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The Fall of the Roman Republic

The life and times of Gaius Julius Caesar

The Big Picture
After today’s lesson, you should be able to answer the following questions.

1. Could the decline of the Republic have been prevented?

2. How might history have been different is Caesar was defeated in


3. If you were Caesar, what decisions would you have made differently
that might have spared you from your untimely death?
After Carthage and the Punic Wars
- With its chief rival in the Mediterranean defeated, Rome was free to
expand into much of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

- Rome was engaging in a policy of imperialism

- Imperialism
- A. Political Movement (a popular social/cultural idea)
- B. establishing economic or military control
over foreign lands and people.
- C. Roman policy following the Punic Wars

-By 133 BC, Rome will control

almost the entire Mediterranean

-Rome control is so widespread,

the Romans call the
Mediterranean Sea, “Our Sea.”
The Height of the Roman Republic

The extent of Roman control

after the Punic Wars
Social and Economic Effects of Roman Military Success
-Wealth flooded into Rome from three places

- Plunder (physical wealth taken from conquered lands)

- Control of trade routes.
- New lands and people to tax.
- The wealthy of Rome used this new wealth to purchase large
amounts of land that they turned into latifundia.
-A. Geography; Economic System; Cultural Change
-B. Huge estates of land owned by wealthy Romans.
-C. Brought additional wealth through slave farming.
- With all the victories of Rome, came waves of slaves pouring into
Roman markets.
-Finding it cheaper to buy slaves than hire workers, latifundia
owners used slaves to work their farmlands.
Plebeians seek aid, Reform fails
- By using slaves for labor, Roman plebeians found little opportunity
for jobs in the countryside of the city.
- In huge numbers, Romans flock to the city of Rome itself.
- All they found were other unemployed people.
- Joined together, many form angry mobs.
- Many are only able to find jobs working for politicians as hired thugs.
- These thugs become privately owned street gangs.

- The Gracchus Brothers

- Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus – elected Tribunes
- In 133 BC and again in 144 BC, they call for reforms to the
latifundia system.
- Their reform ideas angered many wealthy senators, who had
them killed in gang street violence.
The Rise of Caesar
- With the plebeians angry at their current state, powerful generals
quickly gain the loyalty of the legions.
- For a number of years, the Senate struggles with these powerful
generals (many are consuls) who threaten the existence of the
Republic with their power.
- Eventually, power becomes split between three men.
- Julius Caesar, consul
- Pompey “Magnus” (Pompey “The Great”), consul
- Crassus, retired consul
- Calling themselves, in secret, the Triumvirate, they plan to split
the rule of Rome between them.
- Each of the men seeks a base of power from which to rule.
- Pompey, having been a successful general for many years, sets up in
Rome itself.
- Julius Caesar conquers the land called Gaul (modern France), making
him extremely rich.
- Crassus attempts to conquer Parthia, in Asia Minor, but is killed in
Caesar vs Pompey
Caesar and Pompey are now set for civil
- The Senate, needing to have support, join with
Pompey and declare Caesar an enemy of
- Caesar, with his loyal armies, crosses the
Rubicon River, entering Italy with Roman Julius Caesar
soldiers. An act of clear treason.
- Pompey and Caesar’s armies finally meet for a
final battle in Greece.
- Caesar wins. Pompey flees to Egypt, where he
is murdered by the pharaoh, Ptolemy XII.
- The Senate, with no one left to support their
power, are forced to elect Julius Caesar
dictator for life.

Pompey Magnus
The Rule (and death) of Julius Caesar
Caesar’s Reforms of Roman Government
- Created a public works program to employ the jobless citizens of Rome and
gave land to his soldiers and the poor.
-Introduced the Julian Calendar, which he adapted from the Egyptians
- He granted Roman citizenship to more people, many coming from other
Italian tribes. (ie- not the Latins).

Still, many of the patricians and Senators of Rome hated Caesar and saw him as
another would-be king.

To save what they saw as a crumbling republic, a small group of Senators, led by
Marcus Brutus, assassinate Caesar in the Senate on March 15, 44 BC.

He is stabbed 23 times. It was said his last act in life was to try and cover his face
with his toga so that no one would see his face as he died.
The Results
- The Republic crumbles into chaos. Civil war will occur, followed
by the first Roman Emperor, who we will discuss tomorrow.

- No Roman at the time could have predicted that Rome was about
to enter its Golden Age.