n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Absolute power corrupts absolutely : Cassius Dio and the fall of the Roman Republic

Supplement 4
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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This paper attempts to show how Cassius Dio's reading of the fall of the Roman Republic is conditioned by his views on human nature and man's love of power. Scholarly convention holds that Dio followed the Livian theory on decadence, namely that Rome's demise began after 146 BC due to the wealth accrued following the destruction of Carthage and Corinth. This theory is not satisfactory, as has been argued by Hose, and fails to take into account Dio's emphasis on the negative influence of human nature on politics throughout his republican narrative. I propose instead that Dio combines the 'moral' view of Rome's decline found in our other sources with the views on human nature he inherits from Thucydides. This leads him to develop a view of republican politics where the collapse is caused by the invigoration of its main catalyst - human ambition - through empire, power, wealth and the process of moral change in a rapidly evolving society.

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