The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic

Focuses on Roman history from 146-78 B.C. which followed the peak of the Roman empire where the Romans had conquered Carthage and Macedonia. This period precedes the Julius Caesar period, where the precedents were set that the author argues setup the decline of the Empire.

  • Period was marked by income inequality where large amounts of wealth were imported from conquered empires but distributed to a relative few. Concurrently, soldiers often returned to farms that had not been maintained and ended up selling to the wealthy few. This lead in turn to a rise of share cropping and consolidation of large estates in the hands of nobility.
  • There was a protracted and unpopular conflict in Spain during this period where the Romans called upon Scipio Aemilianus to lead the conflict as the consulship. This was technically against the rules since he had served as consulship in the war with Carthage, however the rules were amended to allow him to be consulship for a second run. This set a precedent for a “great person” to have the rules bent to them. Further, Aemilianus raised a private army to fight the war rather than through conscription, another first that set the precedent for private armies under a wealthy noble.
  • Lex Agraria was a set of land reform laws proposed and pushed through by the tribune Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus in 133 B.C. an effort to stem rising inequality. It met with significant opposition and Tiberius broke tradition by having the blocking tribune Octavius deposed.
  • Bribery Scandal with the Senate and Juguratha the king of Numidia
  • Protracted war with Numidia
  • Gaius Marius
  • Sulla
  • Cimbria

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