Rome: The Punic Wars – The First Punic War

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you know anything about Ancient Rome then you know there was lots of fighting. Whether it was fighting  in a civil war or fighting to expand/defend the Kingdom, Republic, or Empire, Rome rarely rested on its laurels.

Thanks to Extra Credits, today we are going to view The First Punic War!

Western Mediterranean Sea in 264 BC. Rome is shown in red, Carthage in purple, and Syracuse in green.

The First Punic War (264–241 BC) was fought partly on land in Sicily and Africa, but was largely a naval war. It began as a local conflict in Sicily between Hiero II of Syracuse and the Mamertines of Messina.

Carthage spent the years following the war improving its finances and expanding its colonial empire in Hispania under the militaristic Barcid family. Rome’s attention was mostly concentrated on the Illyrian Wars.

A Carthaginian shekel, dated 237-227 BC, depicting the Punic god Melqart (equivalent of Hercules), most likely with the features of Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal Barca; on the reverse is a man riding a war elephant.

In 219 BC, Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar Barca, attacked Saguntum in Hispania, a city allied to Rome, starting the Second Punic War.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure and look forward to you coming back for more. Make sure to stop back soon because we shall be carrying on this video series.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Book 6; Thought 27

How cruel it is not to allow men to strive after the things which appear to them to be suitable to their nature and profitable! And yet in a manner thou dost not allow them to do this, when thou art vexed because they do wrong. For they are certainly moved towards things because they suppose them to be suitable to their nature and profitable to them.- But it is not so.- Teach them then, and show them without being angry.

Romans in the Netherlands: The 450 Year Occupation

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

When one thinks of the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire) typically it is the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. However, the Empire was so much more stretching farther Northern Europe and even into the Near East.

Today we venture northward as we explore the Romans in the Netherlands!

The history of Holland has roots in Rome.

The Netherlands, also known informally as Holland, is a densely populated country in Western Europe. It is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

A landscape where it is uncertain where the sea ends and land begins.

The European portion of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

During the Gallic Wars, the area south of the Oude Rijn and west of the Rhine was conquered by Roman forces under Julius Caesar from 57 BC to 53 BC. Caesar describes 2 main tribes living in what is now the southern Netherlands: the Menapii and the Eburones.

The Limes Germanicus

The Rhine became fixed as Rome’s northern frontier around AD 12. Notable towns, such as Nijmegen and Voorburg, would arise along the Limes Germanicus.

At first part of Gallia Belgica, the area south of the Limes became part of the Roman Provincia (Province) of Germania Inferior. The area to the north of the Rhine, inhabited by the Frisii, remained outside Roman rule (but not its presence and control), while the border tribes Batavi and Cananefates served in the Equites Romani (Roman Cavalry).

The Batavi rose against the Romans in the Batavian rebellion of AD 69, but were eventually defeated. The Batavi later merged with other tribes into the confederation of the Salian Franks, whose identity emerged at the first half of the 3rd Century.

Human bones from the Roman occupation era of the Netherlands.

Salian Franks appear in Roman texts as both allies and enemies. The Salian Franks were forced by the confederation of the Saxons from the east to move over the Rhine into Roman territory in the 4th Century.

The Frisii were initially won over by Drusus, suggesting a Roman suzerainty was imposed by Augustus on the coastal areas north of the Rhine river. Over the course of time the Frisii would fight the Romans in concert with other Germanic tribes, and finally be relocated in Flanders and disappeared from recorded history as of 296 AD.

Reconstruction of a Roman watch tower near Fectio.

Some believe the disappearance was due to deteriorating climate conditions, while others believe the Frisii were probably forced to resettle within Roman territory as Laeti around the same time. In any event, coastal lands remained largely unpopulated for the next couple of centuries.

For around 450 years, from around 55 BC to around 410 AD, the southern part of the Netherlands was integrated into the Roman Empire. During this time the Romans in the Netherlands had an enormous influence on the lives and culture of the people who lived in the Netherlands at the time and (indirectly) on the generations that followed.

Julius Caesar leads his troops through Gaul.

During the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar established the principle that this river, which runs through the Netherlands, defined a natural boundary between Gaul and Germania Magna. But the Rhine was not a strong border, and Caesar made it clear that there was a part of Belgic Gaul where many of the local tribes were Germani Cisrhenani.

