In 281/280 BC, the Hellenistic King Pyrrhus ventured to southern Italy to aid the Italiote-Greek city of Tarentum against a rising power based in central Italy. This enemy was the Romans. Over the next 150 years this civilisation would rise to become the Mediterranean superpower, winning wars against the Carthaginians, the Antigonids, Seleucids, Ptolemies and various other enemies. But why were the Roman soldiers so effective? I was delighted to be joined by Dr Steele Brand who brilliantly answered this question. Steele explained how the Roman Republican military was far from invincible. Indeed what is so striking from this period is how many devastating defeats the Romans suffered in the process - from Heraclea to Cannae. What made the Romans so extraordinary, however, was their mindset: the Roman civic ethos that was ingrained in its citizens from childhood. Steele explained how the household farm served as an ‘incubator’ for habituating citizens to Roman virtue, which in turn ensured that citizens remained willing to serve even in the wake of catastrophic military defeats. In short, it was these part-time ‘soldier farmers’ that became the nucleus of antiquity’s most famous empire. Steele is the author of 'Killing for the Republic: The Roman Way of War'.