The Roman Way, Part Two
Part 2 of 2 (Part One here)
Many factors contributed to the rise of Rome, but above the rest stood Rome’s indefatigability. Internal turmoil seemed just as prevalent as external strife. Rome overcame both because the Romans persevered. Following the Sack of Rome, Rome’s ascendancy would be marked by defeats that would send Rome to the brink, all the while forging the world’s greatest empire.
Not until the arrival of Hannibal did the Romans experience such an embarrassing defeat as that which befell them at the Caudine Forks. At the start of the Second Samnite War, Samnite soldiers entered the Roman camp disguised as shepherds and spread disinformation that the Samnite army was besieging a Roman town. Incensed, the Roman consuls hastily marched their legions out to rescue the town only to walk directly into a trap. Unlike the First Samnite War, where Decius Mus saved the Romans from disaster, no such heroism would be possible this time. As the Roman army impetuously charged through the narrow pass of the Caudine Forks, they found the sole outlet from the valley completely barricaded, and after they entered the Forks, their way in was subsequently blocked as well. With no way out, and having no source of water or food, the Roman army was defeated without a single sword-thrust. They had no choice but to surrender.
Yet, victory over the Romans was just a troubling prospect as defeat. Fears of Roman reprisal wracked the Samnite general faced with the distressing decision of what to do with the Roman army. In the account given by Livy, the Samnite chieftain consulted his father, who advised him to either spare the Roman army in an act of mercy, thus earning their graces, or kill every last solider, forestalling reprisal for at least another generation. Instead, the Samnite commander chose a third way, a peace treaty forcing Rome to cede territory to the Samnites, and worst of all, requiring the legions to pass under the yoke, a shameful act of humiliation symbolizing the subjugation of cattle bowing under the oxen yoke. This was a fate worse than death for a Roman soldier.
As foretold by his father, this third way proved disastrous for the Samnites. The returning Romans were enraged by this disgrace and used the first pretext to annul the peace treaty and return to the battlefield. However, instead of the glorious revenge they envisioned, the Romans lost again at the Battle of Lautulae in their first foray since the humiliation of the Caudine Forks. The hilly terrain of the Samnites made the Roman phalanx unsuitable for the fight, because the Samnites could easily outflank the Roman lines. After two defeats in a row, still the Romans did not despair, but were even more devoted to achieving victory. They responded by changing tactics and developing the maniple fighting formation, which would prove decisive in fending off the Samnite flanking maneuvers. Gradually, the Romans gained the upper hand, who eventually conceded defeat after a brutal decades-long war that saw most of their territory annexed to Rome.
Only by adapting did the Romans will themselves to victory over the Samnites – not through initial superiority, but by the process of overcoming.
An unconquerable spirit is defined by its willingness to learn from mistakes, not by stubborn adherence to methods that are no longer working. Montesquieu remarked that “the main reason for the Romans becoming masters of the world was that, having fought successively against all peoples, they always gave up their own practices as soon as they found better ones.”
Unlike cuckservatives, who pride themselves on their losses by holding on to outdated “principles,” the Alt Right has adapted many of the tactics of the Left to great success, such as Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Conservatives, and even the Alt Lite, decry identity politics, whereas we embrace identity, the most powerful weapon our enemy has used against us since the Civil Rights movement. Conservative intransigence (or cowardice) conserved nothing because it refused to adapt to its enemy. When the battlefield shifted from the flatlands to the hills, Rome recalibrated their techniques for the new terrain. When the Left shifted the battlefield from class to race, conservatives were unwilling to make the necessary changes to mount a fight.
Pyrrhus and the Greeks
Upon subduing a final rebellion of the Samnites in the Third Samnite War, the Romans controlled all of central Italy and began pushing south towards its boot, where Greek settlers had established the colonies of Magna Graecia. In response to the Roman incursions, the colonies called for aid from Pyrrhus, King of Epirus in Greece, the westernmost kingdom of Alexander the Great’s posthumously divided empire. The Greeks were the sole military power of the known world, and King Pyrrhus sought to expand his empire westward. Roman belligerence in Magna Graecia provided Pyrrhus with the justification needed to launch his conquest of Italy. Pyrrhus considered the upstart Romans an easy engagement for the superior Greek phalanx, an unstoppable battle formation that no power had been able to surmount. Rome would not be the first.
