Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (22 January 2018, 6 Shevet, 5778)
Ancient Sparta and Rome each were excellent military powers. But why did Rome build a great empire, while Sparta did not?
Rape of the Sabine Women by Pietro da Cortona, 1627-29. The Sabines came from Sparta. One way and another most of the early Romans were of Sabine stock, therefore the Roman Empire was a legacy of Sparta.
The question was,Â
Â Ancient Sparta and Rome each were excellent military powers. But why did Rome build a great empire, while Sparta did not?
Â Perhaps Sparta did build an Empire. Maybe the Roman Empire was actually a Spartan one?
Â Greek city states established numerous colonies in Italy especially in the south and center but in the north as well. Traditionally it was accepted that Rome was founded in 753 BCE by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. They were descended from Aeneas, a Trojan prince. Romulus killed Remus and reigned himself. Males from different places congregated in the settlement but women did not. The men therefore seized women from the Sabines who adjoined them. War almost ensued but peace was made and (according to Livy) the two people united. The king of the Sabines ruled jointly with Romulus. The Sabine population had divided into two: Those near Rome moved into the city and became part of it. The others remained separate and even joined Italic tribes in a war against Rome which they lost. They too were then assimilated into the Roman Republic. It follows that from a demographic point of view most of the early Romans may well have been of Sabine origin. Dionysius traced the Sabians to a group who had fled from Sparta (Lacedaemonia). The Sabines were noted for their belligerence and frugality which traits the Romans supposed they derived from their Spartan ancestors. Plutarch (in the Life of Numa Pompilius) remarks, "Sabines, who declare themselves to be a colony of the Lacedaemonians..."
Â LA TOUR D'AUVERGNE ("Originnes Gauloises", Hamburg, 1801), states that the Romans owe their origin to the Albanes of Latinium in Peloponesus (southern Greece), and were descendants of the Laconian-Spartans and Ausones. These had migrated to Italy where they intermixed with the Sabines and Ombrians. If correct, the Romans would therefore have been linked to ancient Sparta not only through the Sabines but also via the Albanes (who were also Spartan in part) who intermixed with them.
And were did the men of Sparta come from?
Â Both Romans and Spartans were descended to some degree from Esau. This applies especially to the ruling elite element.
An early Medieval collection of Jewish legends known as "Sefer Ha-Yashar attribute the founding of Rome to Zepho, son of Eliphaz, son of Esau (Genesis 36:11). Esau (otherwise known as Edom) was the brother of Jacob otherwise known as Israel. Porcius Cato said the Sabines were named after Sabus, the son of Sancus.
Â The city of Sparta later in ca. 145 BCE claimed kinship with the people of Judah under the rule of the Hasmonean Maccabees (1-Macabees 12:5-29, cf. Josephus, Antiquites 13;5;8).
Â 1-Macabees 12:
Â 19 This is a copy of the letter that they sent to Onias: 20 Arius, king of the Spartans, sends greetings to Onias the high priest.21 A document has been found stating that the Spartans and the Jews are brothers and that they are of the family of Abraham.
About the same time as the letter from Sparta was received there came also a message of friendship and alliance from the Roman Republic (1-Maccabees 8:22-32, 12:1).
Â Other sources show that Edomites had moved into Greece and Thrace and from there to Italy, Germany, and elsewhere.