The Storm Before the Storm

The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic


By Mike Duncan

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The creator of the award-winning podcast series The History of Rome and Revolutions brings to life the bloody battles, political machinations, and human drama that set the stage for the fall of the Roman Republic.

The Roman Republic was one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of civilization. Beginning as a small city-state in central Italy, Rome gradually expanded into a wider world filled with petty tyrants, barbarian chieftains, and despotic kings. Through the centuries, Rome’s model of cooperative and participatory government remained remarkably durable and unmatched in the history of the ancient world.

In 146 BC, Rome finally emerged as the strongest power in the Mediterranean. But the very success of the Republic proved to be its undoing. The republican system was unable to cope with the vast empire Rome now ruled: rising economic inequality disrupted traditional ways of life, endemic social and ethnic prejudice led to clashes over citizenship and voting rights, and rampant corruption and ruthless ambition sparked violent political clashes that cracked the once indestructible foundations of the Republic.

Chronicling the years 146-78 BC, The Storm Before the Storm dives headlong into the first generation to face this treacherous new political environment. Abandoning the ancient principles of their forbearers, men like Marius, Sulla, and the Gracchi brothers set dangerous new precedents that would start the Republic on the road to destruction and provide a stark warning about what can happen to a civilization that has lost its way.



146–78 BC

146 Aemilianus sacks Carthage
Mummius sacks Corinth
Senate annexes Greece and Africa
139 Secret ballot for electoral assemblies
137 Numantine Affair
Secret ballot for judicial assemblies
135 Beginning of First Servile War in Sicily
134 Aemilianus departs for Numantia
Death of King Attalus of Pergamum
133 Tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus
Passage of Lex Agraria
Fall of Numantia
Beginning of Aristonicus’s revolt
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
132 Anti-Gracchan tribunal
End of First Servile War
131 Secret ballot for legislative assemblies
130 End of Aristonicus’s revolt
129 Death of Scipio Aemilianus
125 Fulvius Flaccus proposes Italian citizenship
Revolt of Fregellae
124 Lucius Opimius sacks Fregellae
123 First tribunate of Gaius Gracchus
122 Second tribunate of Gaius Gracchus
Founding of Aquae Sextiae
121 Senate issues first senatus consultum ultimum
Suicide of Gaius Gracchus
Battle of Isère River in Gaul
119 Prosecution and suicide of Gaius Carbo
Tribunate of Gaius Marius
118 Founding of city of Narbo
117 Marius fails to win aedileship
Death of King Micipsa of Numidia
Jugurtha assassinates Hiempsal
116 Adherbal appeals to Senate for aid
Opimius leads Roman delegation to Numidia
Marius elected praetor in possibly fraudulent election
115 Praetorship of Marius
114 Scordisci defeat Cato
Marius curbs banditry in Spain
113 Jugurtha attacks Adherbal
Cimbri arrive from north
Cimbri defeat Gnaeus Carbo at Noreia
112 Jugurtha besieges Cirta
Jugurtha kills Adherbal
Jugurtha’s soldiers massacre Italians
Rome declares war on Jugurtha
111 Lucius Bestia leads legions to Numidia
Bestia and Scaurus conclude peace with Jugurtha
Memmius calls Jugurtha to Rome
Prosecution and suicide of Gnaeus Carbo
110 Jugurtha assassinates Massiva
109 Jugurtha defeats Romans and forces legions to pass under the yoke
Mamilian Commission established
Metellus’s first campaign in Numidia
Cimbri return and demand land in Italy
Cimbri defeat legions led by Silanus
108 Marius elected consul
Sulla elected quaestor
Marius recruits soldiers from all classes
