Pax and the Politics of Peace: Republic to Principate (Oxford Classical Monographs)

June 13, 2021
Pax and the Politics of Peace: Republic to Principate (Oxford Classical Monographs)

Perhaps in defiance of expectations, Roman peace (pax) was adifficult concept that resisted any straightforward definition: notmerely denoting the absence or aftermath of war, it consisted ofmany layers and associations and formed part of a much greaterdiscourse on the nature of power and how Rome saw her place in theworld. During the period from 50 BC to AD 75 - covering thecollapse of the Republic, the subsequent civil wars, and the dawnof thePrincipate-the traditional meaning and language of peace came underextreme pressure as pax was co-opted to serve different strands ofpolitical discourse. This volume argues for its fundamentalcentrality in understanding the changing dynamics of the state andthe creation of a new political system in the RomanEmpire, moving from the debates over the content of the concept inthe dying Republic to discussion of its deployment in thelegitimization of the Augustan regime, first through the creationof an authorized version controlled by the princeps and then theultimate crystallization of the pax augusta as the first whollyimperial concept of peace. Examining the nuances in the variousmeanings, applications, and contexts of Roman discourse on peaceallows us valuable insight intothe ways in which the dynamics of power were understood and howthese were contingent on the political structures of the day.However it also demonstrates that although the idea of peace cameto dominate imperial Rome's self-representation, such discourse wasnevertheless only part of a wider discussion on the way inwhich the Empire conceptualized itself.