In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Roman History: Early to Republic

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Rome and Italy
  • Regional Studies
  • Rome and Hellenism
  • The Fall of the Republic
  • Civic, Constitutional, and Administrative Structures
  • Society
  • Military
  • Values

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Classics Roman History: Early to Republic
Erich S. Gruen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2009
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0023


The Roman Republic continues to intrigue researchers and students alike. The rise of a small city to become mistress of the Mediterranean provoked the great Greek historian Polybius already in the 2nd century BCE and still fascinates scholars, whose output consistently swells a bibliography that can only be very selectively surveyed here. The vision of the Republic left a deep impression upon medieval Europe, upon writers and thinkers like Machiavelli, Montesquieu, and the American Founding Fathers, and it resonates even with contemporary political theorists. The achievement of the Roman Republic and the foundations upon which it rested remain subjects of compelling interest.

General Overviews

The three volumes of the Cambridge ancient history in its second edition (Astin, et al. 1989–1994) constitute an invaluable survey of the whole period. Goldberg 2016 supplies convenient and reliable entries for swift reference. Broughton 1951–1986 boasts an extraordinary assemblage of data on every public official in the history of the Republic, representing a landmark that no Republican historian can do without. Two recent “Companions” to the Roman Republic provide essays by specialists on all aspects of the subject. Flower 2004 is readable and succinct and speaks successfully to both scholars and lay readers. Rosenstein and Morstein-Marx 2006 allows much more space to its contributors. The latter volume, whose analyses are lucid, penetrating, and wide-ranging, with thorough and up-to-date bibliographies, is easily the best example of this genre.

  • Astin, A. E., F. W. Walbank, M. W. Frederiksen, R. M. Ogilvie, J. A. Crook, A. Lintott, and E. Rawson, eds. 1989–1994. The Cambridge ancient history, vol. VII, part 2: The rise of Rome to 220 B.C.; vol. VIII: Rome and the Mediterranean to 133 B.C.; vol. IX: The last age of the Roman Republic, 146–43 B.C. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    These volumes of the second edition of the Cambridge ancient history trace the history of Rome from its origins to the end of the Republic. They completely supersede the previous edition. The treatment is fresh and much more extensive. Account is taken of new scholarly insights and of the considerable amount of new evidence, much of it archaeological, that has become available since the 1st edition was published.

  • Broughton, T. R. F. 1951–1986. The magistrates of the Roman Republic. 3 vols. New York and Atlanta: American Philological Association.

    Broughton collects all available testimony, citing references for every magistrate, public official, priest, and military commander in the whole of the Republic. Although he gives only few (and brief) discussions of problems, this is a reference tool of unrivaled value for the study of the Roman elite. Reprinted, Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986.

  • Flower, Harriet I. 2004. The Cambridge companion to the Roman Republic. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Flower's Companion is primarily addressed to those with interest but little background in Roman history, offering “an introduction to the Republic that tries not to privilege a particular time period or point of view,” but instead providing “a guide to a variety of areas, fields of study, and possible approaches that are currently being explored.”

  • Goldberg, Sander, ed. 2016. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Digital ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Goldberg supplies a first resource for students seeking an entry to a vast array of subjects in the broad realm of Classical Antiquity. He also points students and researchers to further sources and bibliography. As an introduction to countless topics, this compendium of basic information is invaluable.

  • Rosenstein, Nathan S., and Robert Morstein-Marx, eds. 2006. A companion to the Roman Republic. Oxford: Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470996980

    An authoritative and up-to-date overview of Roman Republican history as shaped by many of its most prominent practitioners. It looks at the role played by the physical geography and environment of Italy, offers a compact but detailed narrative of military, political, social, and economic developments from the birth of the Roman Republic to the death of Julius Caesar, and offers superb discussions of current controversies in the field.

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