• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent do the sources suggest that Rome had become ungovernable by the 50s BC

Extracts from this document...


To what extent do the sources suggest that Rome had become ungovernable by the 50s BC? Many issues in the late Republic left Rome liable to instability and shifts in power - mainly due to the rise of 'personal politics' and the reiterated division of the factions; optimates and populares. Roman society at this time was therefore under a lot of pressure due to such happenings of the Catiline Conspiracy (63 BC) alongside the road to Caesar's Civil Wars and Sallust's notion of decreasing dignitas within the Roman system, where old traditional Roman virtues were being replaced for the pursuit of power and wealth - perhaps leading from the 146 BC turning point at the destruction of Carthage, in which Rome first began acquiring a taste or such wealth and luxuries. The first triumvirate of Caesar, Crassus and Pompey shows the individual determination for success, wealth and glory - and even being prepared to overrule the senate to do so. Cicero displays an early hatred of this alliance, as he places himself with the optimates politicians and seems to speak for the values of the old Republic - upholding the position of the senate. His letters show distain for such an occurrence, but this hatred may simply be due to the fear of one man (or indeed several potential men) becoming too powerful, suggesting much caution was in the senate at this time, and the inability to directly stop it - showing helplessness and therefore that perhaps society was uncontrollable; at least for the more conservative Romans. ...read more.


In Sallust's Speech of Macer in his Histories contemplate the same issues; drawing in particularly the point of corruption of 146 BC in the destruction of Carthage to be the turning point of Rome - in which wealth began to seep into Rome. In this speech the early Republic is drawn out as high and supreme, perhaps even idolized, but from all aspects of history, we can know that there is never a time when a society balances perfectly, and if no Romans at all were corrupt at this time, there would be no change to the society. Sallust was a salient historian on the time, but was very focused on condescending the contemporary invaluable, temperamental corrupt politicians of the late Republic, leading up to the 50s BC. Even Livy, in Beginnings of Luxury shows Rome to be liable to corruption and influences from the East, especially Asia Minor - the wealthiest part of the Empire. Livy was born in 59 BC, so would've been writing slightly after these events, but still is a contemporary of the late republic. In other works of Sallust, the Jugurthine War epitomizes the view he had about corruption invading Rome, whist beginning to explain (again the troubles between the two factions) Marius and Sulla. Another key theme for the instability and uncontrollability of Rome would be the senate's power verses that of the popular assembly - and the shift between the senate's power as the advisory body, to practically having no role, other than that of appearance. ...read more.


and almost immediately switched sides upon hearing - further suggesting or even reflecting the instability of Rome at this time. Sallust however can be incredibly bias, and was not known to be present, but could be seen to have been trying to replicate the happenings as truthfully as possible. Cicero's letters during this period also reflect a degree of uncertainty and therefore again reiterating the uncertainty that would be to come. Ultimately, the shift in power and influence in Rome had distinctly focused on individuals (namely the generals of armies, patron/client system for support) rather than the traditional advisory body of the senate. The increase in 'people power' towards the Roman citizens had altered the system to become very distinct to that of the early republic - and possibly the loss of control was simply due to this change. The rise of individual political success may have underpinned some individual's life goals - but is due to a number of reasons, primarily in the new found use of personal armies, with generals turning their soldiers into clients. The sources however acknowledge the panic the Romans reflected in such times as the beginnings of the triumvirate, the Catiline Conspiracy and the lead up to Civil War - agreeing with the initial term of Rome becoming 'ungovernable' as the sources suggest too many political hopefuls were fighting for power at the expense of the Republic - although perhaps Caesar's later powers suggest it was an inevitable shift, and would have simply happened with time in any case. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Was Julius Caesar an effective leader?

    He entrenched his legions between two separate palisades. His victory at Alesia relied on timing. His cavalry placed behind the Gallic relief force engaged on his order at the most pivotal point of battle. This was greatest military victory of Caesar's career and his most famous.

  2. To what extent did Augustus use the building programme to beautify Rome.

    It can be argued that Augustus desired most to use the building programme to reflect on his own success militarily in Rome and in the provinces. The Prima Porta supports this view clearly, most notably on the breastplate which contains a great amount of symbolism, all reflecting the military might of Rome.

  1. How useful are the sources for our understanding of the significance of tribunes in ...

    Although tribunes never intended to bring about revolution the Gracchi showed how the office could be used as an instrument of change. It was the Gracchi that made the tribunitian powers the most important asset for the Populares movement to control because as Plutarch notes: Gaius Gracchus 'to a certain

  2. In this essay I will be examining the reasons why against all odds the ...

    With the fatalities of the army and the losses of three hundred ships, Mardonius was forced to return to Persia to bear the bad news upon his King. Darius now full of rage in the spring of 491BC sent envoys demanding Earth and Water from all city states of Greece.

  1. Political success depended upon military success. To what extent do the sources support the ...

    Thus his speeches and letters must be evaluated accordingly, the former as being public knowledge, the latter as expressing his actions on a private, personal level. Sallust's dramatic descriptions are subjective and historically inaccurate, uniquely though contain historical analysis with Thusydidean realism instead of being chronological accounts.

  2. To what extent was the battle of Salamis a turning point in Xerxes' campaign ...

    In the end, the Battle's value as a turning point in Xerxes? invasion lay not in land gained or lost or in men killed or captured, but in inspiration. The Spartans and Thespians had taught Greece and the world an enduring lesson about courage in the face of impossible odds.

  1. To what extent did the military reforms of Marius contribute to the collapse ...

    Further, shifting the allegiance from the State to the commanders can be held accountable for the creation of such a war, and ultimately, the collapse of the Roman Republic. Sulla decided to raise an army in order to get his way and win the command over Marius.

  2. In what ways and to what extent Does Herodotus overemphasize individuals in the conflict ...

    ?Honor forbade that he himself should go? as some of the Greeks that accompanied him did. Herodotus here indeed focuses on individuals as his emphasis is only on the Spartan sacrifice, accusing the Thebans that assisted them of ?strongly being suspected of Persian sympathies? and the neglect and absence of Thespian contribution at Thermopylae.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work