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Rome had many ups and downs from the start of the Three Punic Wars in 264 BCE to 14 CE, Augustus’ death. Rome’s success in the Punic wars led to some problems but, in the end, Octavian brought a golden age to Rome and took the title Augustus. In between the fall of Carthage by the Three Punic Wars and Octavian’s golden age, Julius Caesar ruled and was even dictator for life for a period of time before he was murdered. Rome fought against Carthage during the Three Punic Wars from 264 BCE and ending with the destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE. Carthage had a very strong navy and was led by Hannibal, who is considered to be one of the best military commanders in history. Having a strong navy was a big advantage to Carthage because Rome didn’t have a big navy and was unprepared for Hannibal. Carthage also had war elephants that were very effective at causing the enemy to panic, but soon Rome developed strategies to combat the elephants and trained their horses not to panic. Despite these advantages, Rome still won the Punic wars. As a result of Rome’s victory in the Three Punic Wars, Rome’s territory was greatly increased. Most soldiers were farmers and at the start of the Three Punic Wars they would farm in the winter and fight in the summer. It was easy for them to farm during breaks in the war because they fought so close to home. But when they began fighting farther away, many soldiers were forced to leave their farms for years at a time. When the men went to war their farms were left unattended and, in the end, the land had to be sold. Also, “Many small farmers found themselves unable to compete with the larger farms and their more numerous slaves.” (fsmitha.com/h1/rome07). The land was sold to the wealthy Romans who combined them with other land to create large estates called latifundia. The latifundia were mainly used for growing cash crops to make big profits. Slaves, conquered people who were taken as prisoners, worked the land. “Many of Rome’s small farmers, who had been the backbone of the Roman Republic, had become city-dwellers living off of free bread and enjoying circuses.” (fsmitha.com/h1/rome07). The farmers, who had been an essential part of Roman civilization, were reduced to beggars. The farmers, who no longer had land to work, were forced to move to the city to find jobs. “The urban population rose rapidly in Italy” (brfencing.org/Rome/Perils_of_Expansion). Because slaves did most of the unskilled labor, work was scarce for the free Romans. The unemployed had to beg or steal to stay alive which made crime and poverty serious problems. Roman citizens kept getting more and more poor, while other Romans became extremely wealthy. 46 years after the Punic Wars ended, Gaius Julius Caesar was born. He grew up in a wealthy family that was involved in politics, so he was expected to follow tradition and take part in politics as well. The two political leaders at the time were Marius and Sulla. Caesar formed connections with people who supported Marius and he ended up marrying the daughter of someone who supported Marius. Sulla gained influence over Marius and exiled any of Marius’ supporters. Caesar refused to divorce his wife so he was thrown into exile. While Julius Caesar was in exile, and even before his exile, he had learned a lot about political and militaristic leadership. Caesar joined the army and worked as an assistant to a governor. While he was working in the army, he earned more support by helping in some military campaigns that were successful. “Despite this, after serving for a short time, Caesar still couldn’t return to Rome, so he left the army and began work to improve his political abilities, focusing on public speaking.” (sites.google.com) Caesar was still in exile so he decided to work on his public speaking. During his exile, Rome was experiencing a lot of political chaos and this led to a change in leadership. Caesar saw this as the perfect opportunity to return to Rome. When Caesar returned to Rome, he focused completely on politics. He managed to get the position of pontifex maximus, the chief priest. Shortly after he received the position of pontifex maximus, Caesar was sent to Europe to stop the rebellions happening there. He was successful in stopping the rebellion and this and gained even more political support. After he got back from Europe, he formed a triumvirate with Pompey and Crassus. With their help, Caesar got the highest position, consul. There were revolts but Caesar was always able to defeat them. “The Senate “thanked” Caesar by removing him from office in 51 BCE, leaving him powerless, most likely the hoped for outcome of Senate members who opposed Caesar.” (sites.google.com) The Senate members got what they wanted and Caesar took no action in politics for about two years.In 49 BCE, Caesar ” got tired of doing nothing and decided to do something that fundamentally changed the Roman Republic forever: he decided to invade and take control of it.” (sites.google.com) Caesar and his army took control of Rome and eventually convinced the powerless Senate to declare him dictator for life in 44 BCE. That same year he was murdered by Senate members who were not happy having to take decrees from Caesar.

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