|Republic to Empire: An Examination of Government in Ancient Rome
The largest, most impressive Empire in the history of the world started with 10,000 square kilometres of land in 326 BCE. Triumphant expansion fed a growth rate so rapid, the end result was 4,400,000 square kilometres in 390 CE.
Alongside growth and expansion, tyranny and corruption remained evident during each of the three eras of government. A tyrannical monarchy, forcing the people to revolt, and then a Republic full of men living the life of luxury, in society ruled by the elite. Finally, the last administration was left standing, with only one man ruling over the entire populace. Citizens were subject to the radical whims of the Emperor, occasionally blessed with a reasonable ruler.
Forty-three Emperors were murdered or executed. Thirty-three were deposed, exiled, imprisoned, or received similar treatment. Of the first 12 emperors, seven died violently by poison, stabbing, or suicide. Many Emperors of Rome faced tragic fates because they either went recklessly into battle or were driven mad with power, forcing the people of Rome to revolt, and depose or murder the Emperor.
Ancient Rome was a time of brilliant progress, and also terrible conflict. From the tyrannical Etruscan Monarchy, to the extravagance of the Republic, and finally, the severe Emperors, Rome has had a colourful and memorable history. Rome is a part of history that is often overlooked, and given only cursory attention. When considering the past, it is clear that the Roman civilization has influenced much of today’s society. Roman times mirror many of the power conflicts and issues today’s world faces, and it is for these reasons that analyzing and learning about Rome is crucial to understanding a large part of today’s world. Rome’s past is divided into three eras with different forms of government, and a large question surrounding this period of history concerns the impacts these eras has on Rome. Historians today consider, in detail, the flaws within the Republic, and the faults of the Emperors.
In 509 BCE, the Roman Republic was in control. The Republic took over because the people were discontent with the oppressive Etruscan monarchy. The Republic was made up of Magistrates, Assemblies, the Senate, and the Plebeian Tribal Council and Tribunes. In 46 BCE, Caesar appointed himself dictator of Rome, and the distribution of power within the Republic started to falter. The people of Rome had many problems with the Republic’s actions, and in 27 BCE the Republic was finished. At this time, Octavian was in control of Rome. He claimed he would return control of the Republic over to the Senate; however, Octavian kept most of the control for himself, a prime example of power beginning to affect a ruler’s decisions. As an Emperor, he was the commander in chief of the army. The Senate continued to exist to suggest and approve the Emperor’s decisions. Many Emperors came and went, and while there were flourishing periods in Rome, many Emperors went insane and caused much damage. After being divided up, the Western portion of the Empire fell, and the East (or Byzantine Empire) continued on for many years.
The study of Ancient Rome is a study of government: which of these systems worked best? In the Republic, the citizens of Rome voted in people to be their leaders, and power was diffused throughout different members of government. For example, at the top of the Republic’s hierarchy, there were two Chief Magistrates, or consuls. Having two main leaders, as opposed to one, sole leader, proved to be useful: the two were able to keep each other rational, provide different opinions, and divide up power so dictatorship and tyranny could be avoided. The people of Rome themselves consider the transition into this sensible government a blessing in Roman history: this change presented the welcome opportunity of public voice in the government:
Because the Etruscan monarchy was now so abhorrent to the Romans, they decided to replace it with elected officials known as consuls. The consuls, who were [at first] always patricians, served one-year terms. The end of the monarchy marked the start of the Roman Republic, which the Romans considered the high point of their history.1
While there are obvious benefits to a Republic, more people in the government can lead to more corruption, and this is true of Ancient Rome. An article concerning rent-seeking and taxation illustrates corruption in the Republic: “The Republic was theoretically democratic, but the senators, their friends and families held power and made the rent seeking laws, including the tax laws, to benefit themselves.”2
However, the same article goes on to say the following about the Empire:
The privileged, who received their titles usually by inheritance, lived and met in grand buildings and attended games, festivals, gladiatorial combats, all evidence of the prosperity of the wealthy few. Meanwhile, the peasants saw little improvement in their standard of living.3
In fact, it is arguable that the Empire’s greed for excess money is what led to excessive expansion, and eventually, the Empire’s downfall. Corruption is a difficult scale on which to measure these government systems, simply because corruption was rampant throughout history; however, it is true that the Roman Republic enacted many reforms to gain equality between average citizens, patricians, and members of the Republic. The most important thing to stress concerning the Empire is this: citizens of Ancient Rome were unable to vote in their Emperor. Often the title of Emperor passed through bloodlines, and so it was essentially a lottery to the Roman people: would they have a sane, responsible Emperor or would they experience terror and anguish because of this next Emperor’s reign? The only input concerning choosing the Emperor later came from the army and this resulted in rivalry, murder plots, and power struggles.
