The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

Vergil and the Politics of War*

R. O. A. M. Lynea1

a1 Balliol College, Oxford

The Romans had various ways of justifying their imperial aims and methods, some high-minded, some less so. We find in particular that they could give honourable and satisfying explanations of their aims and methods in war. Here for example is Cicero:

quare suscipienda quidem bella sunt ob earn causam, ut sine iniuria in pace uiuatur; parta autem uictoria conseruandi ii, qui non crudeles in bello, non immanes fuerunt, ut maiores nostri Tusculanos, Aequos…in ciuitatem etiam acceperunt, at Carthaginem…funditus sustulerunt…mea quidem sententia paci, quae nihil habitura sit insidiarum, semper est consulendum. et cum iis, quos ui deuiceris, consulendum est, tum ii qui armis positis and imperatorum fidem confugient, quamuis murum aries percusserit, recipiendi (Off. 1. 35).


* Much has of course been written on most of the topics dealt with in this paper, and many articles and books are referred to in the notes. A high proportion of the articles are disappointing; one that is not and which I would single out for special mention is R. D. Williams, ‘The purpose of the Aeneia’, Antichthon 1 (1967), 29–41. Messrs P. G. McC. Brown and D. P. Fowler have read and criticized the present paper. My thanks to them. It is not to be assumed they agree with it all.