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Travel - March 23, 2021

Rome: Empire vs Republic

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I’ve completed a number of episodes pertaining to Historic Rome. The reason being that so most of the foundational issues in our world, from our alphabet to our calendar, to the names of our months, all will be traced again to Rome.

Throughout these episodes, I’ve typically talked in regards to the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. 

Nonetheless, many individuals won’t understand what the distinction is between the 2. When did the republic turn out to be an empire, and why? 

Be taught extra in regards to the Roman Republic and Empire on this episode of Every part In all places Each day.


This episode is sponsored by Audible.com.

My audiobook advice at present is SPQR: A Historical past of Historic Rome by Mary Beard.

SPQR is sort of merely top-of-the-line books on the historical past of historic Rome by one of many world’s best Roman historians. 

Opening the audiobook in 63 BCE with the well-known conflict between the populist aristocrat Catiline and Cicero, the famend politician and orator, Beard animates this “terrorist conspiracy”, which was aimed on the very coronary heart of the republic, demonstrating how this singular occasion would presage the wrestle between democracy and autocracy that will come to outline a lot of Rome’s subsequent historical past.

You may get a free one-month trial to Audible and a couple of free audiobooks by going to audibletrial.com/EverythingEverywhere or clicking on the hyperlink within the present notes.


To know the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, we’ve to take a step again even additional to the Roman Kingdom. 

The Kingdom of Rome doesn’t get as a lot consideration as the opposite phases of Roman historical past as a result of when it was a kingdom, it was little greater than a metropolis. It was simply one among many such kingdoms dotting the map on the Italian peninsula. 

In accordance with legend, the primary king of Rome was Romulus. He and his twin brother Remus had been, once more in response to legend, raised by a she-wolf. They later fought one another on the place to discovered a metropolis. Romulus needed to construct on the Palatine Hill and Remus needed to construct on the Aventine Hill. 

Remus was then killed by Romulus, and Romulus based town which bore his title: Rome. This happened in 753 BC. 

Romulus reigned as king for years after which handed on the throne to king Numa Pompilius after his demise. 

There have been seven kings of Rome over a interval of about 250 years. 

The final king of Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. He was accused of raping a noblewoman named Lucrecia. Within the revolt which insured, a riot was led towards the king by one Lucius Junius Brutus. 

The king was exiled, and in 509 BC,  Rome grew to become a republic. 

Many individuals are confused as to what a republic is. What I typically hear is that individuals suppose a republic is a consultant democracy. Whereas a republic very properly could be a consultant democracy, a republic is actually only a nation with out a monarchy. 

For instance, the United States, Germany, and Eire are republics. 

Canada, Australia, Japan, Spain, and Sweden aren’t republics. They’re monarchies. 

The rejection of a king and the creation of a republic was most likely the one most defining factor within the historical past of Rome. The revulsion towards having a king was burned deep into the Roman psyche. Attempting to turn out to be a king was most likely the largest crime that somebody may very well be responsible of. 

The system created within the republic ensured that nobody individual would ever be capable to management Rome. Rome didn’t have a single chief. The best place in Rome was the consul, and there have been all the time two consuls who might veto one another. The consuls additionally solely held energy for a single yr, after which couldn’t run for consul once more for 10 years. 

Over the subsequent a number of centuries, Rome fought with its neighbors, conquered territory, expanded, and grew. Throughout that total time, the norms and guidelines surrounding the Republic had been upheld by just about everybody in Rome. 

This started to interrupt down within the 1st century BC. Social issues started to develop in Rome and two civil wars broke out, leaving common Lucius Cornelius Sulla because the dictator of Rome.

Dictator was an precise, authorized workplace in Rome. It was one thing given to somebody throughout a time of emergency and it was solely prolonged for six months. Sulla was dictator for 3 years. Furthermore, he did issues like create proscription lists the place anybody on the checklist may very well be legally murdered and their property confiscated. This was was the type of habits of a king. 

Sulla died quickly after his dictatorship ended, however the influence he left on the Republic was lasting. 

This was the start of the tip of the Republic and the interval of Roman historical past that most individuals are aware of. Most representations of Rome from tv, films, and the stage all come from this time period. 

The important thing determine within the downfall of the Republic was Julius Caesar. 

Julius Caesar was not a Roman Emperor. Nonetheless, he will be thought of one among, if not the final main figures of the republic. 

He was extraordinarily formidable, proficient, and one of many best generals in Roman historical past. 

His story is way too lengthy to element in a present like this, however suffice it to say he grew to become very highly effective. He conquered Gaul, what’s modern-day France, which was the largest single growth of Rome as much as that point. It made him fabulously rich, and very highly effective. 

He grew to become the primary Roman common who the place his legions positioned their loyalty to him earlier than the Republic. 

This made everybody again in Rome jealous and frightened. They needed Caesar arrested, and he was going to have none of that. He took a legion and did one thing that you simply simply weren’t presupposed to do: he marched on Rome.

