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Roman Problems, Roman Solutions

Directions: Your group is a bunch of Roman Senators. You will be assigned one of the
following problems.
Problem 1 Under the Republic, elected officials use their positions to get rich.

To get elected, some government officials are buying people’s votes. The poor people are quite
happy to sell their votes to the highest bidder. Under this system, many people are elected who
are bad governors, and only interested in power for reasons that don’t help the people:

 They use their position in the government to have their own businesses or their friends
and family’s businesses get all the government contracts for projects
 They use their position to force tax collectors to pay them more money, and thus the tax
collectors raise taxes for the common people
 They demand payment and gifts from wealthy businessmen in exchange for extra
protection of their stores and businesses
 They do not appoint smart judges – only their friends who are just ding it because it pays
a high salary
 They use the government tax money for parties and not for fixing roads, bridges, or
aqueducts in their territories

How can we create laws to solve this problem?

Problem 3. Under the Republic, Rome did not have a police force.

Wealthy Roman Patricians (aristocrats) hire guards to protect their palaces, estates, homes, etc.,
and whenever they travel through the streets, their guards protect them, sometimes by abusing
plebeians. Besides the rich, many businessmen hire their own guards to protect their businesses,
collect debts, and bully other businesses for control of certain roads, neighborhoods, and ports.
As if that was not bad enough, there are also gangs that control sections of neighborhoods, towns,
and even some cities with their own small armies of up to 100 men. But all these private soldiers
cause many problems for regular plebeians:

 Private armies and guards often clash, which makes the streets unsafe for innocent
 There is high crime – private soldiers tend to feel arrogant and often steal, rape, or get
into fights (especially when they are drunk)
 Rome's streets are never safe for citizens after dark
 Opening a business is difficult because unless you have men willing to be your guards
(and money to pay them) other businessmen won’t let you open a business that makes too
much money.
How can we create laws to solve this problem without making businesses suffer too much?

Adapted from Mr. Don, “Mr. Donn's Ancient History Lesson Plans & Units”