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Was the Roman Senate corrupt when Julius Ceasar came to power, or was Julius Ceasar a tyrant?(r/suggestmeabook)
It wasn’t a matter of “corruption.” Julius was just the latest in a series of political strong men who were given dictatorial or near-dictatorial powers by an increasingly weakened Senate, following the example of Sulla and Marius. And he was eventually followed by Octavian, whom we regard retroactively as the first “emperor” (Augustus), but he never claimed that title. Octavian was simply more successful at doing the same thing than his predecessors.
None of them “killed the Senate.” The Senate had been declining in power for several generations. It was a probably inevitable evolutionary thing. Augustus maintained the public fiction that he was only doing the Senate’s bidding, but everyone knew better. And later emperors dropped the pretense.
And all high-level politicians in Rome were “power-hungry.” It went with the territory, and still does.
Mary Beard does a very good job of explaining this extended process in SPQR.