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The Roman Republic And The Creation Of Roman Empire

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1646
  • Category: Leader

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Leadership really plays a major role in building a firm and lasting foundation for the Roman Republic and the creation of the Roman Empire.  Many have tried to introduce a good government to Rome but only a few have succeeded.    Power, wealth, and fame are not enough aspects of a good leader.  If I am right, however, not all the times the conduct of the Roman governing class had to be justified in terms of the Roman system of values.  This pattern is relevant to the progress of the Roman Revolution.

     In 509 B.C. the Romans rose in revolt against the Etruscans rulers and formed their own republic – a government without a king.  This new Roman republic         was governed by the two chief magistrates called consuls and a body called the senate.  The consuls were the chief executives, and also headed the army.  The senate was the most powerful part of the government of the republic.  The senate controlled Rome’s finances and foreign affairs.

     The patrician class occupied every important position in government, including the senate.  This caused dissatisfaction among the plebians, for they have little power in the new republic.  Finally, in 494 B. C. the plebians threatened to separate from Rome unless reforms will be implemented.

     A compromise was done: Every year, the plebians would elect ten officials called tribunes, who would defend the interest of the people against the ruling classes.  The tribunes were powered to block decisions from the consuls and the Senate which they believed was unfair to the people.  As time passed, the tribunes also gained the power to make new laws.

     Around 450 B. C., the plebians were given the right to have their laws written.  As a result, Roman law was brought together in a single written code of laws known as Twelve Tables.  The code covered most aspects of public and private life.  Even though the plebians were allowed to run, for office and vote, they almost lost because the paticians used their wealth to buy their votes and win popularity.  If a plebian won, he would forget his fellowmen and began to regard himself as a patrician.

     As the Roman Republic extended its power beyond its territories, it was inevitable that Rome would clash with Carthage, a rival rich city-state on the north coast of Africa just opposite Rome.  Carthage controlled the areas lying on the North Africa coast and Spain.  When Carthage attempted to take over the eastern half of Sicily, the king of Syracuse appealed to Rome for help.

     Thus, begins the more than a hundred years of war between Rome and Carthage.  This series of war was called the Punic Wars. The most important Punic war was the second because it marked the start of the decline of Carthage.  It involved Hannibal, the general who lead the Carthaginians and Scipio Africanus, the general who lead the Romans.  Hannibal was a great Carthaginian general.  He attempted to capture Rome by crossing the Alps with his army and elephants but he was eventually defeated by Scipio.

     With the defeat of Carthage, Rome went on to conquer Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, Greece and Spain.  Rome thus became the most powerful state in the world.  By A. D. 50 what had been a little city of farmers of Tiber River had become the capital of the Mediterranean world.  Rome also occupied all of Europe from Spain in the west to France and Germany in the north and east far Britain up in the north.

     With its vast empire, Rome tried to maintain its republican form of government.  But this became harder and harder to do since a republic was not suited to rule a vast empire.  The decline of the Roman republic, however, was gradual. At this time, two patrician brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, whom their widowed mother Cornelia had proudly called her jewels and had raise for service to their people, tried to introduce reforms.  They proposed to limit the size of the lands owned by the rich, to resettle disposed farmers, and to give more power to the assembly.  But they failed.  Tiberius was assassinated, and Gaius was forced to commit suicide.

     What followed was almost half century of war between the Senate and the plebians. Then came a civil war between Marius, a hero of the poor, and Sulla, a great warrior of the republic.  Sulla won and became a dictator for three years and then retired.  The Senate continued to dominate the republic until, in 60 B. C. and three prominent roman leaders form a triumvirate against the Senate.  The triumvirate was composed of Pompey, Crassus, and Julius Caesar.  The three agreed to rule Rome by taking turns as consul.

     While he was not a consul, Julius Caesar, in an attempt to gain popularity, successfully extended the Roman territory over the Gauls, which is now France and Belgium.  Fearful of popularity, the senate ordered Caesar to return home without his army.  Instead Caesar marched to Rome and declared himself a dictator.

