The End of the Republic of Rome

Bust of Augustus Caesar (63 B.C.-14 A.D.); First Emperor of Rome. Getty Images

Julius Caesar's posthumously adopted son, Octavian, became the first emperor of Rome, known to posterity as Augustus -- the census-taking Caesar Augustus of the New Testament Book of Luke.

When Did Republic Become Empire?

According to modern ways of looking at things, the accession of Augustus or Julius Caesar's assassination on the Ides of March 44 B.C. marks the official end of the Republic of Rome.

When Did the Republic Start Its Decline?

The collapse of Republican Rome had been long and gradual. Some claim it started with the expansion of Rome begun during the Punic Wars of the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. More traditionally, the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic begins with Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus (the Gracchi), and their social reforms.

1st Century B.C.

It all came crescendoing to a head around the time the triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus came to power. While it was not unheard of for a dictator to assume total control, the triumvirate grabbed power that was supposed to belong to the Senate and the Roman people (S.P.Q.R.).

End of the Republic Timeline

Here are some of the major events in the history of the fall of the Republic of Rome.

The Government of the Roman Republic

  • 3 Branches of Government
    Having witnessed the problems of the monarchy on their own land, and aristocracy and democracy among the Greeks, the Romans opted for a mixed form of government, with 3 branches of government.
  • Cursus Honorum
    Description of the magisterial offices and order in which they must be held.
  • Comitia Centuriata
    The Assembly of the Centuries looked at the age and wealth of the tribesmen and divided them accordingly.

The Gracchi Brothers

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus brought reforms to Rome by circumventing tradition, and in the process started a revolution.

Thorns in the Side of Rome

  • Spartacus is the summary of the rebellion carried out by enslaved people, led by the Thracian gladiator Spartacus beginning in 73 B.C.
  • Mithridates was the King of Pontus (on the southeast side of the Black Sea) kept trying to increase his holdings, but each time he tried to encroach on the territory of others, the Romans stepped in to push him back.
  • By the time Pompey was asked to handle the pirates, they were out of hand -- almost destroying commerce, preventing trade between cities and capturing important officials. In order to put an end to their power, laws had to be passed.

Sulla and Marius

  • One, an impoverished aristocrat, and the other, a new man, Sulla and Marius couldn't have been more different. Sulla started out in a subordinate position and the two fighting each other nearly brought Rome to ruin.
  • Seven-time consul, Marius led the Roman forces to victory in Africa and Europe. Despite the assassination of his political associates, he died in office an old man.

The Triumvirate

  • General, consul, writer, Julius Caesar is sometimes called the greatest leader of all times.
  • Pompey was known as Pompey the Great after he removed the threat of an annoying Roman gadfly, the so-called friend of Rome, Mithradates of Pontus, in Asia Minor.
  • Crassus was the third member of the triumvirate, with Pompey and Caesar despite the fact that Pompey had stolen Crassus' glory vis a vis putting down the revolt of enslaved people led by Spartacus.

They Had to Die

  • Cicero was a pivotal figure at the end of the Republic, a sometimes friend of Pompey, an orator, and a statesman.
  • Cleopatra led an important country, Egypt, as well attracting the attention of both Caesar and Mark Antony. As such, she straddled the shift from Republic to Roman Empire.
  • Mark Antony was a member of the second triumvirate with Augustus and Lepidus, after Lepidus was dispensed with, Mark Antony had increasing trouble maintaining his position.
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Gill, N.S. "The End of the Republic of Rome." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Gill, N.S. (2023, April 5). The End of the Republic of Rome. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "The End of the Republic of Rome." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).