Right here is the place we get many phrases which can be nonetheless with us at present, such, as “crossing the Rubicon”, and “the die is solid”. 

This resulted in one other civil struggle. A struggle which Caesar gained. 

As with Sulla, Caesar was named dictator. In contrast to Sulla, Caesar was named dictator for all times. 

You could be questioning, as did lots of people in Rome, what’s the distinction between a dictator for all times and a King? 

Caesar was given tons of titles and rights. He was allowed to put on a purple toga, which was the colour of royalty. He was allowed to put on a laurel on his head, which could be very very like a crown. He had a golden chair put in within the senate. Not a throne thoughts you, only a golden chair. 

He mainly did all the things {that a} king might do, as much as the purpose of carrying a crown and calling himself king. He was a king in all however title. 

All of this result in a gaggle of senators to say, sufficient is sufficient, and so they assassinated Caesar to revive the republic. This assassination was lead by one other Brutus, a descendent of the Brutus who eliminated the king virtually 500 years earlier.

This result in one more civil struggle between the senatorial forces behind the assassination and the Caesarian forces lead by his right-hand man Marcus Antonious, aka Marc Antony, and his grand-nephew that he posthumously adopted in his will, Octavian. 

The Caesarians gained that civil struggle, after which began one more civil struggle, this time between Octavian and Marc Antony, which was gained by Octavian. 

This left Octavian because the final man standing in Rome, and he’s thought of to be the primary Roman emperor. …and I actually simply condensed a complete lot of historical past into a couple of paragraphs. This can be a topic that would take up hours of 

Nonetheless, there isn’t a single date we are able to level to the place the Republic ended and the Empire started. 

Octavian was actually good. He realized the teachings from Caesar. Whereas Caesar collected titles and honors and mainly rub it in everybody’s face, Octavian a minimum of gave the impression to be humble.

Octavian didn’t have the title of dictator. He merely thought of himself the princeps civitatis, or the primary citizen. He didn’t reside in a palace, he lived in a relatively good however not too opulent villa. He wore easy garments. He rejected most of the honors which the senate wished to bestow upon him. 

This after all was simply an phantasm. Octavian was insanely highly effective. 

He personally owned Egypt. Like, all of Egypt. That alone most likely made him the wealthiest individual on the planet on the time. He had legions immediately loyal to him personally. He personally ran a number of different provinces. 

He had the facility of the tribune, which allowed him to veto legal guidelines. His individual was declared sacrosanct. He was additionally the Pontifex Maximus, which was the very best non secular place in Rome, a place additionally held by Julius Caesar. 

Whereas all of this was taking place, all the things a minimum of in principle was precisely the identical because it was in the course of the Republic. The entire positions comparable to consul, the tribune of the plebes, and the senate all stored going. 

It’s simply that behind all of it was a singularly highly effective man. He was lastly given the title of Augustus, which is how he’s referred to by historians. 

Most individuals had no downside with this association. Rome had been rocked by virtually a century of civil struggle and now, lastly, there was peace. 

The time period imperator was a title given to navy commanders, and their authority was known as imperium. That is the place our phrase Emperor comes from. By the tip of his reign, the complete title that he glided by was Imperator Caesar divi filius Augustus. 

Imperator got here from the title given to navy commanders. Caesar got here from his adoption by Julius Caesar. Divi Filius means son of a god as a result of Julius Caesar was deified, and Augustus was the honorific given to him by the senate.

All of these phrases can be utilized by his successors as titles in a while. 

Augustus wasn’t simply the primary emperor, he was additionally the longest-serving emperor. 

By the point he died on the age of 75, virtually nobody was round who even remembered the republic. They only assumed that one man in cost was the traditional order of enterprise. 

When he died, the powers handed to his adopted son Tiberius, who was known as Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus. 

There wasn’t truly an workplace known as Emperor. Tiberius was given a package deal of powers that Augustus had, and these powers had been handed alongside to future emperors by the senate. 

For all sensible functions, they’d absolute management. They may do no matter they needed with no checks on their energy in any respect, and this led to some completely monstrous emperors. 

The imperial interval will be additional divided into two intervals. The principate and the dominate. The principate was the primary interval the place they a minimum of stored up the appearances of the republic. The dominate got here from the Latin phrase dominus which meant lord or grasp. 

The dominate started with Emperor Domitian. It was extra despotic and there have been often 2 to 4 co-emperors. 

Most historians will mark the beginning of the Roman Empire on the yr 27 BC when Octavian was granted the title of Augustus. The republic can most likely be thought of to be useless on the yr 48 BC with the Battle of Pharsalus. 

So you may consider the Roman Republic because the interval when Rome was quasi-democratic. A number of individuals dominated primarily based on legal guidelines and custom, and there was a strong system of checks and balances. 

The Roman Empire was the interval the place one individual dominated, however there have been nonetheless the trimmings of the republic. 

They’re very various things and really distinct eras of historical past.

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