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The Downfall of the Roman Republic

Many historians have argued the exact reason behind the downfall of the Roman Republic. With the growth of the Roman Republic, many problems emerged; each of them could be considered the cause of the downfall. The late Republic was plagued by economic, political, and social issues; many changes were required. However, the unresolved issues, corruption, and resort to violence had started the inevitable downfall of the Republic and the establishment of the rule of one man.

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The fall of the Roman Republic is considered to be not one event but an eventful period of Rome’s history that started with the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus. His attempt to resolve the agrarian issue led to the beginning of internal violence. If the oligarchy of the Roman Republic were not as successful in acquiring more provinces, the problem of the economic competition between the small-holders and large-scale farms would not arise. Oligarchy’s greed for resources and power endangered military establishment, formed mainly by small-holders. Tiberius Gracchus’s efforts to rid the Republic of such issues were seen as an attempt to undermine the oligarchy’s control. Getting rid of such threats by means of popular discontent can be considered the first step towards political violence that led to the downfall of the Roman Republic.

The oligarchy was still incapable of resolving the problem of the military forces due to the fear of losing control of the government. Being unable to provide for the state military forces, the government lost its army’s loyalty. Private armies started recruiting landless citizens, offering them citizenship and lands. The existence of private military forces, uncontrolled by the government, and the previous experience of resorting to violence lead to the Roman Republic’s first Civil War. As such, a general by the name of Lucius Cornelius Sulla was exalted to a ruling position of the Republic, owing to his private army. With the power he held, he set the first precedent of attempting to impose a reform, marking himself as a dictator. His actions were a successful example of overthrowing the government that proved to be the most harmful for the welfare of the Roman Republic.

The usage of violence in the Republic’s government for the purpose of passing the laws created a coalition of influential men that seized the control of Rome. The coalition consisted of Magnus, Crassus, and Caesar, combining their power and resources. However, with the death of Crassus, Caesar, and Pompey, being prone to violence, started the Second Civil War. Having won the civil war and received unprecedented power and influence that surpassed even Sulla, Caesar was able to elevate himself to what can be described as a monarch. The greed for power, resort to violence, the access to a private army, and the precedent of a dictatorship rule set the grounds for a total dismantling of the Republican constitution.

The Roman Republic’s expansion followed by various issues set in motion one of the most critical moments in Rome’s history. The precedent of violence was set by attempting to solve the agrarian crisis, which indirectly led to the establishment of private armies. The presence of personal military forces resulted in civil war. Winning a civil war gave men power and influence, furthermore decreasing the control of the Republican government. The unresolved problems led to a set of events one by one, resulting in the fall of the Roman Republic.

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