Antiquity 2: The Death of the Roman Republic

(Lest anyone think I’m being systematic here, I’m not.  I jumped to the “Death of the Roman Republic” because, of the twenty books I have on deck to read (about antiquity and other topics) “Rubicon” called out to me to be read.)

So it is not hard to find parallels between the collapse of the Roman Republic in 27 BC and the potential collapse of the American Republic in the era of Trump.

What a book like “Rubicon” (by Tom Holland) does is to frame the establishment of the Roman Empire (which is what happened in 27) with:

  1. The story of the ~100 years which preceded 27
  2. Some themes which the author posits about the Roman Republic — the tension between competitiveness and civic-mindedness, for example — which made the Romans unable to save their democracy
  3. The massive corruption ensuing from the colonies and their corrosive effect on Roman politics and elites.

Americans, too, have been corrupted by our Empire, although our corruption takes a different form than the “loot and slaves” of the Romans.  We are probably in graver danger from the power of super-national corporations that can move capital and jobs rapidly from less complaisant geographies of the world to more complaisant ones.

Just about halfway through “Rubicon”, to be followed by Mary Beard’s SPQR and then — if it doesn’t put me to sleep — “The Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire”, by M. Rostovtzeff.  If you know some better sources, please let me know.

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