Attitudes of War in Ancient Civilizations

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Chapter Eight War and Society reveals the attitudes about war in both ancient Rome and China. These attitudes prove that in these cases perhaps it is safe to say that wars are not inevitable or natural but were caused by warlike societies and social situations. After reading bits and pieces of both the ancient Roman and Chinese history, one can only gain a greater perspective on how these attitudes derived. In 391 nomads called the Gauls defeated a small army of Roman aristocrats and burnt down the town of Rome. After this attack, Rome rebuilt its town and changed it into an empire, which spread its laws, culture, and peace from the North. Rome was convinced that after this first invasion, it was necessary to change their military.

Over time the Romans were able to conquer most of Italy. As the Romans began to gain power and land, they set their eyes on larger obstacles. This is when Roman attitude was perhaps revealed about the subject of war. Romans believed that their expansion had been inevitable so they were to believe that they were blameless, and that their ancestors had been more than a passive tool of destiny. They believed that other areas, posed as possible threats and that it was necessary “for defensive reasons” to attack first.

Today, these can be viewed as possibly preventive wars. But during the time of the expansion of the Roman Empire, a preventive war wasn’t a concern. Other views were demonstrated in their actions, that although at first Romans were unable to take Carthage, they kept trying, and over time, and most likely many deaths, the Roman soldiers wore them down. Rome was like a bulldozer and used their skilled military to their advantage, to take over and destroy anything that it set its eyes on. Their actions, such as later completely destroying Carthage and massacring the majority of its population all because it posed as a potential economic threat to Roman land.

These views or attitudes of war can be easily seen, war was not considered a preventive war, but a necessary war, although many times, it was clearly unnecessary and the fall of the Roman Empire, eventually gave the Roman commanders what they deserved. On the flipside, ancient Chinese attitude toward war was quite similar to that of the Romans. Warfare in this society was common and accepted, the idea of honor also coincides with their attitude toward war. “When ...

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I believe that this closely relates to the early context of “Is the Glory of War a Boy Thing?” Because I believe one can easily glorify both the rise of the empires as a courageous and powerful movement, rather then closely looking at the true outcome of these wars. A Pericles type of funeral oration would have possibly been effective in ancient Rome or China, because at the time both were such powerful empires, people would have easily been convinced to believe practically anything. How can one find it just, to kill practically a whole society because they pose as a possible threat to economy because they too, are growing grapes? Pericles states in his oration that the people under his society are the best, and that it was perfectly acceptable to dominate other areas. He also mentions ancestors, and the pride in Athens, so its important to praise and glorify those who died. Isn’t it funny how history repeats itself? The Romans believed that because felt threatened it was okay to dominate other lands, and their ancestors faced hardships with the nomads it was acceptable to do so in return. Or the Chinese, who believed that war a proper, powerful, and masculine act of man.
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