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Rethinking the fall of Rome's republic
MIT news ^ | November 9, 2011 | Peter Dizikes

Posted on 11/19/2011 2:32:47 AM PST by SunkenCiv

Using a variety of sources, from ancient texts to new archaeological evidence, Broadhead has crafted a novel hypothesis about how Caesar -- as well as Sulla a few decades before, and Augustus several years later -- could march on Rome with his own legions.

"My interpretation is a demographic one," Broadhead says. "Ancient Italy was a place of high geographical mobility, instead of being a place filled with sedentary peasants, which is the stereotypical image." People in towns throughout the Italian peninsula, from whose numbers the Roman Republic traditionally recruited its army, often traveled either to the newly conquered outposts of the Roman world, or throughout Italy, in search of better living conditions.

The Romans had previously used a rigid list, the formula togatorum, to determine how many conscripts should be drawn from which town, stubbornly refusing to change the list over time. But as the population shifted around, Broadhead notes, it became "more difficult for the Roman state to monitor and control that movement, and so the system of military recruitment that had been based very rigidly on the geographical distribution of population dissolved."

The result, he adds, was "a new system of recruitment where a powerful general goes to the population and says, 'Will you all fight with me?' The answer is 'Yes,' because any such volunteers were likely to enjoy the spoils of war. Population movement led to the personal client army of the late republic, which has long been recognized as a key to understanding its fall."

(Excerpt) Read more at web.mit.edu ...


TOPICS: History; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs; romanempire
William Broadhead, an associate professor of history at MIT [Photo: Dominick Reuter]

Rethinking the fall of Romes republic

1 posted on 11/19/2011 2:32:48 AM PST by SunkenCiv
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.

The rise of the office of emperor was just evolution of a political system that wasn't really a republic in the first place. Still, a very interesting thesis.


2 posted on 11/19/2011 2:35:14 AM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv
...a powerful general goes to the population and says, 'Will you all fight with me?'

If my memory serves, was it not Gaius Marius who first instituted this system, and is this not already widely known? This was before Sulla became the Dictator

3 posted on 11/19/2011 4:37:32 AM PST by sima_yi ( Reporting live from the People's Republic of Boulder)
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To: SunkenCiv
Goes to show that privatizing the military is a bad idea. You really don't want your generals having their armies loyal to them above the state. There were cohorts assigned just to the Emperor and Rome, they could also be sent to crush rebellious legions. Other legions were not allowed into Rome. All of that was a pretty solid counterbalance except for the fact that people take bribes. Once people figured out that you could bribe the Emperor’s own guard to kill him, stability goes out the window. I do sometimes think that a good novelist could make a fantastic book out of a coup in the United States where a general bribes the Secret Service to kill the President.
4 posted on 11/19/2011 4:44:36 AM PST by dog breath
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To: dog breath

Rome fell because (in the end) it could not field armies to fight off the encroaching barbarians. It has been theorized that this was due to a combination of demographic decline and Roman’s not having the will to defend themselves anymore.

Sound familiar?


5 posted on 11/19/2011 5:02:54 AM PST by rbg81
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To: SunkenCiv

Why did the Romans speak Latin and not Roman, and who were the Latins, the tribe dwelling near the city of Rome?


6 posted on 11/19/2011 5:29:36 AM PST by RoadTest (For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.)
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To: rbg81

“Rome fell because (in the end) it could not field armies to fight off the encroaching barbarians. It has been theorized that this was due to a combination of demographic decline and Roman’s not having the will to defend themselves anymore.

Sound familiar?”

What’s more familiar to us 21st Century Americans is politicians bankrupting the nation by bleeding the treasury dry to fatten their own estates. Any of that in Roman history?


7 posted on 11/19/2011 5:32:12 AM PST by RoadTest (For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.)
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To: RoadTest

Their territory was called Latium; Rome was just one of several towns of the region. They were ruled by the Etruscans until the Romans overthrew their Etruscan king and founded the Republic. This is why Rome became the leading city in Latium and eventually Europe.


8 posted on 11/19/2011 5:49:30 AM PST by mrreaganaut (Omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina.)
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To: mrreaganaut

“Their territory was called Latium; Rome was just one of several towns of the region. They were ruled by the Etruscans until the Romans overthrew their Etruscan king and founded the Republic. This is why Rome became the leading city in Latium and eventually Europe.”

Good stuff! Thank you.

Why did the Romans speak Latin and not Roman?


9 posted on 11/19/2011 6:04:41 AM PST by RoadTest (For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.)
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To: SunkenCiv
A piece of news last week made me think of the fall of Rome itself (500 years after the switch from Republic to Empire): thieves stole the copper sword from Lincoln's tomb.

How close to societal collapse are we?