Pyrrhus would lead his Greek army to three consecutive victories over the Romans. The campaign, however, was anything but easy.
Initially, Pyrrhus attempted to bribe the Romans to no avail. Then, as depicted in Ferdinand Bol’s Fabritius and Pyrrhus, Pyrrhus attempted to intimidate the Roman consuls by unveiling his war elephants, which they had never faced in battle. Rome still would not be swayed.
In their first confrontation at the Battle of Asculum, the Greek King would lose his senior commanders along with his best fighters. At their second battle, the victory would prove no less costly: thousands more of his veteran soldiers were slain, along with countless more of his cavalry. The victories were so devastating that the Greek King famously exclaimed, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”
Though the Romans experienced greater losses, they could replenish their army from a vast pool of soldiers cultivated by Rome’s total devotion to military victory. These were no backward barbarians. Pyrrhus’ words proved prophetic. In the third and final battle, the Greeks would win again, only to abandon the unsustainable campaign. Rome had achieved victory, not in superiority on the battlefield, but in superiority of the heart, giving rise to the term Pyrrhic victory, which could just as well be called a Roman victory.
Roman military might was predicated on outlasting their opponents. The maniple system and its later iterations stratified the Roman legions into three lines. When the front line fatigued or faltered, the second echelon could relieve the first, which then slipped through the gaps to the rear. Rotating lines ensured that the contest became one of endurance. Like lines in hockey, such interval fighting enabled fresh units to be deployed to the front, allowing constant pressure to be applied. Even the most fearsome barbarian armies broke under the ruthless persistence of the Roman advance. Although outnumbered in nearly every engagement following the Punic Wars, the smaller Roman army wore down their enemy to the point of exhaustion. Roman tenacity never waned.
This Roman mentality is vividly illustrated in the different ways the two armies approached battle. While their enemies let loose terrifying battle cries, whipping themselves into a frenzied rage, the Romans stayed dead silent while readying for an attack. Their wars did not end in a furious charge, but rather in a long, disciplined campaign requiring total devotion to victory.
The First Punic War
With Pyrrhus gone, Rome swept through southern Italy and established their hegemony throughout the peninsula. The inevitable conflict with the Carthaginians for control of the western Mediterranean now stood firmly at hand. The fertile ground of Sicily, with its abundant harvests, would draw both powers into war. The Carthaginians were descendants of the Phoenicians, a Semitic people who were, befitting their nature, merchants residing over an empire based on trade. They relied on mercenary armies to do their fighting, in contrast to the Roman army, which was comprised of Roman men drawn entirely from the elite and middle classes (property requirements excluded the poor).
While the Romans were the superior land power and routed the Carthaginian army in Sicily, the Carthaginians were the dominant sea power. The First Punic War reached a stalemate when the Carthaginian city-sates on the coast of Sicily could be resupplied by the Carthaginian navy, obviating Roman attempts to lay siege. To settle the impasse, the Romans did the next logical thing: they built their first navy and attacked the Carthaginians. Predictably, the Roman navy was no match for their experienced opponents and they were defeated in their first encounter, but the Romans were not satisfied ceding supremacy to their foe, and continued to train for naval warfare.
Following a few more skirmishes at sea, the Romans decided to forego naval blockades of the Sicilian cities and instead sailed straight for Carthage itself. In one of the largest naval battles in history, Rome shockingly defeated the Carthaginian navy through the ingenuity of their corvus device, which allowed their soldiers to board the enemy ships, turning the sea battle into man-to-man combat, at which the Romans excelled. Unfortunately for the Romans, their hopes of destroying Carthage would come to an end thanks to the hired Spartan general, Xanthippus. Under his command, the Carthaginian mercenary army crushed the Roman invasion force in North Africa using war elephants and his much larger and elite Numidian cavalry. This loss meant the end of the war. Rome’s quest for final victory would have to wait.