     Caesar introduced moderate reforms.  He reduced taxation, improved the administration of the provinces and provided lands for landless citizens in the colonies.

     The senate became afraid that Caesar would declare himself king and start a dynasty.  A group of men, one of whom was Marcus Brutus, one of his best friends, join in a plot to kill Caesar.  On March 15, 44 B. C. a day known as the “Ides of March,” the plotters surrounded Caesar on the Senate hall and stabbed him to death.  Caesar’s assassination did not end the one-man rule but instead gave rise to a long line of absolute rulers.

     After Caesar’s death, Cicero, the famous orator, took charge of the republic.  He tried to win the people’s support by his eloquence but failed.  His failure was chiefly due to the formation of the second triumvirate consisting of Mark Anthony, Lepidus, and Octaviuos.  Lepidus was later expelled from the triumvirate, leaving Anthony, who chose to stay in Antioch and govern the Eastern Roman provinces while Octavious governed the west of Rome.

     For the next ten years, Octavian and Anthony shared absolute power in the Republic; but the alliance proved to be temporary.  While Octavian was shrewdly increasing power in Rome, Anthony had fallen in love with Cleopatra, the glamorous queen of Egypt.  Word reached Rome that Anthony had given Roman territory to Cleofatra and was plotting to seize the whole republic for himself.

     In 31 B. C., Octavian’s fleet clashed with that of Anthony and Cleofatra in the Battle of Actium, off the western coast of Greece.  When Cleofatra fled, Anthony deserted his men and followed her to Egypt.  Octavian landed in Egypt the following year.  Anthony and Cleofatra, unable to organize the navy to fight against him, committed suicide.  Egypt and the eastern provinces then accepted the rule of the Octavian., who became the undisputed leader of Rome and ruled as dictator.

     The Battle of Actium marked the end of the Roman republic and the start of Roman Empire.  Octavius became the first emperor.  The Senate conferred on him the name of Augustus Caesar.  He reigned for 41 years, from 27 B.C. to A. D. 14.  His reign was marked by Roman prosperity and progress.  He introduced good government by appointing honest and efficient officials.  He improved the system of taxation, built roads and aqueducts, and promoted agriculture and commerce.  He adorned Rome with magnificent marble temple, baths, and theatres

     Augustus Caesar united the Roman world and brought peace and order.  He extended the Roman Empire to its natural boundaries – the English Channel; Rhine and the Danube Rivers in Europe; the Euphrates River in Asia; and the Sahara Desert in Africa.  Legions composed of citizens and auxiliary forces composed of provincial men were deployed along the frontiers.  Augustus commanded all the armies and had the power to declare war and make peace.  He initiated some important reforms.

An Imperial civil service composed of government of officials from the middle class was organized.   He organized the army into a highly disciplined, professional body, loyal to the emperor. Officials were appointed to represent him in the provinces.  Senators who continued to act as governors were personally supervised by Augustus to reduce the temptation of over-collection of taxes for their personal glory.  The rule of Augustus is sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of Rome because of its prosperity and artistic achievements.  The Roman Empire enjoyed relative peace and prosperity.

     Augustus had able to solve the problems of the Roman Republic.  He put an end to the advancing decay of the government.  Leaders before him had their own way of solving the problems but failed to do it.  The effort of uniting people and forgetting themselves for the good of everybody were non-existent during their leadership.  There were conflict of ideas which resulted into trouble.  They think that problems could be solve through engaging into battle.  They fight and die to protect the wealth and luxury of others.  Most of them were more interested in preserving their privileges than in solving the problems of the poor.

     Augustus reforms were concentrating for the good of majority.  His reforms helped restore confidence in Rome.  The leadership of Augustus has ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the country.

     Rome achieved great glory through the leadership of Agustus.  He  restored peace after 100 years of civil war; maintained an honest government and a sound currency system; extended the highway system connecting Rome with its far-flung empire; developed an efficient postal service; fostered free trade among the provinces.

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