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The Transformation of the Roman Republic

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Cato the Elder (234 BC - 149 BC)
With Cato the Elder, in the first half of the second
century B.C., Latin history writing first came into
existence, representing a new level of selfconfidence on the part of the Romans, who now
rose to the challenge of Greek letters by composing
their own literature in their own language.
This was an achievement matched by no other people with
whom the Greeks came into contact. For Cato, in fact, the
Greeks no longer counted; the Romans and the Italians had
nothing of which to be ashamed. On the contrary, he believed
they had incorporated the best of the Greek world with the best
of their own rich heritage—a pardonable exaggeration with
which many Greeks in the second century B.C. must have
agreed. From this time on, numerous accounts in Latin by
members of the senatorial class provided the growing reading
public of Rome and Italy with suitably patriotic, moralizing
histories, often laced with polemic tracts from the internal
political battles of the century. There were few qualms about
adapting history to the political needs of the Roman upper
classes, and history was seen as a means of glorifying one’s
achievements and the achievements of one’s family as well as
propagandizing for further advancement. Nagle, pp. 319-320.
Some aphorisms of Cato the Elder
•After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no
monument than why I have one.
•Anger so clouds the mind, that it cannot perceive the
truth.
•From lightest words sometimes the direst quarrel
springs.
•Grasp the subject, the words will follow.
•I think the first virtue is to restrain the tongue; he
approaches nearest to gods who knows how to be silent,
even though he is in the right.
•Lighter is the wound foreseen.
•Patience is the greatest of all virtues.
•Tis sometimes the height of wisdom to feign stupidity.
The Stoic Diogenes
The Transformation of Rome
When three famous Greek
philosophers—Carneades,
the head of the Academy;
the Stoci Diogenes; and
Critolaus the Peripatetic—
came to Rome to plead a
case on behalf of Athens,
they electrified the youth
of the city with their
lectures.
Carneades, the
head of the
Academy
Nothing like Carneades’ lecture on justice and its application to
the problem of empire, delivered on two successive days—on
the second day of which the speaker refuted all the theories he
had put up on the previous day—had been heard before. Cato
urged that he philosophers be given a quick answer to their plea
so that they could return to their schools in Athens as soon as
possible, while the “youth of Rome could listen, as in the past,
to their laws and magistrates.” Nagle, p. 320.
Dionysus
As Rome grew and the bonds of
clientship (clientela) dissolved, the
confinement of religion to the higher
officials of state and to state functions
created a vacuum. Eastern religions
moved in to fill the void. The worship of
the Great Mother (Magna Mater, Mater
Deorum, or Cybele) was introduced
officially in 205 B.C., and unofficially the
worship of Dionysus crept into Italy and
was savagely repressed as being
dangerous to Rome both politically and
morally. However, the two religions
remained as the forerunners of many
others, including the one that was
ultimately to triumph: Christianity.
Nagle, p. 321.
Magna Mater, Mater
Deorum, or Cybele
Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus (The Gracchi Family)
Gaius Marius (157-86 B.C.) and
the Jugurthan War.
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
138-78 B.C.
Pompey
Crassus
Caesar
Cleopatra and Mark Anthony
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