Questions tagged [roman-republic]

Questions about the period of ancient Roman civilization when the government operated as a republic from 509 BC to 27 BC.

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51
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6answers
15k views

Why did the Roman military start to favour swords over the spear phalanx?

Up until the rise of the Roman Republic, the Greek phalanx was considered the dominant form of military tactics. Evolution had simply favoured longer and longer spears: by the time of Alexander, ...
49
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6answers
9k views

When did the Romans finally acknowledge that they were living in an empire?

The Romans, during the time of the Republic, were a famously anti-monarchical society. There are plenty of stories of Roman politicians gaining favor by refusing crowns, or condemning kings, etc. As ...
29
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1answer
7k views

What form of home address did Romans use?

Were the buildings in an ancient Roman city numbered, named or something else? How would they tell each other where they lived? Were the numbers painted on the walls? Did they have apartment numbers? ...
24
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1answer
2k views

What did the Romans do for Judea?

I watched The Life of Brian and I heard this quotation: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers. Reg: Yes. Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers. Reg: All right, Stan. Don't labour the ...
21
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1answer
1k views

How many times did the the sacred fire of Vesta die?

The sacred fire of Vesta was a sacred eternal flame in Ancient Rome, tended to by the Vestal Virgins. Except once a year for the kalendae (first day of March), extinguishing the sacred fire resulted ...
18
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5answers
7k views

How did the Druids learn the Greek language by the time of Caesar's campaign in Gaul?

In Latin class, we are translating parts of Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. One thing that struck me as odd is how Caesar describes the customs of the Gauls, especially in Book 6, where he ...
17
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7answers
18k views

How well can cavalry fight infantry?

In the Battle of Pharsalus, Caesar's infantry won by throwing their spears at the horsemen's faces. So how come in Battle of Zama and many other battles, including the battle where Khalid ibn al-...
17
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2answers
3k views

Why did the original Carthage never become a Roman city?

Carthage fell to the might of Rome, I think it was, three times in total. They were completely defeated and accepted some pretty horrible terms of surrender. And yet they maintained their self ...
14
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3answers
2k views

What factors contributed to earlier democratic states failing?

Conventional wisdom says that democracy is the superior form of government. If this is true, then factors might have contributed to earlier democratic states like Athens in 500 BCE and the Roman ...
14
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1answer
2k views

Is “Friends, Romans, …” a historical speech?

While searching for a canonical translation to my language of the phrase Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears I was surprised to find reference to it only in the Shakespeare play. As the ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Were Roman marching songs still bawdy during principate/dominate?

We know from writers such as Suetonius in his Vita Divi Iuli that legionnaires would sing some quite raunchy and bawdy tunes, even during a triumph of their leader. There were open allusions to ...
13
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2answers
3k views

Short or long Roman numerals?

TL;DR: Is 1995 correctly written as MVM, or as something more like MCMLVL? MCMVC? MCMLXLV? MCMLXXXXV? From what I recall from my Latin classes (European highschool...), you are not supposed to write ...
13
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1answer
402 views

What were the rights of various classes of people in the Roman Republic?

Ancient Rome is often cited as a republic/democracy, and one of the earliest examples of a civilisation enforcing some degree of human rights. However, it's no secret that slavery was present in Rome. ...
12
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1answer
346 views

In the early Roman Republic, did every patrician family have at least one consul?

It appears that gens Foslia for example only produced one: Marcus Foslius Flaccinator in 433. Are there examples of patrician families that produced no consuls? Or is it that our knowledge of ...
12
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1answer
4k views

“No sane man will dance.”? When / where / about-what did Cicero say this?

I hate quotes out of context, even great lines like "No sane man will dance." -- which was allegedly uttered by Cicero. But every time the quote is used, context is omitted. Was Cicero really ...
12
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1answer
344 views

Was every Roman citizen part of a curia?

In a book by German historian Klaus Bringmann, I read that during the regal period, the whole population was divided into three tribes. He furthermore states that each tribe was divided into 10 curiae ...
12
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1answer
313 views

What Roman Republican legal structures lasted into the Empire and which ones didn't?

