My research investigates mass violence in ancient warfare, a phenomenon that has received little scholarly attention despite its frequent occurrence in Greek and Roman texts. My current book project (part of the Rowman & Littlefield Total War series) examines the Romans’ use of massacres, urban destruction, and mass enslavement during the third and second centuries BCE. Here I adopt a theoretical framework from political science to examine Roman violence. While there is some disagreement among political scientists, many regard mass violence as a deliberate strategy undertaken by military and political leaders (e.g. Valentino 2004; Downes 2006; Kalyvas & Kocher 2009; Sullivan 2012; Mitchell 2015); in short, violence is a strategic response to specific historical circumstances, and is designed to achieve specific goals. Employing this “strategic perspective,” the book argues that Roman commanders employed mass violence instrumentally, to achieve military objectives and to resolve problems encountered on campaign. Political and economic aims could also motivate Roman leaders to destroy cities, prisoners, and population groups in war.
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