Jugurtha and King Bocchus of Mauretania forge alliance
107 First consulship of Marius
Marius campaigns in Numidia
Tigurini defeat legions in Gaul
106 Caepio restores control of courts to the Senate
Caepio “loses” the Tolosa gold
Marius defeats Jugurtha and Bocchus near Cirta
Birth of Cicero
Birth of Pompey the Great
105 Sulla induces Bocchus to hand Jugurtha over to the Romans
Cimbri wipe out legions at Battle of Arausio
Marius elected to second consulship
104 Second consulship of Marius
Triumph of Marius over Jugurtha
Marius reforms legions in Gaul
Beginning of Second Servile War in Sicily
Senate relieves Saturninus of his duties
103 Third consulship of Marius
Saturninus secures land for Marius’s veterans
Mallius and Caepio exiled
Lucullus defeats slave army in Sicily
102 Fourth consulship of Marius
Lucullus demobilizes legions in Sicily
Cimbri, Teutones, and Ambrones migrate south
Marius defeats Teutones and Ambrones at Battle of Aquae Sextiae
Cimbri successfully invade Italy
101 Fifth consulship of Marius
Marius defeats Cimbri at Battle of Raudian Plain
Aquillius defeats slave army in Sicily
Supporters of Saturninus murder Nonius
100 Sixth consulship of Marius
Second tribunate of Saturninus
Metellus exiled
Supporters of Saturninus murder Memmius
Senate issues second senatus consultum ultimum
Death of Saturninus and Glaucia
Birth of Julius Caesar
98 Marius meets King Mithridates VI of Pontus
Metellus recalled from exile
Sulla elected praetor
95 Sulla installs King Ariobarzanes on throne of Cappadocia
Mithridates and King Tigranes of Armenia forge alliance
Birth of Cato the Younger
94 Scaevola and Rutilius reform administration of Asia
Sulla meets Parthian ambassador
92 Trial and banishment of Rutilius
91 Tribunate of Marcus Drusus the Youngerv
Mithridates invades Bithynia, Tigranes invades Cappadocia
Drusus proposes Italian citizenship
Drusus murdered
Beginning of Social War
90 Rebel Italians establish capital at Corfinium
Varian Commission prosecutes those accused of inciting Italians
Gaius Marius takes command of legions in northern Italy
Aquillius escorts Nicomedes and Ariobarzanes back to their kingdoms
Lex Julia extends citizenship to Italians not under arms
89 Lex Plautia Papiria extends citizenship to all Italians
Nicomedes of Bithynia invades Pontus
Mithridates invades Cappadocia
Pompey Strabo captures Asculum
Sulla wages successful campaign in southern Italy
Sulla and Pompeius elected consuls
88 Death of Poppaedius Silo
End of Social War
Sulpicius proposes equal suffrage for the Italians
Sulpicius gives eastern command to Marius
Sulla’s march on Rome
Marius flees to Africa
Mithridates invades Asia
Mithridates orders massacre of Italians
87 First consulship of Cinna
Sulla departs for east and besieges Athens
Cinna pushed out of Rome after proposing equal suffrage for the Italians
Cinnan army surrounds Rome
Death of Pompey Strabo
Cinnan army enters Rome
Marian reign of terror
86 Seventh consulship of Marius
Second consulship of Cinna
Death of Gaius Marius
Sulla sacks Athens
Sulla defeats Pontic army at Chaeronea
Flaccus and Asiaticus lead legions east
Sulla defeats Pontic army at Orchomenus
85 Third consulship of Cinna
Fimbria kills Flaccus
Lucullus lets Mithridates escape
Sulla and Mithridates conclude peace
Sulla forces Fimbria to commit suicide
84 Fourth consulship of Cinna
Cinna killed by mutinous soldiers
Sulla imposes settlement on Asia
Senate and Sulla negotiate his return
83 Sulla returns to Italy
Metellus Pius, Pompey, and Crassus join Sulla
Beginning of Civil War
82 Beginning of siege of Praeneste
Sulla addresses the Romans
Sulla wins Battle of Colline Gate
End of Civil War
Sulla appointed dictator
81 Sullan proscriptions
Sulla reforms the Republican constitution
80 Sulla resigns dictatorship and becomes consul
79 Sulla retires
78 Death of Sulla


