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  • Print publication year: 1994
  • Online publication date: March 2008

1 - The crisis of the Republic: sources and source-problems

from PART I
By the end of the second century before Christ the Romans faced a crisis as a result of their mastery of the Mediterranean. The accounts of the late Republic in Livy and his predecessors, and equally the important contribution of Posidonius, can only be partially pieced together from fragments, epitomes and later derivatives. The most valuable later sources are Greek historians of the Principate. Polybius in his encomium of the Roman constitution in Book VI also portended its subsequent decay. It was not immune from the process of growth and decay according to nature, which was common to all constitutions and was in form cyclic since it started with primitive monarchy and returned to tyranny. Although the Roman Republic was stabilized by a balance between the monarchic, oligarchic and democratic elements, which prevented any part rapidly, getting the upper hand, in the long run it would succumb to the luxury and ambition arising from its unchallenged overseas empire.
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The Cambridge Ancient History
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