On the Fall of the Roman Republic

On the Fall of the Roman Republic

Lessons for the American People

By Thomas E. Strunk

On the Republic juxtaposes the fall of the Roman Republic with the contemporary political landscape of the United States: a republic in disarray, violence and corruption thwarting the will of the people, military misadventures abroad, and rampant economic inequality diminishing a shared sense of the common good.

PDF, 150 Pages


January 2022

£20.00, $27.95

EPUB, 150 Pages


January 2022

£20.00, $27.95

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About This Book

Violence exploding in public spaces, corruption by political figures and economic elites, the will of the people thwarted in both elections and votes in the senate, military misadventures abroad, and rampant economic inequality at home diminishing a shared sense of the common good – in sum, a republic in disarray. These descriptions are not only familiar from ancient Roman political and social life but are also recognizable to any United States citizen who follows the news and American civic life. On the Republic proceeds chronologically through the fall of the Roman Republic beginning in 133 BCE and continuing down to around 14 CE, providing a continuous narrative of the fall of the Roman Republic juxtaposed with the contemporary political landscape of the United States.

On the Republic focuses on four constellations of lessons that represent the most significant things which the fall of the Roman Republic has to teach us at this time: the dangers of political violence, the inability of individuals and institutions to save us, the finality of the loss of freedom, and lastly the importance of civic virtue. In 20 short chapters, On the Republic explores how the United States now faces many of the same challenges that toppled the Roman Republic - political divisions, economic inequality, and creeping authoritarianism. How we respond to these challenges today will determine the future of American democracy.

On the Republic is not a book about the fall of ancient Rome to so-called barbarians overrunning the border. It addresses the fall of a democratic society (the Roman Republic) into an autocracy (the Roman empire). This is not a book about sexual debauchery and gluttony, but a serious reading of political events that had serious consequences. On the Republic offers modern readers lessons that, while sobering, can also empower them to participate in political life in new ways. History is a means not to predict the future, but rather to stir the civic imagination of its readers.


“What’s more, even aside from the lessons for contemporary America that Strunk wants to develop, On the Fall of the Roman Republic serves as a concise overview of most of the key political events taking place in Rome during the transition into the Empire. While it will not replace more thorough surveys, the historical aspects of this book will serve as a useful introduction for those who want an accessible and short book on a complex time period.”

Author Information

Thomas E. Strunk is Associate Professor of Classics at Xavier University. He is the author of History after Liberty: Tacitus on Tyrants, Sycophants, and Republicans.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Key Dates from Roman History; To the Reader; Introduction: Why Rome?; 1 Anacyclosis: No Regime Is Exceptional and Democracy Is Not Inevitable; 2 Mighty Republics Can Fall Because of Slow Corruption Rather Than Dramatic Revolutions; 3 A Revered Tradition of Liberty Can Be Exploited by Authoritarians; 4 Economic Inequality Drives Civil Strife; 5 Political Violence Can Become Normalized; 6 Strongmen Do Not Save Republics; 7 The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship Need to Be Shared and Extended; 8 Civic Virtue Is as Important as the Constitution and Laws; 9 A Reckoning with the Oppressed Cannot Be Denied; 10 Elections Only Work When Everyone Is Willing to Lose; 11 Disregard for The Civil Liberties of Some Erodes the Legal Rights of All Citizens; 12 Military Misadventures Abroad Lead to Instability at Home; 13 Organized, Armed Gangs Tear Apart a Political System; 14 Institutions May Not Be Able to Save the Republic; 15 A Tyrant Backed into a Corner Is a Danger to the Republic; 16 The Real Problem Is Not Simply a Tyrannical Leader; 17 Free Speech Can Disappear; 18 The Crisis Can Be Manufactured to Continue; 19 The Revolution Can Be Advertised as a Restoration; 20 Freedom Lost Cannot So Easily Be Regained; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliographic Note; Index.


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