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The first century BC was a watershed for the development of the Roman state. It was a century characterized by near-incessant warfare and political strife in Rome, evidence that a new form of government was necessary to rule over its new extensive conquests. It was becoming apparent to the traditional ruling elite that the ancient military superpower was beginning to undergo an uneasy transition from republic to imperial power. Central in this change were the actions of the First Triumvirate: an alliance between the most powerful men in Rome.

The Triumvirate was composed of Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gaius Julius Caesar, and together these individuals combined their vast political influence to reduce the Roman Senate to a mere charade. Together, they eked out a place for themselves at the head of the Roman state. Through their efforts, Gaul, Spain and Syria came firmly into the Roman fold.

However, like all things true to the Roman Republic, the First Triumvirate was not invulnerable to outside coercion and manipulation. Soon, it too began to show signs of corruption, and each man started to suspect the other of looming betrayal. These misgivings would seep through the alliance until the poison had successfully turned the members of the First Triumvirate against one another. The political tension, and the ensuing war, would fundamentally alter the very fabric of the Roman state forever. From the chaos of the Triumvirate, a new form of government would take root: the Roman monarchy we now know as the Empire.

©2016 Clifford Alexander (P)2016 Clifford Alexander

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  • David P. McGivern
  • 20-01-16

really. really. bad

The only reason I finished this was because it was short. I otherwise would have abandoned it

I bought because I am reading Robert Harris' (3 of 3 in the trilogy): "Dictator", essentially the same time period told from Cicero's viewpoint ( actually, his servant Tiro). Two reasons why I disliked The First Triumvirate. One, the narrator. Somehow, he managed to be both too fast, and too boring, simultaneously. Two, the content. Instead of discussing how the Triumvirate came together, the relationship between the men, it focused mainly, not completely, but mainly, on the singular stories of each individual man. In other words, a discussion, on and on and on, of Caesar's battles in Gaul. And Pompey's battles.Then Crassus' fall in Syria. Battle. By battle. By battle.

To be fair, the book somewhat touches on the impact of the Triumvirate, it's effect on the Republic, but compared to what I have described above...not so much.

This, combined with the very poor narration, causes me to conclude: give this a pass. Even if you are wanting a brief history of what -appears - to be interesting. There are far better histories (books) of this fascinating time.

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