Galasso, Vittorio Nicholas. (2011) Honor and The Performance of Roman State Identity. Foreign Policy Analysis, doi: 10.1111/j.1743-8594.2011.00144.x

Are the personal identities of elite decision makers a domestic source of state identity? This article explores this question and reveals how state identity was produced in the Roman world system during the early Principate.1 The argument advanced proposes the Roman world was ensconced by a metavalue of honor that significantly shaped the personal identities of Rome’s aristocratic decision-making classes. Competition for honor subsumed aristocratic life and shaped not only the personal identities of the elite, but also the persona of the Roman state. The Romans extrapolated their psychological framework, in which the stratification of domestic society rested on personal identities of honor, to their outlook on foreign policy. Akin to their domestic lives, those executing foreign policy conceptualized Rome as engaged in a status competition for honor with the polities existing its world system. Preserving and enhancing one’s honor relative to others was fundamental in domestic life, and this was also the state’s primary objective in relation to all others. The identity of the Roman state, therefore, was an aggressive status seeker.