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HOLLAND, Tom



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It was an article of faith to the Romans that they were the most morally upright people in the world. How else was the size of their empire to be explained? Yet they also knew that the Republic's greatness carried its own risks. To abuse it would be to court divine anger. Hence the Roman's concern to refute all charges of bullying, and to insist they had won their empire purely in self-defense.

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Honour, in the Republic, had never been a goal in itself, only a means to an infinite end. And what was true of her citizens, naturally, was also true of Rome herself. For the generation that had lived through the civil wars, this was the consolation history gave them. Out of calamity could come greatness. Out of dispossession could come the renewal of a civilised order.

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