November 26, 2018  (Web Review)

The Rise of Great Powers: Roman Citizenship

(2017) 50 min. DVD: $195. DRA. Film Ideas ( PPR. Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

The Second Punic War, in which the Roman Republic sustained several terrible defeats at the hands of Hannibal but eventually emerged victorious, is the springboard for this initial entry in a series titled The Rise of Great Powers: What Makes the Difference? Roman Citizenship combines graphics, dramatic re-creations, and commentary—by historians of ancient Rome such as Karl Galinsky and David Potter, academic thinkers Paul Kennedy and Joseph Nye, and more popular authors like Adrian Goldsworthy—to investigate how and why Rome not only survived the defeats inflicted by Hannibal but also successfully continued her conquest of the Mediterranean world. The experts suggest that the answer lies in Rome’s policy of assimilation (practiced from her earliest years), offering conquered peoples a path to citizenship, which created a sense of community (and frustrated Hannibal’s attempt to peel off Rome’s allies from her confederation). Whether one finds this conclusion persuasive or overly reductionist, Roman Citizenship will certainly spur lively debate about whether assimilation is key to the achievement and maintenance of “great power” status—an issue that is at the center of much current political debate about immigration. Other titles in the series include Sunrise of the British Empire, Empire of the Mongols, and Tiny Holland, Great Empire. Recommended. Aud: H, C, P. (F. Swietek)