NO PERIOD IN history has been more thoroughly studied than the fall of the Roman Republic. The names Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, Octavian, Mark Antony, and Cleopatra are among the most well known names not just in Roman history, but in human history. Each year we are treated to a new book, movie, or TV show depicting the lives of this vaunted last generation of the Roman Republic. There are good reasons for their continued predominance: it is a period alive with fascinating personalities and earth-shattering events. It is especially riveting for those of us in the modern world who, suspecting the fragility of our own republican institutions, look to the rise of the Caesars as a cautionary tale. Ben Franklin’s famous remark that the Constitutional Convention had produced “a Republic… if you can keep it” rings all these generations later as a warning bell.

Surprisingly, there has been much less written about how the Roman Republic came to the brink of disaster in the first place—a question that is perhaps more relevant today than ever. A raging fire naturally commands attention, but to prevent future fires, one must ask how the fire started. No revolution springs out of thin air, and the political system Julius Caesar destroyed through sheer force of ambition certainly wasn’t healthy to begin with. Much of the fuel that ignited in the 40s and 30s BC had been poured a century earlier. The critical generation that preceded that of Caesar, Cicero, and Antony—that of the revolutionary Gracchi brothers, the stubbornly ambitious Marius, and the infamously brash Sulla—is neglected. We have long been denied a story that is as equally thrilling, chaotic, frightening, hilarious, and riveting as that of the final generation of the Republic. This book tells that story.

But this book does not serve simply as a way to fill in a hole in our knowledge of Roman history. While producing The History of Rome I was asked the same set of questions over and over again: “Is America Rome? Is the United States following a similar historical trajectory? If so, where does the US stand on the Roman timeline?” Attempting to make a direct comparison between Rome and the United States is always fraught with danger, but that does not mean there is no value to entertaining the question. It at least behooves us to identify where in the thousand-year history of the Roman Empire we might find an analogous historical setting.

In that vein, let’s explore this. We are not in the origin phase, where a collection of exiles, dissidents, and vagabonds migrate to a new territory and establish a permanent settlement. That would correspond to the early colonial days. Nor are we in the revolutionary phase, where a group of disgruntled aristocrats overthrow the monarchy and create a republic. That corresponds to the days of the Founding Fathers. And we aren’t in the global conquest phase, where a series of wars against other great powers establishes international military, political, and economic hegemony. That would be the twentieth-century global conflicts of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Finally—despite what some hysterical commentators may claim—the Republic has not collapsed and been taken over by a dictator. That hasn’t happened yet. This means that if the United States is anywhere on the Roman timeline, it must be somewhere between the great wars of conquest and the rise of the Caesars.

Further investigation into this period reveals an era full of historical echoes that will sound eerily familiar to the modern reader. The final victory over Carthage in the Punic Wars led to rising economic inequality, dislocation of traditional ways of life, increasing political polarization, the breakdown of unspoken rules of political conduct, the privatization of the military, rampant corruption, endemic social and ethnic prejudice, battles over access to citizenship and voting rights, ongoing military quagmires, the introduction of violence as a political tool, and a set of elites so obsessed with their own privileges that they refused to reform the system in time to save it.

These echoes could be mere coincidence, of course, but the great Greek biographer Plutarch certainly believed it possible that “if, on the other hand, there is a limited number of elements from which events are interwoven, the same things must happen many times, being brought to pass by the same agencies.” If history is to have any active meaning there must be a place for identifying those interwoven elements, studying the recurring agencies, and learning from those who came before us. The Roman Empire has always been, and will always be, fascinating in its own right—and this book is most especially a narrative history of a particular epoch of Roman history. But if our own age carries with it many of those limited number of elements being brought to pass by the same agencies, then this particular period of Roman history is well worth deep investigation, contemplation, and reflection.

