Every time I read about Rome conquering some other land or nation, it always says that they were the ones attacked and then won that fight. And I find it a bit too convenient and Rome's greatest extent too large to be believable, it sounds like some really good instance of "history is written by the victors". Why do we believe it then? Knowing the propaganda they spread against Carthage for example, and the political games they played in their internal power struggles and civil wars, it seems so strange that they always were given some real reason to conquer some place instead of just being like "We hear there's gold in this place, so we will invade it".
- Gaul sacking Rome first, that's a good reason for retaliation and justifying conquest of all of Gaul.
- Macedon tries to annex part of Epirus from the Romans, so they initiated hostilities, giving Rome a good reason to conquer Macedon.
- Capua calling the Romans in to protect them against Samnites, so the Romans end up being the good guys again in defeating the Samnites.
- The punic wars essentially being started by Syracuse and the Mamertines calling for protection from the two superpowers Rome and Carthage. Again it's "for a good cause".
- Illyrian pirates raid merchant ships regularly in the Adriatic, and the Illyrians try to expand into Italy, giving Rome a reason to invade Illyria.
In those stories alone there is enough reason to conquer large swaths of land in Gaul, the Balkans, Northern Africa, Iberia. It just seems like Rome never did what empires usually do, which is to just want a piece of land and conquer it for the sake of expansion, but that they were always somehow attacked. What I imagine would be normal "imperial" behaviour is like what Hungary tried to do many a time against Bosnia; nag the pope that they're heretics and then try to conquer the land because you want to have it. There was no interference from Bosnia calling in the Ottomans or abducting Hungarians, raiding Hungarian lands or any act of war to justify the Hungarian invasions like that.
So my question is:
Is there proof that all of these explanations, backgrounds or chronologies we have are at very least very likely to be spun in the favor of Rome, or have we found out enough to be able to say/conclude that we've uncovered/uprooted all of those intentional "we were the victims in this"-stories? In which case it seems like the far-fetched, hyperbolic hypothetical situations we bring up sometimes when we speculate("Let's say for instance you get stopped by the police 20 times in one day..", those kinds of things when we try to make a point), happened in the shape of Rome.