How to save the Roman republic?

I’m binging a bit on the Roman scenarios and history right now and a constant of “republic was doomed” seems to be present everywhere. While some issues like land accumulation by the elites is showcased i fail to see how that can doom a republic and be incapable of reform when the same situation continued after republics fall more or less.

Could someone with greater knowledge of history explain the main issues that plagued Roman republic as it was failing and what possible steps could be taken to preserve it? Please note, by it I don’t mean republic completely as it is, but merely the Republican governance and avoidance of emperors and kings return.
 
Hmm, not my main area of expertise, but I imagine something stopping Lucius Sulla from marching on Rome and slaughtering his political rivals, twice, would potentially give the Republic the breathing room it needs to begin addressing some of its internal issues without the aforementioned marches having started legitimatizing despotism.
 
I’m binging a bit on the Roman scenarios and history right now and a constant of “republic was doomed” seems to be present everywhere. While some issues like land accumulation by the elites is showcased i fail to see how that can doom a republic and be incapable of reform when the same situation continued after republics fall more or less.
Well, it did. And the empire, where all of that exacerbated, looked strong in the first two centuries, superficially even at the peak of power, but its civic commitment had eroded and continued to erode to levels rarely seen anywhere else. The principate (and later dominate) were not solutions, they were embodiments of this long transformation.

To gauge how deeply we must Go, let me ask you back how long you want the Republic to last?
 
So... To prevent the immense concentration of power and erosion of civic support, a good PoD is bad Roman luck in the Punic Wars. Not bad enough to shatter it, but also no victories. No slave plantations in Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Iberia.
Rome and its Italian socii would have to continue to fight. The social base of the Military would not change so deeply.
Maybe the socii are even given their fair participation sooner.

But that way you don't get the huge empire, its crazy mass Entertainment, its Christianisation and Absorption of Greek culture.

Getting all that AND the Republican constitution is probably impossible.
 

octoberman

Banned
collective farming. If legioniarre start collective farm and run them like a latfundia. Then the land problem doesn't emerge then no Grachii or Marian reforms and the republic doesn't collapse the way it did
 
Hmm, not my main area of expertise, but I imagine something stopping Lucius Sulla from marching on Rome and slaughtering his political rivals, twice, would potentially give the Republic the breathing room it needs to begin addressing some of its internal issues without the aforementioned marches having started legitimatizing despotism.
Sulla was far from being the problem. Preventing Marius from using the Popular Assembly for trying to strip the Consul Sulla of the command of war against Mithridates would prevent the bloodbath, but the republic was already failing…
Marius was a much bigger threat to the Roman Republic than Sulla ever was, as the latter respected the Republican institutions while the former cared little for them

Sulla and Caesar were both from family who, while in decline, belonged to the Senatorial class and the Patriciate and so they respected the rules and the institutions, at least formally, while Marius, Pompey and Augustus disrespected rules any time they had a chance or the need to do it (look at their political careers and you will see the pattern)
 
Prevent the Marian Reforms from ever happening. The Marian Reforms improved the performance of the Roman Army at the Cimbrian War, but it came at the cost of the loyalty of the Roman Army shifting from the Roman State to the Roman General. Without the Marian Reforms, then the Republic would not have fallen as it did in otl.
 
Looking back at it now, the Gracchus brothers reforms being passed might be a potential fixer.
Sulla was far from being the problem. Preventing Marius from using the Popular Assembly for trying to strip the Consul Sulla of the command of war against Mithridates would prevent the bloodbath, but the republic was already failing…
Marius was a much bigger threat to the Roman Republic than Sulla ever was, as the latter respected the Republican institutions while the former cared little for them

Sulla and Caesar were both from family who, while in decline, belonged to the Senatorial class and the Patriciate and so they respected the rules and the institutions, at least formally, while Marius, Pompey and Augustus disrespected rules any time they had a chance or the need to do it (look at their political careers and you will see the pattern)
Sulla definitely took advantage of the changed circumstances, from Marius's reforms to the Senate being so entrenched in not compensating soldiers effectively because they wanted to retain hold of their slave plantation farms for profit were definite issues. I do think you are underselling the impact (& over emphasizing the respect they had for the institutions, especially with Caesar) of marching an army on Rome and slaughtering all opposed however.
Prevent the Marian Reforms from ever happening. The Marian Reforms improved the performance of the Roman Army at the Cimbrian War, but it came at the cost of the loyalty of the Roman Army shifting from the Roman State to the Roman General. Without the Marian Reforms, then the Republic would not have fallen as it did in otl.
This is true, but by the same token, its army would likely be far less effective; depending on one's ideal scenario this might not be a huge issue but it feels worth highlighting.

Honestly going over stuff again, I think a recurring issue is how out of step the Senate and Legions come to be, both in terms of reforms and their views of one another.
 
