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Government in Ancient Rome

Government in Ancient Rome

Roman government revolved around the Roman Senate with its body of aristocratic citizens who distinguished themselves from everyone else with their titles, purple-striped togas, senatorial rings and even special shoes. Senators held the key public offices and many would command provinces and armies. Figures such as Julius Caesar and the emperors who followed would diminish the Senate's role, but it would remain an influential body throughout Rome's long history. There were, too, the popular assemblies that enacted legislation and an army of magistrates who enforced it. In addition, courts interpreted the huge body of laws which went back to the Twelve Tables and included countless amendments, cases and imperial edicts.

In this collection, we examine the changing role of the Senate, the fine details of Roman law-making, and some of the key magisterial positions like the aediles and quaestors who controlled every facet of a Roman citizen's civic duties, from paying tax to participating in religious festivals.

During the time of the Republic, these various assemblies were the voice of the citizens of Rome, and although not fully democratic in the modern definition of the word, they allowed at least some portion of the Roman citizenry to be heard. Their essential role in Roman government was crucial enough that the army inscribed on their military standards the letters SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus or Senate and Roman people.

Government in Ancient Rome - History

"Now we trace the history in peace and war, of a free nation, governed by annually elected officers of state, and subject not to the caprice of individual men, but to the overriding authority of law" - Livy

In 509 BC. the Romans rebelled against their Etruscan overlords replacing kingship with a republic (A country governed by the elected representatives of its people) and the Patricians organized the government of the republic into an executive branch and legislative branch. (see Rome's Development of a Constitution)

Two patrician officials known as the consuls (because they had to consult each other before acting), were the chief executive officers and ran the cities daily affairs. They were elected to serve in office for one year terms. Each consul could veto (Latin word meaning "to forbid") the others decisions. The consuls maintained order among the executive officials (praetors, judges, censors, tax collectors, etc.). They presided over the Senate and were commander in chief during wartime. They were also supreme judges.

When Rome was in a time of crisis they would temporarily appoint a dictator (one whose word was law), and only he could override the decision made by the consuls.

The Senate were also a body of patricians, 300 citizens from the wealthiest families of Rome.They also maintained the treasury as well as foreign policy and they served for life. They outweighed the Assembly of Centuries and advised the consuls, proposed laws, and approved new construction of roads, temples and military defenses. They were supposedly an advisory body but in actuality they were the center of all policy decisions concerning foreign affairs, military matters, finances, public land, and state religion.

The consuls were in charge of government and also of the army. The 300 citizen Senate advised them at all times. In the history of the Roman Republic the Senate was always the most powerful group. Only the Assembly could approve or disapprove of one of their laws and only the assembly elected Candidates for the office of consul. There was always a basic concept of checks and balances.

The modern US constitution is based on these basic concepts of checks and balances within the ancient government of the Roman Republic. Whether it be the President, the Congress, or the courts, none can dominate the government. Each branch has a way to check the actions of the other and the actions of each branch balance the others.

The middle class and poor were represented in 2 assemblies:

There was also a body of patricians within the legislative branch known as the Assembly of Centuries (named for a military formation of 100 men "centum") and these were elected into office. They could declare war.

A legislative assembly of elected officials called tribunes and questors who passed laws and conducted minor trials.

There were also 2 Censors (ex-consuls) who took the census, assessed the taxes, named senators, etc.

4 Aediles served as mayors of the city and 8 Quaestors acted as treasurers.

The plebeians felt that they did not have any real power in the new republic and in 494 BC they went on strike, threatening to leave the army and start a new republic of their own. The patricians then agreed to hear the voice of the Tribunes.

The 10 Tribunes, elected by the Plebeians, protected the rights of the people from the decisions made by the senate. They had power to veto any government decision. The Plebeians' demanded that the patricians would hear the tribunes and because of the fear of losing their military and labor forces the patricians agreed. They became so protected that anyone injuring a Tribune could be put to death.

The Judiciary Branch of Government

The judiciary branch of government were the 6 Praetors (elected for 2 years) who were the high judges.

The Plebeians still felt inferior because they really never knew exactly what the laws were. The laws had never been put into writing and were only known by the patricians. The Plebeians insisted that the government write down the laws. Finally in 451 BC the patricians agreed to engrave the laws on 12 bronze tablets and to set them in the Forum for all to see. These 12 Tables became the basis for all future Roman law.

