In this 1955 study, R. E. Smith attempts to explain and interpret the failure of the Roman Republic in the first century BC, showing how the failure came about, and what its effects were upon the spirit of the society. Smith begins by assessing the character of Rome during the period 200-140 BC when its struggle with Carthage had ended and it first began to achieve dominance in the Mediterranean. He then examines the irresponsible behaviour of the Gracchi and the ensuing political disruption in Rome, which precipitated a spiritual crisis in the society and was among the primary causes of the demise of the Republic. The eventual collapse of the republican system was, as Smith contends, a failure of the spirit of Roman society, not of the government, and ultimately found its solution only in the Age of Augustus.
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