Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny

Edward Watts | 2018
Posted in: Rise and Fall of Empire
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At its inception, “the republic provided a legal and political structure that channeled the individual energies of Romans in ways that benefited the entire Roman commonwealth.” But over the following centuries, that foundation slowly weakened, and then rapidly collapsed.

Watts describes how the Roman Republic, which our nation’s Founding Fathers considered the height of human achievement, became the Roman Empire—despotic, corrupt, and anti-republican. He argues that three main factors weakened the Roman Republic’s civilization of virtue: 1) a rapid influx of money in the second century BC, 2) the growth of the Roman army as a result of Rome’s predominance in the Mediterranean following the Second Punic War, and 3) the rise of a professional class of politicians who realized the power of the mob (the populares).

Mortal Republic provides excellent insights into how the Republic became the Empire, and more broadly it speaks to the ever-present threat of centralized power.