Although the Senate remained, they did not have nearly as much power as the Emperor: the entire Empire was subject to this one man’s whims, and they were often radical, irresponsible, and caused more damage than a responsible Emperor could hope to fix. Often, Rome’s rulers were unsure how to deal with the general unhappiness that plagued their Empire:
Rome's rulers offered entertainment in the arenas, such as bloody gladiatorial competitions, to distract Rome's unemployed and unhappy citizens. With poor and weak rulers, Romans lost faith in their government and Empire. The Empire was plagued with disaster.4
The main advantage to the Roman Republic was the complexity of the administration: as the historian Polybius wrote, it was the balance of monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy which gave ancient Rome its greatest strength. The time of the Republic is a period in history often unobserved in comparison to the legacies of the Emperors; however, upon closer examination, it is clear the former government did a much finer job. Evidenced by positive legal reforms, a successful economy, and triumphant campaigns, it is clear the Roman Republic was superior to the united Empire.
There is one main opposing argument to this thesis: the Roman Empire was a time of government superior to that of the Republic. This could be proved by either claiming the Roman Empire was more successful because of positive events that occurred during that period, or negative events that transpired during the Republic.
It is ignorant to claim the Empire had no positive impact on Rome. Second Century AD brought a succession of wise Emperors, many of whom were born out of Italy. Emperor Hadrian rebuilt Pantheon, Hadrian's Wall, and created special departments to control things such as correspondence, justice, taxes and records. Hadrian’s legal reforms were some of the most positive and beneficial of the Emperors. Rational Emperors, such as Trajan, Hadrian, and Diocletian, developed a larger civil service and separated the governing of the empire into military and civil affairs.
Historians argue the Roman Emperors also made great contributions to cultural and social services, such as their architecture developments: Emperor Hadrian’s wall, Roman Aqueducts, the Pantheon, thermal baths, and the Colosseum are all reputable developments that were created by the Emperors.
Historians also argue Christianity is another large argument for the Emperors: Emperor Constantine was the first Christian Emperor, after he claimed God had helped him win an impossible battle. In passing the Edict of Milan in 313 CE, Constantine proclaimed the Christians free from persecution. Christians had been persecuted for a long time, and many Emperors were cruel and harsh: for example, Emperor Nero was known for his ridiculously brutal punishments, including crucifying Christians and lighting them on fire, to use as garden lights. However, Emperor Constantine did successfully free the Christians from persecution, and established Constantinople (later Byzantium).
A large factor to consider in this argument is longevity: the Roman Republic began in 509 BCE and while the end of the Republic is debatable, this government lasted for approximately four-hundred eighty-two years. The Roman Empire, arguably beginning in 27 BCE, was split into two in 293 BCE. Emperor Diocletian recognized that one man could not possibly control such an Empire, and so the Empire was divided into the East and West (and later, into four parts total). The split became permanent, and many historians argue that 293 BCE was the end of the Roman Empire: the Western part of the Empire lost its Roman nature, while the Eastern portion developed into the Byzantine Empire. It is for this reason the word “united” is used: once Rome was divided into sections to be ruled separately, the system of government changed. In fact, structuring multiple rulers for one area is similar to the organization of the Republic: in the Republic, there were two chief rulers. This is not to say the argument for the Republic cannot be made against such an Empire; however, the argument would no longer be a study of government, as the Empire’s dynamic changed. At this time, Emperor Diocletian’s reforms ended the Roman Empire, but created the West, which later fell, and the East, which became known to historians as the Byzantine Empire.
In 5th century CE, invasions of barbaric, Northern tribes continued to rattle the Western portion. The split Roman Empire was not strong enough to combat these invasions and in 476 CE, the German barbarian Odoacer deposed the historic line of emperors in Rome. Even if this part of the Empire is compared to the Republic, both phases were similar in length. Moreover, the end of the Republic was caused by Caesar’s resolve for power, and without his violent interference and seizure of government, it is impossible to say how long the Republic would have lasted.
