Home » The Fall of the Roman Republic – source review

The Fall of the Roman Republic – source review

Elaborate the information that can be derived from the FOUR passages below and discuss any problems or advantages that might arise from the use of such evidence. (250 words per passage).

(1) Of these [funeral orations] some are, to be sure, extant, which the families of the deceased have preserved as trophies of honour and for use on the death of a member of the same family, whether to recall the past glories of their house, or to support their own claims to noble origins. Yet by these laudatory speeches our history has become quite distorted; for much is set down in them which never occurred, false triumphs, too large a number of consulships, false relationships and transitions of patricians to plebeian status, in that men of humbler birth professed that their blood blended with a noble family of the same name, though in fact quite alien to them. Cicero Brutus 62

2. Sulla now thought that the reputation which he had won in war entitled him to turn to politics. He left the army and entered upon public life. However, when he stood as candidate for the city praetorship, he was not elected and, according to his own account, this was because of the attitude of the people, who knew that he was a friend of Bocchus and looked forward, if he were made aedile before becoming praetor, to being treated to some particularly fine hunting shows and combats with wild animals from Libya; they therefore appointed other candidates as praetors so as to force him to stand for the aedileship. It appears however from subsequent events that Sulla is disguising the real reason for his failure. For he was elected praetor in the following year, having won the support of the people partly by flattery and partly also by bribery. Plutarch Life of Sulla 5

3. … it is also the People who bestow offices on those who deserve them, and these are the noblest rewards of virtue the state can provide. Besides this, the People have the power to approve and reject laws, and most important of all, they deliberate and decide on questions of peace or war. Furthermore, on such issues as the making of alliances, the termination of hostilities and the making of treaties, it is the People who ratify or reject all of these. And so from this point of view one could reasonably argue that the People have the greatest share of power in the government, and that the constitution is a democracy. Polybius 6.14

4. Polybius records that in the space of a single day the walls of all the cities on the Roman side of the river Baetis were razed to the ground on Cato’s orders, and yet these were very numerous and full of excellent fighting men. Cato himself tells us that he captured more cities than he stayed days in Spain. And this is no idle boast, since in fact the number taken amounted to four hundred. Plutarch Cato the Elder 10

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