First steps of the Roman diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean: development of the common political strategy

The article deals with the first diplomatic contacts of Rome in the Hellenistic world in 3rd century BC (before the beginning of the Second Macedonian War). The author attempts to discover if Roman Senate had common approach to its eastern policy in this period. In general the author agrees with those scholars who assert that Romans on their eastern diplomacy used the instrument (widespread in the interstate relations of the Hellenistic world) of “informal friendship” (amicitia – φιλία). However, tracing the development of the Roman relations with its “friends” in the Eastern Mediterranean, the author comes to the conclusion that from the beginning of the Illyrian Wars Roman attitude towards those states which established the amicable relations with Rome started to change. Romans more and more perceived these states as clients and expected from them services, which were usually provided by the Roman socii in Italy. The only exception from such a practice was the military alliance with Aetolia during the First Macedonian War which was determined by the extraordinary circumstances of this conflict.

Cicero on the gods and Roman religious practices

The article analyses Cicero’s attitude to gods, religion, divination, and superstition. Cicero follows tradition in acknowledging the existence of the gods, considering them immortal, blissful, animate, and anthropomorphic. He is ambivalent about the interaction between the gods and people. Cicero considers religion important for the Roman people because this was the popular belief — it was not his own viewpoint. Cicero thinks that people obtain divination from the gods. According to Cicero, there are two types of divination: artificial (auspices, haruspices, divination by lightning, stars, and other signs of nature) and natural (predictions in a dream, in a state of ecstasy, before death). In relation to divination, we see how multi-dimensional Cicero’s beliefs were: as a philosopher, he can accept or deny divination; as a Roman politician, he regards divination as an important instrument of the Roman religious rituals. Cicero opposes superstition to religion in his theological works, but in his secular works, he uses superstition and religion as synonyms.

The concept cum dignitate otium in Cicero’s writings

The paper investigates the social and political concept ‘cum dignitate otium’ in Cicero’s writings. The concept is commonly translated as “leisure with dignity”. The meaning is not so simple. The concept can be either a political or a social category. As a political category, ‘cum dignitate otium’ means “peace with dignity” that the best citizens, optimates, wealthy and powerful statesmen had in the Roman society of Cicero’s times. It was optimates’ activity contrasted to other people’s activities. Cicero also used the concept ‘cum dignitate otium’ in a social sense. It meant “peaceful leisure full of studies” or “peace in private affairs”.