I've been reading about Roman political system in the late Roman Republic directly prior to Caesar being declared dictator. A question occurred to me which I cannot seem to find an answer to. What ...
11
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4answers
525 views

What is considered to be the pivotal battle between Caesar and Pompey? [closed]

Caesar and Pompey's forces battled with one another on numerous occasions during the Fall of the Roman Republic. What is the earliest battle that is commonly accepted as the one where it became clear ...
11
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3answers
910 views

Why was Caesar at the Rubicon?

«Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος» (anerriphtho kybos, lit. Let the die be cast) was attributed by Suetonius to Caesar when it was reported that some legionaries cross the Rubicon. Why did Caesar move to the Rubicon ...
11
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3answers
1k views

At the Battle of Zama, was the Roman army more “native” than the Carthaginian?

At the battle of Zama, which army had a higher proportion of native troops? Within the context of this question consider troops to be either "native" or "mercenary". Native troops serve out of ...
11
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2answers
564 views

What was the legal process of raising a legion in late Republican Rome?

I've read some about both the Roman army and the Late Republican period, but realized that, while I understand well enough how legions worked in the field, I have only a very incomplete idea of who ...
11
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2answers
564 views

How many citizens were in each century of the Roman electoral system?

The Centuriate assembly (Comicia centuriata) was arguably the most important assembly of the Roman republic. It was in charge of electing consuls, praetors and censors, of voting laws, declaring war ...
10
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2answers
4k views

What is the 'rank switching' done by Roman Legionnaires in HBO's 'Rome' called, and did it actually happen?

I'm talking about the formational fighting show in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJO2UfG9KcI Where did the show's creators get the source material? If so, what was it called, when did ...
10
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2answers
974 views

Was Marc Antony with Julius Caesar when he crossed the Rubicon?

Question I had always been told that he was, and Plutarch's Life of Antony certainly seems to imply as much. But I just read a passage in Adrian Goldsworthy's book, Caesar's Civil War 49-44 BC, ...
10
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2answers
3k views

What kind of siege weapons were used during Punic wars?

I would like to know which kind of siege weapons were used during Punic wars on both sides, there is not very much information around.
10
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3answers
857 views

Why was the Marian reforms' inclusion of landless masses necessary?

The Marian reforms of the late Roman Republic changed Rome's military into a standing, professional volunteer force and greatly enhanced its effectiveness, thereby ensuring Rome's dominance for ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Did the Gallic army besieged in Alesia conduct itself well when expecting relief?

During a Gallic revolution against Rome, a Gallic army of some 80,000 men took shelter in the fortress town of Alesia, where they were besieged by some 50,000 Romans under Julius Caesar. (His army may ...
10
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1answer
934 views

What Roman legions in Hispania revolted against Caesar before the battle at Munda?

I was debating an interesting topic recently about Pompey's legions in Hispania and why they hadn't fought alongside him against Caesar at Pharsalus. Now Caesar forcefully convinced most of them to ...
9
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2answers
719 views

What is the chair depicted in Cesare Maccari's 1889 painting “Cicerone denuncia Catilina”?

There are a number of inaccuracies in Cesare Maccari's painting. Wikipedia notes that the arrangement of the chairs was of parallel rather than radial as depicted. Did Maccari accurately depict the ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Who proposed the motion that gave Gaius Julius Caesar the title Augustus?

In 27 BC, the Senate gave Gaius Julius Caesar the title Augustus. I am assuming that as the senate gave him that title, the motion must have been proposed by someone at the senate floor. Do we know, ...
9
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1answer
5k views

Did the Romans “copy” their political system from the Greeks?

This is an outgrowth of the discussion here. My sense is that the Romans developed their system autochthonously, probably with some influence from their Etruscan neigbours and one-time-overlords. ...
9
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1answer
242 views

How common were private bathing facilities in Late Republican Rome?

For example, there are small private bathtubs in Pompeii, but this is about 150 years later and in a period that practices were changing, as more people became wealthy enough to have such things. My ...
9
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2answers
430 views

What happened to Caesar's hostages in Gaul?

I am reading Caesar's Gallic wars, and there is a repetitive pattern to much of it. Caesar shows up The natives either sue for peace and surrender their weapons and give hostages, or The natives ...
9
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2answers
725 views

Who stood for the Roman consulship in absentia?