Mike Duncan

Madison, Wisconsin

October 2017



Thieves of private property pass their lives in chains; thieves of public property in riches and luxury.


TIBERIUS SEMPRONIUS GRACCHUS WAS WATCHING AS CARTHAGE burned. In 146 BC the teenager was on his first campaign and serving under the famous commander Scipio Aemilianus—a typical posting for the scion of an illustrious family. And the Gracchi were an illustrious family. First ennobled by Tiberius’s great-grandfather, the family had risen in stature with each generation, culminating with Tiberius’s father, whom Livy called “by far the ablest and most energetic young man of his time.” Over the course of his storied career, Gracchus the Elder served two consulships and was awarded two triumphs. Though his father died when Tiberius was just ten years old, the boy knew his father’s exploits well. He knew he had much to live up to.2

Tiberius’s mother, Cornelia, was herself one of the most respected matrons in Roman history. She was the daughter of Scipio Africanus and wielded enormous influence inside the extended Scipione family. After her husband, Gracchus the Elder, died in 154, Cornelia elected not to remarry—even turning down a marriage proposal from the king of Egypt—and instead dedicated herself to Tiberius and her other son, Gaius. She cultivated their education and hired renowned Greek tutors to expose the boys to the most advanced theories of the age. In an apocryphal but telling story, a wealthy noblewoman once showed off a set of beautiful jewels to Cornelia, who herself pointed to Tiberius and his younger brother Gaius and said, “Those are my jewels.”3

As he grew to maturity, young Tiberius was admired for his intelligence and dignity. He was possessed of “brilliant intellect, of upright intentions, and… the highest virtues of which a man is capable when favored by nature and by training.” A generous spirit and eloquent speaker, Tiberius was on track to meet the high standards set by his father and become the leading man of his time.4

To keep the family fortunes under one house, Cornelia arranged for her daughter Sempronia to marry her adopted nephew Aemilianus—even though she did not like Aemilianus personally. Cornelia found him pretentious and did not think him worthy of the honor of being head of the family. In fact, much of Cornelia’s focus on her children was an effort to keep Aemilianus from outshining her jewels. She pushed her sons’ ambitions by reminding them that the Romans still called her the mother-in-law of Aemilianus, but not yet mother of the Gracchi.5

Despite all this family drama Aemilianus was obligated to bring his teenage brother-in-law Tiberius to the siege of Carthage. In Africa, Tiberius was exposed to the basics of military life. By all accounts he performed well as a soldier, earned the respect of the men, and even won a coveted award for being the first man over an enemy wall. When Carthage fell in 146, Tiberius Gracchus was there to watch the city burn.6

After Tiberius returned from North Africa, Cornelia maneuvered him into a marriage with the daughter of Appius Claudius Pulcher. Tiberius’s new father-in-law came from one of the oldest patrician families in the Republic and had recently been named princeps senatus—a prestigious position that meant he was listed at the top of the senatorial roll and was allowed to speak first in any debate. But the marriage was not without complications: Claudius was a bitter opponent of Scipio Aemilianus, and Tiberius was now caught in the middle of their rivalry. But that said, by his early twenties Tiberius was positioned to achieve a preeminence that might even surpass his father. He was well educated, well connected, and already recognized as a man with “great force of character, eloquence, and dignity.” But unlike most Romans, Tiberius would not win fame on the battlefield fighting a foreign enemy. Instead he would win fame in the Forum combating the domestic threat of skyrocketing economic inequality.7

AFTER THE SECOND Punic War ended in 202 BC, the economy of Italy endured a massive upheaval. The legions that conquered Spain, Greece, and North Africa returned home with riches on an unprecedented scale. A proconsul returned from a campaign in the east bearing 137,420 pounds of raw silver, 600,000 silver pieces, and 140,000 gold pieces. Tiberius’s own father returned from a campaign in Spain with 40,000 pounds of raw silver. This was an insane load of treasure that would have been unimaginable to the frugal and austere Romans of the early Republic. But by the middle of the second century BC, Rome was rolling in the Mediterranean’s dough.8

