Roman society at this time was therefore under a lot of pressure due to such happenings of the Catiline Conspiracy (63 BC) alongside the road to Caesars Civil Wars and Sallusts notion of decreasing dignitas within the Roman system, where old traditional Roman virtues were being replaced for the pursuit of power and wealth perhaps leading from the 146 BC turning point at the destruction of Carthage, in which Rome first began acquiring a taste or such wealth and luxuries.
The first triumvirate of Caesar, Crassus and Pompey shows the individual determination for success, wealth and glory and even being prepared to overrule the senate to do so. Cicero displays an early hatred of this alliance, as he places himself with the optimates politicians and seems to speak for the values of the old Republic upholding the position of the senate.
His letters show distain for such an occurrence, but this hatred may simply be due to the fear of one man (or indeed several potential men) becoming too powerful, suggesting much caution was in the senate at this time, and the inability to directly stop it showing helplessness and therefore that perhaps society was uncontrollable; at least for the more conservative Romans.
Ciceros letters show his own personal contemporary insight to this alliance, and though obviously portraying his opinion perhaps also demonstrates the power of this unofficial bond (also shown in Plutarchs Life of Caesar) whist he is in a position to understand, and is a well-known politician of the time, whose opinions are seemingly valued.
Plutarch further shows politics becoming increasingly to do with the personal ambition that the good of the Republic although the triumvirate (as proved) could only last as long as the three characters balanced out both rendering the short-term threat beatable (though more rise to challenge) and possibly reflecting the instability of Roman poetics; how clients and patrons, alliances and friendships are temperamental in this field.
Plutarch is a biographer, and whist he may report some myths, he was writing far after this time so had access to a number of sources and is perhaps as accurate as he could have been. Rome was also known to be becoming increasingly violent due to this increase in interest of personal gain. Pompey and Caesars relationship can be seen in their puppet acts of Milo and Claudius; to create a war of the tribunes. As tribunes were a key link to the people and have such supreme powers as the veto, they were a prominent part of the political system.
Whilst Caesar was away on campaign, he used his clients to ensure Pompey was watched but from this physical violence erupted in the streets of Rome in 59 BC. The senate had no army to protect, and also because of Sullas March on Rome, no army was allowed inside, rendering its streets open to this violence. Ciceros letter illustrates his fear and the instability of these actions and there would seemingly be no reason to lie in a letter, this fear reflecting how intense and unsafe this period was.
Ciceros Pro Milo (the speech defending Milo for the later death of Crassus) turns the blame on Claudius himself, as he launched the attack, and it was Milos servants loyalty that killed him. Though this offers no real facts (one side of a court case) the influence of the law courts could perhaps be seen here, with the importance of rhetoric, and how easily people can be swayed. Key historians at this time, namely Sallust, writes at the beginning of his Catiline Conspiracy about the dissolving of traditional values that were prominent to making up the early Republic and these now being lost.
His admiration of the first Romans is extreme, and though this may be due to history being studied like an hourglass focusing on the old and contemporary, maybe missed out the total progression of Rome simply becoming more sophisticated in terms of its displaying of wealth. Sallust writes, For the fame of riches and beauty is fickle and frail, while virtue is eternally excellent. Even in the beginnings of Ciceros career, his oration against Verres highlights the corruption of the Eastern governor.
Sallusts Catiline Conspiracy is by no doubt incredibly bias against all those he viewed as being against these values but perhaps demonstrates the extent of the issue. In Sallusts Speech of Macer in his Histories contemplate the same issues; drawing in particularly the point of corruption of 146 BC in the destruction of Carthage to be the turning point of Rome in which wealth began to seep into Rome.
In this speech the early Republic is drawn out as high and supreme, perhaps even idolized, but from all aspects of history, we can know that there is never a time when a society balances perfectly, and if no Romans at all were corrupt at this time, there would be no change to the society. Sallust was a salient historian on the time, but was very focused on condescending the contemporary invaluable, temperamental corrupt politicians of the late Republic, leading up to the 50s BC. Even Livy, in Beginnings of Luxury shows Rome to be liable to corruption and influences from the East, especially Asia Minor the wealthiest part of the Empire.
