Rhegium, Rome and the legio Campana: From Historical Reality to Political Propaganda
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This paper examines the famous episode of the so-called legio Campana, the Roman garrison of Campanian troops, which, at the time of the Tarentine/Pyrrhic War, killed or exiled a major part of the male population of Rhegium and arbitrarily seized the power over the city. My aim is not to provide a new reconstruction of each step of the affair. Rather, I will focus on some secure (or at least plausible) historical elements so as to establish how the embarrassing conduct of the Campanian garrison may have impacted the ideological debate in the period following the Tarentine/Pyrrhic War and coinciding with the Punic Wars. A detailed analysis of the ancient sources will show that the Greeks exploited the Rhegium affair for purposes of kinship diplomacy/propaganda. They did so in order to demonstrate that the Romans were barbaroi, namely that they had nothing to do with Greekness and/or civilization. Interestingly enough, the Romans accepted the tenets on which that propaganda was based and tried to turn it into their favor.
keywordsRhegium; legio Campana; Pyrrhic War; kinship diplomacy; barbaroi.
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