IR Folks from Times Past

IR Folks from Times Past

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Expansion of Rome

This sequence of maps from William Shepherd's Historical Atlas of 1923 will help the student grasp the expansion of Rome. In the first snapshot, we look at an enlarged color key for Roman expansion in Italy, distinguishing Roman territory and Roman colonies, in blue, Latin colonies, in red, and Roman allies, in pink. The box is in the upper right hand corner of the map itself, which follows. If you right click on the map and open in new window, a much larger version will (or should) appear. The first ten books of Titus Livy, which Machiavelli took as the text of his Discourses, recount the very beginnings of Roman expansion in Italy (Livy wrote 195 books in all, of which only a portion survive).

Next follows a map of Rome and Carthage at the beginning of the Second Punic War, 218 B.C.E.

In the next two snapshots, we look first at an enlarged color key showing the utmost limits of Roman expansion achieved under the Republic (until the death of Caesar in 44 B.C.E.) and Empire. It is from the lower right hand corner of the map itself, which follows. Again, right click and open in a new window for a larger image. The Roman Empire of which Gibbon and Robertson wrote was of this much larger apparatus of power, the model and definition of "universal empire." Wrote Gibbon of the expansion of the Roman Republic: "The arms of the republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war, advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and the Ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome."

These maps are from the Historical Atlas by William R. Shepard, published in 1923 and 1926 and made available at the Perry Castaneda Library maintained by the University of Texas at Austin. That is a most valuable site for historical maps.

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Update: There is an excellent resource available at that entirely supersedes the above maps, rendering them even further obsolescent. See Timothy B. Lee, "40 maps that explain the Roman Empire,", August 19, 2014

August 21, 2014