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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

By 133 the Romans found themselves in command of a far-flung empire extending from Spain in the west to Asia Minor in the east, but they were forced to administer it with the government structure of a city-state. Rapid imperial expansion during the middle Republic strained nearly every aspect of the Roman system but none more so than the very foundation of Roman military strength—the small farmer. Spoils of war were channeled into agriculture by the landed elite, resulting in economic polarization and the displacement of independent labor in the countryside. This inquiry traces the socio-economic developments that led to the decline of independent farming in Rome, developments that culminated in political turmoil and civil war during the first century.

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