chapter  2
16 Pages

Mastering space: road building 312—44 BC

I will argue in this chapter that the building of the major roads of Italy in the fourth, third and second centuries BC was crucial to Roman hegemony and in the creation of what we think of as the Roman empire. In my discussion of this subject, I wish to avoid a narrative that sees the establish­ ment of Roman imperialism as an inevitable consequence, and instead put forward an account of the extension of Roman power across space in line with recent work in historical geography (Meinig 1982: 71). The problem for both author and reader is that we know that Rome later became a powerful empire, but we should not view the actions of participants in say the fourth century BC with this privilege of hindsight (see Carter 1987: xxii; Bernstein 1994: 16; for a narrative of events see Cornell 1995a).