The Plebeians had soon won the right to serve in some public offices and in 287 BC they won a great victory, they were given the right to make laws for the republic in the Assembly of Tribes. Rome was close to becoming a true democracy. But by the 2nd Cent. BC. more power was in the hands of the senate and they were becoming corrupt. (see Moving Toward Democracy)

Senate (senatus = council of elders, related to the word "senior") was the advisory branch of the Roman government, early on composed of about 300 citizens who served for life. They were chosen by the kings, at first, then by the consuls, and by the end of the 4th century, by the censors. The ranks of the Senate, drawn from ex-consuls and other officers. Property requirements changed with the era. At first, senators were only patricians but in time plebeians joined their ranks.

The Assembly of Centuries (comitia centuriata), which was composed of all members of the army, elected consuls annually. The Assembly of Tribes (comitia tributa), composed of all citizens, approved or rejected laws and decided issues of war and peace.

The Senate

The Roman Senate is often viewed as the seat of Roman power, where all the major decisions affecting the governing of the empire were made.

The reality is that the Senate was primarily an advisory body which, despite the wealth and prestige of those who sat in its hallowed chamber, actually had surprisingly little power. Of course, this is true of the Imperial Period, during which time the Emperor reigned supreme, but was actually rather surprisingly the case during the period of the Republic.

Although members of the Senate deliberated and voted on topics, actual legislation was secured in the various assemblies. These assemblies acted on the recommendations of the Senate's deliberations, and also elected the magistrates.

Main keywords of the article below: divided, branch, legislative, executive, government, modern, rome, like, branches:, ancient, judicial.

Much like the modern U.S. government, most of the government of ancient Rome can be divided into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. [1] After the last king of Ancient Rome, the new government was born in 509 BC. This new republic allowed Ancient Roman citizens to elect leaders to govern them, rather than the previous monarch system of the kings. [2] Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand of years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the Corpus Juris Civilis (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. [3] The last King of Ancient Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, he was said to be extremely cruel and had many Romans killed. [2] This part of the government protected the common people of Ancient Rome. [2] In the tri-government of Ancient Rome, known as a tripartite government, each part of the government had its own controls, rights, and privileges. [2] Each part was responsible for certain duties and ensuring Ancient Rome would thrive. [2] Historical records show that the last three kings of Ancient Rome were of Etruscan origin. [2] Some magistrates were even responsible for entertainment elements such as festivals and games which Ancient Rome became famous for. [2] Patricians were the wealthy land owners and upper class of Ancient Rome. [2]

Judicial Branch Roman Judicial System: The Roman Judicial Branch consisted of six judges who were elected every two years. [4] The judicial branch consisted of eight judges who served for one year. [5]

Some of the most basic values and institutions of the United States, such as civic duty and a separate judicial branch, began in the Roman Republic. [5]

Since the Ancient Romans did not want one man to make all of the laws, they decided to balance the power of the government between three branches, there was first the executive branch, then the legislative branch, and finally the judicial branch. [6] The same three, in fact, as we do here in the United States: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial (although the Judicial branch is the most disputed of the three). [7] The judicial branch had six judges who were elected every two years. [8]

Ancient Rome: Roman Law Parents and Teachers : Support Ducksters by following us on or. [9] Senate, in ancient Rome, the governing and advisory council that proved to be the most permanent element in the Roman constitution. [10] In ancient Rome, you were not allowed to vote on laws or elect leaders of the government until you were an adult. [8] Many of the basic systems and ideas that we have about laws and government today comes from Ancient Rome. [9] Ancient Rome had, in many ways, a very similar government to what we have in the United States. [7] Please compare and contrast the government of ancient Rome with the government of the United States. [7] Visit the sections below to find out more information regarding various forms of government in Ancient Rome, including the roles of key groups and individuals. [6] From Tribunes to Aediles, and Praetors to Censors, find out what the various offices of ancient Rome entailed. [6]

Since the Ancient Romans did not want one man to make all of the laws, they decided to balance the power of the government between three branches there was first the executive branch, then the legislative branch, and finally the judicial branch. [11] Document 1 An Outline of Roman Government during the Republic: Executive Branch Legislative Branch Judicial Branch The two leaders of the executive branch, the consuls, were elected for just one year by the upper class. [12]

Fact #1: Italy's judicial branch is independent from the other branches of the nation's government, and it operates according to a mixed legal system that contains both inquisitorial and adversarial elements, as well as thousands of laws blended together from various legal codes. [13] Because the judicial branch is often a part of a state or county government, the geographic jurisdiction of local judges is often not coterminous with municipal boundaries. [14]

Provide specific examples about Roman culture and how it is like our own culture today in the United States by providing examples from our own culture that are similar to those of Ancient Rome. [12] Looking for a way to challenge your students to truly understand and work with the content of ancient Rome and the Roman Empire ? This task card set is exactly what you need. [15] Discusses the constitutional history of separated and shared powers as shaped in the republic and empire of ancient Rome. [16] In Ancient Rome, the Tribunes who represented the common citizen had veto power over legislation by the Senate to prevent legislation by the wealthy that would not serve the interests of the general population. [14] At the constitutional convention, Benjamin Franklin and General Pinkney argued that, as in ancient Rome, the Senate should be made up of the wealthy classes and receive no compensation for their service. [14] Ancient History Rome - OK, it's meant for kids, but grown ups like it, too! The Britannica Kids Ancient Rome app talks about all things ancient Rome in a fun and engaging way. [15] Ancient Rome Interactive animated history map from TimeMaps. [15] In Ancient Rome, only the Centuriate Assembly could declare war. [17] Ancient Rome DBQ Directions: Answer the following guiding question in a well-developed essay. [12] Ancient Rome DBQ Directions: ON YOUR OWN, answer the guiding question using the documents that you examined above. [12]

Like Rome, the United States has a written constitution on which its government is based. [5] Build on What You Know You have already learned that Rome overthrew its kings and formed a republic. [5] For hundreds of years after the founding of the republic, Rome expanded its territories. [5] In the later years of the Republic, when Rome was involved in complicated foreign adventures in many places, there was demand for many field commanders. [1]

In early imperial Rome, the Senate was weak until the empire became established. [2] When a consul or praetor was carrying out an important task, usually a war, outside of Rome that outlasted his term of office, he was often authorized to continue until he was done. [1] Even consuls and praetors who had served their terms at Rome came systematically to be sent out as promagistrates. [1]

Praetors were credited for interpreting/forming much of Rome's civil law. [19]

In the Roman law ius privatum included personal, property, civil and criminal law judicial proceeding was private process ( iudicium privatum ) and crimes were private (except the most severe ones that were prosecuted by the state). [3] During the republic and until the bureaucratization of Roman judicial procedure, the judge was usually a private person ( iudex privatus ). [3]

This type of government has three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. [5] These magistrates took care of finances and judicial obligations throughout the Ancient Roman Empire. [2] The first part of the Ancient Roman government was made of officials elected into office called Magistrates. [2] The third part of the Ancient Roman government consisted of Assemblies and Tribunes. [2] The second part of the Ancient Roman government was a body called the Senate. [2] To control Roman citizen s, patricians made radical changes to the Ancient Roman government. [2] Plebeians were common people who called for change in the Ancient Roman government. [2] With the ability to veto other officials, this made tribunes very powerful in the Ancient Roman government. [2]

From that time, scholars began to study the ancient Roman legal texts, and to teach others what they learned from their studies. [3]

Senate ( senatus council of elders ) was the advisory branch of the Roman government, early on composed of about 300 citizens who served for life. [18] The legislative branch of Roman government included the Senate and the assemblies. [5]

The U.S. system of checks and balances makes sure that one branch of the government doesn't have too much power. [5] The duties of this branch are to declare war, ratify treaties, vote on judges, and write/enact laws. [19] The first branch known as Assemblies composed of the plebeians and the patricians. [2] In the second branch known as the tribunes consisted of elected officials. [2] The executive branch consisted primarily of a number of magistrates elected by the people. [1]

The Romans had three branches of government including the legislative assemblies (branch of the people), the senate (branch of the nobles and patricians), and the consuls (executive branch). [9] Roman Government - Ancient History Encyclopedia Roman Government Donald L. Wasson Western Civilization is forever indebted to the people of ancient Greece and Rome. [20] An interesting fact is that the people of Rome took many of their ideas of government from the Ancient Greeks. [6] 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. [20] United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) represents the all encompassing power of Rome in the ancient world. [6] Western Civilization is forever indebted to the people of ancient Greece and Rome. [20]

The Lex Hotensia states that laws passed in Rome by the Concilium Plebis are binding to all people, even patricians. [20] Unfortunately for many people in Rome, in the early stages of the Republic, power lay solely in the hands of the elite, the old landowning families or patricians. [20] During the time of the Republic, these various assemblies were the voice of the citizens of Rome, and although not fully democratic in the modern definition of the word, they allowed at last some portion of the Roman citizenry to be heard. [20] Swords Against the Senate describes the first three decades of Rome's century-long civil war that transformed it from a republic to an imperial autocracy, from the Rome of citizen leaders to the Rome of decadent emperor thugs. [6] After Rome's victorious wars, from the third century BC, huge numbers of slaves came to Rome, and that resulted in slave trade and increased exploitation of slaves. [21]

