Imago Romana Mundi : religion, rhetoric, race and the ideology of Roman imperialism
Rome Social life and customs
National characteristics, Roman
Group identity Rome
Rome Religious life and customs
Rome Foreign policy
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AbstractConventionally, classical scholarship has ascribed the inception of philosophy and culture to the Greeks, whilst relegating military strategy and imperialism to the Romans. This tradition dates back to Vergil's famous comment in Book 6 of the Aeneid, that others (Greeks) will create beautiful statuary, plead eloquently in the law courts and chart the skies and constellations; whereas the Romans' job will be to rule over others with their imperium. This tendency to oversimplify the differences between Greeks and Romans appears to be changing; however, the changes are tinged with a distinct Grecocentric bias. Roman culture, to date, is not being scrutinised with the same perspicacity, as that of the Greeks, and current research that challenges the traditional prejudices of conventional opinions are effectively absent. This thesis examines the unique aspects of Roman culture and identity and demonstrates that they too developed a highly defined world-view that was richly distinct from Greek conceptions of their oikumene. This distinction is perhaps most obvious in Roman stereotypes of the 'other'. Complex and thoroughly Roman, it was based on principals of cosmological determinism and guided by a potent form of exceptionalism and manifest destiny. Romans harnessed theo-philosophical arguments, to design a world in which their hegemony was efficiently rationalised by the elite and justified by the gods themselves.
As part of this examination, the cultural precursors, Italic and otherwise, are scrutinised, as are indigenous ethnic markers of Roman identity, so as to better ascertain distinctly Roman and borrowed beliefs that came to characterise the Late Republican and Early Imperial Roman habitus. Furthermore, Roman religious beliefs are also examined where they relate to Roman views of the cosmos and their place within the relational meta-narrative of divinely mandated human history. Within this scope, Roman notions of cosmological determinism and details regarding their specific role in the formation of unique ethnic stereotypes is analysed. Moreover, the impact of these stereotypes on Roman attitudes and policies - particularly foreign policy - will be discussed in detail. This detail will extend to include the previously mentioned notions of Roman exceptionalism and manifest destiny and will be done so in a comparative context by utilising the political discourse and definitions related to the heuristic models of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny.