The Rivals of Rome for Power in Italy and the Western Mediterranean
Rome had a crucial time merely surviving in its original environment, even though it was the largest of the polities of Latium. The militarism and bellicosity of Rome's competitors place Roman expansion within the long-term context of a series of war-prone interstate systems. Rome grew up within a world of rather similar city-states—“Tyrrhenian Italy”—that stretched in western Italy from Arretium in northern Etruria, at the foot of the Apennine Mountains, down to Capua in Compania, far south of Rome. There were no permanent ambassadorial missions to foreign states—to exchange information, lessen mutual opacity, and express early concerns about policies so as to head off possible crises as in Classical and Hellenistic Greece. Rome was not simply an ordinary city-state in terms of its institutions, but also a not very successful city-state in terms of the achievement of even local security. Therefore, the Roman historical experience was one both of facing intense threat and of an increasing habit of command.
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