Hannibal and the Second Punic War
From the outset of the Second Punic War, Rome was preoccupied not with revenge, but survival. Vengeance belonged to Hannibal, the young Carthaginian commander sworn to avenging his father’s losses in Sicily at the hands of the Romans. After the end of the First Punic War, Carthage sent Hannibal’s father to conquer Hispania, which he partly succeeded in doing, and it is from this base that Hannibal launched his infamous invasion of Rome by sending his army, elephants in tow, over the Alps into Italy. Hannibal recognized that he could not best the Roman army head-to-head, and thus settled on a tactical strategy of ambushes or deceit in battle. The Romans were completely unprepared for such deceptive tactics and walked into ambush after ambush set by Hannibal’s army, wiping out their consular armies.
In light of these disasters, a dictator of Rome was named, a certain Quintus Fabius, who implemented the Fabian strategy, turning the military contest into a war of attrition to exploit Hannibal’s resource vulnerabilities. Although successful, the Roman populace hated the strategy for its perceived weakness. Their courageous spirit demanded a confrontation with the enemy. In turn, when Fabius’ dictatorship ended, the newly-elected consuls rode out to challenge Hannibal at the infamous Battle of Cannae, amassing all of their forces to put an end to the troublesome Hannibal once and for all.
To counteract Roman superiority, the Carthaginian commander orchestrated a feigned retreat, a strategy that the Mongol hordes would later perfect to immense success. Once again, the Roman army fell for the ruse and rushed forward into the Carthaginian center, which then began retreating. In a desire to destroy the apparently collapsing center, the Romans overextended their front line, opening themselves up to flanking by the Carthaginian cavalry, which in turn led to the massacre of the massive Roman army.
This catastrophic loss shook the Romans to their core, but they did not give up. After successive losses, with each more calamitous than the last, any other people would have sued for peace, but not the Romans. Nearly all of Italy was now in the possession of Hannibal’s forces, and as Livy remarked, any other nation would “have succumbed beneath such a weight of calamity.” Their despair was great, but the Roman’s resolve was even greater.
The property requirements which excluded the poor from military service were effectively eliminated to replenish their depleted army. Changes were again made to their military formation to shield against Hannibal’s cavalry. Finally, the Romans acquiesced to the Fabian strategy, choosing to focus their military efforts elsewhere while keeping Hannibal’s army struggling to maintain its supply lines and allies. Hannibal’s strategy rested on flipping the allegiances of the Roman provinces, such as Magna Graecia, which had repudiated Rome after the Battle of Cannae. Reasserting control over these turncoat cities while reinforcing the existing alliances became the approach, thereby undermining Hannibal’s years of effort to turn the Italian provinces against Rome.
Integral to the success of this strategy was the fact that Hannibal refused to engage in an even battle where the conditions were not in his favor, or where he had not already planned a trap. By now, the Romans had learned their lesson and refused to fight on Hannibal’s terms, taking the offensive to Hannibal’s Latin allies instead. This forced Hannibal to react, and because Hannibal was either too smart or too cowardly to engage in a battle that he had not already rigged, his decades-long campaign stalled.
Meanwhile, Rome regrouped under the legendary Scipio Africanus, an ambitious young general of patrician birth. The brilliance of Scipio manifested itself in Spain, where he presented the Roman army as liberators to the Spanish tribes, many of whom then declared allegiance to Rome, accomplishing in Hispania what Hannibal had failed to do in Italy. Scipio returned from his conquests in Spain and was promptly elected Consul to lead the legions back to North Africa and destroy Carthage.
After Scipio ravaged the Carthaginian countryside and flipped the allegiance of Carthage’s most important ally, the elite Numidian cavalry, the Carthaginians recalled Hannibal to Africa to defend the city. His life-long vendetta had come to a bathetic end. Now forced to fight on Rome’s terms, Hannibal was soundly defeated by Scipio’s army. The Carthaginians surrendered.
A few years later, Carthage would make the fatal mistake of attempting to cast off Roman rule. The Third Punic War was no war; it was rather a statement of fact: Delenda est Carthago (“Carthage must be destroyed”), which had become a popular motto in Rome. And thus Carthage was no more.