With the abolition of the monarchy in Rome in 509 bc, the Senate became the advisory council of the consuls (the two highest magistrates), meeting only at their pleasure and owing its appointment to them it thus remained a power secondary to the magistrates. [10] The Senate discussed both domestic and foreign policy, supervised relations with foreign powers, directed the religious life of Rome, and controlled state finances. [20] It had been found that those unlimited powers were often abused and that Senate control could not easily be asserted at increasing distances from Rome. [10] Then there were the quaestors, the financial officers, holding power of quaestores aerarii or control of the treasury located in the Forum of Rome. [20]

Later, to further protect the rights of the plebians, the Twelve Tables also called the Ten plus the Two was enacted as the first record of Roman law - there had never been a written constitution in Rome. [20] During the Late Republican era of Roman history, there were two main types of Praetor: one was the Praetor Urbanus, or Urban Praetor, who would act as the chief administrator of Rome, being forbidden to be absent from the city for more than ten days. [22]

As Rome expanded its borders northward into Gaul, further east into Asia, and southward into Africa, the government of the Republic was unable to cope and so entered the first emperor, Augustus, and the birth of an empire. [20] After the expulsion of the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Suberbus, the Republic was governed by a hierarchy of magistrates. [21] The (semi-mythological) seven kings of Rome : Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tulus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. [20] Years underneath the unyielding yoke of a king taught the people of Rome that they had to safeguard against the rule, and possible oppression, of one individual. [20]

The Valerio-Horatian Laws establishes the tribal assemblies in Rome. [20] Two plebeians hold the two positions of censor for the first time in Rome. [20] The original tablets were destroyed when the Gauls under Brennus burnt Rome in 390 BC. There was no other official promulgation of them to survive, only unofficial editions. [21]

Rome's first emperor, Augustus, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, has probably had the most lasting effect on history of all rulers of the classical world. [6]

The Senate received judicial functions and for the first time became a court of law, competent to try cases of extortion in the senatorial provinces. [10] In the Roman law ius privatum included personal, property, civil and criminal law judicial proceeding was private process (iudicium privatum) and crimes were private (except the most severe ones that were prosecuted by the state). [21] During the republic and until the bureaucratization of Roman judicial procedure, the judge was usually a private person (iudex privatus). [21]

The Law of the Twelve Tablets (Latin: Leges Duodecim Tabularum or, informally, Duodecim Tabulae) was the ancient legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law. [21] The Senate’s powers had by this time extended far beyond its ancient prerogatives. [10]

Praetor was a title granted by the Ancient Roman government to one holding the magistrate rank inferior only to senators and consuls. [22] Generally it is thought that the ancient Roman government also had three branches. [7]

In the Roman government, the head of the executive branch had military duties, just like how our President serves as Commander in Chief. [7] The following table will tell you what each branch of the Roman government did. [8]

The executive branch is led by the president of the United States and their job is to carry out laws. [23] The two leaders of the executive branch, the consuls, were elected for just one year by the upper class. [8] Other members of the executive branch were the tax collectors, mayors, city police, and other people in positions of power in cities. [8]

The most powerful part of the legislative branch was the Senate. [8]

RANKED SELECTED SOURCES(23 source documents arranged by frequency of occurrence in the above report)

Late Republic

After defeating the Macedonian and Seleucid Empires in the 2nd century BC, the Romans became the dominant people of the Mediterranean Sea. [40] [41] The conquest of the Hellenistic kingdoms brought the Roman and Greek cultures in closer contact and the Roman elite, once rural, became a luxurious and cosmopolitan one. At this time Rome was a consolidated empire&mdashin the military view&mdashand had no major enemies.

Foreign dominance led to internal strife. Senators became rich at the provinces' expense soldiers, who were mostly small-scale farmers, were away from home longer and could not maintain their land and the increased reliance on foreign slaves and the growth of latifundia reduced the availability of paid work. [42] [43]

Income from war booty, mercantilism in the new provinces, and tax farming created new economic opportunities for the wealthy, forming a new class of merchants, called the equestrians. [44] The lex Claudia forbade members of the Senate from engaging in commerce, so while the equestrians could theoretically join the Senate, they were severely restricted in political power. [44] [45] The Senate squabbled perpetually, repeatedly blocked important land reforms and refused to give the equestrian class a larger say in the government.

Violent gangs of the urban unemployed, controlled by rival Senators, intimidated the electorate through violence. The situation came to a head in the late 2nd century BC under the Gracchi brothers, a pair of tribunes who attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians. Both brothers were killed and the Senate passed reforms reversing the Gracchi brother's actions. [46] This led to the growing divide of the plebeian groups (populares) and equestrian classes (optimates).

