In the late 6th century BCE, the period of the change over of the Republic, Rome transitioned from a monarchy to a Republican government. From this, the city progressed to take control of the entire Italian peninsula and a great range of parts of the Mediterranean countries.
Rome is known to be driven by its military force but before the military force was so dominant in Rome’s culture, the city had to develop a government that would appropriately express and respect the concerns of its citizens, as well as ensuring that not one individual was given or took all control to sustain a balance of power. At the beginning of the new republican government ruling, the great families – the patricians – took control of the Republic. This is because the patricians believed that they were more capable of ruling than the remaining citizens – the plebians. Although many of the peblians were as wealthy as the partricians, they were denied any political authority or say in who by or how they were ruled. Due to this governmental ruling arrangement, tension was developed and increased between the partricians and the peblians, especially because most of the military force was provided by the peblians. The peblians did not want to take part in a war that was mostly beneficial to the partricians which resulted in a strike in 494 BCE. The strike consisted of the peblians assembling outside of Rome and refusing to move until they were granted governmental authority. As a result, the plebians were granted with goverenmental authority and developed their own council. This movement is known as the Conflict of Orders or the First Succession of the Plebs
As stated earlier, the military force plays a large role in the sustaining and identity of Rome as it is the foundation for building and defending Rome’s huge empire. The Roman military forces were known for its discipline, strategies and organisation which contributed to making Rome’s military one of the most effective fighting forces in military history. The Romans took the military forces and its role in Roman society very seriously as specific recruitment processes were put in place and war strategies were developed and implemented in order to protect and expand the Roman Empire. The military is the main reason for the success of the Roman Empire.
The spirit of the Roman military is shaped by the belief that the soldiers are the sons of Mars – the god of war. Mars was one of the most celebrated and worshipped gods in Rome. There are many temples and locations dedicated to the god of war such as the temple on the Capitol – the temple of Mars Gradivus – the temple located on the Forum Augustus – the temple of Mars Ultor – and the Campus Matrius situated outside the city walls. The temple of Mars Gradivus was the area in which the Roman military army gathered before they went to war and the Campus Martius was were the army was trained. It is clear that the Romans highly valued Mars as they honoured him by dedicating these many areas to him and using those areas to train their own men. The Romans also showed their respect for Mars through many festivals hosted in his honour and by naming the month March (Martius) after him. The Romans respect Mars so much due to the fact that the military plays such a large role in the identity of Rome. As can be seen in Appendix A, a statue of Mars, the great warrior is dressed in a full military uniform including weapon equipment. His feet and right hand are missing from the statue which could be a result of forced removal from its original standing place. In most images or statues of Mars, he is depicted with a metal spear but the spear is not included in the image of the statue. This could be due to the fact that it is most likely that the spear was held in his missing right hand. Also, this stone carving was most likely painted to appear more realistic and life-like but the colouring may have faded as a result of weathering and age.
The story of the twin brothers, Remus and Romulus, speaks of the establishment of the city of Rome. They boys were born of Princess Rhea Silvia and their father was Mars, the god of war. The king of the land was afraid the boys would take his thrown when they grew up so he ordered to have the children thrown into the Tiber River. A she-wolf found the two boys who protected and cared for them. A woodpecker also cared for the children by helping find food for them. Eventually, the boys were found by passing shepherds who took in the twin brothers. The story ends with Romulus founding Rome. This story has been passed down orally to Roman decedents which impacts the accuracy of the story. Fortunately, this does not impact the importance it holds to the Roman military. This story, although mythical, holds great significance in the identity of the Roman military as the boys had wolf like characteristics such as strength, courage and leadership which were integrated heavily into the Roman military forces morals and spirit.
As the Romans highly valued and worshipped the god of war they ensured that their military tactics were of high intelligence and the military force were held of high regard. Highly strict recruitment protocols were put in place to ensure that soldiers were of a high standard. Soldiers of the Manipular army would be enrolled for a set amount of time which resulted in a professional standing army for Rome. Most Roman soldiers were recruited from the age of eighteen to twenty years old. Conscription into the army occurred through the cities as, at this time, the amount of volunteers was minimal. During this time it did not mater if you were a Roman citizen or no, as long as you were freeborn. This was taken very seriously as a non freeborn man was not to be representing the Roman Empire:
“Trajan to Pliny:
“[An officer had discovered two newly enrolled soldiers were slaves]… it needs to be investigated whether they deserve capital punishment. It depends whether they were volunteers or conscripts or given as substitutes. If they are conscripts, the recruiting officer was at fault; if substitutes, those who gave them are to blame; if they presented themselves in full awareness of their own status, that is to be held against them. It is hardly relevant that they have not yet been assigned to units. The day on which they were first approved and took the oath required the truth of their origin from them.”
The Romans took great pride in their army and their recruitment process to ensure that the soldiers were best qualified for their duty to making Rome a successful Empire.
The Roman military took part in many wars in order to protect and strengthen it Empire. The destruction of Masada is a great example of Roman power. The destruction of Masada is the story of how the Jews attempted to stand up to the Romans to take back their homes and to be free. The Jews uprising negatively impacted the Romans first stage of war resulting in the Romans showing their strength and fighting back to maintain the Empire the military helped build. Duncan Campbell states, “The defenders of Masada simply had to be killed to reinforce an ancient imperialist superpower’s reputation of invincibility.” This shows that the Romans were known for their power and they fought back against the Jews to remind them that they are in control and hold the power.
Overall, the Roman military made Rome a successful Empire through its strategic military tactics and spirit, and through the many wars they took part in to further develop, protect and strengthen the Empire.
Appendix A: Statue of Mars
Dowson, T. (2014). Yorkshire Museum’s Roman Statue of the God Mars – Archaeology Travel. Archaeology Travel. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://archaeology-travel.com/friday-find/yorkshire-museums-roman-statue-of-the-god-mars/
 Dowson, T. (2014). Yorkshire Museum’s Roman Statue of the God Mars – Archaeology Travel. Archaeology Travel. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://archaeology-travel.com/friday-find/yorkshire-museums-roman-statue-of-the-god-mars/
 Chowdhury, R. (2014). The Sons of Mars. Long Long Time Ago. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://www.longlongtimeago.com/once-upon-a-time/myths/roman-myths/the-sons-of-mars/
 Martin, C. (2016). The Gods of the Imperial Roman Army | History Today. Historytoday.com. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://www.historytoday.com/colin-martin/gods-imperial-roman-army
 Campbell, D. (2016). Wars between the Jews and Romans. Livius.org. Retrieved 31 August 2016, from http://www.livius.org/ja-jn/jewish_wars/jwar05.html