The New Romans

NOTE: This entire post is distilled from an excellent article at the BBC.

Republic

At the end of the second century BC the Roman people was sovereign. True, rich aristocrats dominated politics.  Yet ultimate power lay with the Roman people.  Rome prided itself on being a ‘free republic’ and centuries later was the political model for the founding fathers of the United States.

Redistribution

“A Republic, if you can keep it”  –Benjamin Franklin

Many Romans themselves put the key turning point in 133 BC. A young magistrate, Gracchus proposed to distribute to poor citizens stretches of state-owned land in Italy which had been illegally occupied by the rich.

Empire

Augustus was both canny and lucky. When he died in 14 AD, aged well over 70, he was succeeded by his stepson, Tiberius. By then the idea of the ‘free republic’ was just the romantic pipe-dream of a few nostalgics.

 

This write-up was cadged and heavily edited from an excellent article hosted by the BBC.  I have isolated passages to make a single point, which is (I’ll wager) not the point intended by the author of the original.  Nonetheless, the original is a great read, short and informative.

Please note I claim NO copyright over this post, Creative Commons or otherwise.  No matter what other marks you see around or even in the body of this post, this post is not my work.

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