Marius and Sulla

Gaius Marius, a novus homo, who started his political career with the help of the powerful Metelli family soon become a leader of the Republic, holding the first of his seven consulships (an unprecedented number) in 107 BC by arguing that his former patron Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus was not able to defeat and capture the Numidian king Jugurtha. Marius then started his military reform: in his recruitment to fight Jugurtha, he levied the very poor (an innovation), and many landless men entered the army this was the seed of securing loyalty of the army to the General in command.

At this time, Marius began his quarrel with Lucius Cornelius Sulla: Marius, who wanted to capture Jugurtha, asked Bocchus, son-in-law of Jugurtha, to hand him over. As Marius failed, Sulla, a general of Marius at that time, in a dangerous enterprise, went himself to Bocchus and convinced Bocchus to hand Jugurtha over to him. This was very provocative to Marius, since many of his enemies were encouraging Sulla to oppose Marius. Despite this, Marius was elected for five consecutive consulships from 104 to 100 BC, as Rome needed a military leader to defeat the Cimbri and the Teutones, who were threatening Rome.

After Marius's retirement, Rome had a brief peace, during which the Italian socii ("allies" in Latin) requested Roman citizenship and voting rights. The reformist Marcus Livius Drusus supported their legal process but was assassinated, and the socii revolted against the Romans in the Social War. At one point both consuls were killed Marius was appointed to command the army together with Lucius Julius Caesar and Sulla. [47]

By the end of the Social War, Marius and Sulla were the premier military men in Rome and their partisans were in conflict, both sides jostling for power. In 88 BC, Sulla was elected for his first consulship and his first assignment was to defeat Mithridates VI of Pontus, whose intentions were to conquer the Eastern part of the Roman territories. However, Marius's partisans managed his installation to the military command, defying Sulla and the Senate, and this caused Sulla's wrath. To consolidate his own power, Sulla conducted a surprising and illegal action: he marched to Rome with his legions, killing all those who showed support to Marius's cause and impaling their heads in the Roman Forum. In the following year, 87 BC, Marius, who had fled at Sulla's march, returned to Rome while Sulla was campaigning in Greece. He seized power along with the consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna and killed the other consul, Gnaeus Octavius, achieving his seventh consulship. In an attempt to raise Sulla's anger, Marius and Cinna revenged their partisans by conducting a massacre. [47] [48]

Marius died in 86 BC, due to age and poor health, just a few months after seizing power. Cinna exercised absolute power until his death in 84 BC. Sulla after returning from his Eastern campaigns, had a free path to reestablish his own power. In 83 BC he made his second march in Rome and began a time of terror: thousands of nobles, knights and senators were executed. Sulla also held two dictatorships and one more consulship, which began the crisis and decline of Roman Republic. [47]

Caesar and the First Triumvirate

In the mid-1st century BC, Roman politics were restless. Political divisions in Rome became identified with two groupings, populares (who hoped for the support of the people) and optimates (the "best", who wanted to maintain exclusive aristocratic control). Sulla overthrew all populist leaders and his constitutional reforms removed powers (such as those of the tribune of the plebs) that had supported populist approaches. Meanwhile, social and economic stresses continued to build Rome had become a metropolis with a super-rich aristocracy, debt-ridden aspirants, and a large proletariat often of impoverished farmers. The latter groups supported the Catilinarian conspiracy&mdasha resounding failure, since the consul Marcus Tullius Cicero quickly arrested and executed the main leaders of the conspiracy.

Onto this turbulent scene emerged Gaius Julius Caesar, from an aristocratic family of limited wealth. His aunt Julia was Marius' wife, [49] and Caesar identified with the populares. To achieve power, Caesar reconciled the two most powerful men in Rome: Marcus Licinius Crassus, who had financed much of his earlier career, and Crassus' rival, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (anglicized as Pompey), to whom he married his daughter. He formed them into a new informal alliance including himself, the First Triumvirate ("three men"). This satisfied the interests of all three: Crassus, the richest man in Rome, became richer and ultimately achieved high military command Pompey exerted more influence in the Senate and Caesar obtained the consulship and military command in Gaul. [50] So long as they could agree, the three were in effect the rulers of Rome.

In 54 BC, Caesar's daughter, Pompey's wife, died in childbirth, unraveling one link in the alliance. In 53 BC, Crassus invaded Parthia and was killed in the Battle of Carrhae. The Triumvirate disintegrated at Crassus' death. Crassus had acted as mediator between Caesar and Pompey, and, without him, the two generals manoeuvred against each other for power. Caesar conquered Gaul, obtaining immense wealth, respect in Rome and the loyalty of battle-hardened legions. He also became a clear menace to Pompey and was loathed by many optimates. Confident that Caesar could be stopped by legal means, Pompey's party tried to strip Caesar of his legions, a prelude to Caesar's trial, impoverishment, and exile.

