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G-Manicus

Would the Republic have survived had they served a 2nd course?

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Salve, Amici.

Writimg more than two and a half centuries after the Republican demise, the hellenized severean Senator Caludius Cassius Dio of Nicea didn't miss it at all and had his own well developed social explanation for its failure, presumably quite extended at his time.

 

Here comes Romanae Historia, Liber XLIV, cp. I-II, on the Liberatores' conspiracy.

 

"His slayers, to be sure, declared that they had shown themselves at once destroyers of Caesar and liberators of the people: but in reality they impiously plotted against him, and they threw the city into disorder when at last it possessed a stable government. Democracy, indeed, has a fair-appearing name and conveys the impression of bringing equal rights to all through equal laws, but its results are seen not to agree at all with its title. Monarchy, on the contrary, has an unpleasant sound, but is a most practical form of government to live under. For it is easier to find a single excellent man than many of them, and if even this seems to some a difficult feat, it is quite inevitable that the other alternative should be acknowledged to be impossible; for it does not belong to the majority of men to acquire virtue. And again, even though a base man should obtain supreme power, yet he is preferable to the masses of like character, as the history of the Greeks and barbarians and of the Romans themselves proves. For successes have always been greater and more frequent in the case both of cities and of individuals under kings than under popular rule, and disasters do not happen so frequently under monarchies as under mob-rule. Indeed, if ever there has been a prosperous democracy, it has in any case been at its best for only a brief period, so long, that is, as the people had neither the numbers nor the strength sufficient to cause insolence to spring up among them as the result of good fortune or jealousy as the result of ambition. But for a city, not only so large in itself, but also ruling the finest and the greatest part of the known world, holding sway over men of many and diverse natures, possessing many men of great wealth, occupied with every imaginable pursuit, enjoying every imaginable fortune, both individually and collectively,

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Rome did not have a national army. It was never actually a nation to begin with, being a city state with imperial expansion. Instead, it had lots of mini-armies. A legion was not a unit in a large army, it was an army in its own right, and the concept of raising a 'levy', an annual army, was traditional. The Reforms of Marius had not doomed the Republic at all. Whilst it changed the format of the roman military and made it much more of a permanent institution, it was roman politics that doomed it. But lets remember - the Republic did not die. Far from it, it was still present in all its forms under the Principate, so it might be said that the Republic was still in place under the rule of the Caesars. It had allowed dictators to dominate. Dictatorship can be very popular with its people. It might provide a dynamic, strong rule, unfettered by committees and continual debate. It might be the focus for personal loyalty and popularity as opposed to a faceless group of remote politicians. After the internal struggles of leadership I can well imagine the public were only too glad to see the back of it, and since Augustus was careful to foster his popularity, there was no reason to oust a man who had brought peace to Rome. The Senate, divided and self obsessed, were not happy, but given Augustus's power base it was difficult to do more than wait in the wings for his failure.

 

In effect, the loyalty of the roman legions had allowed certain men to seek ambition in political life. Where the Republic failed was its inability to establish loyalty to Rome, and that must be laid at the feet of the Senate.

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Salve, C.

Maybe you will be able to explain a little bit more why:

 

Rome did not have a national army(?).

 

It was never actually a nation to begin with (?), being a city state with imperial expansion.

 

Instead, it had lots of mini-armies (?).

 

A legion was not a unit in a large army (?), it was an army in its own right,

 

Anyway, I would be especially interested in your primary sources.

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But lets remember - the Republic did not die. Far from it, it was still present in all its forms under the Principate, so it might be said that the Republic was still in place under the rule of the Caesars.

Even if some Republican institutions came down to the princip

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The Reforms of Marius had not doomed the Republic at all. Whilst it changed the format of the roman military and made it much more of a permanent institution, it was roman politics that doomed it...

 

In effect, the loyalty of the roman legions had allowed certain men to seek ambition in political life. Where the Republic failed was its inability to establish loyalty to Rome, and that must be laid at the feet of the Senate.

I think there's an inherent contradiction between both statements; in any case, I can't disagree more with the first one.

 

A rebel army is politics too; previous to the so-called Marian Reforms, dissident politicians simply lacked any loyal soldiers for imposing themselves over the State.

 

That was the case for Spurius Cassius Vicellinus, Marcus Manlius Capitolinus and many other; even Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major himself was prosecuted and died in exile at Liternum.

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Writing like a century before the Pro-monarchic Claudius Cassius Dio, the successful flavian senator Publius Cornelius Tacitus was totally on the opposite side of the political spectrum, as a caustic critic of the autocracy of the first emperors.

Nevertheless, it's noteworthy that he wasn't too kind with the Republican Nobiles either, as he considered them as the main architects of their own demise.

Here comes Historiae, Liber II, cp. XXXVIII:

 

Vetus ac iam pridem insita mortalibus potentiae cupido cum imperii magnitudine adolevit erupitque;

"That old passion for power which has been ever innate in man increased and broke out as the Empire grew in greatness.

 

nam rebus modicis aequalitas facile habebatur.

In a state of moderate dimensions equality was easily preserved;

 

sed ubi subacto orbe et aemulis urbibus regibusve excisis securas opes concupiscere vacuum fuit,

but when the world had been subdued, when all rival kings and cities had been destroyed, and men had leisure to covet wealth which they might enjoy in security,

 

prima inter patres plebemque certamina exarsere.

the early conflicts between the patricians and the people were kindled into flame.

 

modo turbulenti tribuni, modo consules praevalidi,

At one time the tribunes were factious, at another the consuls had unconstitutional power;

 

et in urbe ac foro temptamenta civilium bellorum;

it was in the capital and the forum that we first essayed civil wars.

 

mox e plebe infima C. Marius et nobilium saevissimus L. Sulla victam armis libertatem in dominationem verterunt.

Then rose C. Marius, sprung from the very dregs of the populace, and L. Sulla, the most ruthless of the patricians, who perverted into absolute dominion the liberty which had yielded to their arms.

 

post quos Cn. Pompeius occultior non melior, et numquam postea nisi de principatu quaesitum.

After them came Cn. Pompeius, with a character more disguised but no way better. Henceforth men's sole object was supreme power.

 

non discessere ab armis in Pharsalia ac Philippis civium legiones, nedum Othonis ac Vitellii exercitus sponte posituri bellum fuerint:

Legions formed of Roman citizens did not lay down their arms at Pharsalia and Philippi, much less were the armies of Otho and Vitellius likely of their own accord to abandon their strife.

 

eadem illos deum ira, eadem hominum rabies, eaedem scelerum causae in discordiam egere.

They were driven into civil war by the same wrath from heaven, the same madness among men, the same incentives to crime.

 

quod singulis velut ictibus transacta sunt bella, ignavia principum factum est.

That these wars were terminated by what we may call single blows, was owing to want of energy in the chiefs".

 

Personally, I would basically agree with most of Tacitus' diagnosis.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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