The Conflict between Sulla and Marius

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America: True Heirs of the Roman Republic?
Rubicon by Tom Holland, is a historical narrative of the Roman Republic. Holland’s thesis for the entire book is, “We are also, for good as well as ill, the heirs of the Roman Republic”. What Holland means is America has inherited every aspect of Roman culture; the good and the bad. Holland’s book’s key point is the conflict between Sulla and Marius. These men were Roman politicians with very different backgrounds and personalities. Each was the seeking the same political goal, so they competed to the point of war. At first they manipulated the people, then they tried to find loop holes in the political system. And finally they started a civil war in which Sulla came out on top. There are definitely similarities and differences between the two civilizations. There were also several interesting paradoxes in ancient Rome that Holland refers to in Rubicon. Some of these paradoxes, such as: Competition vs. Cooperation and Individual vs. Community, can be compared to modern America and used to prove Holland’s thesis.

In the ancient Roman Republic, a complex political system was in place. Much like America, it was an indirect representative democracy. It also had a system of checks and balances, a way to accommodate two social classes, and set terms for every office. Romans system of government pushed politicians like Sulla and Marius to the extremes. Maintaining ones office was hard enough in Rome, but Roman culture forced one to compete for even more power, due to the fact that politicians wanted more power and fame. When one achieved the position of Consul, he would try to force everyone below him to stop climbing the ladder and instead hold it steady for those already at the top. This presents the first remarkable paradox: Competition vs. Cooperation. This paradox would often bring Rome to a standstill in the middle of which the consuls grappled for power with the other magistrates instead of advancing the Republic. In...
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