The newly enriched Romans spent their money on a variety of luxuries: fine carpets, ornate silverware, embellished furniture, and jewelry made of gold, silver, and ivory. The effect of this influx of wealth began to concern some alert senators. As early as 195, Cato the Elder warned his colleagues, “We have crossed into Greece and Asia, places filled with all the allurements of vice, and we are handling the treasures of kings… I fear that these things will capture us rather than we them.” Every few years, the Senate would attempt to rein in ostentatious displays of wealth, but the resulting limitations inevitably went unheeded and unenforced: “by a fatal coincidence, the Roman people, at the same moment, both acquired a taste for vice and obtained a license for gratifying it.”9

But this story of fabulous riches leading to moral decay only affected the small group of noble families who controlled the spoils of war. For the majority of Roman citizens, the conquest of the Mediterranean meant privation, not prosperity. In the early days of the Republic, service in the legions did not interfere with a citizen’s ability to maintain his property—wars were always fought close to home and in rhythm with the agricultural seasons. But when the Punic Wars spread the legions across the Mediterranean, citizens were conscripted to fight in campaigns that dragged on for years a thousand miles from home. Thanks to these endless wars, lower-class families were “burdened with military service and poverty,” and their property would fall into a state of terminal neglect. Upon returning home, a discharged soldier was likely to find the time, effort, and resources required to restore his land to its former productivity beyond his means.10

Wealthy noble families exacerbated the sharpening divide between rich and poor. As they looked to invest their newly acquired riches, they found thousands of dilapidated plots just waiting to be scooped up. Sometimes destitute families sold willingly, happy to get something for property they could no longer afford to work for themselves. But holdouts were often bullied into quitting their land. As these newly acquired small plots combined into larger estates, the Roman agricultural landscape began to transform from small independent farms to large commercial operations dominated by a few families.11

The plight of the dispossessed citizens might not have been so dire had they been allowed to transition into the labor force of the commercial estates. But the continuous run of successful foreign wars brought slaves flooding into Italy by the hundreds of thousands. The same wealthy nobles who bought up all the land also bought slaves to work their growing estates. The demand for free labor plummeted just as poor Roman families were being pushed off their land. As the historian Diodorus observed: “Thus a few men became extremely rich while the rest of the population of Italy grew weak under the oppressive weight of poverty, taxes and military service.”12

Tiberius first confronted the new economic realities early in life. According to a pamphlet written later by his brother, “Tiberius was passing through Tuscany, and observed the dearth of inhabitants in the country, and that those who tilled its soil or tended its flocks there were barbarian slaves.” According to Gaius this was the moment Tiberius first seriously confronted the need for economic and social reform. This apocryphal story is no doubt a fine piece of exaggerated propaganda, but it captures the essential dislocation of the poor families from their traditional way of life.13

Some of these dislocated citizens migrated to the cities in search of wage labor, only to find that slaves monopolized the work in the cities, too. So most remained in their rural homelands, forming a new class of landless peasants who would continue to work their land as mere tenants and sharecroppers rather than owners. Their new landlords loved the arrangement—tenant farmers could be used to produce low-margin cereals, which would allow landlords to save their slaves for more lucrative crops like olives and grapes. Politically minded landlords had an added incentive to promote tenancy: these peasants remained political clients whose votes could be counted on in the Assembly. This new breed of poor tenant-farmers would be tied to their landlords forever unless someone came along and offered them a way out.14

