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ANCIENT ROMAN CIVILIZATION

CATEGORY
1. POLITICAL SYSTEM

DESCRIPTION
Organization:
The Roman government of the old Republic had created a unique
system of the division of power which was a safeguard against
oppression by any single individual. Power, for the most part, lay
with a voting public. While not perfect by any definition of the
word, it allowed some of the people to have a say in how their
government operated. There were elected officials and a
representative body. Of course, as long as there were games,
festivals, and grain, the average Roman citizen was happy. Under
the emperor, the government changed and the emperor became the
ultimate decision maker, he had the last word. Considering the
context of ancient times and contemporary forms of government,
and taking into account its albeit limited representative elements,
Rome must, nevertheless, remain an outstanding example of a
successful ancient government.
Political leader:

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Roman Government
Ancient Rome experienced three different types of government:

Monarchy

Republic

Empire

While the myth of Romes origins involve Romulus killing his


twin brother Remus to rule Rome and name it after himself, we
know that the area was ruled by the Etruscans in the seventh
century B.C. This means that Rome was under the power of a
monarchy in its earliest period, which is a system of government
that has one ruler. Evidence points to seven different kings ruling
Rome at this time.
However, sometime around 509 B.C., the citizens of Rome gained
control from the Etruscans and established the Roman Republic. In
a republic, the city or country becomes public and is no longer
property owned or ruled by one person. Officials are elected, and
the people all share the leadership.

The Roman Republic, in many ways, set the standard for the future
of many countries. The people began to elect magistrates, who
shared power and represented the citizens of Rome. Two of the
magistrates were known as consuls. The consuls had the most
power and decided when to add new laws and when to go to war.
Consuls had to work closely with the Roman Senate when making
decisions. The Senate consisted of men from wealthier families,
and many senators held the position for life. The Senate itself
began as advisors to the consuls but gained power steadily

throughout the years of the Republic.

Initially the office of magistrate was only open to patricians, a


group of elite Roman families. Eventually, though, even plebeians
(or common people) could be elected, giving most Roman citizens
a voice.
Prefects were chosen to run various aspects of the city, sometimes
acting as judges while also being similar to modern day police. For
example, these men helped to control the marketplaces.
Tribunes were elected to represent the people, particularly the
plebeians. Tribunes, like the magistrates, prefects, and even the
senators, were elected by the Assembly, which was a group of
people who represented each section of Rome.

During the Republic, the Romans carved some of their more


important laws into tablets, which became known as the Twelve
Tables. Some of the laws may seem odd to us today, but they offer
a great glimpse into everyday life during the Republic. One law
forbade citizens to write songs that insulted other people, while
another law allowed citizens to gather fruit that had fallen on
someone elses farm.
Interestingly, as Rome branched out and conquered other lands,
the captured people were then invited to become Roman citizens
themselves. They received all the rights of a person born in Rome
and had equal voices within the Republic system.

In the later years of the Republic, Romes senators began to fight

frequently, sometimes using violence. As Rome expanded, its


military leaders began to have more power, due partially to having
control of Romes army so far away from the decision-makers in
the Senate.
As a result, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, serving as a consul, was able
to seize power of Rome in 83 B.C. following several successful
military campaigns. Sulla assumed the title of dictator, giving him
full control of the people and signaling the fall of the Roman
Republic.

Another leader, Julius Caesar, took control in 49 B.C. and was also
named dictator, a title he kept until he was murdered in 44 B.C.
Eventually Caesars nephew, Octavian, was the leader of Rome.
He introduced a new system, known as an Empire, and became
Romes first Emperor in 27 B.C.

The Roman Empire kept the Senate and other positions in place,
such as the consuls. However, the Emperor had ultimate control,
and his word could not be denied, regardless of how his people felt
or voted. Having full control of the army, it was nearly impossible
for an Emperor to be overthrown.
The Roman Empire remained a powerful force for another 300
years before beginning to decline. Following the rule of
Constantine, the Empire fell early in the fifth century. Many
historians mark 476 as the year that the Empire ended and the
Middle Ages began.

2. SOCIAL STRUCTURE
3. SOCIAL CLASS
4. ECONOMY/TRADE
SYSTEM

How it is developed?

http://www.timemaps.com/civilization/AncientRome#economy

5. TECHNOLOGIES
6. KNOWLEDGE/
INVENTIONS/WRITINGS
7. RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
8. ART AND
ARCHITECTURE
9. RIVER SYSTEM
10. CITY-STATE

References:
http://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Government/
http://www.historyforkids.net/roman-government.html