When Caesar arrived, various tribes were in the area of the Netherlands, residing in the inhabitable higher parts, especially in the east and south. These tribes did not leave behind written records, so all the information known about them during this pre-Roman period is based on what the Romans and Greeks wrote about them.

A rough map showing tribes mentioned by Caesar in his account of the Gallic Wars.

Caesar himself, in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, wrote in detail only about the southern area which he conquered. Tribes who he described as living in what is now the Netherlands were the Menapii (a Belgic tribe who stretched from the Flemish coast, through the south of the river deltas, and as far as the modern German border), the Eburones (the largest of the Germani Cisrhenani group, whose territory stretched covered a large area between the rivers Maas and Rhine), and the smaller Ambivariti (perhaps part of the Eburones or Menapii, who Caesar mentions in passing as living west of the Maas).

In the delta itself, Caesar makes a passing comment about the Insula Batavorum (Island of the Batavi) in the Rhine, without discussing who lived there. Later, in imperial times, a tribe called the Batavi became very important in this region.

This shows the rough positions of tribes known in the Netherlands during the Roman Empire.

Other tribes who eventually inhabited the Gaulish islands in the delta during Roman times are mentioned by Pliny the Elder include: the Cananefates, whom Tacitus says were similar to the Batavians in their ancestry, living in what is today the province of South Holland; the Frisii, who inhabited a major part of the modern Netherlands; the Chauci, whose main territory was the North Sea coast of Germany, bordering the Frisii on their east; the Frisiabones, who Pliny also counted as a people living in Gallia Belgica, perhaps stretching into Gelderland and South Holland; the Marsacii, who Tacitus refers to as neighbors of the Batavi, who probably inhabited what is today the province of Zeeland; and the Sturii, who are not known from any other sources, but are thought to have lived near modern Zeeland or South Holland.

As mentioned above, the northern Netherlands, above the Old Rhine, was dominated by the Frisii, with perhaps a small penetration of Chauci. While this area was not officially part of the empire for any long periods, military conscription and other impositions were made for long periods upon the Frisii.

Relief showing a vallus (170 AD).

In the south of the Netherlands the Texuandri inhabited most of North Brabant. The modern province of Limburg, with the Maas running through it, appears to have been inhabited by (from north to south) the Baetasii, the Catualini, the Sunuci and the Tungri.

About 38 BC, a pro-Roman faction of the Chatti (a Germanic tribe located east of the Rhine) was settled by Agrippa in an area south of the Rhine, now thought to be the Betuwe area. They took on the name of the people already living there, the Batavians.

Batavian culture was influenced by the Roman one, resulting among other things in Roman-style temples such as the one in Elst, dedicated to local gods. Also, the trade flourished with the salt used in the Roman Empire being from the North Sea with remains found across the whole of the Empire.

The Conspiracy of Julius Civilis, by Rembrandt (1661).

However, this did not prevent the Batavian Rebellion of AD 69, a very successful revolt under the leadership of Batavian Gaius Julius Civilis. Forty castella were burnt down because the Romans violated the rights of the Batavian leaders by taking young Batavians as their slaves.

Other Roman soldiers (like those in Xanten and the auxiliary troops of Batavians and Cananefates from the legions of Vitellius) joined the revolt, which split the northern part of the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army). In April of AD 70, Vespasianus sent a few Legions to stop the revolt.

Their commander, Petilius Cerialis, eventually defeated the Batavians and started negotiations with Civilis on his home ground, somewhere between the Waal and the Maas near what the Batavians probably called Batavodurum. During their stay in Germania Inferior, the Romans established several towns and military forts in the Netherlands along the Limes Germanicus with.

Public scene at the Valkenburg Castrum.

More notable towns include Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum (modern Nijmegen), Forum Hadriani (Voorburg), Flevum (modern Velsen), Lugdunum Batavorum (Brittenburg at modern Katwijk aan Zee), Praetorium Agrippinae (at modern Valkenburg), Traiectum (in modern Utrecht), Colonia Ulpia Trajana (in modern Xanten, Germany), Coriovallum (in modern Heerlen), Nigrum Pullum (modern Zwammerdam), Ceuclum (modern Cuijk), and Trajectum ad Mosam (modern Maastricht).