10 posted on 11/19/2011 6:18:35 AM PST by Vide
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To: rbg81

From what I understand the Romans came to be dependent upon the dole. That saps ones will to adapt to disaster and destroys ones ability to innovate. It also creates a dependency upon the state for personal protection.


11 posted on 11/19/2011 6:36:04 AM PST by Crucial
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Did You Know?

The Current FReepathon Pays For The Current Quarters Expenses?

Now That You Do, Donate And Keep FR Running


12 posted on 11/19/2011 7:16:21 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are here! What will you do?)
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To: SunkenCiv

Remember during the Clinton administration when one of his lackeys (was it snuffleupagus?) talked about crossing the Rubicon? So few understood what that meant.


13 posted on 11/19/2011 7:51:25 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: RoadTest
The Romans were part of the Latins--traditionally consisting of 30 peoples (there was a myth of a sow giving birth to 30 piglets representing the 30 Latin peoples). Until 338 Rome was a member of the Latin League which fought frequent wars against neighboring tribes (Sabines, Volscians, Aequi, Hernici, etc.). In 338 Rome fought a war against the Latins, defeated them, made some of the Latins Roman citizens and kept the rest as Latin allies.

Rome had always been the most important of the city-states in Latium. Among the others were Tibur (Tivoli) and Praeneste (Palestrina). The modern-day region of Lazio in Italy includes ancient Latium but also land on the north side of the Tiber River that was part of ancient Etruria.

14 posted on 11/19/2011 9:35:53 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: Crucial

I think that once a state reaches a certain level of prosperity, this may be inevitable. “Smart” politicians realize they can be popular by giving out these goodies. Smart is in quotes because what is good for them (in the short term) is harmful to their civilization in the long term. My guess is that they understand this all too well, but don’t care.


15 posted on 11/19/2011 9:42:40 AM PST by rbg81
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To: rbg81

My question is not “Why did Rome fall, but how did they expand and sustain the empire so long? Remarkable for a city to have such an expansive empire for so long.

IIRC the empire was split and they had paid non-Italians for decades to provide an army on the boundaries of the empire. As the barbarians had their own demographic expansion and needed land and wanted a taste of the good life, their southern and western expansions became inevitable. Don’t know how long you can keep your guards at the fence of the property when they want the good life up in the main house.


16 posted on 11/19/2011 9:49:13 AM PST by morphing libertarian
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To: rbg81
I think that once a state reaches a certain level of prosperity, this may be inevitable. “Smart” politicians realize they can be popular by giving out these goodies.

As I've said before, the fall of the Roman Republic, as opposed to the fall of the Roman Empire, began the day that Carthage was destroyed. The influx of loot from that conquest, coupled with the revenue stream from being the sole, undisputed power in the Med, was the root cause.

Political machinations to control this wealth led to a collapse in civic virtues, and ambitious men abounded, vying to be the one who would distribute the goodies. The Senate became wholly corrupt, and men such as Marius, Sulla, the First and Second Triumvirates became the norm, and not the exception.

At the end of all that, the Roman Empire was born. It too, would not last, due to overweening ambitions, lust for personal power, and collapse of societal virtues...

the infowarrior

17 posted on 11/19/2011 9:55:42 AM PST by infowarrior
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To: morphing libertarian

Rome learned a lot from the Greeks. As a result, it many good policies and practices. This helped it to survive many a bad emperor. Romans also had a very strong sense of honor. Like the Japanese, if you disgraced yourself or your family, you were expected to kill yourself. We can debate the morality of that particular tradition, but methinks it kept their elites on the straight and narrow. [Their mass conversion to Christianity may have weakened this, IMHO]

You also have to remember that the velocity of information back then was very (very) slow compared to today. The reputation of Rome kept her great even after she had rotted internally. Eventually, a few smart barbarians figured out that Rome had become a paper tiger. Even after her fall, it took decades for the word to get out that the Empire was indeed gone for good.


18 posted on 11/19/2011 10:00:20 AM PST by rbg81
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To: rbg81

I would add leaving the local authority in place alongside a Roman governor. Taking the kids of the leader to Rome for education and imposing Roman law. I took a strong lesson from the strength and spread of Roman law, that I highly object to the exceptions we see for those inside the beltway.


19 posted on 11/19/2011 10:06:20 AM PST by morphing libertarian
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To: SunkenCiv

My understanding was that in the Roman-ruled colonies, such as Britain, regulations became so restrictive, so micromanaging and inflation so high that it crumbled as people picked up and moved in large migrations.


20 posted on 11/19/2011 12:32:27 PM PST by marsh2
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To: Verginius Rufus

Thnk you very much! That’s what I wanted to know.


21 posted on 11/19/2011 1:55:15 PM PST by RoadTest (For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.)
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To: marsh2

The events described here pertain to the very early empire.