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Marius was a much bigger threat to the Roman Republic than Sulla ever was, as the latter respected the Republican institutions while the former cared little for them
And yet one of these two marched an army on Rome, was declared dicator for life, and stripped the tribunate of all power, including those it had held for hindreds of years. Yeah, lots of respect for Republican Institutions on display. 🙄

Anyhoo, quite simply the Optimates are going to have to accept that change has to happen. The masses of Rome need to actually get a share of the bounty that those masses had done 99% of the work in conquering. But as that involves the patricians to not be greedy assholes with no redeeming virtues, its also extraordinarily unlikely.
 
Any POD is doomed if it happens after the Gracci, the Republic is already locked on the struggle between populares vs optimates, violence became a political tool, Sulla and Marius are just a product of that enviroment, if they are wiped from ever existing someone will take their place.

The problem with the republic is that there is too much internal strife, there is the struggle plebeians vs patricians, freemen vs slaves, provinces vs capital, citizens with voting right vs citizens without voting rights vs latin/allies vs non-citizens, populists vs reactionaries...

One problem is certainly land distribution, but another is representation of the people, two of the three assemblies favor the patricians/equestrians and the rich, they must be reformed to give more power to the plebeian/proletarii. Another problem all three assemblies plus the senate are in the capital, and some citizens even lose their right to vote when they move out of Rome, there should be a way to give more equality to the citizens outside of the capital.
 
The only way for this to work is if the underlying problems which caused the republics collapse are prevented. Firstly the precedent of a dictator for only 6 months should be maintained. Next someone similar to Augustus, or even Augustus himself, needs to implement the reforms he did. Lastly, slavery must be limited. The reason why many were destitute in Rome was due to having no jobs because the slaves took it. If slavery is limited then I could see the Roman ppl being less agitated.
 
I think the republic doomed itself when it started conquering land outside Italy proper. Doing that led to a situation where generals could conquer foreign lands and build up independent wealth and popularity, the sort of thing that leads them to think they can also take over political leadership. Of course, the most famous example of this is Caesar in Gaul, but Sulla, Marius, and Pompey also all made their names in wars of conquest outside Italy. The conquests also led to an influx of slaves, which greatly strengthened the large landholding estates and weakened the traditional small-holding farmer, the sort that had traditionally made up Roman armies. They were replaced by poorer men who needed regular salaries, as well as local auxiliaries. So you had a situation where Roman generals gained massive wealth through overseas conquests, became famous in Rome, and had an army who was utterly devoted to him mostly because he paid well. Is it any wonder one of them eventually decided he could bring down the Republic?
 
Looking back at it now, the Gracchus brothers reforms being passed might be a potential fixer.
Yes, that would likely work.
Sulla definitely took advantage of the changed circumstances, from Marius's reforms to the Senate being so entrenched in not compensating soldiers effectively because they wanted to retain hold of their slave plantation farms for profit were definite issues. I do think you are underselling the impact (& over emphasizing the respect they had for the institutions, especially with Caesar) of marching an army on Rome and slaughtering all opposed however.
I am simply of the opinion who both Sulla and Caesar, when they started their marches on Rome they simply had no other alternative to that, excluding personal ruin, and so at point had nothing to lose. Still both tried to restore the Senate and its institutions without depriving them of power (unlike Augustus)
And yet one of these two marched an army on Rome, was declared dicator for life, and stripped the tribunate of all power, including those it had held for hindreds of years. Yeah, lots of respect for Republican Institutions on display. 🙄
Sulla renounced to his powers as Dictator and retired to private life and stripping the tribunate of its power was seen as a necessity for putting back things in order, after the misuse of that powers in the precedent years (at least from the Optimates point-of-view). Do not forget who Marius and his allies had repeatedly tried to strip the Senate of its traditional prerogatives in favour of the Popular Assembly (of which they had the control)
 