EXACERBATING THIS ECONOMIC and social dislocation was the Spanish quagmire the Romans had gotten themselves stuck in. When Carthage and Corinth fell in 146, Roman power seemed invincible, but Roman commanders in Spain had indulged in greedy atrocities that continued to provoke stiff resistance from the Spanish natives. So each year the Senate was obliged to raise new recruits and ship them off to the Iberian Peninsula, to serve on campaigns of undefined length against an enemy who specialized in demoralizing skirmishes. As a reward for their service these conscripts would come home to find their farms ruined.15

While the unpopularity of the Spanish wars grew, potential conscripts began to defy the consuls. With no other recourse, they once again turned to the tribunes for protection. The tribunes were the ancient guardians of the plebs, but over the past century they had been co-opted by the Senate. With citizens once again suffering under the arbitrary whims of the nobility, the tribunes returned to their sacred mandate of protecting the people from abuse. In both 151 and 138, aggressive conscription by the consuls climaxed with tribunes placing the consuls under arrest until they backed off. The tribunes had every right to throw the consuls in jail, but it was still a shocking challenge to noble authority.16

The Senate attempted to mollify potential conscripts by making life in the army a little less harsh. They capped service at six years and gave soldiers the right to appeal punishments handed down by their officers. But ultimately, this did little to improve the morale of the legionaries in Spain. In 140, veterans who had served six years were mustered out and replaced by raw recruits. These new soldiers were “exposed to severe cold without shelter, and unaccustomed to the water and climate of the country, fell sick with dysentery and many died.” Not exactly something you can put on a recruitment poster.17

As the tribunes watched their constituents driven off the land or hauled off to fight in the quagmire in Spain, they took their first steps toward curbing the power of the nobles. For the entire history of the Republic, citizens had declared their vote out loud, making it easy for powerful patrons to ensure clients voted the way they had been ordered to. In 139, a tribune defiantly passed a law requiring secret ballots for elections. Two years later the secret ballot was extended to judicial assemblies. It would take time for the effects of these reforms to be felt, but the introduction of the secret ballot would prove a hammer blow to the foundations of the senatorial oligarchy.18

Surveying the state of Italy in the 130s, some among the nobility could see that there was a greater problem. Conscripts still had to meet a minimum property requirement to be enrolled, but with the rich pushing the poor off the land fewer citizens could meet the minimum requirement to be drafted. The Romans had faced crises like this in the past and responded by lowering the property requirements to bring more men under arms. But by the mid-second century, many citizens could not even meet minimal standards of service. The consuls were forced to rely on an ever-shrinking pool of men to fight wars and garrison the provinces.19

WITH ALL THESE social and economic problems swirling, Tiberius Gracchus was elected quaestor for 137. This was supposed to be the routine first step on his ascent up the cursus honorum, but instead it nearly ended Tiberius’s public career before that career even began. Attached to the command of consul Gaius Hostilius Mancinus, Tiberius landed in Spain in the spring of 137 to continue the war against the Numantines, a Celtiberian tribe who had managed to resist all Roman attempts at pacification. Upon arrival Tiberius found himself caught up in one of the most embarrassing defeats the legions ever suffered. The consul Mancinus was far more a scholar than a soldier and the experienced Numantine guerrillas ran circles around his clumsy maneuvers. After a series of poorly executed skirmishes, Mancinus attempted a strategic retreat under cover of darkness, but discovered as the sun rose that his army was surrounded.20


