Originally Posted by RoyalHill1987
In that case I have to disagree. It was not a pleasant side effect as you state, it was an integral part of the system. What was the Republic? It was, to simplify, a system for sharing power. It was based on the principle of no single man having a monopoly on power. Individuals are temporary and ephemeral in the grand sweep of history. They come and go. The Republic was basically a system for deciding who gets power. The succession between one leader and the next is the most crucial moment, because that's when the whole ideal gets tested. The human temptation to try to hold on to power, to refuse to hand over the reins when your time is up, is inevitable - and the Republic had a system for limiting the power of the individual, so that they had no choice in the matter.
Every political system exists to decide who gets power. Even the Principate. As for your assertion that the Republic had a system for limiting the power of any one individual, that is true; however, the system could not function without the competition amongst the upper class for power, prestige and influence. You cannot divorce one aspect from the other - a bunch of power-hungry megalomaniacs did not spring up out of nowhere in the last century BC, nor did Romans suddenly decide to start killing each other; those very men were products of their state and society.
Therefore it is highly disingenuous to focus on the peaceful aspects of the system when it worked,
and then ignore the violent aspects of that very same system when it did not work
, to prove your point that the Republic was 'better', when both aspects were sprung from the same system.
The orderly passing of power was fundamental. Without it, there is no Republic. |
Now, where I might agree is on the question of whether the Republic was 'better' based on its actual record of transitions of power. If you were to pick and choose particular periods, such as the 1st century BC, and then compare that with the first century or so of the Principate, you could argue transitions of power were better in the Principate, and therefore the Republic was NOT better than the Principate.
Even if we were to compare the two periods in total - ie. before Augustus vs. after Augustus - there is no way the comparison is so clear-cut as to be able to say definitively that one system was 'better' than another, based simply on a single facet of that system.
The 200's BC was different enough from the 500's BC, and 200AD different from 100BC, that any comparison that boils down to "one Consul didn't usually kill another, but many an Emperor was murdered by his successor" cannot possibly tell us enough to allow us to simply describe one system as 'better' than the other.