The Eastern Roman Empire, at this time the Byzantine Empire, survived the loss of Syria and Egypt, and lived on for many years, until its last remains were finally annexed by the emerging Ottoman Empire. Due to the incredibly durability of the Byzantine Empire, some historians argue the Empire under the Roman Emperors was more successful than the Republic.
Evidently, there are arguments for the Emperors and against the Republic; however, upon examining the positive and negative aspects of both periods in history, it is clear the Empire was a much more unstable and unpredictable era, regardless of how many years the Byzantine Empire endured. The Republic was “the high point of [the Roman’s] history”5, and when examining law, the economy, and military campaigns, it is clear the Republic was superior.
Changes in Roman law affected a large portion of the world. The Republic was definitely superior to the Empire because they successfully improved Roman law concerning Plebeians, legal awareness, citizenship, and gender laws.
An example of the Republic making law to be more inclusive concerns Plebeians. It is a common argument against the success of the Republic that the dividing lines between the rich and the poor contributed to the decline of Rome; however, during the Republic, many legal reforms took place, with the goal of giving plebeians more rights.
Plebeians were upset with the treatment they had received in the past. They had been degraded and subject to unfair treatment. The First Succession of the Plebs took place, as many lower class citizens decided to go on strike, withdrawing to hills outside of Rome. A large counterargument refuting the success of the Roman Republic is that with this withdrawal of peasants and farmers, the economy under the Republic suffered. However, these protests were necessary in order to achieve more balance in Rome; the protests exemplify how the Plebeians knew the Republic was a time open to consideration and negotiation.
The Plebeians were imperative in upholding the economy, and so members of the Republic realized their mistreatment of the lower class citizens. They changed laws to be more accommodating. Firstly, Patricians granted them the right to annually elect their own leaders in the Republic, called Tribunes. Historians today question whether or not these leaders were taken seriously in government; however, the Patricians eventually increased the Plebeian government voices from two members to ten, showing the progress they were responsible for.6 Furthermore, the significance of the Tribunes is exemplified through the quote, “The prime responsibility of a tribune was to protect the rights of plebeians, [so] the position was a powerful one.”7
Another amendment made to Roman law concerned establishing awareness. Many citizens realized patricians were much more aware of the law than the plebeians, so in 451 BCE and 450 BCE, ten government members, called the decemviri, were appointed to publish a codification of Roman law, the Twelve Tables. The Twelve Tables emphasized restorative justice, something that is obviously still important today: “historical examples of punishment systems based on restorative justice are the Roman Law of the Twelve Tables”.8 Codifying Roman law made it easier for the citizens of Rome to understand and follow law, and thus, it was obviously a large, positive improvement.
There are many other examples of improved law within the Republic. In 445 BCE, Plebeians and Patricians gained the right to marry one another. In 367 BCE, Plebeians became eligible for elections concerning consulship. These laws all reformed to put an emphasis on human rights and equality. Later that year, laws were passed that limited the amount of land an individual could possess, as some Plebeians felt Patricians were holding too much. In 367 BCE, 357 BCE, 352 BCE, 347 BCE, and 342 BCE, laws were passed to help alleviate the Plebeians debts.9 Historians argue that the growing gap between the rich and poor citizens contributed to the fall of Rome; however, these laws exemplify the attempts at creating a more balanced society. While not all gaps between the Patricians and Plebeians were bridged, it is clear that efforts were made throughout the Republic to aid in the Plebeian’s struggle and remove some of the Patrician’s privileges.
Further amendments were established concerning equality in government and general roles. In 356 BCE a plebeian dictator is elected, and further promoted to consul. In 342 BCE, Plebeians were awarded the guarantee of one of the consular posts in any given year. In 300 BCE, Plebeians were given the right to hold places in two of Rome’s colleges (pontiffs and augurs). The emergent equality was remarkable: “By 300 BCE, being a patrician was only a slight political advantage. Debt-bondage was eliminated”.10 It is apparent these successful legal reforms contributed to a balanced society. Unfortunately, many citizens who lived under emperors could only dream about such equality.
