Stasis and Bellum Civile: A Difference in Scale?

Carsten Hjort Lange

Abstract


David Armitage’s new monograph Civil Wars: A History in Ideas (2017) will undoubtedly long remain a standard reference work. It presents readers with a vision of civil war as part of the longue durée. The argument might be further strengthened, however, if a more inclusive Greco-Roman approach to ancient civil war is accepted. This essay focuses on stasis vs. bellum civile, the origins of the concept of civil war, the approach of later Roman writers (such as Appian and Cassius Dio) to the concepts of stasis and bellum civile, and, finally, the question of what makes a civil war a civil war. Whatever concepts were used, the Romans were not the first to experience internal war as a civil war—that is, a war between the citizens of a polity.


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