Franks appear in Roman texts as both allies and enemies. Around 310, the Franks had the region of the Scheldt river (present day west Flanders and southwest Netherlands) under control, and were raiding the Channel, disrupting transportation to Roman Britannia. Roman forces pacified the region, but did not expel the Franks, who continued to be feared as pirates along the shores at least until the time of Julian the Apostate (AD 358), when Salian Franks were granted to settle as foederati in Toxandria, according to Ammianus Marcellinus.

Frankish invasions of the 5th Century.

At the beginning of the 5th Century, the Franks became the most important ethnic group in the region, just before the Fall of the Western Roman Empire.

We hope that you enjoyed today’s journey to a region previously unknown to us to be occupied by the Romans. If nothing else, we just reiterated the fact that the extent of Rome touched far and wide.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Colebrander, Bernard. Limes Atlas. Rotterdam, 2005.

Lucius Cassius Dio. Book LIV, Ch 32.

Lendering, Jona, “Germania Inferior”. Livius.org.

Roffelsen, Cees. “History of the Netherlands: The Roman Occupation (57 BC – 406 AD)”. Medium.com, 16 October 2016.

Roymans, Nico. Ethnic Identity and Imperial Power. The Batavians in the Early Roman Empire.

Cornelius Tacitus. Germany and its Tribes.

Amphitheatre of El Jem

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last week we were in the Ukraine to uncover the Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora.

Today we’re traveling out of Europe, but still within the Imperium Rōmānum, to Tunisia as we check out the Amphitheatre of El Jem!

The Amphitheatre of El Jem bears outstanding witness to Roman architecture, notably monuments built for spectator events, in Africa. Located in a plain in the center of Tunisia, this amphitheatre is built entirely of stone blocks, with no foundations and free-standing.

In this respect it is modeled on the Colosseum of Rome without being an exact copy of the Flavian construction. Its size (big axis of 162 yards and small axis 133 yards) and its capacity (judged to be 35,000 spectators) make it without a doubt among the largest amphitheatres in the world.

Its facade comprises 3 levels of arcades of Corinthian or composite style. Inside, the monument has conserved most of the supporting infrastructure for the tiered seating.

The wall of the podium, the arena and the underground passages are practically intact. This architectural and artistic creation built around 238 AD, constitutes an important milestone in the comprehension of the history of Roman Africa.

The Amphitheatre of El Jem also bears witness to the prosperity of the small city of Thysdrus (current El Jem) at the time of the Roman Empire.

How This Relates to Rome:

The toponym Thysdrus has Berber roots, and the city was founded by the Romans on the site of an ancient, small Berber Punic village. Thysdrus probably received Julius Caesar‘s veterans as settlers in 45 BC.

Thysdrus did not become a Municipium (settlement with partial rights of citizenship) until the reign of Septimius Severus. In 244 AD it was declared Colonia by Emperor Gordian III.

Thysdrus grew to be the main center of olive oil production in Roman Africa thanks to the Romano-Berber Emperor Septimius Severus and his successors. So, by the early 3rd Century AD, when the huge amphitheater was built, Thysdrus rivaled Hadrumetum (modern Sousse) as the 2nd City of Roman North Africa, after Carthage.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures within the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Book 6; Thought 23

As to the animals which have no reason and generally all things and objects, do thou, since thou hast reason and they have none, make use of them with a generous and liberal spirit. But towards human beings, as they have reason, behave in a social spirit. And on all occasions, call on the gods, and do not perplex thyself about the length of time in which thou shalt do this; for even three hours so spent are sufficient.

Hercules (2014): A Film Made by The Rock

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you’ve made it to this page then you certainly know a thing or two about Classical Antiquity. Based on this presumption, we shall infer that you are also familiar with Greco-Roman Mythology.

One of the most revered Classical Heroes was a well-known demi-god. Even though he was supposed to be Greek by birth, you know him by his Roman name.

Since many a movie has been made about this hero, today we review the 2014 film Hercules!

Theatrical release poster of or Hercules (copyright Paramount Pictures).

Based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, Hercules is an action/fantasy/adventure film directed by Brett Ratner and written by Ryan J. Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Starring Dwayne Johnson (Hercules), Ian McShane (Amphiaraus the Seer), Rufus Sewell (Autolycus the Rogue), and John Hurt (Cotys, King of Thrace), the film was distributed jointly by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

As 1 of 2 Hollywood-studio Hercules films released in 2014 (the other one being Lionsgate‘s The Legend of Hercules), this version earned $244 million on a $100 million budget and received mixed reviews from critics, who, however, praised the action sequences and Johnson’s acting.

