The wars of expansion had a massive effect on Rome and its citizens. The most obvious were the increased role of the senate, the influx of wealth that arrived in Rome and the introduction of Hellenism. It is believed that these changes were not just the beginnings of the downfall of the republic, but of the entire Roman Empire. Indeed, Sallust, writing in the first century BC states that although "every land and sea lay open to her. It was then that fortune turned unkind and confounded all her enterprises."
The senate was already a powerful body in Rome's government, these events, however greatly increased its power. Constitutionally, the senate was an advisory body; the Lex Hortensia, passed in 287, gave the power to make decisions to the Concilium Plebus. In practice, however, the senate was the governing body of Rome and it ruled unchallenged throughout the second century. This power was obtained through its successful control over Rome's wars of expansion. In fact, the crisis caused by the Second Punic War helped the senate's rise to power more than any other single factor. The senate consisted of ex-magistrates who had an enormous amount of experience in government. These senators took control of Rome and showed real leadership, particularly after Cannae. They provided loans, slaves for the army and food and arms, thus ending the war successfully and increasing their prestige. The influence the senate held over the magistrates was another factor in their increased power. Even though Roman magistrates were not obliged to seek or follow the senate's advice, they would usually submit all important issues to the senate before showing them to the assemblies. The senators would have been able to keep a tight control on the actions of the magistrates even if they didn't volunteer their plans. The senate could find another magistrate to veto any unsatisfactory motion they put forward. The lex Villa Annalis was passed in 181 as a check on any over-ambitious...
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