From the earliest days of the empire Rome relied on trade to move goods and slaves around the empire. Italy itself is
surrounded by sea and roughly splits the Mediterranean in two. This geographical location was a good base from which to develop a dominant navy, although perhaps surprisingly the majority of Roman conquests were achieved over land and it is only really the defeat of the Carthaginian empire that saw the Romans take control of the Mediterranean sea. Above all the Mediterranean was a transport hub for the Romans, with goods moved far quicker by sea than over land in the ancient world—and considerably cheaper too. After the defeat of Marc Anthony at Actium and the start of a long period of peace the main responsibility for the navy was to ensure the safe passage of goods and to stop them falling into the hands of pirates.

Once they had control of the Mediterranean sea the empire made trade around the Mediterranean free. This agreement was called the
res communes omnium, which translates as the class of goods of the common property of mankind. It was a basic principle of free trade that should be acknowledged over any waterway. The Senate would step in to ensure that trade roots were protected by the roman navy.

Roman ships travelled and traded over
enormous distances on a scale unsurpassed until the nineteenth century. Roman ships moved north into the Baltic sea and along the coast of Germania. Ships also visited the Orkney islands north of Scotland. To the south, Romans traded with the Canary Islands and on down the African east coast towards Zanzibar—there is even evidence for the circumnavigation of Africa. In the east Roman ships visited the Indian Ocean and Ceylon. Even navigating up the Ganges. There were many routes to India, which were categories by Pliny and have been shown through archaeological finds and shipwrecks.

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The steady supply of goods was a necessity for an empire constantly expanding and fighting. Many Roman ship-builders/owners made great profits by transporting goods around the empire. Key shipping routes spanned the Mediterranean and, after the conquest of Egypt on to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Alexandria became a key location from which goods would be transferred along the Nile to Coptos, before moving overland to the port of Myos Hormos. The roads that linked the sea and river routes were so crucial that they were guarded by the Roman army. Archeological manuscripts show that over a hundred ships would sail to India each year from Myos Hormos. Routes led to both India and also down the eastern coast of Africa as far as Zanzibar.

The famous harbor of
Ostia was the main arrival point for grain and goods destined for Rome, which was only fifteen miles away. Small ships could weave their way up the Tiber to Rome itself, but larger cargo would be unloaded in Ostia. The population of Rome was one million and without transporting cereal crops by sea they would starve. A key route was that between Ostia and Carthage. The journey took between three and five days. The importance of Ostia to the survival of Rome was seen when the Goths captured it in 409 AD, cutting of the supply of food and leading to the collapse of the Roman Empire. In 68 BC Ostia was sacked by pirates and set on fire. During the attack the whole consular fleet was destroyed. This prompted the senate to appoint Pompey with the responsibility of driving the pirates out of the Mediterranean. Ostia was soon re-built with fortified walls and it survives as an example of a Roman port town to this day.

Grain was almost certainly one of the most important goods to be transported, but there were many items that were traded. Construction materials such as wood, aggregate, stone and marble were transported by large boats. Papyrus was shipped all over the empire from Egypt to make scrolls. Romans imported beef, corn, glassware, iron, lead, leather, marble, olive oil, perfumes, dyes, silks, spices, timber, tin and wine. The main exports were wine, olive oil, pottery and coin.
Slaves were also traded throughout the empire.

While the written evidence for trading fleets is not as common as the exploits of war there is still evidence of vast commercial fleets throughout the empire. The breadth of trade over the Roman seas can mostly be seen in the archaeological remains of the many harbors, warehouses and ports scattered around the Mediterranean at key sites such as Ostia, Portus, Leptis Magna and Civitavecchia. Shipwrecks have also offered crucial clues of the scope of Roman shipping.

‘Songs, Naval and Military’
As accessed via Project Gutenberg:

_"The Spectator," September 20, 1913_

A British Aeschylus, were such a person conceivable, might very fitly tell his countrymen, in the words addressed to Prometheus some twenty-three centuries ago, that they would find no friend more staunch than Oceanus:

ο γρ ποτ' ρες ς κεανο
φλος στ βεβαιτερς σοι.

In truth, the whole national life of England is summed up in the fine lines of Swinburne:

All our past comes wailing in the wind,
And all our future thunders in the sea.

The natural instincts of a maritime nation are brought out in strong relief throughout the whole of English literature, from its very birth down to the present day. The author of "The Lay of Beowulf," whoever he may have been, rivalled Homer in the awe-stricken epithets he applied to the "immense stream of ocean murmuring with foam" (_Il._ xviii. 402). "Then," he wrote, "most like a bird, the foamy-necked floater went wind-driven over the sea-wave; ... the sea-timber thundered; the wind over the billows did not hinder the wave-floater in her course; the sea-goer put forth; forth over the flood floated she, foamy-necked, over the sea-streams, with wreathed prow until they could make out the cliffs of the Goths."
Although the claim of Alfred the Great to be the founder of the British navy is now generally rejected by historians, it is certain that from the very earliest times the need of dominating the sea was present in the minds of Englishmen, and that this feeling gained in strength as the centuries rolled on and the value of sea-power became more and more apparent. In a poem entitled "The Libel of English Policy," which is believed to have been written about the year 1436, the following lines occur:

Kepe then the see abought in specialle,
Whiche of England is the rounde walle;
As thoughe England were lykened to a cité.
And the walle enviroun were the see.
Kepe then the see, that is the walle of England,
And then is England kepte by Goddes sonde.

A long succession of poets dwelt on the same theme. Waller--presumably during a Royalist phase of his chequered career--addressed the King in lines which forestalled the very modern political idea that a powerful British navy is not only necessary for the security of England, but also affords a guarantee for the peace of all the world:

Where'er thy navy spreads her canvas wings
Homage to thee, and peace to all, she brings.

Thomson's "Rule, Britannia," was not composed till 1740, but before that time the heroism displayed both by the navy collectively and by individual sailors was frequently celebrated in popular verse. The death of Admiral Benbow, who continued to give orders after his leg had been carried off by a chain-shot at the battle of Carthagena in 1702, is recorded in the lines:

While the surgeon dressed his wounds
Thus he said, thus he said,
While the surgeon dressed his wounds thus he said:
"Let my cradle now in haste
On the quarter-deck be placed,
That my enemies I may face
Till I'm dead, till I'm dead."

But it was more especially the long struggle with Napoleon that led to an outburst of naval poetry. It is to the national feelings current during this period that we owe such songs as "The Bay of Biscay, O," by Andrew Cherry; "Hearts of Oak," by David Garrick[110]; "The Saucy Arethusa," by Prince Hoare; "A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea," by Allan Cunningham; "Ye Mariners of England," by Thomas Campbell, and a host of others. Amongst this nautical choir, Charles Dibdin, who was born in 1745, stands pre-eminent. Sir Cyprian Bridge, in his introduction to Mr. Stone's collection of _Sea Songs_, tells us that it is doubtful whether Dibdin's songs "were ever very popular on the forecastle." The really popular songs, he thinks, were of a much more simple type, and were termed "Fore-bitters," from the fact that the man who sang them took his place on the fore-bitts, "a stout construction of timber near the foremast, through which many of the principal ropes were led." However this may be, there cannot be the smallest doubt that Dibdin's songs exercised a very powerful effect on landsmen, and contributed greatly to foster national pride in the navy and popular sympathy with sailors. It was presumably a cordial recognition of this fact that led Pitt to grant him a pension. It would, indeed, be difficult to conceive poetry more calculated to make the chord of national sentiment vibrate responsively than "Tom Bowling" or that well-known song in which Dibdin depicted at once the high sense of duty and the rough, albeit affectionate, love-making of "Poor Jack":

I said to our Poll, for, d'ye see, she would cry,
When last we made anchor for sea,
What argufies sniv'ling and piping your eye?
Why, what a damn'd fool you must be!
. . . . .
As for me in all weathers, all times, tides and ends,
Nought's a trouble from duty that springs,
For my heart is my Poll's, and my rhino my friend's,
And as for my life it's the King's;
Even when my time comes, ne'er believe me so soft
As for grief to be taken aback,
For the same little cherub that sits up aloft
Will look out a good berth for poor Jack!

Pride in the navy and its commanders is breathed forth in the following eulogy of Admiral Jervis (Lord St. Vincent):

You've heard, I s'pose, the people talk
Of Benbow and Boscawen,
Of Anson, Pocock, Vernon, Hawke,
And many more then going;
All pretty lads, and brave, and rum,
That seed much noble service;
But, Lord, their merit's all a hum,
Compared to Admiral Jervis!

"Tom Tough" is an example of the same spirit:

I've sailed with gallant Howe, I've sailed with noble Jervis,
And in valiant Duncan's fleet I've sung yo, heave ho!
Yet more ye shall be knowing,
I was cox'n to Boscawen,
And even with brave Hawke have I nobly faced the foe.

Perfervid patriotism and ardent loyalty find expression in the following swinging lines:

Some drank our Queen, and some our land,
Our glorious land of freedom;
Some that our tars might never stand
For heroes brave to lead 'em!
That beauty in distress might find
Such friends as ne'er would fail her;
But the standing toast that pleased the most
Was--the wind that blows, the ship that goes,
And the lass that loves the sailor!

The whole-hearted Gallophobia which prevailed at the period, but which did not preclude generous admiration for a gallant foe, finds, of course, adequate expression in most of the songs of the period. Thus an unknown author, who, it is believed, lived at the commencement rather than at the close of the eighteenth century, wrote:

Stick stout to orders, messmates,
We'll plunder, burn, and sink,
Then, France, have at your first-rates,
For Britons never shrink:
We'll rummage all we fancy,
We'll bring them in by scores,
And Moll and Kate and Nancy
Shall roll in louis-d'ors.

It was long before this spirit died out. Twenty-two years after the battle of Waterloo, when, on the occasion of the coronation of Queen Victoria, Marshal Soult visited England and it was suggested that the Duke of Wellington should propose the health of the French army at a public dinner, he replied: "D---- 'em. I'll have nothing to do with them but beat them."

Inspiriting songs, such as "When Johnny comes marching home" and "The British Grenadiers," which, Mr. Stone informs us, "cannot be older than 1678, when the Grenadier Company was formed, and not later than 1714, when hand-grenades were discontinued," abundantly testify to the fact that the British soldier has also not lacked poets to vaunt his prowess. Many of the military songs have served as a distinct stimulus to recruiting, and possibly some of them were written with that express object in view. Sir Ian Hamilton, in his preface to Mr. Stone's collection of _War Songs_, says, "The Royal Fusiliers are the heroes of a modern but inspiriting song, 'Fighting with the 7th Royal Fusiliers.' It was composed in the early 'nineties, and produced such an overwhelming rush of recruits that the authorities could easily, had they so chosen, have raised several additional battalions." The writer of the present article remembers in his childhood to have learnt the following lines from his old nurse, who was the widow of a corporal in the army employed in the recruiting service:

'Twas in the merry month of May,
When bees from flower to flower do hum,
And soldiers through the town march gay,
And villagers flock to the sound of the drum.
Young Roger swore he'd leave his plough,
His team and tillage all begun;
Of country life he'd had enow,
He'd leave it all and follow the drum.

The British military has perhaps been somewhat less happily inspired than the naval muse. Nevertheless the army can boast of some good poetry. "Why, soldiers, why?" the authorship of which is sometimes erroneously attributed to Wolfe, is a fine song, and the following lines written by an unknown author after the crushing blow inflicted on Lord Galway's force at Almanza, in 1707, display that absence of discouragement after defeat which is perhaps one of the most severe tests by which the discipline and spirit of an army can be tried:

Let no brave soldier be dismayed
For losing of a battle;
We have more forces coming on
Will make Jack Frenchman rattle.

Abundant evidence might be adduced to show that the British soldier is amenable to poetic influences. Sir Adam Fergusson, writing to Sir Walter Scott on August 31, 1811, said that the canto of the _Lady of the Lake_ describing the stag hunt "was the favourite among the rough sons of the fighting Third Division," and Professor Courthope in his _History of English Poetry_ quotes the following passage from Lockhart's _Life of Scott_:

When the _Lady of the Lake_ first reached Sir Adam Fergusson, he
was posted with his company on a point of ground exposed to the
enemy's artillery; somewhere no doubt on the lines of Torres
Vedras. The men were ordered to lie prostrate on the ground; while
they kept that attitude, the Captain, kneeling at their head, read
aloud the description of the battle in Canto VI., and the listening
soldiers only interrupted him by a joyous huzza whenever the French
shot struck the bank close above them.

Finally, before leaving this subject, it may be noted that amidst the verse, sometimes pathetic and sometimes rollicking, which appealed more especially to the naval and military temperament, there occasionally cropped up a political allusion which is very indicative of the state of popular feeling at the time the songs were composed. Thus the following, from a song entitled "A cruising we will go," shows the unpopularity of the war waged against the United States in 1812:

Be Britain to herself but true,
To France defiance hurled;
Give peace, America, with you,
And war with all the world.

The sixteenth-century Spaniards embodied a somewhat similar maxim of State policy as applied to England in the following distich, the principle of which was, however, flagrantly violated by that fervent Catholic, Philip II.:

Con todo el mundo guerra
Y paz con Inglaterra.

[Footnote 110: Since writing the above it has been pointed out to me that Garrick's song was composed during the Seven Years' War (1756-63).]