Slain from Within - An analysis on the collapse of a system of checks and balances that once existed in the late Roman Republic

Essay by signalsniperCollege, UndergraduateA, February 2003

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When one speaks of ancient Rome, there are many attributing impacts that have remained imprinted on world history and culture forever. None is greater than its innovative form of government, which came to be known as the Republic. It is fair to say that the Republic was founded by the people and then in turn was torn apart by the people. But for some 200 years there was a degree of balance that existed among the powerful Senatorial aristocracy and the common citizen. The cause for the breakdown of this balance can be linked to the emergence of violence as a political means to obtain power that was clearly seen in single events, trends and individuals. In time, violence began to deteriorate the political and governmental system of checks and balances that were in place. This deterioration occurred both unintentionally and through the obtrusive behavior of individuals undermining the foundations of the Republic in their quest for riches and power.

Such means brought about the end of the old republic and was replaced with a new age of emperors. Once the Republic was "slain from within", its demise was inevitable.

In order for one to understand the volatility concerning the balance of power that existed in the Republic, one must also understand the events of history that brought about this so called balance. It is equally important to define the word balance as a cliché term used to describe equality of representation for the people, rather than a central balance of power and wealth. Historical sources inform us that in 510 B.C. the Republic was erected out of a collapsed Etruscan monarchy and was specifically geared to present a centralization of power for the people. It is apparent that the Romans were weary of living under the rule of...