The Roman Empire’s unprecedented historical expansion meant that the Romans came in contact with non-Roman peoples in order to secure their acquisition of land. On the one hand, therefore, non-Roman peoples were peoples to be conquered, in so far as expansion by definition meant the taking by force of land. However, on the other hand, the strength of the Roman Empire can be said to be based upon a view of non-Roman peoples, whereby they attempted to assimilate these peoples into Roman society. This essentially indicated a political strategy to make the Roman Empire as homogeneous as possible, thus averting conflicts internal to the Empire’s frontiers.
At the same time, this process of assimilation meant that the peoples placed under Roman rule underwent a radical change in their existence. Hence, “the era of the Roman Peace was also one of massive social and cultural change.” (116) In other words, the very process of assimilation meant that some peoples would be forced to change, as demonstrated in the primary source from Agricola entitled “Turning Conquered Peoples into Romans.” This included giving prominent members of the conquered nobility, such as in Briton, “a liberal education.” (120) Of course, such a “process of Romanization” (120) was not altruistic, as Agricola’s source suggests that “the simple natives gave the name of “culture” to this factor of their slavery.” (120) In other words, non-Romans were viewed as material to be assimilated, but this assimilation was part of maintaining the strength of the Roman Empire itself.
Accordingly, it can be said that the Romans viewed as their relations to non-Romans as a necessary evil of empire-building. At the same time, the Romans, such as Agricola, took a more “liberal” approach to dominance, thus mitigating hostility from the conquered peoples. For the Romans, the assimilation of non-Romans was viewed as a process by which to make the Empire even stronger.