Is Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America great again” mere campaign rhetoric in the tradition of Barack Obama’s “hope and change,” George H. W. Bush’s “a kinder, gentler nation,” and Ronald Reagan’s “It’s morning in America again”? Or do such renaissances really occur in history? The Roman Republic and Empire together lasted for more than 1,000 years. Yet at various times throughout this period, Rome was declared finished—like during the Punic Wars (264-146 BC), the Civil Wars of the late Republic (49-31 BC), and the coups and cruelty of the 12 Caesars (49 BC-AD 96), especially during the reigns of Caligula, Nero, and Domitian.
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