of the
• 1) Eternity of Beauty, of certain truths of
• 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
       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
• Charles Gibbon: History of The Decline and Fall
  of the Roman Empire
  – Spodek lists Gibbon’s reasons for fall of the Empire
• Empire presupposes the fall of the Roman
• 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
• 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
  – Then fight among themselves for power
• Rome:
  – 1st fights with Italian neighbors for power
  – Then takes on the dominant sea-power of
        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
•   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
  – “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

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