I'm trying to find precedents for Caesar's request in 50 BC to stand for the consulship in absentia (i.e. without returning to Rome as a private citizen), which was ultimately refused by the Senate. ...
9
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1answer
667 views

First Roman battles after the Marian reforms

I'm quite interested in the removal of the Hastati, Principes and Triarii elements introduced by the Marian reforms in 107 BC, and how it affected the Roman army at first. Looking on Wikipedia for ...
9
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1answer
131 views

In which direction does the thumb point in the “pollice verso?”

Pollice verso was the gesture used to indicate death by roman crowds in the arena. However, wikipedia notes some debate over the exact gesture indicated by the phrase. Has there been any relevant ...
8
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1answer
463 views

Are there any ancient sources clearly testifying a frozen Tiber river in the year 398, 396, 271, and 177 BCE?

Multiple sources, ranging from Wikipedia to journal articles over the years (such as this one), record a series of severe winters which caused the Tiber river to be frozen in the above-listed years. ...
8
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1answer
406 views

How was the Roman Princeps Senatus appointed?

In Republican Rome, the princeps senatus (~head of the senate) was supposed to have been nominated by the censors, who were elected every 5 years for 1 and a half years. What happened when the ...
8
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2answers
702 views

What were the incentives for joining the Roman army before the Marian reforms?

Before the Marian reforms, soldiers had to supply their own equipment. This did not exactly inspire anyone to form a professional standing army, especially since most were peasants who had to return ...
8
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2answers
333 views

Who were the candidates in the consular elections for 80 BC in Rome?

Wikipedia describes the political process of 80 BC thus: Near the end of 81 BC, Sulla, true to his traditionalist sentiments, resigned his dictatorship, disbanded his legions and re-established ...
8
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1answer
391 views

Were quaestors in the Roman Republic entitled to lictors/fasces?

I apologise if this is too basic a question, but Wikipedia seems to contradict itself! It says here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaestor that a Quaestor was entitled to one lictor and one fasces, ...
7
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1answer
439 views

Why did Spartacus turn South at Mutina instead of continuing North towards Thrace?

During the Roman Republic's Third Servile War (73–71 BC), a gladiator named Spartacus lead an army of escaped slaves in revolt against Rome. Spartacus was a Thracian from an area in Eastern and ...
7
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5answers
3k views

Why didn't Romans fight in a single line formation?

I read that historically, Romans fought in checker board formation, composed of 3 lines. But I play Rome Total War and in the game, that deployment means a nice recipe for high casualties. In the game,...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there any evidence that Celts produced chain mail?

Since I started to interest myself in history of the northen Europe, and especially the history of Celtic people, I read a lot about their inventions, in terms of warfare. The quote from wiki ...
7
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1answer
981 views

Was Julius Caesar a hippie?

I was reading the question What was the hippie movement? Why did it decline? when I noticed this comment by Oldcat: There is even a story of Julius Caesar wearing a long fringe sleeved tunic to ...
7
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1answer
580 views

Was it widespread practice to grant freedom to slaves in early Roman Empire?

If a citizen owned a slave, he or she could free him / her. The Wikipedia article gives some reasons for doing this: Slaves were freed for a variety of reasons; for a particularly good deed toward ...
7
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1answer
2k views

What role did Jews play in the Punic Wars?

There were Jewish communities throughout the Mediterranean at the time of the Punic Wars? What role if any, did jews play in these wars?
7
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1answer
724 views

Did the Carthaginians have the option of sending Hannibal to Sicily?

Sicily was a major focus of the First and Second Punic Wars. The first Punic war ended with Carthage handing over major grain-growing areas on the island, and the port of Lilybaem to Rome as spoils of ...
7
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1answer
1k views

Why did the Roman Republic never set up a civilian police department?

I was recently reading about conflicts between Clodius and Pompey. Clodius first but subsequently Pompey as well, used - what I would characterize as - armed gangs. The power of these gangs was such ...
7
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1answer
183 views

What cult images are likely to be found in a Second Punic war era Roman field camp?

Were cult images (e.g. statues of gods) carried by a Roman army (or its commander) around 200 BC? If so, which gods? And were would they be kept while in camp? (I am not referring to items individual ...