  • "Mike Duncan's popular podcast, The History of Rome and Revolutions, packed facts, dry humor and historical parallels into easily digestible 20-minute episodes. His new book, The Storm Before The Storm, focuses on the decades that led up to the fall of the Republic. From income inequality to questions about who does and doesn't deserve citizenship to the rise of populism, it's consistently surprising how the issues we're facing today were relevant two millennia ago. And if you're worried about those parallels, this book provides a dose of reassurance. We're divided, but hey, at least we're not laying siege to our political rivals' cities just yet!"—National Public Radio, Best Books of 2017
  • "The Storm Before the Storm is massively entertaining and relevant to our own time. All times, in fact. War, politics, money, power, corruption, and class warfare seem to overwhelm the republican Roman political system and the results are horrifying. Huge personalities like Marius and Sulla cast a large shadow, but forces beyond anyone's control seem to drive the narrative. A chilling reminder of what can happen in any republic. Masterfully told."—Dan Carlin, host of Hardcore History podcast
  • "Never has a book about history that's two millennia old been so timely. Duncan, in the sort of narrative prose that caused his podcasts to electrify history lovers everywhere, tells the story of the decay of Republican Rome-and its contemporary relevance drips off every page. The Storm Before the Storm has everything from vividly portrayed populist demagogues exploiting economic and social inequality to the failure of calcified republican institutions to adapt to changing circumstances. You'll learn as much about the problems we face today from this book as from any newspaper."—Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of Lawfare and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
  • "Written with the humor and the storytelling instincts that made him such a popular podcaster, Duncan brilliantly answers a vital question that is rarely asked: What weakened the late Roman Republic enough that it collapsed under the ambitions of the Caesars? This is history as it should be-compelling, witty, and ultimately revealing."—Lars Brownworth, author of In Distant Lands: A Short History of the Crusades
  • "Mike Duncan turns his talent for clear and engaging exposition to an underappreciated period of Roman history: the last days of the Republic, before the rise of Caesar and the agonizing civil wars that yielded the Roman Empire. Duncan's readable and witty style, and his eye for the telling detail and memorable anecdote, carry the reader through a gripping narrative."—Peter Adamson, professor philosophy, LMU Munich, and host of History of Philsophy
  • "Remarkably engaging."—Washington Post
  • "Written in Duncan's usual congenial style. He zeros in on Rome's polarization between 'optimates' (conservatives) and 'populares' (populists), the disintegration of participatory democracy, and the concomitant rise in inequality, uncivil discourse, and violence. The parallels with modern times, and particularly contemporary America, leap off the page."
    Huffington Post
  • "This companionable and sprightly book captures the political drama and human passion of that extraordinary story."
    New Criterion
  • "Marvelous... A highly enjoyable historical narrative that reads almost like a modern political thriller."—New York Journal of Books
  • "A stark warning about what can happen to a civilization that has lost its way."—Smithsonian Online
  • "If you're a fan of Roman history, you will dig this. And if you're just a fan of good storytelling, you will dig this."—Jonah Keri, host of CBS Sports' The Jonah Keri Podcast
  • "A fantastic primer on the causes behind... the things we must be so careful about in our own politics today. Why norms must be respected. Why problems can't be kicked down the road. Why populism is so dangerous. Definitely read this book."—Ryal Holiday, media strategist, writer, and author of The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic and Perennial Seller
  • "An amazingly enjoyable history... With his fresh approach, Mike Duncan shows that it is important to understand what happened two thousand years ago to understand what is happening now and in the coming centuries."—Washington Book Review
  • "An impressively well written, exceptionally informative, inherently fascinating historical study, The Storm Before the Storm is an extraordinary read from beginning to end."—Midwest Book Review
  • "A lively, extremely well-informed chronicle of nearly seven decades of Roman political and social life... Drawing on ancient sources as well as modern histories, the author reveals chilling parallels to our own time... Crucial decades in the history of the ancient world vividly rendered."
    Kirkus Reviews
  • "Excellent... Award-winning podcaster Duncan proves to be just as effective at working in a written medium, presenting historical personalities and complex situations with clarity and verve."—Library Journal
  • "Disentangles well some complex events others neglect."—Wall Street Journal

On Sale
Oct 24, 2017
Page Count
352 pages

Mike Duncan

About the Author

Mike Duncan is one of the most popular history podcasters in the world and author of the New York Times–bestselling book, The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic. His award-winning series, The History of Rome, remains a legendary landmark in the history of podcasting. Duncan’s ongoing series, Revolutions, explores the great political revolutions that have driven the course of modern history.

Learn more about this author