The people picking up an moving were entering the Empire, not the other way. Rome’s implosion in the west resembles the implosion of the post-Roman petty kingdoms in Britain in the face of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes’ settlement expansion. The Britons raided and burned each others’ towns and territories when the victims were defending themselves against the foreign invader; the Romans were engaged in infighting, intrigues, assassinations, and rival “emperors” instead of managing imperial affairs.


22 posted on 11/19/2011 2:33:19 PM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: RoadTest

Latium was the territory, the Latins were the tribe, Rome was the city. But it’s never a bad time for a Dan Quayle reference. ;’)


23 posted on 11/19/2011 2:35:54 PM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Vide

Good comment.


24 posted on 11/19/2011 2:36:26 PM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: sima_yi; dog breath

The Senate instituted this system; between having to raise armies quickly during periods of invasion (best known ones being the Gallic sack of Rome, and Hannibal’s 16 year long Italian campaign) and conquering overseas territories to enrich themselves (officially the public coffers, but that was BS), large, well-trained, effective armies which didn’t require a large levy of citizens or of taxes.

The Praetorian Guard was instituted under Augustus, who also cut the regular army in half by getting rid of half of the numbered legions (reducing it to 28), integrating legions to bring all of them to full strength and formalizing the auxiliary system (and adding back approximately 28 legions in the process). The Guard not only was bodyguard for the Emperor (although as you said, that didn’t always work out), but also defended the city and acted as its only police force.

Also, the idea that there were no troops allowed in Rome prior to Julius Caesar’s Rubicon adventure is not true; Pompey played the Senate well, just it had played him after his massively successful campaigns of (1) conquest in the east and (2) defeat of the pirates, but that dance delayed his ability to respond, so he left Italy. The Senate was supporting both sides.


25 posted on 11/19/2011 2:51:15 PM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv

Trying to remember my Livy, but early on wasn’t it the intent that one council would go out with an army and the other stay at home with the other legions?


26 posted on 11/19/2011 2:54:39 PM PST by morphing libertarian
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To: SunkenCiv
Antiqui Romani nesciverunt potato.

Romanes eunt domus!

27 posted on 11/19/2011 4:14:53 PM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: SunkenCiv

I went back to my research notes. I was correct in part and in error, in part.

The Middle Ages, prepared by National Geographic Book Service, editorial consultant Kenneth M. Setton, under the guidance of Melville Bell Grosvenor and Franc Shor, c1977.

Late Roman society of 3rd century A.D. saw one military commander after another overthrow the government. A debasement of coinage encouraged a staggering inflation and reversion to a “natural economy.” More often than not, the government collected taxes in foodstuffs, materials and services and paid its soldiers and civil servants in kind.. In the 4th century Diocletian and Constantine reformed the coainage, but in attempts to stabilize society they decreed that all workers and their descendants would be frozen in their jobs for life. The aristocratic element moved from the cities into the country to raise what he needed. at 15-16

Small free farmers, ruined by debt, plague, brigandage, usurpations by powerful neighbors and government exactions, placed themselves in the hands of larger landowners. Tenant farmers called “coloni” and slavess worked on vast estates. Legally free, the coloni were bound to the estate and their children after them. An edict of Constantine stated that tenant farmers who flew, could be caught and reduced to servitude. Thus developed the system of manorialism. at 16

The lords of the manor protected the peasnats and were in turn, subject to greater lords becoming military vassals of their lieges. at 16


28 posted on 11/19/2011 6:48:07 PM PST by marsh2
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To: SunkenCiv

Heck, not just the Italic provinces, but all over the empire, in its latter days. Iberia, Cisalpine Gaul, parts of Austria and the Balkans, if memory serves.

And detente and occasional (shaky) alliances with the Huns, etc., once the Romans could no longer keep them out of western and southwestern Europe.

With such a diversity (hmmmm!) of so-called allies, troops and lower-level commanders, the occasional rogue element could be expected to arise. (cf. the first Caesar.)


29 posted on 11/19/2011 8:21:27 PM PST by Erasmus (I love "The Raven," but then what do I know? I'm just a poetaster.)
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To: rbg81
Peter Heather's recent book on the decline of the Empire mentioned in this Wikipedia article posits that external pressures from neighboring empires vitiated Rome's resources, and those of Constantinople too, to the point it could no longer help out its senior partner.

Recurring emergencies in the East from the Sassanids, and in the west and eventually south from the Huns, limited Rome's options in the latter decades of the Empire.

Eventually, the Huns migrated all the way across the Rhine, through France and Spain, across Gibraltar, and back east towards Tripoli. Finally, the Huns began to take over the agriculturally prime lands on the African coast that had served as the Empire's breadbasket.

Once that happened, the end was at hand.

30 posted on 11/19/2011 8:31:11 PM PST by Erasmus (I love "The Raven," but then what do I know? I'm just a poetaster.)
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To: mrreaganaut

They even took on the Etruscan alphabet, which we now call “Roman.”


