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    The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic



    The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic


    Table of Content:

    Chapter I - Rome`s rise to power and its position in the mediterranean world (510 - 280 BC)
    Chapter II - The Pyrrhic War (280 - 277 BC)
    Chapter III - The Illyrian Campaign (269 BC)
    Chapter IV - The northern frontier (280 - 254 BC)
    Chapter V - The Fulvian Conspiracy (252 BC)
    Chapter VI - The Massilian Campaign (250 BC)
    Chapter VII - Consolidating the Republic (250 - 234 BC)
    Chapter VIII - The Tylic War (233 - 232 BC)
    Chapter IX - Reshaping the Republic (232 - 219 BC)
    Chapter X - The Sequanian Campaign (218 BC)
    Chapter XI - The Republic during the 3rd Century (280 - 200 BC)
    Chapter XII - The 2nd Tylic War (199 BC)
    Chapter XIII - The Gaul War (199 - 197 BC)
    Chapter XIV - The Cantabrian Campaign (193 BC)
    Chapter XV - The 3rd Tylic War (191 BC)
    Chapter XVI - The Tiberian Expedition (180 - 179 BC)
    Chapter XVII - The Lanciensian Campaign (175 BC)
    Chapter XVIII - The Sicilian Campaign (167 BC)
    Chapter XIX - The 2nd Gaul War (160 BC)
    Chapter XX - Establishing the border (269 - 154 BC)
    Chapter XXI - Excursus I: Carthaginian history (750 - 154 BC)
    Chapter XXII - The Punic War (153 - 152 BC)
    Chapter XXIII - Britannia and the Silurian Campaign (149 - 146 BC)
    Chapter XXIV - The Punic-Sesonic War (135 - 134 BC)
    Chapter XXV - The 2nd Punic-Sesonic War (126 BC)
    Chapter XXVI - Struggle for a strategy (126 - 114 BC)
    Chapter XXVII - The Greek War (113 - 112 BC)
    Chapter XXVIII - Last resistance in the west (103 BC)
    Chapter XXIX - The Republic during the 2nd Century (200 - 100 BC)
    Chapter XXX - The 2nd Punic War (96 - 95 BC)
    Chapter XXXI - Excursus II: Celtic culture in western Europe (800 - 90 BC)
    Chapter XXXII - The 3rd Punic War (88 BC)
    Chapter XXXIII - The 4th Punic War (80 - 78 BC)
    Chapter XXXIV - The minor migration period (154 - 73 BC)
    Chapter XXXV - The "Old men`s war" (72 - 71 BC)
    Chapter XXXVI - The Pergamenian War (69 BC)
    Chapter XXXVII - The 2nd Pergamenian War (57 BC)
    Chapter XXXVIII - Conclusion of the Britannic conquest (146 - 49 BC)
    Chapter XXXIX - The "Cornelian War" and the Fall of the Carthaginian Empire (71 - 41 BC)
    Chapter XL - Decline of the Republic and Transition to an Empire (41 - 10 BC)
    Last edited by Stuckenschmidt; 24-04-2011 at 19:01.

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    Chapter I - Rome`s rise to power and its position in the Mediterranean World (510 - 280 BC)

    A. - A village at the bank of the Tiber

    Sabini, Aequi, Marsi, Hernici, Umbri, Aurunci. This not complete selection of tribes in an area known today as Lazio in Middle Italy conveys an impression of the competition and circumstances, under which they had to act in a political and militaristic way.

    There has been a long dispute, if the ascent of Rome to the leading city in the Region has been inevitable or not. Fact is, that from the beginning of the 5th Century before Christ Rome starts to dominate the surrounding cities. But we should keep in mind the very humble scope of these endeavors. In the year 396 BC, when the war versus the city of Veji was won, Rome controlled an area with a diameter of about 50 miles.

    And its position was fragile. When around 400 BC the Celts came to Italy and began to settle down in the Po Plain, it came to a conflict between them and Rome that ended with the sacking of the city in the year 387 BC. Surprisingly enough, the inhabitants managed to rebuild their city including the Servian Wall and reestablish the treaties with the other Latin cities.

    B. - Hegemony in Middle Italy

    At the same time, another political center evolved around the city of Bovianum, capital of the Samnites. The following competition is interesting due to two factors.

    Firstly due to the fact, that it took Rome only a little more than 50 years to subdue the Samnites in three wars and secure its dominance in whole middle Italy. A clear sign, that Rome`s aggressive impetus and strength had increased significantly.

