509 BC was marked by the fall of the imperial power of Rome, and the aristocratic republic was proclaimed. This event gave rise to the development of one of the most powerful nations in history. However, many factors contributed to its collapse. The constantly growing territory, the corrupt government, and misunderstandings between the consuls led to the collapse of the republic and the proclamation of the empire. However, for the entire period of its existence, the Roman Republic captured a great number of countries, becoming a powerful empire. This paper describes the rise and fall of the Roman Republic.
The overthrow of the monarchy led to various important changes in the political system of Rome. Two consuls ruled the country, and they were elected for one year. The consuls led the senate and the national assembly; they controlled the payment of taxes and were the supreme commanders of the military forces (Berg, 2008). The role of the senate increased at that time. The senate established laws and represented Rome in external relations.
Patricians, who took all the power in the Senate, led a political struggle against plebeians. Plebeians demanded the introduction of restrictions regarding debt cancellation and debt bondage. In their turn, patricians did not take into account these requirements. This led to the fact that plebeians were able to develop their military power and influence patricians (Berg, 2008). As a result, patricians were forced to adopt the law that allowed plebeians to take part in the senate. The role of plebeians gradually grew, and after a few years, they have begun to enact laws that restricted the rights of a patrician (Berg, 2008). Consequently, plebeians achieved political equality, which led to an increase in the mobilization of Roman society and the role of Rome in the international arena.
Territorial expansion was an integral part of the Roman Republic. Rome constantly defended the local tribes, namely the Aequi and the Etruscan, from the northeastern and southern enemies (Berg, 2008). The confrontation was interrupted by an attack of the mighty army of the Gauls, who defeated the Roman army in 390 BC. Nevertheless, the Romans endured defeat and continued to expand their influence and to conquer Italy. The onslaught of the tribes in the lands of Italy, as well as the constant strengthening of the military power of the Roman Republic, led to the Samnite Wars (343-341 BC and 340-338 BC), in which Rome and the Latin Union were the main enemies (Berg, 2008). As a result of the wars, Rome subjugated more lands.
Furthermore, Rome began the war with Carthage. This war lasted for a long time, namely from 264 BC to 146 BC, and the victory cost Rome a great price. Rome was forced to develop a fleet, and the fleet of Carthage was considered invincible. Due to superiority in terms of resources, Rome won the First Punic War against Carthage. Because of the first phase of the war, Sicily became subservient to Rome, and Carthage was forced to pay tribute. The next stage of the war (the Second Punic War) meant a struggle between Rome and Carthage for the Mediterranean Sea. Because of the Second Punic War, Rome subdued much of the land of Africa, which was under the rule of Carthage. As a result, Rome became the most powerful nation in the world.
In 171-168 BC, Rome began the war with Macedonia. In three years, the Roman Republic destroyed the Macedonian kingdom (Berg, 2008). The Senate has created a separate district on those lands, and it was forced to pay tribute. This led to the fact that Rome was no longer in need of its allies. Therefore, it took Rhodes and Pergamon. The Third Punic War began in 149 BC. In three years, the Roman Empire completely destroyed Carthage.
Lucius Cornelius Sulla came to power in 82 BC (Bishop, 2003). He is considered the first dictator of the Roman Republic. At that time, the country had no consuls, as both rulers died. The senate chose Sulla to organize the election of consuls. However, Sulla chose to remain the ruler for the long term because he considered himself the only worthy leader. The government of Sulla was marked by the growth of corruption and repression. In addition, Sulla changed many laws. For example, he changed the number of members of the Senate to 300 persons.
Slavery in the Roman Republic began to develop rapidly in the 2nd century BC. During the reign of Sulla, the situation in society was extremely tense. After his death, slaves revolted under the leadership of Spartacus. He led his army of many thousands of slaves across the whole of Italy, trying to swim to Sicily. However, pirates deceived Spartacus, and he was killed in battle. His army was crushed, and six thousand rebel slaves were crucified on crosses. However, Gnaeus Pompey rescued some prisoners.
Pompey began to increase his influence in the 60s BC. He cleansed the lands of the Mediterranean from pirates. However, the majority of the senators opposed his strengthening. At the same time, Gaius Julius Caesar started gaining rapid popularity at that time as well. In 63 BC, he was elected pope. In the same year, the plot of the Roman Senator Cataline, aimed at overthrowing the Roman Republic, was discovered and suppressed. Cicero, who was then the consul of the Roman Republic, contributed to Catalina’s attempt to change the republican system. In 60 BC, Caesar tried unsuccessfully to get a triumph, so Pompey, Caesar, and Marcus Licinius Crassus organized the first triumvirate, the purpose of which was to control the political life of Rome (Bishop, 2003). However, soon the artificiality of the triumvirate became obvious, and it collapsed.
Corruption in the Senate was quite severe. Pompey won the consul election, and he was the only consul in 52 BC. The Senate demanded from Caesar to resign. Contradictions between Pompey and Caesar led to a civil war in 49-46 BC, which was won by Julius Caesar. He became the dictator of Rome in 46 BC. The principles of the dictatorship that he laid became the basis for the future of the Roman Empire. Caesar’s manner of government became the basis of economic growth. Julius Caesar was killed in a conspiracy between the Senate, Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Marcus Junius Brutus.
After the death of Caesar, the struggle for the throne broke out between Octavian Augustus and Mark Antony. Augustus received the support of the Senate, and he cooperated with Mark Antony. United, they destroyed the army of Brutus and Cassius. After that, Mark Antony went to Egypt, followed by Cleopatra. While Octavian carefully prepared for war, Antony led a carefree life in Egypt and Greece. Soon, Antony was declared the enemy of the state. Octavian made a move against Antony at the Battle of Actium, where the army of Antony and Cleopatra was broken. The remaining troops of Antony left him. Octavian went to Alexandria, but Antony successfully repulsed the first attack. Then, having received the false news of the suicide of Cleopatra, Antony committed suicide. As a result, Octavian Augustus became the first emperor of Rome. Consequently, the main reason for the fall of the republic was the difference between the political system and the social and class content (Bishop, 2003). A new system of government was needed for Rome to become prosperous again.
In conclusion, the development of the Roman Republic was based on the conquest of new lands, skilled expansion, slavery, and trafficking. The Roman Republic was constantly increasing its role in the international arena. Its fall can be attributed to the rule of the dictator Sulla. Julius Caesar tried to eliminate all the shortcomings of Sulla’s reign, but the political system was in need of serious reforms. The Senate Board was unable to manage such a large land, and, consequently, the republic fell.