Roman Art as Propaganda

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The Republican period of Roman history began in 509 BCE after the last Etruscan kings was dropped.  The Republic was controlled by the Senate, which was an assembly by dominated upper-class families. This dominance by the aristocracy led to tensions between the social classes, especially among the lower classes who fought for equality in both the economy and the government.  Despite these inner struggles, Rome's military power strengthened throughout the 5th and 4th centuries BCE and by 270 BCE they commanded the entire peninsula.  264 BCE brought the beginning of the three Punic Wars fought against Carthage over control of the western Mediterranean.  These resulted in victories for Rome which granted them access to the wealth of Greece, Egypt, and Asia Minor.  Rome then began to establish protectorates in the East, Africa, Sicily, Spain, and Gaul and these takeovers resulted in the Roman generals' acquisitions of large amounts of works of art.  Greek art, especially, began to influence the tastes of the Romans because it was brought back in such large quantities.  The Generals brandished their plunder during triumphal processions through the city and senators and wealthy Romans displayed works of art to show their status and to promote themselves.      In spite of these successes, the growing struggles between the classes and the burden of administering to the accumulated land strained the Roman government and began to weaken the Senate. This loss of power brought about a series of civil wars fought among generals with the backing of their distinct armies.  Julius Caesar eventually prevailed when in 49 BCE he rode into Italy with his army against the orders of the Senate.  In 44 BCE he declared himself dictator for life, but was murdered by a crew of strict republicans on the Ides of March 44 BCE.  This once again plunged Rome into civil war and while Caesar's heir, his grand-nephew Octavian, and  Marc Antony initially joined sides to avenge his death, they...
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