To avoid this fate, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and invaded Rome in 49 BC. Pompey and his party fled from Italy, pursued by Caesar. The Battle of Pharsalus was a brilliant victory for Caesar and in this and other campaigns he destroyed all of the optimates' leaders: Metellus Scipio, Cato the Younger, and Pompey's son, Gnaeus Pompeius. Pompey was murdered in Egypt in 48 BC. Caesar was now pre-eminent over Rome, attracting the bitter enmity of many aristocrats. He was granted many offices and honours. In just five years, he held four consulships, two ordinary dictatorships, and two special dictatorships: one for ten years and another for perpetuity. He was murdered in 44 BC, on the Ides of March by the Liberatores. [51]

Octavian and the Second Triumvirate

Caesar's assassination caused political and social turmoil in Rome without the dictator's leadership, the city was ruled by his friend and colleague, Mark Antony. Soon afterward, Octavius, whom Caesar adopted through his will, arrived in Rome. Octavian (historians regard Octavius as Octavian due to the Roman naming conventions) tried to align himself with the Caesarian faction. In 43 BC, along with Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Caesar's best friend, [52] he legally established the Second Triumvirate. This alliance would last for five years. Upon its formation, 130&ndash300 senators were executed, and their property was confiscated, due to their supposed support for the Liberatores. [53]

In 42 BC, the Senate deified Caesar as Divus Iulius Octavian thus became Divi filius, [54] the son of the deified. In the same year, Octavian and Antony defeated both Caesar's assassins and the leaders of the Liberatores, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, in the Battle of Philippi. The Second Triumvirate was marked by the proscriptions of many senators and equites: after a revolt led by Antony's brother Lucius Antonius, more than 300 senators and equites involved were executed on the anniversary of the Ides of March, although Lucius was spared. [55] The Triumvirate proscribed several important men, including Cicero, whom Antony hated [56] Quintus Tullius Cicero, the younger brother of the orator and Lucius Julius Caesar, cousin and friend of the acclaimed general, for his support of Cicero. However, Lucius was pardoned, perhaps because his sister Julia had intervened for him. [57]

The Triumvirate divided the Empire among the triumvirs: Lepidus was given charge of Africa, Antony, the eastern provinces, and Octavian remained in Italia and controlled Hispania and Gaul. The Second Triumvirate expired in 38 BC but was renewed for five more years. However, the relationship between Octavian and Antony had deteriorated, and Lepidus was forced to retire in 36 BC after betraying Octavian in Sicily. By the end of the Triumvirate, Antony was living in Ptolemaic Egypt, an independent and rich kingdom ruled by Antony's lover, Cleopatra VII. Antony's affair with Cleopatra was seen as an act of treason, since she was queen of another country. Additionally, Antony adopted a lifestyle considered too extravagant and Hellenistic for a Roman statesman. [58] Following Antony's Donations of Alexandria, which gave to Cleopatra the title of "Queen of Kings", and to Antony's and Cleopatra's children the regal titles to the newly conquered Eastern territories, war between Octavian and Antony broke out. Octavian annihilated Egyptian forces in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Now Egypt was conquered by the Roman Empire, and for the Romans, a new era had begun.


Kingdoms, nations, and empires need to pay for such items as armies, roads, and building projects. Like modern nations, the states of the ancient world relied on their inhabitants for funds. Taxation is the general term for the many different ways in which states collect revenue from individuals. It has long been part of history. Even before money existed, people paid taxes to their rulers in the form of labor or goods, such as crops, gold, or livestock. Conquered peoples paid tribute* to their conquerors. The Greeks and Romans, like other ancient peoples of the Mediterranean world, gradually developed formal systems of taxation. As states grew larger and required more revenue, their tax systems became more complex.

* tribute payment made to a dominant power or local government

Greek Taxation. The Greek city-state* grew out of kinship groups&mdash collections of tribes, clans, and families descended from the same ancestor. In an early system of taxation, these kinship groups required their members to contribute food, other materials, and the manpower to wage war and maintain religious shrines. Coinage, which became common in the Greek world during the 500s B.C., brought widespread economic changes, such as the use of mercenaries* and the growth of trade and commerce. Around the same time, roughly between the 700s B.C. and the 300s B.C., the city-states developed into central political powers that needed to raise revenue in order to provide public services. These services included police, temple building, grain distribution to the people, offerings to the gods and goddesses, and rewards for killing the wolves that threatened some communities.

