Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Integration of Italians in the Late Republic and Julio-Claudian Principate

  • Author(s): Conrad, Delbert James
  • Advisor(s): Digeser, Elizabeth
  • et al.

The Social War (90-88 BCE) was perhaps the most destructive conflict to occur in Italy besides Hannibal’s invasion one hundred years earlier. H. Mouritsen has criticized scholarship about the Social War for reproducing an understanding of the reasons and results of that war constructed from a nineteenth-century nationalist perspective, and for accepting uncritically the narrative of the first-century CE historian Appian, the only intact narrative of the war to survive from antiquity. I attempt to address these critiques by employing twenty-first-century models of nations and nation-state formation as comparative material for the political and social changes that occurred in Italy during and after the Social War, and make an argument that the foundation narratives of the second half of the first century BCE can provide evidence for contemporary ideas about Rome’s Italian allies and their place in Rome’s government and empire.

This dissertation is divided into two parts of two chapters each. The first part discusses the idea of “Italy” and its development over time, both geographically and politically, and introduces Kymlicka’s model of the nation-building state as a comparative model to judge Roman Italy against. I support this comparative model with Smith’s criticisms of “modernist” nationalist thought, i.e. the position that the nation is inherently modern. The second part consists of a reading of three foundation narratives, those of Cicero, Livy, and Ovid. I read these foundation narratives as justifications of their contemporary political circumstances. I also examine the poetry of Propertius, and argue that Propertius does not portray a regional, Umbrian identity as an alternative to a Roman or Italian identity. I conclude that the nation-building institutions of Roman Italy reached their developed forms during the rule of Augustus, that Italian identity formed in this same period, and that the three foundation narratives are evidence for that Italian identity in a developmental phase.

Main Content
Current View