Cover image for Swords against the senate : the rise of the Roman army and the fall of the republic
Swords against the senate : the rise of the Roman army and the fall of the republic
Hildinger, Erik.
Personal Author:
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 240 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DG254 .H55 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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After Rome defeated its age-old enemy, Carthage, it was the undisputed ruler of a vast empire.Yet, at the heart of the Roman Republic was a peculiar flaw: an uneradicable tension between the aristocracy and the plebians, and each regarded themselves as the foundation of Rome's military power.Swords Against the Senate relates how the republic began to come apart amid military and political turmoil-the smoldering anger of the common people, a petty war against a treacherous North African prince, an invasion by Germans and an Italian political uprising. In the crisis Gaius Marius, the people's general," rises to despotic power but is eventually replaced by the brutal dictator Sulla, who in turn spawns the man who would transform turmoil into imperial triumph, Julius Caesar. In this fast-paced, fact-filled work, personal intrigue, treachery, and occasional moral virtue vie for the reins of power. The Roman army, once invincible against foreign antagonists, becomes a tool for the powerful and government its foe. Erik Hildinger has written a fascinating, insightful work of history."

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The epic decline of the Roman Republic into civil war and military dictatorship gets a fresh and engrossing retelling here. Hildinger (Warriors of the Steppe) covers the period 137-78 BC, when mounting conflict between the aristocratic Senate and the plebeian popular assemblies undermined Rome's constitution and fueled political violence. Meanwhile, the displacement of the Roman peasantry by slave labor transformed the legions from a force of yeoman farmers into one of professionals recruited from the destitute classes, who owed their allegiance to their commanders rather than the Republic. When political turmoil created an opening for charismatic generals, "the republic was toppled by men with private armies." Combining social and political analysis with detailed battle narratives, Hildinger, a military historian, provides a lucid account of the Roman army, its major campaigns and its growing importance in the Republic's volatile and bloodthirsty politics. Unfortunately, an almost Shakespearean contempt for the Roman "mob," who "envied the wealth of their betters," were "prey to demagogues" and "unfit to exercise power," makes his defense of constitutional niceties and senatorial privilege against the inroads of popular democracy rather unconvincing. Still, this is a gripping treatment of one of history's great tragedies. (Oct. 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved