How inequality, diversity and empire brought down the Roman Republic

It is often said that the United States resembles ancient Rome in more ways than one. America’s founding fathers, of course, actively modeled our great republican institutions on that of Rome, and our empire surely is as comparably rich and so extensive that our leaders, like their august predecessors at the Roman Forum, consider the whole of the known world their purview.

There are, however, many more similarities than merely that, and an examination of Rome’s history finds many uncomfortable parallels with our own.
For most of Rome’s history as a republic, the constitution and its division of power and shared responsibility for governance worked reasonably well, most of the time.

That’s because Rome at the time was still a very small society by today’s standards — a city-state that could count a few tens of thousands of individuals as citizens.

This relatively small population allowed citizens to if not personally know one another, then to at least know of each other, their reputations and other features and commonalities that collectively made them a people to one another.

As Romans, they were tied to together through family, clan and class into a tightly-knit civic body that could, in a pinch, offer up tremendous sacrifices for their beloved Rome…

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All that changed for Rome, as we know.