Why did the political and social balance on which the Republic depended disintegrate into chaos and civil war? ‘The cost of empire’ considers the effect of expansion on the Republic's political, social, and economic structures. The influx of wealth from the wars of conquest intensified the gulf between rich and poor. Exceptional individuals with private armies, driven by the desire for status and gloria, emerged to threaten the Senate's dominance. Military crises opened the way for the next generation of warlords, with Sulla's march on Rome the natural consequence of Roman noble ambition, and the Republic's fate now lay in the hands of individual generals. The disintegration of the Republic had begun.