Additional successful reforms concerned citizenship. During the time of the monarchy,
the only "true" citizens of Rome were those who lived in the city of Rome or those with two Roman parents. This group of citizens formed a representational government under the king. The king would summon the citizens only when he wanted to and would present the issues that the citizens would vote on.11
This flawed system was overly selective: the requests and opinions of the majority were not represented. Alternatively, voting in the Republic decided the public officers who would rule over Rome. Citizens could hold public office, and were granted trading advantages not available to other Italian villagers. Citizens of Rome enjoyed these exclusive privileges until the Latin League, the Volscians, and other Italian tribes rebelled against Rome, and were defeated in 388 BCE. Rome granted some of these residents in these villages Roman citizenship, in order to keep them from rebelling.12 The Republic’s “sharing of Roman citizenship encouraged the spread of Roman language, law, and culture throughout the Italian peninsula”.13
Under the Empire, every province had large numbers of Roman citizens by the end of the 3rd century. In 212 the distinction between citizen and noncitizen was eliminated by the constitutio Antoniniana, which granted Roman citizenship to virtually all free male inhabitants of the Empire. One would think common Roman citizenship would be a good thing; however, as Roman citizenship became more common, its privileges diminished. Two legal statuses developed: upper class citizens were called honestiores and everyone else “citizen or not, fell into the class of humiliores and were subject to harsh punishments—crucifixion, burning, the arena, chained labour—which had previously been associated with servile punishments”.14 The creation of common Roman citizenship further divided the classes of Rome, ending in torturous inequality.
Upon examining these three eras of citizenship reform in Ancient Rome, it is clear the Republic struck a relatively balanced deal. Roman citizens were given slight privileges in order to keep divisions minimal (an unfortunately large oversight on the part of the Empire) and Roman citizenship was used as a tool of appeasement to avoid conflict. Once again, the wise and calming actions of the Republic further demonstrate the government’s ability to negotiate and work towards a solution together, as opposed to everyone following a radical Emperor’s decisions. It is inarguable that even though the Empire saw some positive changes, “many of Rome's rulers were despots, who used Rome's senate to pass laws that benefited only the emperor's family and other patricians' families.”15
Also during the Republic, restrictions on women were slackened, something rarely seen in the developing world. Restrictions on women were legislated—the lex Voconia limited the amount a woman could inherit by will. However, by the 1st century these and other restrictions could be circumvented by various legal dodges, and a woman who was independent could acquire considerable freedom, such as the transfer property and the freedom to divorce, through a legal device which permitted her to select her own guardian.
Overall, after examining legal reforms concerning class equality, legal awareness, citizenship, and women’s laws, it is obvious the Roman Republic established a relatively fair and balanced society, with improvements that lasted well into the iniquitous time of the Empire.
When comparing periods of history, it is important to look at the success of a civilization, and the growth of their economy. The Republic was superior to the Empire because the Romans experienced successful economic times, while under the Emperors, there was instability and discontent.
An obvious counterargument to the success of the Republic is that war causes disruption and chaos. While true, it is apparent that the wars fought during the Republic were advantageous. Rome faced the disturbances of war; however, once Rome stabilized, trade revived: “The 2nd-century conquests of Spain and Cisalpine Gaul, and then of the Aegean, opened up markets which were fully exploited by Roman and Italian businessmen who brought wealth to the towns of Italy, as well as to the capital.”16
The wars fought and won under the Republic brought wealth to the city. Also, imports such as grains, metals, slaves, and wines were brought in, and at the end of the third century, wines of Latium, Campania, and Etruria were exported to the Adriatic and Southern France.17 As Rome’s land mass grew, so did its trade.
Another development during the Republic concerned money. The earliest Roman money, created in the fourth century, was minted in bronze. The first silver coinage was created in 300 BCE, and the denarius, the standard silver coin, was first issued in 211 BCE.18 All of these developments took place during the Republic, and the production of coinage facilitated the collection of taxes and payments. In providing a set currency to trade by, coinage eliminated some of the unfair bartering that would occur.
Also during the Republic, a technological revolution occurred, when flexible, cheap concrete replaced the traditional method of building with stone. This was made possible discovery of pozzolana mortar made from volcanic stone. By the end of the century, cement was fully exploited in the construction of vaulted and terraced sanctuaries, and in high-rise urban tenements.19 This was yet another one of the developments made during the Republic to further the economy.