Any POD is doomed if it happens after the Gracci, the Republic is already locked on the struggle between populares vs optimates, violence became a political tool, Sulla and Marius are just a product of that enviroment, if they are wiped from ever existing someone will take their place.
I agree. Getting the Gracchian Reforms through, though, would require violence, too, and probably on a large scale, since the problems they address are entrenched at the top of society. Better to avoid the problems getting so big in the first place. That's why I agree with everyone who said that expansion beyond Italy, at least quick expansion in the form of conquest, should have been avoided.
The problem with the republic is that there is too much internal strife, there is the struggle plebeians vs patricians, freemen vs slaves, provinces vs capital, citizens with voting right vs citizens without voting rights vs latin/allies vs non-citizens, populists vs reactionaries...
In principle, this is how republics work. You could describe contemporary republics just the same way: Tensions and conflicts are not brushed over, not hidden under the carpet, but openly haggled over politically. The problem came when imbalances got so great that playing "by the rules" looked ridiculous.
One problem is certainly land distribution, but another is representation of the people, two of the three assemblies favor the patricians/equestrians and the rich, they must be reformed to give more power to the plebeian/proletarii.
While this would have made Rome more just in our present-day eyes, I am not sure if it would have stabilised the republic back then. One could certainly shift votes around somewhat, but as long as there were still propertied yeomen masses, they did not seem to mind quite so much as to not rally round the flag anymore in a situation of war. Equalising votes would have gone against a deeply ingrained cultural pattern of Roman society, i.e. patronage and clientelism. Yes, this system would ultimately ruin everything. But imagining republican Rome without it is, well, really difficult. We must not be anachronistic here. The most plausible TLs are those who fit into the mindset of the times they write about, not necessarily into ours, thus showing us outlooks on the world different from our own.
Another problem all three assemblies plus the senate are in the capital, and some citizens even lose their right to vote when they move out of Rome, there should be a way to give more equality to the citizens outside of the capital.
I agree - and I wonder when the opportunity would have been best to reform the Latin League into just this direction.
Mind you, we'd probably not talk about the Roman but the Latin Republic then, but still.

Lastly, slavery must be limited. The reason why many were destitute in Rome was due to having no jobs because the slaves took it. If slavery is limited then I could see the Roman ppl being less agitated.
While I agree that the abundance of slaves were a big problem for the late republic, the problem can't be solved when the populace is already in Rome and looking for "jobs" there. Slave-worked latifundia replaced family farms, and it was this that drove so many people from the countryside into the city. Keep them on their own land, and you don't have a proletarian underclass in Rome. (But you also don't have such a large Rome, but see above, Latin Republic...)
Once people arrived in megacities, they would always live in somewhat precarious circumstances in antiquity: little space, dirt and squalour, epidemics, unstable employment at questionable wages, unless they're really lucky. Rome even addressed much of this with its hygiene politics a lot better than other places, but at ancient productivity levels, you can't maintain truly decent living conditions for entire populaces of such huge cities unless you exploit the rest of the world (which was what Rome later did).

And let's be clear and not idyllise anything: the life of the Roman "rusticus", the yeoman farmer with his plot of land, was hard and dirt-poor, too. It even lacked the glamour that Rome came to acquire. Life in antiquity was no walk in the park, except for a select few. That was not caused by the slaves taking away the jobs of the Roman proles.
 
Keep slaves from flooding the agricultural sector, which in turn displaced the free citizen farmer who had participation in the system and was eligible to serve in the military, and after he had been displaced with slaves had to be replaced with a professional army to protect the system, an army that became loyal to whoever promised the most booty.
 
I am simply of the opinion who both Sulla and Caesar, when they started their marches on Rome they simply had no other alternative to that, excluding personal ruin, and so at point had nothing to lose. Still both tried to restore the Senate and its institutions without depriving them of power (unlike Augustus)
I can agree on Sulla but not Caesar, his methodology and being made dictator for life say to me he's far too power hungry to have any genuine respect for the Republic. I will note I also think getting rid of the whole "You are allowed to break the law if you hold X rank" is a terrible governing policy and definitely should be gotten rid of to prevent Caesar like schemes.
 
Figure out a way to confine Rome to central Italy. The Republic works just fine for a city-state and its immediate neighbours... less so when it encompasses all of Italy... and Sicily... and North Africa, Iberia and Greece.

So now you've got a Senate full of patricians that don't want to give up anything to the newcomers (and will murder you if you try) and thousands of new citizens whose only way to gain status is joining the army, and the only thing stopping an ambitious general from exploiting this is the honour system.
 
Sulla renounced to his powers as Dictator and retired to private life and stripping the tribunate of its power was seen as a necessity for putting back things in order, after the misuse of that powers in the precedent years (at least from the Optimates point-of-view). Do not forget who Marius and his allies had repeatedly tried to strip the Senate of its traditional prerogatives in favour of the Popular Assembly (of which they had the control)
So basically your argument is that he had no respect for the Republic’s institutions or laws in general, but he backed the Senate; and therefore does. The same Senate that had been violating the Republic’s norms and laws in order to consolidate power and murder anyone who tried to reverse things even slightly (including people who actually tried to enforce public laws the Senate didn’t like) of course.

Anyone who backs the Senate by the time of Marius and Sulla is anti-Republic.
 

bguy

Donor
What if Caesar is killed and his army destroyed at Alesia? That would mean in a two year period Rome has suffered two separate cataclysmic defeats in two separate wars of choice launched by ambitious generals. That might be enough to sour the Romans on allowing their provincial governors to launch wars of conquest on their own authority and on giving out the multi-year provincial commands that made such wars possible. If Roman provincial governors are no longer allowed to wage multi-year wars of conquest then would any of them be able to become powerful enough to overthrow the Republic?
 
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