How does Rome of the second century CE differ
How does Rome of the second century CE differ in respect to scale and complexity from Rome of the early and middle Republic?
I am referring to scale and complexity in terms of the social, cultural and military aspects. Early and middle Republic would be around the 400, 300 and 200 BCE. I also need to focus on the differing meanings of “Rome” and what it means to be a “Roman” in these two different time periods, as it develops from a small city-state to a “world” empire.
The Roman Republic (around 509 BCE- 27 BCE) was formed by doing away with the monarchy that was the ruling order, replacing it with an oligarchic order. Essentially, this led to a lot of internal strife, as aristocrats and plebians fought over each other for power. It was during the Republic’s time that Rome expanded throughout the Mediterranean, in a sort of fulfilling of the prophecy of ‘war and victory’, that the ancient poets had painted.
The Early Republic began with a period of decline, as the ‘old grandeur’ was nowhere to be seen. It reached its lowest point in 390 BC, when it was sacked by the Gauls. It was only gradually that it picked up, and expanded, over the Middle Republic period, into the magnificent Empire that Julius Caesar took over.
The Empire, having started off with a dictator-ruler who had established himself on the throne for life (cut short by his assassination), was surprisingly peaceful for a while. This was vastly different form the civil war and internal strife of the Republic Era that destabilized Rome. From the late 1st century through most of the second century, Rome saw a series of good rulers (the ‘Five Good Emperors’), including the Stoic, Marcus Aurelius. In a sense, Roman culture prospered more in the Empire’s time.