Rome from 140 BCE to the Reign of Octavian

Table of Contents

Numerous events took place in Rome between 140 BCE and the time Octavian. These events are political, social, economical and cultural. The leaders who ruled Rome during this period are mainly responsible for the changes that took place during this time. The most outstanding personalities in this period include Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Marius, Sulla, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Mark Antony, and Octavian (Crawford 1993, pp.23-25).

This research paper will focus on the personalities, the perceptions, policies and conflicts that characterized Rome during this time in history. Attention will also be paid to the influence of the Roman establishment to the rest of the world in terms of culture (Potter2009, pp.12-14).

Tiberius Gracchus and Gaius Gracchus

To begin with, personalities happen to be the most visible aspect of Rome in the period between 140 BCE and the time when Octavian ascended to power. The time of Octavian’s ascension to power was around 31 BCE. That means the era of focus in this paper lies between 140 BCE and 14 BCE, the period when Octavian died.

The earliest personalities in terms of time are the Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and Gaius. These were men of valor whose noble upbringing made then abhor mistreatment of the disadvantaged in society. This deeply influenced their character and therefore they attempted to introduce reforms as a way of ensuring that everyone was treated fairly in society.

Their attention was mainly focused on the economic sphere where the wealthy owned virtually everything and treated slaves in an inhuman way. It is during the time of Tiberius and Gaius that classes strengthened in Rome and their attempt to end the class divisions was met with extreme opposition from the upper classes. It is due to this opposition that their attempt failed (Potter 2009, pp.68-69).

Marius and Sulla

The failure of the Gracchi brothers to introduce reforms in Rome was followed by a short interlude of military oriented leadership in the period after 120 BCE. Marius and Sulla were military personalities whose activities had influence beyond the battlefield. In previous periods, people who never owned land were never allowed to serve in the military.

This was changed during the time of General Marius and Lieutenant Sulla. They opened the doors to landless citizens of Rome to join the military provided that they were able to speak well and had the recommended height. This is not something that the larger Roman society appreciated; especially the top classes whose conservative inclinations never the poor to take part in any meaningful activity within the Republic.

It is justifiable to say that the reforms that the Gracchi brothers had tried were partially fulfilled by Marius and Sulla. These two warriors had their own differences but they tried as much as possible not to play them out before the citizens, an attribute that is supposed to be found among the top political class in any establishment.

This means that Marius and Sulla were not just agile warriors but adept politicians whose ability to steer the republic to higher levels of achievement was unquestionable. Sulla was however dictatorial in his mode of administration and Marius’ commanding nature may have suppressed this quality in Sulla.

Marius took the leadership of the republic and led for a lengthy period till he died in the 81-82 BCE period. He was succeeded by Sulla who is largely regarded as a dictator. He quit after three years paving way for the rise of Pompey.

Sulla is considered the leader who made way for the rise of aristocratic leadership in Rome. Julius Caesar and Pompey were opposed to this and vehemently opposed Sulla. Upon Pompey’s ascendancy to the top with the support of the senate, Julius Caesar was expelled from the republic and declared enemy.


Another outstanding personality was Pompey. He was a Roman political personality who worked hand in hand with Julius Caesar. As already mentioned elsewhere in this essay, the two men were not pleased with the fact that the leadership of the Republic had been handed over to the aristocracy by Sulla.They therefore joined forces and opposed the move.

The differences between them rose to an all time high when Pompey was made leader by the senate. Pompey tried to use his physical attributes to govern but this would not work. Rome had changed a great deal and the citizens had changed to the Cicero philosophy of eloquence in communication for leaders. Julius Caesar galvanized forces from outside and beat Pompey in 48 BCE in Greece, a move that ended the leadership of Pompey.


Apart from Pompey, Rome produced another recognizable personality called Cicero. He is not known for politics as he is known for oratory, theory and constitutionalism. He was outspoken and verbally combative but his evident eloquence attracted the public, who paid attention to what he had to say.