Full cast of the film

Also in the film are Aksel Hennie (Tydeus the Wild Child/Barbarian), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Atalanta the Archer), Reece Ritchie (Iolaus the Storyteller), Joseph Fiennes (King Eurystheus), Tobias Santelmann (Rhesus), Peter Mullan (Sitacles), Rebecca Ferguson (Ergenia), Isaac Andrews (Arius), Joe Anderson (Phineas), Steve Peacocke (Stephanos), Irina Shayk (Megara), and Barbara Palvin (Antimache).

To prepare for the role of Hercules, Johnson took on a grueling training routine, stating:

I trained and worked harder than ever for 8 months for this role. Lived alone and locked myself away (like a moody 260-lb. monk) in Budapest for 6 months while filming. Goal was to completely transform into this character. Disappear in the role. Press journalist asked me today, with the mental and physical toll the role had on me, would I do it again? Not only would I do it again…I’d do it twice.

In North America, Hercules was released on 25 July 2014 at 3,595 theaters, and grossed $11 million its opening day and $29 million its opening weekend. Hercules, described as “pumping some much-needed life into a lackluster summer at U.S. and Canadian theaters,” did financially better than expected, as it “topped the expectations of analysts by roughly $4 million”.

Dwayne Johnson truly could be the modern Hercules.

Outside North America, the film was released in 26 foreign markets in 3,364 locations and earned $28.7M. Hercules dominated the Russian box office with a strong debut ($12M from 930), along with Australia ($3.5M from 222), Malaysia ($1.6M from 110), Philippines ($1.2M from 134), Taiwan ($1.2M) and Singapore ($1.1M from 27).

Hercules received mixed reviews from critics with the general sentiment being, however, that the film was a pleasant surprise. Ridiculously critical review site Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 60%, based on reviews from 104 critics, with an average rating of 5.4/10.

Actor Dwayne Johnson and director by Brett Ratner seen on set of the movie Hercules.

Scott Foundas, chief film critic for Variety, wrote a positive review stating that the film was grandly staged, solidly entertaining, and cuts the mythical son of Zeus down to human size (or as human as you can get while still being played by Dwayne Johnson). Elizabeth Weitzman of New York Daily News stated Hercules was fun and packed with eye-popping action and impressive effects, but star Dwayne Johnson’s massive powerful physique perfectly suited the title role of the large-scale movie.

The film is about the hero Hercules, leader of a band of mercenaries composed of the these not so merry men: a spear-wielding prophet, a knife-throwing thief, a feral warrior, an Amazon archer, and Hercules own nephew storyteller. Hercules is said to be the demigod son of Zeus, who completed the legendary Twelve Labors, only to be betrayed by Hera who drove him insane and caused him to murder his wife Megara and their children during a visit to King Eurystheus.

Hercules fighting the Nemean lion as on of his Twelve Labors.

Throughout the film, it is not clearly established that Hercules is truly the son of Zeus, and many are skeptical of the claim as well as of the stories of Hercules’ famous Twelve Labors. Despite this, Hercules displays unusual strength and unmatched skill in combat.

After finishing a recent mission and saving his nephew on the Macedonian Coast in Northern Greece in 358 BC, Hercules and his team are celebrating and drinking at a tavern. During the celebration they are approached by Ergenia on behalf of her father Lord Cotys who wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend the kingdom from bloodthirsty warlord Rhesus.

Hercules accepts after he and his men are offered his own weight in gold, and the band is welcomed to Thrace by King Cotys and General Sitacles, leader of the Thracian army. However, Rhesus has reached the Bessi tribe in Central Thrace and Cotys insists that Hercules lead the army into battle to defend the Bessi, despite their lack of training.

Atalanta and Hercules lead the Thracians.

After the Bessi are defeated, Hercules properly trains the army, then Hercules and Sitacles confront Rhesus and his soldiers on the battlefield before Mount Asticus. The Thracians force Rhesus’ army to retreat, but Rhesus himself rides out to confront Hercules and is defeated by him.

Rhesus is taken back to Thrace as a prisoner, where he is tortured and humiliated. Hercules mentions Rhesus’ actions of burning down villages, but Rhesus tells him it was not him or his army and that Hercules has been fighting on the wrong side.

Ergenia confronts Hercules

Later in the palace hall, Rhesus has been chained up and left on display. Noticing that Ergenia has taken pity to him, Hercules confronts her and finds out Rhesus was telling the truth in that he was merely retaliating against Lord Cotys’s aggressive attempts to expand his kingdom.

After receiving their reward, the mercenaries are ready to leave. Hercules, though, decides to stay behind to stop Cotys, and all but Autolycus choose to follow him.

Coming to collect their gold.

However, they are overpowered and captured by Sitacles and his men. While chained, Hercules is confronted by King Eurystheus, who is in league with Lord Cotys.

Eurystheus reveals that he drugged Hercules the night his family died, viewing him as a threat to his power. Hercules’s family was in fact killed by 3 vicious wolves sent by Eurystheus, resulting in Hercules’s constant hallucinations of Cerberus.

I am Hercules!

When Lord Cotys orders Ergenia to be executed for her betrayal, Hercules is encouraged by Amphiaraus to believe in himself just as everyone believes in him. In a show of superhuman strength, Hercules breaks free of his chains, saving Ergenia and slaying the wolves with his bare hands.

Hercules releases the prisoners, including Rhesus, and then confronts King Eurystheus, impaling him with his own dagger. He is attacked by Sitacles, who is then stabbed by Iolaus.

Outside, Hercules and his forces battle Lord Cotys and his army. Arius is taken hostage, but then rescued by Autolycus, who has decided to return to help his friends.

Hercules tumbles the Thracian statue of Hera.

In the final battle, Tydeus is mortally wounded while protecting Arius, but fights on slaughtering numerous Thracian soldiers. Hercules again uses inhuman strength and pushes a massive statue of Hera from its foundations and uses it to crush Lord Cotys and many of his soldiers.

The remaining soldiers see Hercules as lightning flashes in the background. The surviving soldiers bow to Hercules, and Arius takes the throne, with Ergenia at his side, while Hercules and his men depart in search of other adventures.

As the credits roll, an animated retelling of the Twelve Labors shows how Hercules accomplished these feats with the help of his companions.

He is Hercules

As the professionals had previously stated, Hercules is, indeed, a role perfectly suited for Dwayne Johnson. The new take on a familiar character, along with the action and special effects, make for quite the entertaining film.

You don’t have to write articles for a living to recognize a fun, adventurous film when you see it. If you are looking for some fast-paced adventure, with a little history mixed in, then look no farther than Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson.

We hope you enjoyed today’s look into a worthwhile film. Maybe you’ve seen it already and care to reply, or maybe you’ll now want to watch it.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Berardinelli, James. “Hercules”ReelViews, 25 July 2014.

Busch, Anita. “Box Office: ‘Lucy’ To Overpower ‘Hercules’ And ‘Apes’ This Weekend”. Deadline.com, 21 July 2014.

DeFore, John. “Brett Ratner’s ‘Hercules’ is actually entertaining in places”The Washington Post, 25 July 2014.

Kay, Jeremy. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes surges to $54.8m international box office”. screendaily.com, 27 July 2014.

Kit, Borys. “Ian McShane Joins Dwayne Johnson in ‘Hercules’ for MGM and Paramount (Exclusive)”The Hollywood Reporter. 21 March 2013.

Kroll, Justin. “Ingrid Bolsø Set to Battle with Dwayne Johnson in ‘Hercules’ (Exclusive)”Variety, 2 May 2013.

McClintock, Pamela. “Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules to Hit Theaters in August 2014”The Hollywood Reporter, 15 January 2013.

Weitzman, Elizabeth. “Hercules: movie review”New York Daily News, 25 July 2014.

Zuckerman, Esther. “The Most Unexpected Quotes from ‘Hercules’ Reviews”The Wire, 24 July 2014.

“Hercules 3D Blu-ray”Blu-ray.com.

“Hercules (2014)”. Box Office Mojo. 25 July 2014.

“The Rock Opens Up About ‘Hercules’ Preparation”. Muscleandfitness.com.

“Hercules”. Rotten Tomatoes. 1970-01-01.

“Hercules Reviews”. Metacritic.