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Between the Sack of Rome by the Gauls in 390 BC and the middle of the second century BC, a part-time army of Roman peasants, under the leadership of the ruling oligarchy, conquered first Italy and then the whole of the Mediterranean.
The loyalty of these marauding heroes, and of the Roman population as a whole, to their leaders was assured by a share in the rewards of victory, rewards which became steadily less accessible as the empire expanded – promoting a decline in loyalty of cataclysmic proportions. Wars, rural impoverishments, civil discord and slavery are a few of the subjects covered in this study.