Although cement was used to lessen living expenses during the Republic, average citizens of the Empire faced the dilemma of expensive and infrequent housing options:
Much of the space in a Roman city was taken up by public buildings and the large houses and gardens of the rich. For the nonelite, urban living conditions were crowded and, by modern standards, unsanitary, so life was lived outdoors during daylight hours. Most private dwellings were not connected to the public sewers, and few had running water. Although public baths were inexpensive and often sumptuous, they were also unhygienic, since the water was infrequently changed.20
Due to the unsanitary conditions, the citizens of Rome also faced the plague and the incredibly fast spread of disease: “The economy was further weakened when returning soldiers brought the plague to Rome in 167 A.D. The plague killed about 2,000 people a day.”21
The deaths from the insanitation and the plague left the Empire with many problems. Another problem was thrust upon farmers during the time of the Empire:
Hundreds of thousands of people lived in Rome, most of them in crowded slums. A housing shortage, along with crime in the streets and soaring rents, meant that the ordinary person lived a life of misery. Unemployment was a serious problem. Things became worse when farm families flooded into the city. Food brought in from the colonies was sold at lower prices than the crops grown around Rome, so farmers did not make enough to survive.22
Yet another problem citizens of the Empire faced was the Barracks Emperors:
These emperors remained along the borders with their army to fight against the barbarians. The emperors consequently lived short lives. Economic problems resulted as an impact of the continued attacks of barbarians. Inflation became a problem and coinage lost its value. Civil disorder was a problem as well, opening the way for Diocletian to reform the Empire.23
Historians examining the Barracks Emperors agree that an entire Empire following a single man can be disastrous. Regardless of whether or not positive changes are made under one ruler, more often than not, the ruler is driven insane with power or loses his influence with the people. Even if the ruler remains rational and influential, the sheer inconsistency of quality rulers is dangerous: the fact remains that in Ancient Rome, regardless of what past Emperors had enacted, the subsequent ruler was in a position to make any changes he desired, and the people, short of attempting to murder the despots, had no authority over their rulers.
In essence, it is obvious many improvements were made to the Roman economy during the time of the Republic. Conquests opened up trading options, the development of coinage aided in necessary taxing and unfair bartering, and the concrete technological revolution took place. It is apparent that Rome under the Emperors experienced poor living conditions, death, barbarian invasion, and an overall unsuccessful economy, leaving the Republic the clear victor.
During the time of the Republic, Rome was very successful in their military campaigns and defences. Their military success contributed to other aspects of Rome, such as trade and the economy.
While the Roman Empire is regarded as a time of brilliant expansion and conquest, the incredible growth of the Roman Republic is often overlooked. During this time in history, the Romans were involved in the Punic Wars, a time of great bloodshed and triumph. The conflict between Carthage and Rome lasted over a century; however, Rome was the clear conqueror and poised itself to become a greater Empire than Carthage had ever been.24
In early third century BCE, the coasts of Africa, Spain, and parts of Sicily were dominated by Carthage, and Rome ruled the network of cities in central Italy. As Rome’s power was solidified, it became apparent the two superpowers were going to clash: as Rome moved into southern Italy, Carthaginians feared their Sicilian colonies would come under Roman attack. Rome, on the other hand, felt both its southern allies and its grain supplies from Sicily to be under Carthaginian threat. The first Punic War broke out in 264 BCE. Rome had invested in their army, and so they fell short to Carthage’s incredible navy; however, the intelligent Romans constructed a new navy based on the design of a captured Carthaginian ship. With the new fleet, Rome was able to capture Sicily and become present in Corsica and Sardinia. In 241 BCE, Carthage sued for peace, and Rome reaped the rewards of their victory: Carthage ceded all their possessions on Sicily, and Carthage was required to pay a large indemnity to cover Rome's cost of war. Some argue that Rome was too harsh on Carthage, and their excessive punishments may have caused Carthage to later revolt; however, the Carthaginians still had holdings in the Mediterranean and Spain. If the Romans had been any less harsh, Carthage would have had more resources to later fight the Romans. With more resources on Carthage’s side, it is possible they could have won the Punic Wars, changing the course of history. In gaining Sicily and Sardinia, Rome’s first provinces outside the Italian mainland were born, and with it, the beginning of incredible expansion.
The second Punic war is remembered mostly for the efforts of famous Carthaginian general, Hannibal. Hannibal was a passionate, fierce leader who had sworn a vengeance against Rome since he was nine. Hannibal campaigned in the Italian countryside. Finally, Rome was forced to respond to Carthage’s attack with a counterattack led by General Scipio, first in Spain and then in North Africa.
