I have played Republic of Rome several (4?) times with a group (usually 4-5 players) without studying the rules myself. We have always started in the Early Republic period, and even when we try to cooperate just to survive the period, we have always lost, generally to an onslaught of wars, often more than one per turn. We always end up facing at least one Punic War and usually four or more in total, and get overwhelmed by one thing or another as a result. The others have played it many more times than I have with them, and they say they have NEVER made it out of the Republic period, due to losing one way or another.
Are we playing the game wrong? I think the main cause is overwhelming random events, specifically accumulating wars. Each game turn, each player draws at least one random event card, and this can and in our games has often resulted in one or more new war about every turn. Does the game have a rule we are missing that at least limits the number of random wars entering play to one per turn at most?
Also, from a historical perspective, it seems like the time scale must be abstract and a bit off. It feels like each game turn is a year, but then obviously there were never new wars coming up every year historically.