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HIST301: Greece, the Roman Republic, and the Roman Empire

Unit 8: The Fall of the Roman Republic (c. 133–31 BCE)   Roman military expansion in the 2nd century BCE upset the Roman political system and the status and control of the Roman senatorial nobility, resulting in the collapse of the Republic and its replacement by a military dictatorship, a historical development known to ancient historians as the Roman Revolution. During the 2nd century BCE, long periods of military service overseas impoverished small Roman landowners. The population of the city of Rome consequently swelled with landless workers, the proletariat, drawn to the city from the countryside by the inflow of wealth into the city from Rome’s conquests. Overseas conquests and annexations also provided opportunities for Romans to acquire fortunes as merchants, bankers, and tax farmers. These wealthy Romans, or Equestrians, soon became dissatisfied with the monopoly of political power exercised by the traditional Senatorial nobility. Beginning in 133 BCE two politicians, the brothers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, reached out to these alienated constituencies – impoverished farmers, the landless proletariat, and wealthy Equestrians. The assassination of these two brothers by the Senatorial nobility initiated a century of political violence and civil war.
 
The murder of the two brothers divided Rome politically into two camps, the Optimates – conservatives who supported the traditional Senatorial nobility – and Populares – revolutionaries who claimed to champion the common people. In 107 BCE, one of the prominent leaders of the Populares, Gaius Marius, as Consul, for the first time recruited landless proletariat into his armies because Rome lacked sufficient numbers of landowners to wage war against King Jugurtha of Numida in North Africa and later against invading Germanic barbarians, the Cimbri and Teutones. The effect of this policy was to make Roman soldiers dependent on their generals to provide them with pay and land in exchange for military service. Consequently, loyalty to the commanding general came to replace loyalty to the Roman state in the Roman army. In 88 BCE and again in 83 BCE, the leader of the Optimates, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, marched on Rome at the command of a loyal army to impose his political will on Rome. Sulla restored the Republic, but a dangerous precedent had been set. In 49 BCE, the leader of the Populares, Julius Caesar, marched on Rome, defeated rival generals, and assumed the dictatorship. His assassination in 44 BCE by Optimatesplunged Rome into another civil war, which ended in 31 BCE with the final victory of Octavian Caesar, Julius Caesar’s adopted son, over his rivals for military dictatorship. In this unit we will examine the social and economic crisis of the 2nd century BCE, the rise of the Optimatesand Populares, and the civil wars that destroyed the republic and spawned a military dictatorship.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 21.5 hours.
 
Subunit 8.1: 3 hours
Subunit 8.2: 5 hours
Subunit 8.3: 8.25 hours
Subunit 8.4: 5.25 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - identify the social and political problems created by Rome’s military expansion; - compare and contrast the political views of the Optimates and Populares; - identify the key elements which explain the political success of the Roman politicians and generals, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Crassus, Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Octavian Caesar; - analyze the historical factors that resulted in the rise of military dictatorship in Rome; and - analyze and interpret primary source documents from the period of classical antiquity using historical research methods.

8.1 The Gracchi   - Reading: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Fall of the Republic, Part 1: The Reforms of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus” Link: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Fall of the Republic, Part 1: The Reforms of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this overview of the careers of the Gracchi which initiated a century of political unrest and would result in the collapse of the Roman Republic.
               
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Elizabeth Mazurek, and the original version can be found here.
 

  • Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s “Tiberius Gracchus” and “Caius Gracchus”

    Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s “Tiberius Gracchus” (HTML) and “Caius Gracchus” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read both of these biographies in which the Greek philosopher Plutarch (c. 100 CE) examines the lives of these two brothers and political reformers. Their political activities established the model for future Populares.

    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Spend a few minutes reflecting on this question about Tiberius and Caius Gracchus: How did the actions of these two politicians upset the status quo in Rome and lead to political violence on the part of leading senators?
     
    Now, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Also, take some time to read responses other students have shared and leave any comments you have on their feedback.
     
    Sharing your thoughts on the discussion forum should take approximately 30 minutes.

