The late Roman Republic (100 BCE – 31 BCE)
The Roman Republic refers to the ancient Roman civilization period that begun with the Roman Kingdom overthrow. The entire period ranged between 509 BC and 27 BC. The Late Roman Republic, from 100 BC to 31 BC is considered in this paper. The main theme discussed is the late Republic Roman army, which implies the armed forces that was deployed during the late Roman Republic specifically from the ending of the Social War to the time of Roman Empire establishment in 30 BCE by Augustus. The Social War ended sometime between 91 BCE and 88BCE. The late Roman Republic army included a transition from mid-Republic Roman army between 300 BCE and 80 BCE, which constituted a rather temporary levy that was based on adult male citizen conscription, to the army of Imperial Roman Empire (Jones 78). The latter was typically a professional force that was mainly based on volunteer recruitment.
The Social War started between the Roman Republic and its former previous allies in Italy (Lintott 59). The former Roman allies were collectively referred to as the Socii. The war broke out following the grievance by the Socii, in that they shared Rome’s military campaign risks, but not the associated rewards (Taylor 77). The Socii were defeated, but they finally achieved some of their basic objectives especially regarding the need for legal proclamations of Lex Plautia Papiria and Lex Julia. The two proclamations saw over 500,000 Italians being granted citizenship (Taylor 7).
The war ended 88 BCE and all Italian socii (allies) of Rome were provided with full Roman citizenship. This aspect ended the legions’ dual structure alongside the non-citizen alae, which were abolished, while a henceforth recruitment of Italian allies was imitated. Non-Italian allies that had fought for Rome for a long time kept on serving together with the legions although they remained irregular units that were specifically under their own leaders. The late Republic Roman army was thus made of legions of six thousand men each, although the actual number of legions would reduce because of the campaigning adverse effects. The legions were raised freely, but private armies that consisted of dozens of legions were raised by competing generals mainly during the Roman civil wars period, at the end of the Roman Republic (Fleming 143). By 30 BCE, the number of legions ranged from 50 to 100. Augustus later brought down this number to 28 legions for the army of Imperial Rome.
A number of transitions took place within the same period. A wide campaign by Rome including rewarding of soldiers because of such campaigns enhanced the development of the late Republic Roman army. The rewarding of soldiers made the soldier more loyal to their respective commanders than even the state. The soldiers gained more courage to follow generals in wars against their state (Santosuosso 29). In this regard, internal unrests reached climax at the start of 82 BCE.
Conflict with Mithridates the Great is another major transition to the army of the late Roman Republic. Mithridates the Great ruled over a large kingdom within Asia Minor between 120 BCE and 63 BCE. He was a great enemy of the late Roman Republic and engaged three of the greatest late Roman Republic’s generals including Lucullus, Pompey the Great, and Sulla. Mithridates the Great mainly wanted to expand his kingdom by taking part of the area covered by the late Roman Republic . The conflict with Mithridates the Great was followed by a campaign initiated against the Cilician pirates within the Mediterranean Sea in 67 BCE.
In 67 BCE, the Mediterranean Sea was faced with pirates’ issues from Cilicia even after the late Republic of Rome had destroyed most of the states that were previously policing the sea with fleets. The pirates seized opportunities from a resulting power vacuum. Pompey, nominated as a special naval task force commander, led the campaign against the pirates. It only took him about 40 days to clear the western part of the sea of the pirates thereby restoring the lost communication between Africa, Iberia, and Italy. Caesar’s early campaigns constitute another important transformation before the emergence of the late Roman Republic army force.
The early campaigns
These early campaigns took place between 59 BCE and 50BCE. This happened after Pompey was appointed the Transalpine Gaul’s Proconsular Governor following his great achievements. Caesar fisted strove to gain a reason for invading Gaul in order to gain a dramatic military success that he was seeking. He then prosecuted a campaign that was long as well as costly. The campaign was initiated against other tribes across Gaul. He won war against the Helvetii by 58 BCE and the Nervii in 57 BCE. He also defeated other tribes like Treviri, Aquitani, Tencteri, Eburones, Aedui, and Veneti by 56 BCE. He also made two major expeditions to Britain by 54 BCE. The last conquest of Caesar’s campaigns was Transalpine in 50 BC.
The Triumvirates, the Caesarian ascension, and the revolt marked the last transformations towards the emergence of the late Roman Republic army. These transformations happened in the period between 53 BCE and 30 BCE (Taylor 93). Crassus launched Roman invasions against the Parthian Empire in 53 BC, but he was killed in the battle. His death moved Caesar and Pompey apart. Caesar later suffered diminishing trust from some Roman senators who demanded that he should show strength over his enemies or he faces trial, but he chose Civil War. Pompey was highly supported even after his death, which caused Caesar to lose more than a third of his army in 46 BCE after being defeated by Titus, his former commander, at the Battle of Ruspina. He was later able to defeat Titus in the Battle of Munda, but his opposing senators, as liberators, assassinated him in 44 BCE. His assassination caused a war between his supporters and those supporting the liberators (Potter 289).
This war led to the end of the late Roman Republic and the establishment of the Roman Empire. Octavian, who was part of the liberators, came into terms with supporters of Caesar and became the Emperor as Augustine. He decided to transform the armed forces from its former structure of temporary levy forces to professional forces that were purely based on volunteer recruitment.
Fleming, Robin. Britain after Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400 – 1070: Anglo-Saxon Britain: V.2 1 (Allen Lane History). Allen Lane, 2010. Print.
Jones, Michael E. The End of Roman Britain. Cornell University Press, 1998. Print.
Lintott, Andrew. The Constitution of the Roman Republic. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926108-3, 1999. Print.
Potter, David. Ancient Rome: A New History (Second Edition). Thames & Hudson, 2014. Print.
Santosuosso, Antonio. Storming the heavens: Soldiers, Emperors, and Civilians in the Roman Empire. Westview Press, 2001. Print.
Taylor, Lily Ross. Roman Voting Assemblies: From the Hannibalic War to the Dictatorship of Caesar. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08125-X, 1966. Print.
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