Livy was born in 59 BC, so wouldve been writing slightly after these events, but still is a contemporary of the late republic. In other works of Sallust, the Jugurthine War epitomizes the view he had about corruption invading Rome, whist beginning to explain (again the troubles between the two factions) Marius and Sulla. Another key theme for the instability and uncontrollability of Rome would be the senates power verses that of the popular assembly and the shift between the senates power as the advisory body, to practically having no role, other than that of appearance.
Seemingly the popular politicians new found challenge unsettled the system, but in actual fact the special commands given to Pompey at the beginning of his career set a precedent for others to ignore the cursus honorum, further fuelling ambition and challenge to get positions before their year. Plutarchs Life of Pompey shows his commands against the pirates in 67 BC, after his consulship of 70 BC before his year (at 31 years of age). Through the senate granting such powers, it could have destabilized the system as the senate itself was breaking their own age laws.
Plutarchs Life of Pompey is however liable to the same flaws as his other works, but since it includes intricate details such as Pompeys lack of oratory and needing to be given a guide to the senate, shows that this sources, although entirely based on Pompey, shows little bias towards his character. The upcoming of Caesar also shows the senates inability to stop individuals from becoming too powerful even though Ciceros speeches and letters give distain for such notions.
Caesar directly challenged the traditional system though he went to the senate first, he still was manipulative enough to get his way. This is both demonstrated in Plutarchs Life of Caesar and Appians Civil Wars whilst Caesars own Gallic Wars show in themselves his political skill and use of propaganda (though show much obvious bias and the motive for writing being clear to gain support or even not let his supporters forget him), in which his campaigns were read out every day (in third person) reiterating to the people how much of a hero he was, or even seemed to be gaining more popular support.
The character of Caesar in contrast with other successful general and politician Pompey shows how unstable it was for those prominent in the populares faction, many historians saw that civil war was inevitable from the point of Crassus and Julias deaths. Therefore, with civil war looming, the senate had to again use Pompey to restore the system, but tensions were clearly rising in this point, suggesting that perhaps the old ways nor the new were not in sync with the position of the Roman people during the 50s, rendering there no simple solution.
The Catiline Conspiracy of 63 BC shows Sallusts distain for the corruption of Rome, but also shows the division between the politicians due to the patron/client system. The want for power in this case caused some to be thought to murder others, therefore meaning that somewhere along the line, something had got too intense. The cursus honorum was meant to stop fighting for power (when in reality it has done the opposite) and the democratic element of becoming consul should have ensured the best person for that year would be elected.
Although, perhaps the senate itself set the precedent for violence with the murder of populares tribune Tiberius Gracchus 133 BC. Sallusts Catiline Conspiracy shows how fickle the senate house were, after hearing speeches such as given by junior senate members (Caesar and Cato) and almost immediately switched sides upon hearing further suggesting or even reflecting the instability of Rome at this time.
Sallust however can be incredibly bias, and was not known to be present, but could be seen to have been trying to replicate the happenings as truthfully as possible. Ciceros letters during this period also reflect a degree of uncertainty and therefore again reiterating the uncertainty that would be to come. Ultimately, the shift in power and influence in Rome had distinctly focused on individuals (namely the generals of armies, patron/client system for support) rather than the traditional advisory body of the senate.
The increase in people power towards the Roman citizens had altered the system to become very distinct to that of the early republic and possibly the loss of control was simply due to this change. The rise of individual political success may have underpinned some individuals life goals but is due to a number of reasons, primarily in the new found use of personal armies, with generals turning their soldiers into clients.
The sources however acknowledge the panic the Romans reflected in such times as the beginnings of the triumvirate, the Catiline Conspiracy and the lead up to Civil War agreeing with the initial term of Rome becoming ungovernable as the sources suggest too many political hopefuls were fighting for power at the expense of the Republic although perhaps Caesars later powers suggest it was an inevitable shift, and would have simply happened with time in any case.