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on 30 August 1997
Gruen's book on the last generation of the Roman Republic is very easy to read and very scholarly, with extensive footnotes and bibliography. The crux of his arguement is that the generation of Caesar, Pompey, et al did not realize that their actions would cause the Republic to end. He cites many examples of senators who did not heel to Caesar, Pompey, or Crassus. In fact, most of the time their political enemies got the better of them. He examines the lists of the magistrates during this time, as well as different court battles. He stresses the factionality of Roman politics without becoming confusing with the different factions. The only problem I have with his premise is that he never really explains why "politics as usual" still contributed to the fall of the Republic and the rise of Augustus. This book is recommended to anyone interested in this time period of Rome who wants to read a different perspective on the events.
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on 19 August 1998
I'm a mere dilettante in the subject of history, but I found Prof. Gruen's book engrossing. Its prose conveyed a limpid, and therefore very credible, analysis of politics in the roman republic. It is still unclear to me whether Prof. Gruen meant to show that the end of the republic was an inevitable outcome of its political events. In any case, consumers of history who are interested in the late republic should not skip this satisfying work.
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