8.2 Marius and the Populares   - Reading: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “Marius vs. Sulla: Rome’s Social Wars” Link: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “Marius vs. Sulla: Rome’s Social Wars” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this overview of the political struggle and civil war between the supporters of Marius (Populares) and Sulla (Optimates) as well as the Social War (90–88 BCE) in which Rome fought against its former Italian allies.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Elizabeth Mazurek, and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s “Caius Marius” and “Sulla”

    Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s Caius Marius (HTML) and Sulla (HTML)

    Instructions: Read both of these biographies in which the Greek philosopher Plutarch (c. 100 CE) examines the lives of these two political rivals.

    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 4 hours.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions about Caius Marius and Sulla:
     
    Compare and contrast how the two men achieved political power. How did these two generals secure the loyalty of their troops? How did each man employ violence to obtain their political goals?
     
    Now, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Also, take some time to read responses other students have shared and leave any comments you have on their feedback.
     
    Sharing your thoughts on the discussion forum should take approximately 30 minutes.
     

8.3 The First Triumvirate   - Reading: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Rise of Pompey: Cicero’s Consulship” Link: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Rise of Pompey: Cicero’s Consulship” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this overview of the career of Pompey who, along with Julius Caesar and Crassus, would form the First Triumvirate in 60 BCE.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Elizabeth Mazurek, and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s “Pompey”

    Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s Pompey (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this biography in which Plutarch recounts the political rise of Pompey, his alliance with Julius Caesar, and his tragic death following his defeat at the hands of Caesar in the civil war.

    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 4 hours.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions about Pompey:
     
    Why did Pompey ally himself with Crassus and Julius Caesar? Why did Pompey later turn on Caesar and ally himself with the Optimates in the Senate?
     
    Now, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Also, take some time to read responses other students have shared and leave any comments you have on their feedback.
     
    Sharing your thoughts on the discussion forum should take approximately 30 minutes.

  • Reading: Jona Lendering’s Livius.org: “Triumvir”

    Link: Jona Lendering’s Livius.org: “Triumvir” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the sections “Triumvir” and “First Triumvirate” on this webpage, which provide an overview of the formation of the First Triumvirate in 60 BCE.

    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes. 

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Jona Lendering’s Livius.org: “Gaius Julius Caesar”

    Link: Jona Lendering’s Livius.org: “Gaius Julius Caesar” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Follow the links on this webpage for an in-depth look at the life of Gaius Julius Caesar.

    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 3 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above. 

8.4 The Second Triumvirate   - Reading: Jona Lendering’s Livius.org: “Triumvir”

<span
style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Link:
Jona Lendering’s Livius.org: </span>[<span
style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">“Triumvir”</span>](http://www.livius.org/to-ts/triumvir/triumvir.html)<span
style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">
(HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read the section “Second Triumvirate” on this
webpage. The Second Triumvirate, formed by Mark Antony, Lepidus, and
Octavian (later known as Augustus), would become Octavian’s stepping
stone to absolute power. </span>

<span
style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Reading
this material and taking notes should take approximately 15
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.</span>
  • Reading: San Jose State University: Professor Thayer Watkins’s “The Timeline of the Life of Octavian, Caesar Augustus” Link: San Jose State University: Professor Thayer Watkins’s “The Timeline of the Life of Octavian, Caesar Augustus” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this text and all embedded links. Octavian had formed the Second Triumvirate with his chief rivals, Lepidus and Mark Antony. However, he disposed of Lepidus in 36 BCE and Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE in order to become sole ruler of the Roman Empire.
     
    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Last Days of the Republic: Octavian, Antony, and Cleopatra” Link: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Last Days of the Republic: Octavian, Antony, and Cleopatra” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this overview of the Second Triumvirate and the subsequent civil war between Octavian and Antony.
     
    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Elizabeth Mazurek, and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s “Antony

    Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadottte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s Antony (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this biography in which Plutarch examines the life of Marc Antony and his affair with Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemies of Egypt.

    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions about Marc Antony, Octavian, and Cleopatra:
     
    Why did the alliance of Antony and Octavian collapse? Why did the two men go to war? What did Antony gain from his alliance with Cleopatra?
     
    Now, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Also, take some time to read responses other students have shared and leave any comments you have on their feedback.
     
    Sharing your thoughts on the discussion forum should take approximately 30 minutes.