31 posted on 11/19/2011 8:32:23 PM PST by Erasmus (I love "The Raven," but then what do I know? I'm just a poetaster.)
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To: SunkenCiv

“Broadhead has crafted a novel hypothesis about how Caesar — as well as Sulla a few decades before, and Augustus several years later — could march on Rome with his own legions.

“My interpretation is a demographic one,” Broadhead says”

Why is it historians somehow cannot accept the fact that a republic can be toppled by a handful of greedy men lusting after power, especially when they essentially have their own private armies? If you want to explain the fall of the Roman Republic, one needs to look no further than ambition.


32 posted on 11/20/2011 5:58:46 AM PST by GenXteacher (He that hath no stomach for this fight, let him depart!)
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To: SunkenCiv

“But it’s never a bad time for a Dan Quayle reference.”

I’m trying to figure out how that relates.


33 posted on 11/20/2011 6:28:23 AM PST by RoadTest (For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.)
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To: RoadTest

The speaking Latin reference.


34 posted on 11/20/2011 5:56:37 PM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: morphing libertarian

:’) There’s an old anecdote about a reader and fan of Livy who traveled to Rome just to look at him.

The Consuls were ‘elected’ in pairs, serving one year terms, couldn’t serve again, and could veto each others’ decrees. It was set up by the hereditary aristocracy which populated the Senate, to avoid sharing any real power.

Military commanders were recruited for specific crises — such as the pirate problem, which led to Pompey’s sweeping the pirates from the seas; that culminated in Augustus’ model for a permanent imperial navy, which kept the seven seas pirate-free for centuries.

The military commanders could be (and often were) relieved at the Senate’s whim, but could be kept on campaign for years if need be. The reason Julius Caesar wrote his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars was to keep Romans interested in and supporting what he was doing in Gaul, and it remains great reading.


35 posted on 11/20/2011 7:35:17 PM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv
I misunderstood to which system the author was referring.

Gaius Marius was the first on to go to the capite censi (the headcount), the poor who could not afford to supply their own equipment (a requirement for the legions up to this time). He basically said "Join my legion, I'll pay the expenses and give you a wage". The army then became a profession.

36 posted on 11/20/2011 8:30:58 PM PST by sima_yi ( Reporting live from the People's Republic of Boulder)
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To: sima_yi

The poverty that made that possible was due to the three dozen or so large families who owned most of Italy; when crises erupted (such as an invasion) the common soldiers were patriotic volunteers; when they got back after a year, or two, or more, of a successful campaign, they’d find their lands had been confiscated by some rich a-hole — sort of like eminent domain is used now, but less subtle than that. So, the impoverished classes grew, along with the percentage of the population who’d been enslaved. The insatiable demand for more slaves is another thing that made Caesar’s conquest of Gaul so popular; the growth in slave labor also led to greater poverty among those unable to find work for themselves.


37 posted on 11/21/2011 3:45:13 AM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv
Another problem was that due to some abysmally poor leadership, Roman legions suffered extremely heavy losses, to the point where whole armies were wiped out, the result being that their (the legionaries') holdings wound up in the hands of the rich landowners, and fewer and fewer of the traditional recruits were available.

PS It is nice to meet fellow Roman history buffs here in the Free Republic.

38 posted on 11/21/2011 5:50:12 AM PST by sima_yi ( Reporting live from the People's Republic of Boulder)
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To: SunkenCiv

Thanx. Have read may pages from the beginning to the year of 4 Caesars.


39 posted on 11/21/2011 7:28:31 AM PST by morphing libertarian
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To: morphing libertarian

many


40 posted on 11/21/2011 7:30:23 AM PST by morphing libertarian
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To: dog breath
>>Goes to show that privatizing the military is a bad idea. You really don't want your generals having their armies loyal to them above the state.

Through the US Civil War, officers were appointed by politicians and elected by the enlisted men in their discrete units. Promotions were done locally at the unit level through the First World War. It is only since the Second World War that promotions and appointments have been done through the top officers of a service or through Congress. The Navy's system is the envy of the others, with officer promotion selection boards ruled only through official personnel records reviewed by disinterested officers who do not know the people up for promotion. The Air Force, on the other hand, has had the most trouble with outside influence marring promotion results.

41 posted on 11/21/2011 8:01:48 AM PST by pabianice (")
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To: SunkenCiv
>>Population movement led to the personal client army of the late republic, which has long been recognized as a key to understanding its fall."

Recently, the History Channel examined the history of the Roman soldier. He went from a high-trained, massively-equipped Roman professional at the time of Caesar to a provincial joke of a mercinary with straw armor and no training at the time of the fall 400 years later. Coincidentally, this is what Obama is trying to do to our military.

42 posted on 11/21/2011 8:05:42 AM PST by pabianice (")
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