Hannibal was forced to move his army back to Carthage, but in 202 B.C. he was defeated by Scipio in the Battle of Zama. The battle ended the war and also changed the balance of power in the entire region. Carthage turned over all her colonial possessions to Rome, including Spain. Rome was now the foremost power in the western Mediterranean, but more importantly she now set her sights on further expansion.25
After the second Punic war ended, Rome divided up the spoils of victory amongst their soldiers. It is argued that this division of returns bred profit-driven leaders and fighters; however, it is clear that rewarding the hard work of soldiers crucial to a successful campaign is a wise decision. Furthermore, Rome had felt heavy losses from the second Punic war; to go home without any reward would remove any national loyalty in the soldiers.
While some, such as Roman historian Livy, argue that “Hannibal lacked the troops necessary to capture Rome”, others say that without their allies, Rome might have fallen to Carthage: “The Republic depended on its allies for power and reinforcements. Without them, Rome would weaken and Hannibal would have a good chance at gaining victory.”26 There is truth to the former statement, as Rome had built itself an excellent army and an Empire not to be trifled with. Even for those who argue Rome was nothing without its allies, it can be said that Rome’s considerate expansion, power, and strength gained them the assistance necessary to defeat Hannibal. Regardless of opinion, Rome’s efforts once again stamped out Carthage.
The third Punic war lasted three years, starting in 149 BCE and ending in 146 BCE. The start of the third Punic war is still debated. Some argue that Roman official Cato convinced the government to invade the weakened Carthage and put an end to the city, once and for all; however, the third Punic war took place approximately fifty years after the second. Also, history proves that Rome had only attacked when provoked: it was Hannibal who attacked first, while Rome’s actions were retaliatory. The more plausible reason for the third Punic war is that Carthage, once again, provoked Rome by insulting a Roman delegation. The Romans, angry at their many losses due to Carthage’s restlessness, responded forcefully, and: “After a long siege, the once-great city of Carthage finally fell to Rome. Remembering the victories of Hannibal, the Roman soldiers felt little mercy.”27
Some argue that the Roman attitude towards the conquered was too harsh, as taxes, recruitment, and other displeasing movements were imposed; however,
Rome's policies toward conquered peoples had several important effects. For one, they enabled Rome to gain troops for further expansion. By the late third century B.C., over half of the soldiers in Rome's legions were supplied by allies. In addition, the sharing of Roman citizenship encouraged the spread of Roman language, law, and culture throughout the Italian peninsula. By 265 B.C., Italy was for practical purposes a single political entity governed and inhabited by people who called themselves Romans. 28
The largest counterargument concerning the success of expansion under the Republic concerns expansion under the Empire.i While it is true that the Empire did bring Rome’s conquests to the largest total mass of land, it is inarguable that the Republic experienced the most amount of growth. From 326 BCE and 50 BCE, Rome’s total land went from 10,000 square kilometres to 1,950,000 square kilometres, amounting in a total growth of 1,940,000 square kilometres. From 25 BCE to 390 CE, the Empire went from 2,750,000 square kilometres to 4,400,000 square kilometres, amounting to a total growth of 1,650,000 square kilometres.29 It is also probable that without the Republic’s expansion, conquests, and accumulation of allies, the Empire would not have had the resources nor military strength to combat opposing forces or expand at all. It is obvious Rome was hindered by the inconsistency of the emperors: “Between 200 A.D. and 300 A.D., no single Roman emperor lived long enough to command the army and successfully push back the barbarians, a group of people who fought for control of Rome's territories.”30
In addition, the rapid expansion of the Roman Empire fueled by greed for more taxes and money, arguably led to the Empire’s downfall: it became expensive and difficult to manage the excess provinces.
Before the Punic wars, Rome's power was limited to the Italian peninsula; by the end of the wars, Rome was the dominant power in the Mediterranean and was poised on the brink of even greater imperial expansion. During the 400 years following the expulsion of the Etruscans and the end of the Republic, Rome completely unified the Italian Peninsula, defeated Carthage, gained control of North Africa and Carthage’s provinces in Spain, conquered Macedonia, conquered Greece, conquered Southern Gaul, and developed the first Roman province in Asia, Pergamum (or Asia Minor). These valiant battles evidence Rome’s strength, stability and consistency throughout the Republic, and the rewards they were able to reap by persevering, and responding prudently to attacks.