Greek city-states raised revenue from many sources. Some owned profitable mines, while others seized the wealth of cities they conquered. Athens forced its weaker allies to pay huge amounts in tribute. Taxation, however, was the most dependable way for Greek city-states to raise money. Metics* had to pay a direct tax to the state each year, and those who could not pay were enslaved. Citizens did not have to pay this direct tax. Although everyone who bought goods in a market paid a market tax, because metics could not own land and had to buy everything in the markets, they paid more market taxes than anyone else.

Greeks paid indirect taxes in two forms&mdashcustoms duties and excise taxes. Customs duties were fees for traveling or carrying goods into and out of the state. They included harbor fees and gate tolls. Excise taxes were similar to present-day sales taxes. Consumers paid these fees when they bought goods. Each article had its own fee. For example, the tax on eels was different from that on other seafood. Most items carried a tax of about 1 percent of their cost. Many common business transactions, including prostitution, also carried excise taxes.

Two special taxes raised revenue from wealthy citizens. The liturgy was a special tax, often paid willingly and with pride, that made an individual responsible for the expenses of a single public event, such as a dramatic festival or a ship for the navy. Originally voluntary, liturgies were later imposed. The eisphora was a tax on rich people during periods of emergency, such as wartime.

Unlike modern nations, Greek city-states did not maintain large staffs of tax collectors. Instead, city-states auctioned contracts to collect taxes. The individual or group who bought the contract from the state then collected the taxes. Tax farmers, as these people were called, kept everything they collected over the original cost of the contract. Tax collecting was frequently very profitable. Tax farmers had the power to take people to court and to enslave them for failure to pay taxes.

* city-state independent state consisting of a city and its surrounding territory

* mercenary soldier usually a foreigner who fights for payment rather than out of loyalty to a nation

* metic free person living in a Greek city-state who was not a citizen of that state


Philo, a man who lived in the Egyptian dty of Alexandria shortly after Egypt came under Roman rule, wrote an account of a brutal raid by a tax collector and his agents. They rounded up and savagely beat people who owed taxes but were too poor to pay them&mdashand then beat the taxpayers' wives, children, and parents as well. When the beatings failed to produce payments or information about other people who had fled because they could not pay their taxes, the collector and his agents resorted to torture and even murder. Similar events occurred throughout the Roman empire. Because of such occurrences, people naturally despised and feared the tax collectors.

This relief shows a Roman tax collector at work. The Roman treasury relied heavily on tribute raised by provincial taxation to fill its coffers.

Roman Taxation. The Roman tax system changed over the centuries, and it also varied from region to region within the Roman world. At its worst, the system was a bewildering maze of hundreds of different taxes. After the Romans conquered Egypt, they largely adopted the Ptolemaic tax system already in use there. Records show that the government collected taxes on people, land, livestock, olives, oil, beeswax, grain, wine, beer, fish, bread, flour, salt, and even pigeons and pigeon nests. People paid taxes for irrigation ditches, for prison guards and ferry police, for land measurement, and for maintaining public baths. People who wanted to free their slaves had to pay a tax to do so. Fishermen, prostitutes, tailors, builders, bankers, bakers, and people in many other professions paid special taxes. Nearly every business exchange was taxed. Yet this array of taxes is only a partial list of the ways in which the Roman government raised tax revenue.

The major tax throughout Roman history was the tributun, which was a tax on material wealth, including land, slaves, and goods. This tax depended on a person&rsquos citizenship&mdashor lack of it. In theory, Roman citizens did not have to pay tributum, although during financial crises the state often imposed taxes on citizens. Citizens also paid tributum on land they owned outside of Italy. All noncitizens living in Roman territory paid tributum on all of their property.

The Roman government developed two important tools to support its system of taxation. The first was the census, which was a detailed list of the populations of each region that showed the status and wealth of every citizen taxpayer. The census not only identified citizens and noncitizens but also indicated other tax categories. All Jews, for example, paid a special tax, as did unmarried Egyptian women with property above a certain value. The state&rsquos second tool was the land survey. The Romans developed an elaborate system for measuring and mapping property. Their goal was to know exactly who owned each piece of land and who had the obligation to pay the taxes on it.

Like the Greek city-states, the Roman Republic* farmed out the chore of tax collecting. Wealthy people paid the state for contracts that allowed them to collect taxes and keep some of what they collected. Some tax collectors extracted huge profits from the taxpayers. In North Africa, for example, the state set a tax rate of 10 to 12 percent, but tax officials could legally collect as much as 33 percent from the people. Tax contracts were so costly, however, that few individuals could afford them. Investors formed associations to buy the contracts and collect the taxes. Tax collectors were generally greedy, often corrupt, and sometimes cruel. The emperors later replaced the contract system with a network of local and imperial* officials who worked for the state. They may have been as hard on the taxpayers as the private collectors had been, but they were more efficient and brought greater revenue to the imperial treasury. (See also Land: Ownership, Reform, and Use Money and Moneylending.)

