This is my next book writing bulletin (just in case you are interested). I am hiding away for a few days in order to get on with chapter four. This is the chapter -- if we were to use the usual teleological narrative (which I am of course rejecting!) -- in which we see Rome emerging from the shadowy "monarchy", launching the "free Republic" and somewhere near the end of the chapter being mistress of most of Italy we're talking fifth to fourth/early third centuries BCE very roughly).
I say "somewhere near the end" of the chapter because I haven't quite decided where to break between chaps four and five. The point about chapter breaks is that they have to seem to be purposive, at least not fall at some merely arbitrary spot. Yet, at the same time, I am trying not to make it look as if each chapter in the first half of the book simply represents one more stage in Rome's relentless rise to power: the "now she's conquered Italy, and soon she'll be on to the rest of the Med" approach.
To put this a bit more generally, it is actually harder than you might imagine, when writing about this period of Roman history, to avoid the teleology that I so breezily just dismissed. The stuff just seems to write itself if you go along with the Rome's grand plan line....
BUT, but, but . . .