In conclusion, when judging the Roman Republic and the Empire, it is clear the Republic was superior. When contrasting a system of government in which power was diffused, to a scheme where one man had all the power, the victor is obvious. Regarding changes in law, the economy, and triumphant conquests, it is clear the earlier form of management was more successful. While it is true Emperors such as Hadrian, Trajan, and Diocletian may have had positive effects on Rome, many Emperors such as Nero, Claudius, Tiberius, and all the Barrack’s Emperors had lasting, negative effects on the Empire. History proves that when giving a radical man power, the results are disastrous, and if not already wild, giving all this power to one man will likely turn him paranoid. In a system where multiple people are in positions of power, negotiating and rational thinking are still present. With law under the Republic, plebeians were able to protest and acquire more rights and freedoms: the Senate was forced to listen to them. Finally, Plebeians were allowed into government and were able to represent their concerns through an official. Concerning the economy, the Republic was responsible for the expansion of trade, the manufacture of coinage, and the concrete technological revolution, whereas the overcrowding, insanitation and plague killed thousands during the Empire. Furthermore, the inconsistency and recklessness of the Barracks Emperors left Rome’s economy in shambles. When regarding military campaigns, both the Republic and Empire faced their share of battles, conquests, and triumphs; however, the Republic’s incredible and reasonable expansion contributed to Rome’s overall success, while the Empire’s greedy and uncontrollable expansion undoubtedly contributed to Rome’s fall, leaving Rome to deal with many expensive, distrustful provinces. Even considering the irrelevant argument of the Byzantine Empire’s success, Rome’s Republic proved to be a time of less trouble and violence; upon examining the evidence, there can be no uncertainty as to why “the Romans considered [the Republic] the high point of their history.”31
"BBC - History - Ancient Rome Timeline." BBC - Homepage. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .
DeLorme, Charles D., Stacey Isom, and David R. Kamerschen. "Rent seeking and taxation in the Ancient Roman Empire." Applied Economics (2005). Gale. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. .
Encyclopedia of world history ancient, medieval, and modern, chronologically arranged
. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Print.
Goerke-Shrode, Sabine. "HADRIAN AS ADMINISTRATOR." Calliope Dec. 1999. Gale. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. .
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Company "ANCIENT AND CLASSICAL PERIODS, 3500 B.C.E.-500 C.E. - ROME - THE REPUBLIC, 264-70 B.C.E. - ECONOMY, SOCIETY, AND CULTURE." Encyclopedia of World History (2001): 79-80. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 20 Oct. 2009.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Company "ANCIENT AND CLASSICAL PERIODS, 3500 B.C.E.-500 C.E. - ROME - THE LATER. EMPIRE, 284-527 C.E. - ECONOMY, SOCIETY, AND CULTURE." Encyclopedia of World History (2001): 95-96. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 17 Dec. 2009.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Company "ANCIENT AND CLASSICAL PERIODS, 3500 B.C.E.-500 C.E. - ROME - THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 14-284 C.E. - ECONOMY, SOCIETY, AND CULTURE." Encyclopedia of World History (2001): 88-89. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 17 Dec. 2009.
JSTOR. Web. 10 Dec. 2009. .
Kerrigan, Michael. Ancient Rome and the Roman Empire. New York: DK, 2001. Print.
Linderski, J. "Ancient Rome." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2009. Web. 18 Sept. 2009. .
McGill, Sara Ann. "Ancient Roman Government." Ancient Roman Government (2009). History Reference Center. Web. 10 Oct. 2009. .
McGill, Sara Ann. "Daily Life in Ancient Rome." Canadian Student Research Centre. EBSCO, 2009. Web. 5 Dec. 2009. .
Mehta-Jones, Shilpa "The End of Rome." Life in Ancient Rome (2005): 30-31. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 17 Dec. 2009.
Penrose, Jane. Rome and her Enemies An Empire Created and Destroyed by War (General Military). Grand Rapids: Osprey, 2005. Print.
Potter, David. Emperors of Rome. London: Quercus, 2007. Print.
"Roman Civilization, 509 B.C.-476 A.D." Student Resource Centre Canadian Edition. Gale, 2003. Web. 5 Dec. 2009. .
"Roman Emperors - The Imperial Index." RomanEmperors - DIR--De Imperatoribus Romanis Roman History Roman RomanEmpire Imperator Basileus De Imperatoribus Romanis EncyclopediaByzantine. Web. 30 Sept. 2009. .
"Second Punic War, 218-201 BC." Military History Encyclopedia on the Web. Web. 16 Oct. 2009. .
Stevenson, Keira. "Timeline of the Roman Republic & Empire." Timeline of the Roman Republic & Empire (2009). History Reference Center. Web. 10 Oct. 2009. .
Share with your friends: