The Roman Republic - Vol. 1

The Roman Republic - Vol. 1

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The Roman Republic - Vol. 1

The Roman Republic - Vol. 1

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Excerpt

I S there room for another political study of the Roman Republic? To find defects in well-known works on the subject is easy: to provide a fairer version of the story is, from the nature of the evidence, supremely difficult. No wonder that writers nowadays concern themselves chiefly with the Empire or the Decline of the Republic. Yet the political interest of Roman history becomes faint, once the Roman world has passed under the control of a single master and his subordinates, and the tale of the Decline, taken by itself, is but a lame story. The great period of Roman imperial growth, say from the conquest of Italy to the battle of Pydna, is not only a striking phenomenon in itself. In it the decay of the republican system is already visible, and without it the sequel loses most of its meaning. Therefore I have tried to trace the whole course of the Republic, from the dim legendary days of the Kingdom and the early Free Commonwealth down to the foundation of the Empire; from the single imperium, through the republican magistracies and the supremacy of the Senate, down to that concentrated extract of official powers known as the Principate. A large part of this range may fairly be called a historical period, but the alternations of light and darkness make it very difficult to keep any reasonable proportion in the narrative. Of Rome's two most desperate struggles, the second Punic war was so full of recorded incidents, that no omission of doubtful matter, no economy of description, avails to reduce the story within moderate limits, if it is to be told at all. With battle tactics as such I have little to do; indeed the state of the evidence is usually such as to forbid it. Strategy in the large is another matter. It often raises questions not purely military, and reveals the state-psychology of rival powers. But here too the one-sided nature of most of our . . .

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