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By Pamela Marin

This can be the tale of the final century of the Roman Republic - why and the way did the Republic be successful and why did it eventually fail? was once the destruction of the Republic brought on by one guy a?? Julius Caesar a?? or used to be he probably the main visionary of his colleagues in realising that the Rome of the previous had replaced? Are the activities of fellows like Brutus and Cassius in assassinating Caesar priceless of admiration, or have been they the ultimate gasp of a fallen global? Pamela Marin starts off by way of analyzing the beliefs underpinning the Roman Republic, and relates the mythical tale of Cincinnatus. within the yr 458 and back in 439 BCE, Cincinnatus used to be approached to imagine the dictatorship which will lead an army fight opposed to a rebellious tribe in valuable Italy. After resolving the hazard he stepped down from the dictatorship after fifteen days. This nearly instant resignation was once seen because the final instance of civic accountability, modesty, sturdy management, and specially, provider to the res publica. This near-mythic tale of the small farmer leaving his vegetation to are inclined to the political challenge of the early Republic came across resonance because the centuries handed, and Cincinnatus grew to become the exemplar of Republican advantage. by means of the 1st century BCE, many have been bemoaning the decline of integrity and Republican values: the Roman historian Sallust commented "in those degenerate days...who is there that doesn't vie together with his ancestors in riches and extravagance instead of in uprightness and diligence?" In her illuminating ebook Pamela Marin anatomises the drama of the ultimate days of the Roman Republic, untangles the moving alliances and betrayals that led finally to the assassination of Caesar at the Ides of March in forty four BCE, and divulges the backdrop to the increase of Octavian, Romea??s first Emperor, Augustus.

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It has been implied that these were political parties similar to their modern counterparts, which has been extremely misleading. Instead of couching Roman politics and political life in modern terms, it is perhaps better to re-evaluate the terminology itself for a clear understanding. In the first instance, the terms optimates and populares, while convenient for the historian, is rather confusing for the reader. Cicero uses boni or the best men to categorize those individuals who predominated in senatorial matters, but many times, those politicians also passed popular measures, such as corn doles or agrarian legislation.

Bribery, extravagant games and public displays of largesse were also intrinsic to the Roman system, with men such as Caesar borrowing large sums to cover expenses. The political offices were unpaid, but many could expect a posting as a provinical governor following their praetorship or consulship, although some, like Verres in the 70s bce, let their greed overtake their administration and they would return to Rome dripping with gold, jewels and other prizes. In Verres’ case, unfortunately, the ambitious young orator Cicero had also been in Sicily and having a reputation for honesty and integrity, he was approached by the islanders to prosecute Verres, in which he was successful.

If there weren’t delays or violent riots, some 44 individuals were elected every year for the main political offices. While the assemblies that elected these individuals are mentioned at length below, it might be interesting to compare modern and ancient representation. In many English-speaking countries, such as the UK, Ireland and the USA, elections take place every four to five years. In a country such as Ireland, there are 166 members of its parliament (or Oireachtas) for a population of four million (2006 census) with voting rights for a little over three million citizens.

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