    Secondly because it depicts the general development of expanding centers of power and their relation towards each other. It was clear, that there could be only one power to control Middle Italy, so the final clash seemed to be inevitable. Less mandatory was Rome`s victory, that was a result of endurance, clever alliance policy and sheer luck(1).

    Anyway, the outcome of the Samnite Wars brought Rome the control of Italy from Ariminum in the north to Venusia in the south. The last remaining serious opposition in the south was the city of Tarentum.

    C. - The Mediterranean World

    At the point, when the 3rd Samnite War was over and Rome was the undisputed dominator of middle Italy, the Mediterranean World was at the end of a long period of changes.

    The most stable entity was the Carthaginian colonial empire that reached from southern Spain in the west along the African coast to the Cyrenaika in the east (including the Baleares, Corsica, Sardinia and the west of Sicily). Rome and Carthage had already made three Contracts to separate their spheres of influence and had fairly good relations.


    Fig. 1: The Mediterranean World around 280 BC


    The eastern Mediterranean was significantly shaped by the life and death of Alexander the Great and the struggle for power among his former Generals. In 280 BC, after 40 years of more or less constant fighting, there were two major powers remaining: Egypt under the rule of the Ptolemies and the Seleucid Empire, who kept fighting for the control over Palestine and Syria.

    Lysimachos, the third major Diadochus, died in battle in 281 BC. This and the invasion of the Celts round 280 BC weakened Macedonia and lead to the foundation of several states in Thrace and Asia Minor. So the Greek Peninsula was once again fragmented among an amount of political powers. In the aftermath one of these became more interesting due to the ambitions of its ruler: Pyrrhos, Hegemon of Epirus.


    (1) Although "What if"-Scenarios are usually more an intellectual practice than reasonable contribution to a debate, it certainly would be interesting to know, what would have happened, if the Lucani had supported the Samnites in the 2nd War (what they did in the 3rd) and / or the Roman Army had been eliminated at the Caudine Forks.
    Last edited by Stuckenschmidt; 22-01-2011 at 17:23.

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    Is this going to be the serious one?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Qorten View Post
    Is this going to be the serious one?
    Correct. When I wrote the first one I realised, that EU:Rome is not as good a source for a funny tale as CK, but qualifies for a serious story. I think, this is going to be a long-time project and I hope, my concept will work. Next entry will be about the Pyrrhic War.

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    Chapter II - The Pyrrhic War (280 - 277 BC)

    A. Causes

    As been said in Chapter I, the Roman struggle with the Samnites determined, who was going to be the Hegemon in Middle Italy. The basic principle of having only one political center without tolerating any competitors for power beside oneself finally resulted in a more and more expansionist policy, that gained momentum. The only remaining significant power to threaten Rome`s supremacy in southern Italy was Tarentum, being the head of the Greek cities in the Magna Graecia. Tensions grew, as Rome supported some cities as Locri and Rhegium against the supremacy of Tarentum, and finally Consul Lucius Aemilius Barbula provoked a naval incident, that lead to war.

    B. Progress

    Both sides were prepared, although the balance of power saw Tarentum on the losing side, as its forces were outnumbered. Being aware of the situation, Tarentum allied with Pyrrhus of Epirus and other cities(2). Pyrrhus was an Ally with potential, having a large army and fleet at his disposal. Additionally he did not rule Epirus itself, but also the eastern part of Sicily, being in a good strategic position to heckle Rome from two sides. Finally this Alliance was an opportunity to strengthen his claim to be patron of the Greek cities. Considering these factors, his conduct during the next years is hard to explain.

    Rome had the initiative and immediately entered Tarentum`s territory with a large army under command of Quintus Aemilius Papus. Although completely outnumbered, Tarentum`s forces prepared for a battle. Little is known about it, but apparently it was a decisive victory for Rome(3). In the aftermath of this battle, Quintus Aemilius split his forces and send the larger part to Bruttium, to conquer the cities there and guard the Strait of Messina, while he besieged Tarentum. In December 280 BC, Croton surrendered to Rome as last Greek city on mainland Italy (Tarentum already surrendered in late Summer).

    Considering Rome`s war objectives, the war was over. But Pyrrhus refused to negotiate a peace. His role in this struggle has never been clarified. It is known, that his Army was equal to the Roman force in numbers and quality, but he never made a move to support his allies. His war efforts amounted to naval support, the blockade of roman ports and prevention of any roman naval operation(4).

    To put Pyrrhus under Pressure, Rome decided to threaten Pyrrhus` position on Sicily. In a daring and dangerous operation in the dead of night, Gaius Fabricius crossed the Strait of Messina with his force in small boats. Arriving in Sicily, he immediately set up siege at Syracuse. Although he faced no opposition, he could not prevent Syracuse to be supplied via sea due to his lack of naval support. After a siege of almost one year Syracuse fell, allegedly due to treason.

