Introduction xv were known only to certain patricians. The last step in the Struggle between the Orders, as this conflict is called, was in 287 BCE, when the plebeians left Rome—a tried-and-true tactic—to force the patricians to treat with them. The Senate dispatched Quintus Hortensius as dictator, a temporary emergency position with authority to fix a crisis. His solution was a new law, the Lex Hortensia, that gave decisions made in the Plebeian Assembly the force of law. This solution granted political equality to the plebeians and led to the creation of a new aristocracy, the nobiles (those who are “known”). After this, the terms “patrician” and “plebeian” ceased to have as much meaning. Externally, Rome struggled first against other Italic peoples and neigh- bors such as the Gauls and then against major powers such as Carthage. Livy, one of our chief sources for early Roman history, recounts Rome’s many wars as ones of defense, a slightly disingenuous portrayal. Many of Rome’s conflicts resulted in horrific losses, but thanks to its manpower re- serves the city was able to survive defeats that weakened its enemies. Pyrrhus (d. 272 BCE), a Greek general, won many battles but suffered great losses and lost to Rome. Likewise, the Carthaginians, with whom Rome fought three major wars, eventually succumbed to Roman might despite winning key battles. With Carthage, Rome’s only real commercial and ter- ritorial rival in the western Mediterranean, conquered, Rome became the dominant power. This power soon led to the slow domination of the eastern Mediterranean. When Philip V (d. 179 BCE) looked to march against Pergamum and Rhodes, the latter called upon Rome for help. Only 40 years later Rome controlled nearly all of the Mediterranean world. Expansion, however, brought new challenges. Rome ruled its extensive territories through provincial governors, who were attracted to these posi- tions for the opportunities they provided for these governors to grow rich. Likewise, generals who spent years in the field often came to lead armies more loyal to them personally than to Rome. Coupled with the spoils of war, these men became extremely powerful and influential, enough so that they could put demands upon the government. One of the first was Marius (d. 86), who was followed by Sulla (d. 78) and finally by Caesar (d. 44). These men demonstrated how easily wealth and a private army could threaten Rome. They were also able to force through legislation that was popular with the people, but at the expense of their senatorial compatriots. Caesar pushed things further than either Marius or Sulla. Eventually made dictator for life, Caesar made some senators suspicious that he had monar- chical ambitions, and in 44 BCE they conspired against him. On the Ides of March (March 15), they assassinated him. Rome was plunged into another devastating civil war. When it was concluded in 31 BCE, the Roman world had changed. Many of the institutions, councils, and magistracies remained, but they were vastly altered. Augustus emerged from the civil war as master
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