Contrast Between Sea and Land Highland and Lowland Rome

roads, roman, romans, egypt, city, animals, chaldea and power

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But neither was there the Greek and Phoenician lack of unity in action ; Rome was no mere Tyre and Sidon, the chief among its equals, nor an Athens, the leading city of a league. In a sense these had common aims; Rome had something more. The people of Rome had had to defend themselves. Rome was not protected, though her position was suitable for defence. There is a great difference : the one condition makes for virility, the other, as we have seen in Egypt and Babylonia, does not do so. The Roman government might recognize that the peculi arities of individuals had to be reckoned with, but that did not imply that there would be any effeminacy or desire to escape from the duties of their position. Rome was to be supreme. There was to be not only a common aim, but a central government.

The great discovery of the Romans for the saving of bodily energy was also due to the same attitude of mind. It is quite in keeping with what we might expect, that roads, made roads, should have been constructed for the purpose of strategy or commerce first by the Romans, that a Roman, Appius Claudius, should have been the first man to have a road—the Via Appia, laid south wards on the plain from Rome. The saving of energy by good centralized government implied that there should be a centre, and that that centre should be easily reached from the districts round it. Roads are the easiest means whereby this may be done on land, but roads had not hitherto existed in the world. In the long past times of Chaldea and Egypt, men had passed from the one to the other by the " Way." Men and the animals with them stepped the whole distance, and all that was carried was carried on the backs of animals.

Then the Phoenicians discovered that the way by water was easier than that by land; oars and sails gave much more result for a given expenditure of energy. The discovery which the Romans made was that movement of men and animals was more easy over a smooth, level, hard surface than over a rough, uneven, soft one, and that wheels might be used with even greater advantage, so that animals might draw very much more than it was possible for them to carry. No doubt roads and wheels had been known, but the discovery of how to use them on a large scale was due to the Romans. Geographical conditions are directly or indirectly mainly responsible. The alluvium of Egypt and Chaldea was little suited to the making of roads ; the want of stone, especially in Chaldea, made it almost impossible that roads should be constructed. On the deserts, whether round Egypt or between Egypt and Chaldea, movement was possible in any direction. There was not the inducement to make

roads, especially as there was at best but little traffic, and the desert sand might soon obliterate roads when made. More important than all, there was not enough centralization of energy to make it worth while to con struct roads. Assyria was in a like case. The Phoeni cians, whether of Phoenicia or Carthage, looked too much to the sea as a way to have thoughts of made roads on land. In Greece the lack of unity, both geographical and political, is a sufficient reason why the Greeks did not construct roads. They wished to be separate from their neighbours, not bound to them. In the case of Rome, there was the inducement — the stimulus — to make roads, arising from the fact that there was no natural way like the desert or the sea, and the existence of stone was a new geographical possibility.

Shortly after 300 B.C. Rome had united all peninsular Italy under her rule. Thereafter she proceeded to ex tend the borders of her empire to take in neighbouring lands and seas. The lines along which the Romans had advanced were still the lines along which they con tinued to advance. The history of the Roman power was still due to the interaction of the two geographical controls, the sea and the land ; but because the Roman power, though still centred in Rome, was something more than it had been, the effects were yet more complex.

(i) Because the Roman power was something more than the power of the city of Rome, because it now dominated all the peninsula, the conditions of Italy as distinct from those of the city on the Tiber, came to have a new significance. The city owed its existence and growth largely to the fact that where Rome was, there the forces from sea and land met. When the state came to be coterminous with the peninsula, the forces themselves came to have a new importance, for then the state was brought into more direct relations not only southwards with a sea on which lay islands that always provided a foothold for enemies by sea, but also northwards with the land, whence attack was possible from men who, if less civilized, might yet come in greater numbers, because the land was of great extent. She was forced, as was Persia, to equip a fleet to dispute the command of the sea with those who might maintain a hostile base close to the shores of Italy, while it was equally natural that expansion should take place land ward. These were new facts.

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