    Soon after, in early 277 BC, Rome and Pyrrhus agreed to conclude peace. It is strange, that Rome, being in the better position, agreed to return to a territorial status quo ante. Most historians argue, that Rome lacked a powerful navy to threaten Pyrrhus` homeland and thus force a peace upon him. Others state, that the majority in the Senate decided to not expand to Sicily and thus intrude into the Carthaginian sphere of influence. Be it as it may, Pyrrhus got away with a black eye.

    C. Result

    The Pyrrhic War established Rome`s supremacy over middle and southern Italy and illustrated the strike capability of its Army as well as the ingenuity of its Commanders. On the other hand it became obvious, that Rome didn`t understand the importance of a Navy yet. That this lack of interest had no adverse consequences, was a result of Pyrrhus` inactivity, who squandered the chance to keep Rome within bounds at the eve of its imperialist expansion.


    (2) Sources indicate, that the Aetolian League joined the Alliance, but there is no evidence for an active contribution to the war efforts, mostly due to the Macedonian threat to its territory. 276 BC the territory of the League became part of the Macedonian kingdom.
    (3) According to Titus` "Histories", Tarentum`s Army of about 6.000 Soldiers was literally wiped out, while Rome had only 150 dead. Although we may conclude, that Rome won the fight, we should take the figures with a large grain of salt.
    (4) The roman Navy had the status of an unloved child. When the small roman fleet tried to support the siege of Tarentum, it was surprised by a larger fleet from Epirus and suffered heavy casualties. No further roman naval operation is known of.
    Last edited by Stuckenschmidt; 21-01-2011 at 17:59.

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    Yeah, the navy has always been Rome's weak point. Naval battles also tend to be much more decisive then land battles. If you go up against a larger fleet without you having a better commander, you're generlly screwed unless you can retreat soon enough.


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    Chapter III - The Illyrian Campaign (269 BC)

    A. Causes

    During 270 BC, the roman merchant shipping in the Adriatic Sea as well as the coastal population of Apulia got harassed by Pirates, who originated from the islands along the Illyrian coast. The Republic send an Emissary, Gaius Claudius Pulcher, to Illyria in order to negotiate a settlement with the Illyrian Kingdom to prevent further damage for the Republic.

    Pulcher`s dialogue partner was King Mytilios Ardiaei. Mytilios rose to the throne in the year 280 BC, and in these 10 years his Kingdom was in constant decline due to the unfortunate nature of Mytilios` character. Contemporary Macedonian sources describe him as "not that bright" and haunted by resentment toward more skilled people. Additionally he was influenced by his wife Trieuta, an ailing but extremely intelligent person. A third individual, that is seen as the grey eminence today, was Gentius Plarid, the King`s chancellor.

    In the year of his accession, Mytilios declared war on the newly founded realm of Tylis (probably his own idea), but his forces were instantaneously defeated and he had to agree to a shaming peace, that led to the loss of Taulanti. Since then, his policy was largely designed by either his wife or Gentius, who struggled for the most influence at court.

    At the time that Claudius Pulcher arrived in Illyria, Gentius seemed to had the upper hand at court and the silent indulgence of the pirate`s presence in Illyrian territory probably ensued according to his instructions. The negotiations with Pulcher were short and unsuccessful. On his way back, Pulcher`s ship was attacked by Pirates, but due to superior seamanship the roman vessel could escape. In the aftermath, the Senate decided to declare war on Illyria.

    B. Progress

    In order to execute the operation, the Republic created the Legio III(5). Legate became once again Quintus Aemilius Papus. He marched with his army of probably about 15.000 men to Apulia and was ferried to the Illyrian coast by the roman fleet(6) under the command of Lucius Aemilius Barbula in early 269 BC.

    Illyria was completely unprepared for a war. The Illyrian navy didn`t exist and the small army was busy securing the northern border against the Iazyges, who were pushing into Illyria.


    Fig. 2: The Illyrian Kingdom in 270 BC


    Quintus Aemilius` first target was the city of Delmion in the province of Dalmatae, that surrendered after only two months of siege. Aemilius wasted no time and marched onward to Scodra, the Illyrian capital, without facing any resistance. After another two months, the city was taken by storm.

    After a campaign of less than six months with negligible casualties and another two provinces incorporated into the Republic, the war was over and Quintus Aemilius Papus was finally granted a Triumph(7) at the age of 57 years.

