This dissertation applies the principles of fiscal dissertation to the study of the Roman Republic. I argue that the creation of a profitable empire allowed the ruling elite to end their reliance on domestic taxation to fund state activity, and that Rome’s untaxed citizens were effectively disenfranchised as a result. They therefore lacked the bargaining power to prevent aristocrats from enriching themselves at the expense of the state.
The result was a set of leading individuals whose resources could overwhelm those of communal, public institutions. This wealth allowed them to control the distribution of economic resources within Roman society, reinforcing hierarchies and forcing less fortunate citizens to tie themselves to patronage networks instead of state institutions. This state, unable to command the respect of its constituents, was eventually picked off in the competition between great individuals.
Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 2011