Pompey hoped that King Ptolemy, his former client, would assist him, but the Egyptian king feared offending the victorious Caesar. Read more. The middle years of the first century BC were marked by violence in the city, and fighting between gangs supporting rival politicians and political programmes. East and West failed to adequately work together to combat outside threats, and the two often squabbled over resources and military aid. It is worth pausing here for a moment and considering Cicero’s point. " However, referencing Livy's opinion in his History of Rome, they assert that Romans lost liberty through their own conquests' "morally undermining consequences.". Many scholars point to a law proposed by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus in 156 B.C. Thus at times of extreme crisis in the past the Senate had impressed them, along with convicts and slaves, for service as legionaries. Many of the poor had fallen into poverty after serving for long periods with armies overseas - and returning to Italy to find their farmland taken over by wealthier neighbours. It was widely believed that the rich Senators had bribed Octavius to veto the proposal. Unable to recruit enough soldiers from the Roman citizenry, emperors like Diocletian and Constantine began hiring foreign mercenaries to prop up their armies. Marble statue of Augustus, believed to have been commissioned in 15 AD, now held at the Vatican Museums and Galleries, Italy Both had conquered vast tracts of territory: Pompey in what is now Turkey, Caesar in France. “The donning of the purple” that is the putting into office a new ruler/emperor was always a precarious endeavor throughout much of Rome’s history. In 88, the senate awarded Sulla the lucrative and powerful post of commander in the war against Mithridates over Marius. Historians in both the ancient and modern world have devoted enormous energy to tracking the precise stages by which these two men came head-to-head in civil war. Read more. In brutalizing the Goths, the Romans created a dangerous enemy within their own borders.  The senate acceded, reluctantly granted him the title of proconsul and powers equal to those of Metellus, and sent him to Hispania. He bypassed the Roman senate and used the plebeian assembly to pass a law limiting the amount of land belonging to the state that any individual could farm. This resulted in a shift in the rural, agricultural regions. That chance came with Julius Caesar. It could not handle the weight of its own shoulders. Marius stands accused of paving the way for the so-called lawless, greedy soldiery whose activities were thought to have contributed largely to the decline and fall of the Republic a few generations later. “…violent transitions of power became increasingly commonplace and abrupt in the later Roman Empire…”, “In the end the Roman Empire became, simply, too much to manage. It was simply a lot to manage and with the aforementioned political turmoil and economic challenges that would face the empire, it becomes easier to see how the deck was slowing becoming stacked against Rome. The fall of the power, some conclude, is in direct relation to the fall of the power of the Roman senate. Less than 20 years later, the Roman Republic officially ended and transitioned into the Roman Empire. Not much 'liberty' was to follow. , The crisis escalated: Gracchus pushed the assembly to impeach and remove Octavius; the Senate denied funds to the commission needed for land reform; Gracchus then tried to use money out of a trust fund left by Attalus III of Pergamum; and the Senate blocked that, too. It was a rout that would ultimately prove disastrous to the Empire because after this the empire never expanded into Germanic territory east of the Rhine. This led to a population explosion in Rome itself, with the plebeians clinging desperately to survival while the patricians lived in splendor. He did not, however, have long to effect change (perhaps his most lasting innovation was his reform of the calendar and the introduction of the system of 'leap years' that we still use today).  This generated swarms of refugees, which can only have created its own discord. Tiberius's career crystallised many of the issues underlying the revolutionary politics of the next hundred years.  Because Gracchus had been highly popular with the poor, and he had been murdered while working on their behalf, mass riots broke out in the city in reaction to the assassination.  However, other scholars have argued that as the Republic was meant to be res publica—the essential thing of the people—the poor and disenfranchised cannot be blamed for trying to redress their legitimate and legal grievances. Italy was dominated by small landowners. In order to become one of the annually elected 'magistrates' (who in Rome were concerned with all aspects of government, not merely the law) a man had to be very rich.  The Roman Republic engaged in series of wars that expanded the republic's territory and brought it large sums of money. Pompey as a young man was allied to Sulla, but in the consular elections of 78 BC, he supported Lepidus against Sulla's wishes. The constant turnover in office during the Roman Empire’s later centuries led to many attaining office who were incapable of effective administrative and fiscal leadership. , The start of the Social War (91–88 BC), when Rome's nearby Italian allies rebelled against her rule, may be thought of as the beginning of the end of the Republic. Get thought-provoking content delivered to your email inbox every weekday. Rome needed money to run. What made a man great was not the exertion of the will, but the restraint and the submission of the will to something that transcends us all.  The government owned large tracts of farmland (ager publicus) that it had gained through conquest or escheat (acquisition from owners who had died without heirs); this it rented out to large landholders who used their slaves to till it or who sub-leased it to small tenant farmers.  This opening of the Army's ranks to the capite censii enfranchised the plebs, thus creating an esprit de corps in the enlarged army. All magistrates of the Roman Republic also became part of the senate. Find out why one of history's most legendary empires finally came crashing down. This was nothing short of a revolution, brought about through a century of constant civil strife, and sometimes open warfare.  Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon river, the northern boundary of Roman Italy, with his army in 49 BC, a flagrant violation of Roman law, has become the clichéd point of no return for the Republic, as noted in many books, including Tom Holland's Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic. Tiberius's decision to use the revenues of Asia for his land distribution was a provocative claim - that the poor as well as the rich should enjoy the fruits of Rome's conquests.
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