The Roman Republic

Primary Source Readings and Discussion  (60 points):

Discussion  considers the social discontent and governmental problems brought on in Rome by Roman imperial adventures. The questions explore the relationship between the Punic Wars, the Roman domination of the Mediterranean, and social and political discontent in Rome.

Read Spielvogel Chapters 5 and 6 and:

  • Polybius on the Roman Constitution at:
    • Polybius – The Roman Constitution.docx
  • Plutarch’s biography of Tiberius Gracchus at:

Initial Response Phase

For the initial response phase of the discussion board, due 9/24/2018, please post initial answers to three of the questions below.

Questions addressing factual issues only are highlighted in bold print (#1, 2, 3). Answer no more than one of the questions in bold print for credit. Questions dealing with primary source material are not highlighted in bold print. Answer two primary source questions, each dealing with a different source document (questions 4 and 5 relate to Polybius, questions 6-15 relate to Plutarch’s biography of Tiberius). No credit will be given for a second answer to a question in bold print or to a second question on the same primary source.

Three Initial Posts (10 points each). Only one answer to a bold print question (based on the textbook) and to two different primary source document questions (not bold).  These submissions should be approximately two to three paragraphs in length.

Same as an initial, two to three paragraphs.

  1. What motivated Romans to conquer Italy? How were conquered Italians treated?
    What aspects of the Roman character are illustrated by events of the Punic Wars?
    How did the use of slave labor by Roman landowners on large estates affect the agricultural community of the Italian peninsula?
  2. How does Polybius describe the structure of the government of the Roman Republic? What are the responsibilities of the consuls, the senate, and the people (through the Plebeian Assembly)?
  3. For Polybius there is a distinct balance between the elements of the Roman government, how do each of the different bodies (consuls, senate, and people) act as a check on the power of each other? Why couldn’t any one piece of the government become too powerful in the eyes of Polybius?
  4. How does Plutarch portray the parents of Tiberius Gracchus? How does he portray the character of Tiberius?  Why are these portrayals important?
  5. To what social pressures in Roman society was Tiberius Gracchus responding when he proposed land redistribution? Why were his proposals logical at this time (133 BCE) in the life of the Roman Republic?
  6. How does Plutarch describe the distribution of land conquered by the Romans?  How might one of those acquiring the land justify their acquisition?
  7. According to Caius, how did Tiberius come to the idea of land redistribution?
  8. How do you evaluate the conflict between Tiberius and Octavius? Plutarch presents the side of Tiberius, how might another present Octavius’ side?
  9. What was Tiberius’ plan for the funds willed to Rome by Attalus?
  10. Do you think that Tiberius’ plans for land reform could have worked? Why or why not? What might be some cogent reasons not to distribute land in this way?
  11. From reading of Tiberius’ actions in both Plutarch and the text, do you see him as an altruistic leader seeking to render revolutionary changes in Roman society or does he strike you as a political manipulator wanting only to maintain (and increase) his personal authority over all classes in the Roman state?
  12. Do the conflicts in your reading on Tiberius remind you of any contemporary disagreements on government social welfare policies? Explain.
  13. Has the reading on Tiberius in any way influenced your opinions on the role of government in social welfare? Why or why not? Explain.

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