Luciano Canfora’s new book shows how war was used by ancient societies to secure resources.
One in three people in the Roman Republic were slaves. Denied freedom and rights, subject to mistreatment and abuse, they were suppressed by fear and force. But when united, armed, and inspired by a courageous leader, they proved as deadly a threat to Rome as any foreign foe.
In 378 Goth cavalry stormed a Roman force at Adrianople (present-day Edirne, Turkey). According to 4th century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, the Goths inflicted “enormous losses” on the legionaries, moving St. Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, to bemoan “the end of all humanity.”