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The Effect of the Slave Wars on the Rise of a Roman Imperial State

Decent Essays
During the latter part of the Roman Republic, the extensive military conquest of the Mediterranean and Near East set up a domino effect in the Roman Empire. The military, staffed mainly by previously agricultural peasants, brought back a plethora of wealth and slaves to the Empire. This, in turn, caused the political elite to become ultra-wealthy. Using their recently gained wealth, the Roman political elite purchased large tracts of agricultural land, latifundia, and staffed them with slaves. Because of the abundance of slaves and the scarcity of agricultural peasants, it was economically prudent for the elite to use large numbers of slaves to work their land.
When the peasants returned home, the slaves occupied their former jobs, or
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The generals of the legions used to put down the revolts, such as Marcus Crassus, Pompey and Caesar, gained as a result of their battles wide popularity and an immense amount of power. The ability to pay their army led to the army becoming loyal to their general, rather than the state. In combination of the previously discussed unrest in Rome, their newfound power through the military led to a struggle for control over the Roman state, culminating in a Triumvirate and civil wars. In fact, military allegiance to single was such a problem in the First and Second Triumvirate’s that upon Augustus’ rule, he instituted a central military treasury (Mellor 30) to ensure loyalty to the Imperial state, and not individual generals. Julius Caesar, who had amassed the majority of control of the state, embraced Octavius as his son, and upon his assassination, named Octavius his heir. (Mellor 72) After more civil war due to the power vacuum and military flaws of allegiance, Octavius entered into a Triumvirate with his rivals for power Marc Antony and Lepidus and eventually, after Antony’s death, gained sole control of the state.
In short, the whirlwind of political unrest and military superiority caused by the slave wars of the late republic led to condition that allowed for the ascension to power of successful military commanders, such as Caesar and Octavius. The breaking of the state into political factions spearheaded by the political elite meant that he who controlled the
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