Victory Has Defeated You
Any normal city driven to the brink of defeat at the Battle of Cannae, and then coming out of a brutal, decades-long war would have taken a long-overdue respite. But that was not the Roman way. Immediately upon becoming the supreme power over the western Mediterranean, the Romans sought to extend their rule to the whole Mediterranean. They did not sit idle basking in the glory of their victory. They looked onward to the next challenge.
Rome looked east, towards the divided Greek kingdoms of Alexander’s empire. Over the ensuing decades, Rome’s military might proved to be unequalled. Years of constant struggle, defeat, reform, and ultimate triumph had produced an unstoppable juggernaut that swept through most of the known world.
It wasn’t defeat that doomed the Romans, but rather victory. Riches beyond compare flowed into the Republic, rendering the Roman farmer, who until then had been the bedrock of Rome, unnecessary. Fighting turned inwards rather than outwards. Greed overtook them. Personal ambition replaced public sacrifice. Rome lost its spirit, then its virtues, and finally its people. As Brooks Adams recounted in his essay, “The Romans,” by the final stages of the Imperium, the middle-class farmer/soldier/citizen epitomized by Cincinnatus had disappeared from Rome:
[T]he Empire was crumbling, not because it was corrupt or degenerate, but because the most martial and energetic race the world had ever seen had been so thoroughly exterminated by men of the economic type of mind.
Where once stood a race “[p]atient of suffering, enduring of fatigue, wise in council, fierce in war, [who] routed all who opposed him,” there were no longer any Romans at all. The Alt Right understands that demography is destiny, which is why our beliefs are centered on rebuilding white homelands for the security of the white race. Thus we will avoid the Romans’ fate. What we need is the Roman spirit of greatness to achieve it.
A New Rome
For centuries, a small town in the middle of Italy vigorously fought for victory over its rivals. They did not fight for abstract ideals like human rights. They fought for their people. SPQR (the Senate and People of Rome) adorned the banners of their legions. In generation after generation, Rome grew slowly and arduously upon the blood of men willing to sacrifice everything for their people and their descendants. I doubt any of these men could envision that their progeny would eventually rule over the greatest empire in the world, stretching from the Thames to the Nile. The process took centuries to unfold before rapidly accelerating all at once.
We need to keep this in mind as we carry on our fight for the White Republic. Few foresaw the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union. If we keep pushing forward, the dam we thought would take decades to erode will instead come crashing down in a sudden flood. Trump’s presidency is an example of this on a miniature scale. What many thought would take years to achieve – widespread public recognition of White Nationalism – occurred in a few months during the campaign as a result of the mainstreaming of the term Alt Right. All this was made possible through the tireless efforts of men and women, past and present, who continued to push for an ethnostate they would never see.
This chronicle of the early history of Rome is one of repeated defeats and setbacks. Rome only became defined by its victories because they came back from every loss. They did this not by giving in to blind rage, but rather through rigorous, exacting determination. The Romans found a way because they wanted it more than their enemy.
If the Alt Right is to succeed, we must become like the Romans: a people who cannot be crushed by defeat.
Our enemies have escalated their attacks on us. Full-scale deplatforming of Alt Right accounts is becoming official policy across the Internet. We’ve been censored and banned from Reddit and Twitter (the public squares of the twenty-first century). Individuals have had their personal lives dragged through the mud by coordinated attacks in the media. Malicious doxing is used against leaders to destroy their personal lives. They’ve even gone so far as to attack innocent family members of Alt Right figureheads. Not to mention that physical acts of violence against us are now openly called for and lauded by the Left. Their viciousness has increased tenfold, with nothing apparently off-limits anymore.
Let no one be fooled. These attacks will increase. The violence will increase. The censorship will increase. The doxing will increase. All of these things will increase until we overcome. The die is cast. Our march will not be easy, nor will it happen immediately. But we will achieve victory if our resolve is as great as that of the Romans. Monumental losses are bound to occur. There will be times when all hope has vanished and the movement seems destroyed, but this is true only if we let it become so.
The Age of Reason and Desire is passing. The Age of Spiritedness rises from the ruins. A new Rome declares itself again: no surrender. Not this day, not any day. The Roman way.
2. Ibid., 9.4-9.6.
5. Philip Rance, “War Cry,” in The Encyclopedia of the Roman Army, pp. 1070–1119.