The Fall of the Roman Republic

Module code: AH3081

The last century of the Republic has always been one of the most fascinating and heavily debated periods in Roman history and, indeed, European history more generally. Compared to most periods of Roman history, the late Republic is exceptionally well documented, including written testimonies from some of the most prominent politicians of the day. Despite the significant level of attention that the late Republic continues to receive there is always something new to consider, which is what makes it such a fantastic subject to study.

This module aims to be more than a simple overview of the events surrounding the fall of the Republic. Rather, it aims to challenge you to think about the nature of the Republic’s political framework and the ways in which the traditional systems of government began to buckle under various pressures as Rome’s empire expanded. Ambitious aristocrats, demagogues, the army and the Roman people themselves all contributed to the weakening of a system which appeared on the outside to be secure and extremely stable, but which was, in reality, precariously fragile.

Topics covered

  • Key issues relating to the last years of the Roman Republic from 133 BC down to the assassination of Julius Caesar and its aftermath. You will consider the various ways in which the system evolved in response to successive crises in this period
  • A wide range of relevant primary sources, both written and material, and for you to consider the various approaches that can be used to interpret them
  • The final years of the Roman Republic within their wider historical context, considering the significant influence that our sources for this period had on subsequent periods of European history
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