The Roman Republic

“All roads lead to Rome.”
“Rome was not built in a day.”
“When in Rome . . .”
How did Rome win such a place in modern
popular culture?
• Let’s read about it!
Fortresses &
• Legend has it that
Romulus built
Rome on the
Palentine Hill –
one of the Seven
Hills of Rome
• People settled on seven hills along the
Tiber River between 1000-900 BCE
– Called Latins or Italics
• Many geographical advantages:
– Easy to defend
– Fertile soil
– Access to rivers allows for trade in the
Mediterranean Sea
– Other more powerful societies controlled
the rest of the Italian peninsula
• Example: Greeks and Etruscans
• Can be broken into three “eras”
– For over 200 years, Rome was a
– For about 500 years, Rome was a
– For about 500 years, Rome was an
• Early kings of Rome
– Not much is known as their
written works did not survive
– Who were they?
• Most developed Latin/Italic people
• Located in northern, central Italy
• Most likely descendants of
modern-day Turkey and native
Italian population
• By 6th century BCE they were the
most powerful city state (modeled
after the Greek system)
• Romans resented the all-powerful Etruscan
kings who gave them no say in their
• 509 BCE the Romans revolted against
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
• Result: End of the Etruscan kings
• Romans keep many Etruscan
– Hierarchy of Gods (Greek in origin)
– Alphabet (also Greek in origin)
– Toga
– I told you they “borrowed” freely
from other cultures!
A spoonful
of Persian
A dollop of
A heaping
portion of
Goin’ back
for Greek
Just a
smidgen of
• Romans never wanted a king
again or any government with a
single ruler
– Establish a Republic…what is it?
• “Republic” literally comes from
a Roman term Res Publica, or
“the public concern” or “public
– This essentially translates to
sharing all power
• By 264 BCE the Romans controlled the entire Italian
• The Republican Government consisted of…
1. The Consuls
– Two chief officials who led the government
• Appointed to perform the duties that, prior to them, the
king was responsible for, like military authority and
ensuring civic welfare and acting as chief diplomat and
religious authority.
– Elected once a year; Each had equal power; could
veto the other
• By 264 BCE the Romans controlled the entire Italian
• The Republican Government consisted of…
2. The Senate
Originally advisors to the king
Chosen by consuls
300 upper-class patricians
Members for life
Most powerful part of the government
Deliberated on and voted on laws (consuls proposed)
The model for the US government
• What were the pros
of this system
compared to
• What possible
problems could this
lead to?
• Dictator
– Roman official who had all the power of a king,
but could only hold office for 6 months
• Used only in dire emergencies
• Praetors
– Junior consuls who helped develop first rules
for Roman judicial system (courts)
• Patricians – Members of wealthy
families; only people eligible for the
• Plebeians – everyone else in ancient
Rome (except the patricians) from
well-to-do tradesmen all the way
down to the very poor
• Similarities :
– Both pater familias
– Both could own slaves
– Citizens of Rome were
adult freemen from
both classes - plebs and
• Women, children, and
slaves were not citizens
• Differences:
– Did not mix socially
– Illegal for plebs and
patricians to marry
– Lifestyles were very
• Patricians very wealthy
and lived an opulent
lifestyle, plebs did not
• The Senate (power) was only open to
patrician families
• Plebeians resented the Senate who:
– Took riches from war
– Created prosperous farms run by slaves
– Left many plebian famers unemployed
• Reaction: Plebeians refuse to serve in the
military in protest!
1. Twelve Tables – 450 BCE; a board of 10 men were
entrusted to draw up a basic legal tradition and
publish them on wood (later bronze) to be placed in
the forum
1. Creation of the Assembly – an elected body that had 10
Tribunes to discuss and decide issues on behalf of
2. Plebs could marry into Patrician families
3. Eventually Senators could be Plebs (but very uncommon)
• Eventually the Assembly was given the
power to elect the two consuls every
– So…what would be the impact?!?
Dictator in times of
extreme need
(6 months)
Consuls – executive
Praetors – looked after legal
Curulian Aediles – supervised
markets, festivals and temples
Quaestors – public finance
Tribunes –represented the
rights of the people (2-10)
Elected by Assembly
Censors – guided public morals
• Roman army had 30 Legions
– Each Legion had about 5,500 men
• Each Legion was divided into 10 units called
– The First Cohort consisted of approximately 800 men
• Had “specialists” such as blacksmiths or engineers
– The other 9 Cohorts consisted of approximately 480
• Each Cohort was divided into 6 Centuries of
about 80 men
– Each Century was commanded by a Centurion
– The First Cohort only had 5 centuries