The Decline of the Roman Republic

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The Roman Republic was birthed after the legendary rape of Lucretia, as told by Roman historian Livy. The subsequent overthrow by Lucius Junius Brutus of King Tarquin the Proud’s monarchy led to the creation of the Roman Republic in 509 B.C.E. The focal-point of the new order was to emphasize the sharing of power, which contributed to its fast-paced success. However, the Republic also decayed and collapsed as quickly as it had grown. The main factors that attributed to its decline were the political reforms proposed by the Gracchi, its rapid expansion and conquests, and the consuls Marius and Sulla. These three factors all played significant roles in the decay of the Roman Republic and its transition into the Roman Empire.

Tiberius and Gaius Sempronius Graccchus were two upper-class brothers who served as tribunes. As tribunes, they pushed for measures to help small farmers, which angered many politicians at the time. Tiberius Gracchus was first elected as tribune in 133 B.C.E., where he made his first attempts at reform. After having his attempts blocked by his opposition, he bypassed the Senate and had the Plebian assembly pass his measures which aimed at redistributing public lands to those Romans who had none. To further fund his new reforms, he bypassed the Senate once again in the decision to accept the king of Pergamum’s gifts. These actions angered the Senate because he was breaking the common tradition. However, this anger turned into hostility after Tiberius announced his run for reelection as a tribune, which also violated tradition. After this announcement, Tiberius’ cousin, Scipio Nasica, then led a mob of senators and beat him to death. After Tiberius’ death, murder in politics became a well-known political tactic and showed the ruthlessness of politics at the time and contributed to the decline of the society as a whole.

A similar situation occurred with Tiberius’ brother, Gaius, who was elected as tribune in 123 B.C.E. He also served as...
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