Monday, June 06, 2011

Fall of the Roman Republic – Anatomy of a Collapse

Everyone seems to write about the fall of the Roman Empire – Gibbon et al. I guess they look at the end of the Empire as the seminal event because it marks the end of a thousand years of Roman power and the onset of the Dark Ages. I, however, would rather study the fall of the Roman Republic because it is much more interesting. First of all the Republic is a classic governmental form like the democracies of Greece. The Empire, by contrast, was a corrupt totalitarian system which was bound to collapse at some point under its own weight.

Secondly, the Republic was a political incubator, unique in its time. When the Romans threw out the Etruscan kings they made a conscious decision to create a representational government. In the beginning the Patrician class had too much power and the Plebian class had none. Then, over time, the classes came into better balance with the rise of the middle class and its increased political influence. Finally, after three hundred and fifty years, the Republic began to develop problems that would snowball into its collapse.

More at  Ancient History Blog

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