    C. Result

    The Illyrian War was a stunning display of Rome`s capability to successfully improvise a campaign and quickly react to pressing issues. But historians still debate, if the campaign was really improvised due to the piracy in the Adriatic Sea and the assault on Pulcher`s ship, or if it had been the execution of a well-prepared plan, with the official version being an exaggeration of actual events.

    Both theories have pros and cons. Fact is, that Rome gained access to the Dalmatian iron deposits as well as to Scodra, that was well known for its horse breeding. In the following years, the status of the Cavalry within the roman army improved from "almost non-existent" to "important support troop".

    The second result was, that Rome gained a base on the Balkans, thus raising awareness within the Hellenic world for Rome`s rising power.

    Finally, this Campaign had a footnote. Shortly before Scodra fell, King Mytilios and his wife fled and went into exile to the Macedon court, where King Ptolemy Keraunos welcomed them. Rome abstained to request an extradition. Some interpreted this as a sign of mercy. Others as a sign of arrogance, since the message could be read as "We are that powerful, we can spare our enemies"(8).


    (5) In 270 BC, Umbria was the base for the Legio II Adiutrix. Since the Republic couldn`t recruit a new Legion at once, it split up the Legio II, with the larger part being the new Legio III Illyricorum.
    (6) Although there is no contemporary report about the state of the roman navy in 269 BC, it is revealing, that it was obviously able to transport an army of 15.000 soldiers and support the following operations without getting disturbed by Pirates.
    (7) Originally he should have been granted a Triumph for his accomplishments during the Pyrrhic War, but it was cancelled due to allegations of embezzlement. And after his Triumph he was again dismissed from his command and the Legio III assigned to Lucius Postumius Metellus, the first Governor of Dalmatia.
    (8) The Republic showed no mercy toward Gentius Plarid. He was caught and presented to the roman people at Quintus Aemilius` triumphal procession, where he got publicly strangled.
    Last edited by Stuckenschmidt; 22-01-2011 at 16:44.

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    Why did you show mercy!?! That is not the Roman way!

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    Ah, if this is serious I might follow seriously.

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    Chapter IV - The northern frontier (280 - 254 BC)

    Around 400 BC the Celts, who had left their areas of settlement along the headwaters of Rhine and Danube, invaded northern Italy and began to settle down in the Po Plain. Advancing south, they began to siege the city of Clusium, a roman ally, in 391 BC. Rome began negotiations, that ended with a Celtic leader being killed by a member of the Fabii-Family. This subsequently lead to the events of 387 BC, when a Celtic army led by the Chieftain Brennus sacked Rome and didn`t depart until being paid a large ransom(9). It is no surprise, that the "Celtic threat" became part of the roman collective memory and that safeguarding the northern border in order to prevent such a catastrophe had a high priority in roman politics.

    In 278 BC, when the Pyrrhic War was more or less decided, Rome began to relocate forces to the north in order to push forward its boundaries. An essential measure for claiming "barbaric" territories throughout roman history was "cultural penetration" by founding cities within foreign territory, establishing markets, invention of monetary economy, spreading roman religion and related measures to accustom the local population to roman presence and, eventually, roman rule.

    Such a policy couldn`t be successful without a strong military presence, and throughout the period from 277 - 254 BC, Rome stationed two full Legions in the north(10). This was necessary due to two reasons.

    First of all, because the local population openly resisted Rome`s supremacy. This usually happened a few years after the colonization began and the census was held, that was the basis for the determination of the tax yield. The second and more dangerous threat for the roman colonies were tribal bands crossing the Alps. These mass migrations happened several times, with the invasion of the Ambrones, that resulted in constant fighting in the years 264/263 BC, being the largest known case(11).


    Fig. 3: The Roman Republic 254 BC


    As there are no reports of abandoned colonies, we may conclude, that the Roman expansion experienced no setbacks and that the colonization and contentment of the whole territory south of the Alps was concluded with the foundation of the city of Verona in the year 254 BC.


    (9) Allegedly 1.000 pounds (327 kg) of gold. This event is also the origin of the dictum "Vae Victis".
    (10) Except during the Illyria-Campaign. Those historians, who advocate the theory of the Illyrian War not being planned by Rome, adduce the circumstance of the division of Legio II as evidence, that this War was an unforeseen distraction from their greater strategy.
    (11) Unfortunately these Tribes are historically hard to verify. Roman authors are usually the only reliable sources and they tend to describe them with recurrent "barbaric" topoi. The Ambrones, for example, have been described as Gauls by contemporary authors. Modern research tends to classify them as Teutons, probably settling along the North Sea coast. Also uncertain is the amount of migrating people in each tribe. Modern estimations range from 6.000 to 30.000 adults.
    Last edited by Stuckenschmidt; 23-01-2011 at 23:14.

