Roman Republic


History of the Roman Republic


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Perspective


The history of the Roman Republic began when Tarquin the Proud, the last of the seven kings of Roman monarchy, was deposed in 509 BCE. With that, a government based on magistrates and representative assemblies was set up, with a constitution that provided for checks and balances and a separation of powers. The most important magistrates were the two consuls, who together wielded authority in the form of imperium, or military command. But the consuls cooperated with the senate, which was at first an advisory council of the ranking nobility. And in the Republic, it would grow in size and power.

In the 4th century BCE, Rome was attack by the Gauls in a siege that lasted seven months. Finally, the Gauls agreed to lift the siege in exchange for Rome’s payment of a thousand pounds of gold. Legend has it that the Romans observing the weighing noticed that the Gauls were cheating. Not surprisingly, this angered the Romans, who changed their minds and rose up and defeated the Gauls. Thus it was said that “With iron, not with gold, Rome buys her freedom.”

The Romans gradually vanquished the other peoples in Italy, including the Etruscans. In so doing, they secured their conquests by founding colonies in strategic areas to establish control over the regions they had vanquished.

But in the 3rd century BCE Rome faced a new and powerful opponent. Carthage was a rich, flourishing Phoenician city-state that strived to dominate the Mediterranean basin. Between Rome’s hegemony in mainland Italy and Carthaginian maritime supremacy, these cities became the two main powers in the western Mediterranean and their contention over trade rights in the Mediterranean led to war.

The First Punic War started in 264 BCE. Rome embarked on this war because the cities of Sicily, under Carthaginian control, were too close to the Greek cities of Southern Italy that Rome had recently conquered. With that, Carthage was now able to make an offensive through Roman territory. As it happened, the war also gave Rome an opportunity to extend its dominion over Sicily.

Although Rome was experienced in fighting land battles, defeating Carthage required a navy. Since Carthage was a maritime power, the Roman shortfall of ships and naval experience made the victory a long and hard one for the Roman Republic. Finally, it was only after more than 20 years of war that Rome finally defeated Carthage and a peace treaty was signed. Among the reasons for the Second Punic War was the onerous war reparations Carthage had agreed to in settlement of the First Punic War.

The Third Punic War started with Rome’s declaration of war against Carthage in 149 BCE. But Carthage resisted vigorously, and all the inhabitants of the city joined in its defense. In the end, it could not survive the attack of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus, who destroyed the city and its walls, enslaved and sold all the citizens, sowed salt in the soil of its farms, and took control of the area. And so, Carthage became the Roman province of Africa. The Punic Wars gave Rome its first overseas conquests (Sicily, Hispania and north Africa) and led to the rise of Rome as an empire and began the end of democracy and the Republic.


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Index

Early Republic Index | First Punic War: PreludeDefeat of CarthageRecovery of Carthage | Second Punic War: Invasion of Italy | Third Punic War | Expansion: Transformation of RomeConquest of ItalyConquest of GreeceConquest of the East Late Republic Index | Caesar: Rise to PowerEarly CareerAfricaEgyptEpirusLater CampaignsDecisionReturn to RomeDemise | Revolt and War | Catiline Conspiracy | Gracchus Reforms: Gaius GracchusTiberius Gracchus | First Civil War: Revolt of ItalyDeath of Democracy MariusSulla | Second Civil War: Pompey | Third Civil WarCampaignOctavianAntonyCleopatraBattle of ActiumReign of TerrorEnd of the Republic



Rome | Early Republic

Early Republic: Index

First Punic War

First Punic War

First Punic War | prelude

First Punic War: Prelude

First Punic War | defeat of Carthage

First Punic War: Defeat of Carthage

First Punic War | recovery of Carthage

First Punic War: Recovery of Carthage

Second Punic War

Second Punic War

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Second Punic War | invasion of Italy

Second Punic War: Invasion of Italy

Third Punic War

Third Punic War

history of Ancient Rome | Early Republic | expansion

Early Republic: Expansion

history of Ancient Rome | Early Republic | transformation of Rome

Expansion: Transformation of Rome

history of Ancient Rome | Early Republic | conquest of Italy

Expansion: Conquest of Italy

history of Ancient Rome | Early Republic | conquest of Greece

Expansion: Conquest of Greece

history of Ancient Rome | Early Republic | conquest of the East

Expansion: Conquest of the East

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic |

Late Republic: Index

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar

Power: Caesar

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar | rise to power

Caesar: Rise to Power

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar | early career

Caesar: Early Career

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar in Africa

Caesar: Africa

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar in Egypt

Caesar in Egypt

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history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar in Epirus

Caesar: Epirus

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar | later campaigns

Caesar: Later Campaigns

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar | decision

Caesar: Decision

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Caesar | return to Rome

Caesar: Return to Rome

history of Ancient Rome | Caesar | demise

Caesar: Demise

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | revolt and war

Power: Revolt and War

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history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Catiline Conspiracy

Power: Catiline Conspiracy

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Gracchus Reforms

Power: Gracchus Reforms

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Gracchus Reforms | Gaius Gracchus

Gracchus Reforms: Gaius Gracchus

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Gracchus Reforms | Tiberius Gracchus

Gracchus Reforms: Tiberius Gracchus

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | First Civil War

First Civil War

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | First Civil War | revolt of Italy

First Civil War: Revolt of Italy

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history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | First Civil War | Marius

First Civil War: Marius

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | First Civil War | Sulla

First Civil War: Sulla

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Second Civil War

Second Civil War

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Second Civil War | Pompey

Second Civil War: Pompey

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Third Civil War

Third Civil War

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history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Third Civil War | campaign

Third Civil War: Campaign

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Third Civil War | Octavian

Third Civil War: Octavian

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Third Civil War | Antony

Third Civil War: Antony

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Third Civil War | Cleopatra

Third Civil War: Cleopatra

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Third Civil War | Battle of Actium

Third Civil War: Battle of Actium

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | Third Civil War | reign of terror

Third Civil War: Reign of Terror

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | revolt of Italy | death of democracy

Revolt of Italy: Death of Democracy

history of Ancient Rome | Late Republic | end of the Republic

End of the Republic

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