Some things that stand out immediately are the difference between the societies of Ancient Rome and the states of the modern world. So much of the life of Ancient Rome evolved around ritual, religion, and precedent. The fall of the Roman Republic and the ultimate collapse of the Roman Empire are often seen as warnings from the past about the arrogance of great powers. But society and life was so different that I find this hard to swallow. The Roman Republic and its political and legal system do not much resemble any functioning (or dysfunctional) democracy that exists today. Individuals, families, and tribes, plus a rigid class system, defined the political workings of the Roman Republic. There were no political parties and every individual who was a member of the Senate was in it solely for themselves, therefore there was no party ideology to keep everybody in line, just individual stances. Law was administered by those who had the right of imperiumgranted to them by the Senate.
Some additional thoughts from reading the history:
The man granted imperiumwas followed by servants called lictorswho carried with them the fasces the axe inside a bundle of sticks representing Roman law and cohesiveness. There are fasces on the wall of the Senate chamber in the United States and, of course, the world fascism is derived from the fasces.
Warfare, as practiced by the Ancient Romans, was horrific in its brutality. ISIS has nothing on a Roman army. They would enslave entire populations, kill everyone they found in a resisting city, starve a population by destroying their crops or cutting off their access to water.
A funny thing that occurred to me while reading the book is that the character of Gary in the HBO show “Veep” is the modern equivalent of a nomenclator. A nomenclator was a Roman slave that walked behind a candidate for office in the Roman Republic and whispered the names of the individuals the candidate met so that he could personally greet each one of them.