In college, a history professor said they did not -- maybe (not sure if I recall correctly) that ideas like that are modern and Rome wanted the slaves and treasure and so they just went ahead.

EDIT: Seems clear enough but what I meant was, Did Rome suggest that they were doing it for national security or to spread civilization or to prevent the domino-like expansion of the Gauls or whatever?

  • I don't understand your question. Can you elaborate on what to "justify its conquests" means and how it is justified with examples and references?
    – Rathony
    Nov 13, 2016 at 11:35
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    Why would Rome justify activity that every state viewed as the normal, natural behavior of a state?
    – MCW
    Nov 13, 2016 at 12:13
  • Some conservative senators wanted to charge Julius Caesar for waging an "illegal war" against the Gauls (or the Germanic tribes, can't remember well).
    – Brasidas
    Nov 13, 2016 at 14:28
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    On my opinion, the question makes sense, as stated. I answered and nominated to reopen.
    – Alex
    Nov 13, 2016 at 15:02
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    @Mark C. Wallace -- The old "asking a dog to justify breathing" cliche? Seriously, Rome was a nation made up of people and some of them, if they were anything like modern people, which they well may have not been in this respect, might have said, Why is this being done? Why are we bothering these other nations? But according to one history prof, they did not.
    – Jeff
    Nov 13, 2016 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, they did. They argued that their conquests bring benefits of peace, civilization and prosperity to the conquered lands. This point of view was expressed not only by native Roman writers (like Cicero) but also by some writers from the conquered nations (Polybius, for example).

In the case of Greece, they certainly did not bring civilization to Greece, just the opposite happened. But they brought peace. The whole history of ancient Greece is the history of continuous cruel warfare between the city-states. And all attempts to stop it and unite the Greek states before the Roman conquest failed. Writers of that time perfectly understood that "Greek freedom is essentially the freedom to make war on each other", I don't remember which (Greek) writer said that.

The same argument was used by some British empire builders (The "burden of white man" as Kipling called it). Some modern scientists agree with this argument, for example:

Ian Morris, War! What is it good for?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots, 2014.

EDIT. I do not say anything about the plausibility of this argument, but this was not asked. In some cases indeed it looks like Roman conquest brought peace (Greece). In other cases it led to complete destruction of the conquered society (Carthage).

  • Good answer too. Interesting the impact Christianity had on Rome though. And vice versa actually. Certainly one we live with today. Nov 13, 2016 at 18:22
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    @user14394: What does this have to do with either the question or the answer? By the time Christianity became an issue, Rome was already at / beyond maximum expansion.
    – DevSolar
    Nov 14, 2016 at 11:51
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    @user14394: Christianity became the state religion only in 4th century, when conquests were already far in the past.
    – Alex
    Nov 14, 2016 at 13:53

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