He stressed the importance of eloquence and intelligence in public leadership. His influence on the citizens is on the requirements of good leadership is responsible for the limited appreciation Pompey received during his time at the top of the Roman leadership.

Julius Caesar

Far from Cicero and his emphasis on eloquence and god leadership, Julius Caesar emerges as the most influential politician and military leader in Rome. He rose to power after defeating Pompey. It is important to note that Pompey was the man supported by the senate over Caesar.

But Caesar’s intelligence and enabled him to organize a well trained army from outside and fought and defeated Pompey in 48BCE.He never went to Rome immediately but instead carried a strategic military campaign in Asia Minor and Egypt (Caesar 2008, pp.45-48).

Caesar assumed full leadership from the senate and began ambitious reforms geared towards the advancement of the republic. His focus was on the cultivation of sufficient food for the people and the creation of a strong army that would help expand the Roman rule to the rest of the world. His ability made him believe that this was possible and what he had achieved was evidence that it was within reach.

While he focused on leadership, a section of the senate and other envious individuals some who had connections to Pompey were plotting to topple him. Brutus and Cassius were at the apex of this anti-Caesar sentiment. This discontented elements assassinated Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. Upon Caesar’s death, the aristocratic forces took power once more.

The achievements of Julius Caesar are enormous considering the fact that he led for a short period. He is credited with the calendar with 365 days. He expanded the agricultural sector of the republic and the cultural elements of the Romans spread beyond the borders of the republic. He restructured the military and empowered the citizens. He also emphasized education and training with a concentration on rhetoric and math.


Caesar’s death paved way for the rise of Octavian who had to join arms with Mark Antony, a friend of Caesar to remove the aristocracy from power and defeat the gangs of Brutus and Cassius.

After the victory, the subsequent fallout between Octavian and his former ally, Mark Antony led to war where Mark Antony was defeated and Octavian rose to power. He ruled under the title of Augustus for a period of 44 years till his death in 14 BCE (Dio 1987, pp.27-28).

Far from personalities, the perceptions on the Rome have two dimensions. There were the perceptions of outsiders on Rome and the perceptions of Romans on the outside world. The outside world perceived Romans as aggressive people who wanted to conquer the world.

The military adventures of Julius Caesar in Asia Minor and Egypt did not do anything to alleviate this perception. The Romans on the other hand perceived themselves as superior people whose system of administration was the best and therefore fit to spread throughout the world.

Policies, Perceptions, and Conflicts

Regarding policies, the Romans had standing policies regardless of who was on top in terms of leadership. Expansion of the republic was unquestionable. There was also allegiance to the citizens and the republic although the aristocracy never respected the poor citizens.

Military strength was also a policy that had to be pursued by all leaders. The conflicts that afflicted the republic include the clash of the various personalities who wanted power such as Pompey and Caesar. There were also conflicts between the republic and its neighbors due to the conquering spirit of the Romans. Did the Romans influence the world in any way?

Influence Of The Romans To The Rest Of The World

The influence of the Romans to the rest of the world during the period between 140 BCE and 14 BCE was immense. The mode of administration that was practiced in Rome was copied by many neighboring cities as well as regions that Julius carried military campaigns in such as Egypt and Asia Minor. The military organization was influential too as well as the agricultural life.


In conclusion, the Roman republic of between 140 BCE and 14 BCE had outstanding personalities such as Julius Caesar, Marius, Sulla, Gaius Gracchus, Tiberius Gracchus, Cicero, and Pompey. The policies of Rome included pursuit of military strength and defense of the republic.

The Roman perceived themselves as well organized and the rest saw them as aggressive. The conflicts present at this time included the clash among the various personalities and the clashes between the republic and its neighbors.

Reference List

Crawford, Michael.1993. The Roman Republic (2nd ed.).New York: Harvard University Press.

Dio, Cassius.1987. The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus. New York: Penguin Classics.

Julius Caesar.2008. The Civil War (US Reissue ed.).New York: Oxford University Press.

Potter, David.2009. Ancient Rome: A New History. New York: Thames and Hudson.

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