Podcast #346: The Fall of the Roman Republic

There’s been a lot written and said about the fall of the Roman Empire. But what often gets overlooked is that before Rome became an empire with what was effectively a king, it was a kingless republic. What was that republic like and why did it fall into an empire, before the empire itself fell?

My guest today explores this question in his book, The Storm Before the Storm. His name is Mike Duncan and he’s the host of the Revolutions and the History of Rome podcasts. Today on the show, Mike walks us through the formation of the Roman Republic and why it was so unique amongst ancient governments. He then explains the unwritten code of behavior that governed Romans and how it enabled the Republic to last for nearly 500 years. Mike then walks us through how the breakdown of that code led to the breakdown of the Republic, and how reformers seeking to take Rome back to its good ol’ days only sped up its fall. We then discuss if we can see any similarities between Rome’s republic and America. 

This is a fascinating episode on an oft-overlooked part of Roman history.

Show Highlights

  • Why Mike decided to focus on this period of Roman history for his book
  • How the Roman republic got its start
  • Why Rome’s governing system was unique
  • How Roman society functioned without written law
  • The factors that led to the breakdown of the republic
  • The importance of extreme income inequality in the downfall of Rome
  • The corruption and self-centeredness of the Roman senate
  • How the US government is patterned after Rome
  • Similarities between the United States and Rome

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Reading The Storm Before the Storm was a lot like reading a Game of Thrones novel. But instead of following a fictional world, you’re learning about an important part of Roman history. Pick up a copy of this very readable history book.

Connect With Mike

Mike on Twitter

Mike’s book website

Revolutions Podcast

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