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    A very good history-book AAR so far, Stuckenschmidt!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Qorten View Post
    A very good history-book AAR so far, Stuckenschmidt!
    Thank you. I`ll have to work a lot the next days, so the next update will be probably due Wednesday / Thursday.

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    Steady progress for Rome.

    How are relations with Rome's neighbours?
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    Why should a free man of the north bow before the Roman sandals?

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    this is really nicely done, easy to read and in-depth - impressive combination
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    Ok, i'll not be needing the picture in your other AAR. I'm just going to follow this one.
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    Chapter V - The Fulvian Conspiracy (252 BC)

    A. The Senate of Rome

    When we think about a Republic today, we imagine a form of government with a parliament, representatives elected by the people and checks and balances according to the constitution. But nothing of that corresponds with the political reality of the Roman Republic.

    First of all there was no constitution, that determined the status and authorities of the Senate. It was the highest council of the Republic, that legitimated its power via the power of its members, who belonged to the wealthy Nobility of the country. Since the inclusion of the Sabinii and Etruscii, the Senate consisted of 300 members, who split up in several groups with diverging agendas(12).

    Thus, the Roman Republic was in fact an aristocracy. And one constant in the quite turbulent history of the Republic became the struggle between Populists and Traditionalists(13).

    B. The Incident

    In the year 252 BC, Gaius Metellus, one of the two Plebeian Aediles, was found stabbed in the Temple of Ceres surrounded by documents he was carrying and dropped when being attacked.

    The alleged murderer was being caught and tortured until he confessed the crime and its backgrounds. According to his testimony, "certain persons within the Senate conspired to bring down the Republican Government and install a Kingdom"(14). The documents found at Metellus` corpse confirmed his story and incriminated Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, one of the leading members of the populist faction in the Senate. In the aftermath, he and four like-minded persons were arrested and sentenced to heavy jail term.

    C. Result

    The crux with the evaluation of this event is the lack of sources. Decimus Mus is the only author, who reports about the incident, but he writes about 70 years later about it and is a convinced representative of the old nobility.

    Modern science of history tends to interpret the incident as a fraud. Decimus` report indicates, that Marcus Fulvius was a threat for the Republic. But considering his own mindset this might mean, that Fulvius was about to become Consul, since he describes him as "charismatic homo novus of remarkable influence". Another evidence for a swindle is the fact, that the Consul accompanied by the Praetor (being responsible for jurisdiction) were members of the traditionalist faction. Finally the idea of a small group of men who hold no office conspiring to maybe incite the plebs to spark off a revolution and establish themselves as Kings is, as far as our understanding of the state of Rome`s society in the middle of the 3rd century BC goes, rather farfetched.

    In any case, the imprisonment of several Senators was an extraordinary event in Roman history and appears as a sign of desperation on the part of the Nobility. For the time being they succeeded in the curtailment of the populist`s support, since the already 68 years old traditionalist Appius Claudius Caudex was elected to be the next Consul, while the less charming Appius Cornelius Russus(15) was the successor of Marcus Fulvius.


    (12) The classic interpretation of the Senate being dominated by families has experienced a revaluation in the last 30 years. The current understanding is, that specific "interest groups" had a more significant influence than family ties.
    (13) In his book "Progeny of the Wolf" the great historian A. Pecker describes the Traditionalists as "Religious Faction" of the Republic due to their obsession of preventing societal progress.
    (14) Decimus Mus, "Annales", Volume VII
    (15) Decimus Mus describes him as "rough, uncouth, lewd old man of no dignity". Although he despised the Populists, he is not known for such disparaging judgments, so we shouldn`t assume, that his description has entirely no basis in fact.

  18. #18
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Romans had prisons?
    I thought they killed or did something else to the criminals?
    Temporary prisons maybe, but where would these criminals be kept?

  19. #19
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    I don`t know, but after all its still about the game.

    And I don`t wanted to execute all these guys.

  20. #20
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald View Post
    Romans had prisons?
    I thought they killed or did something else to the criminals?
    Temporary prisons maybe, but where would these criminals be kept?
    Yes they had permanent prisons in Rome - one was were Castello San Angelo now sits, & of course was used as a dungeon by the Papacy for centuries (always interesting how repressive regimes so like to reuse the same sites). Exile was for aristocratic offenders who were believed to suffer by being excluded from Roman social life (hence Ovid being sent off to the Black Sea).
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

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