How was Rome governed

Rome, in its earliest days, was governed by kings. However, Ancient Rome was to develop its own form of government that allowed the Romans to govern themselves.

In one sense, for a society that used its feared army to conquer other nations and reduced people to slavery, Rome was remarkably democratic when its own people were concerned. Citizens of Rome would gather at an assembly to elect their own officials. The chief officials of Rome were called consuls and there were two of them. The consuls governed for a year. If they did not live up to expectations, they could be voted out of office at the next election. Therefore, competence was rewarded and incompetence punished.

In addition to consuls, there were other elected officials – judges, magistrates and tax collectors being some of them. Ten “Tribunes of the People” were also elected to look after the poor of Rome.

The consuls could not be expected to know everything. They were advised by a Senate. This was made up of leading citizens of Rome and when they met, the Senate would discuss issues such as proposed new laws, financial issues affecting Rome etc. There were about 600 men in the Senate. They were usually from rich noble families and what they thought went a long way to determining Roman law.

Senators at work in Rome

When the Roman Empire started to grow and Rome became a more powerful city, a top government position became more and more attractive. Therefore, more and more ambitious men got involved in government. These men believed that Rome would be better served by one man governing the city and empire, as opposed to a group of elected officials. These sole rulers were called emperors. The story behind the first emperor involves one of Ancient Rome’s most famous stories.If elections were reasonably democratic, the role of the Senate was not. Most, if not all, decisions were in favour of the rich. Only the rich were in a position to use their wealth to influence decision-making within the Senate. However, very few people in lower social classes questioned this system. Many felt that the rich were there to do the work of the Senate and that it was not the place for those less well off. Another reason to favour the Senate was the simple fact that while it existed, Rome went on to become the greatest power in the Mediterranean and in Europe. From 509 BC to 27 BC, Rome was governed as a republic – this also coincided with Rome’s vast power. Many people logically believed – why change a good thing?

Julius Caesar wanted to control all of Rome and its empire. This would have led to the end of the system of government used in Ancient Rome for many years. When making a speech in the Senate to support his belief in a one-man rule, Caesar was murdered by Brutus who wanted to keep the old way going. This murder did not stop the problem, as Caesar’s supporters started a civil war to try to force their wishes onto Rome. The war was long and costly. Exhaustion led to many Romans supporting Augustus, Caesar’s nephew. To many people he seemed the obvious choice to end the chaos Rome had descended into. Augustus was seen as a strong ruler and he became emperor in 27 BC, bringing to an end the republic of Rome.

Government in Ancient Rome - History

After Tarquinius Superbus was thrown out of Rome in 509 BC, a king was not welcome. Now the Romans had to create a new form of government. That form of government is known as a republic, which means "public good." In a republic, people elect representatives to make decisions for them. The United States of America has a republic.

The ancient Roman republic had three branches of government. In the beginning, the legislative branch was the Senate, a group made up of 300 citizens from Rome's patrician class, the oldest and wealthiest families of Rome. It was the patricians, tired of obeying the king, who revolted and threw out Tarquinius Superbus. The Senate was the most powerful branch of the Roman republic, and senators held the position for life. The executive branch was made up of two consuls, elected yearly. These two consuls had almost kingly powers, and each could veto, or disapprove of the other's decision. It is quite possible that the idea of two consuls came from Sparta with its two kings. Praetors were part of the judicial branch, they were elected yearly by the people of Rome, and acted as judges.

In the beginning of the Roman republic, all officials came from the patrician, or wealthy class, this led to the plebeians, Rome's poor and middle class feeling left out. Who would care for the concerns of the plebeians? In 494 BC, an event occurred known as the "Struggle of the Orders." Most of the Roman army was made up of soldiers who came from the lower, plebeian class. The plebeians complained that they were serving as soldiers, but had very little say in the government. The plebeians refused to fight, and left to city to start their own settlement. It didn't take the patricians, Rome's wealthy, too long realize they needed the plebeians. Reforms in government followed. Tribunes were added to the legislative branch of government. Tribunes were elected yearly, and represented the concerns of the plebeians. In 451 BC, the plebeians pressured the senate to write down the laws of Rome, the result was the Twelve Tables, twelve stone tablets with written laws that were posted in the forum, or marketplace of Rome for all to see. Before the Twelve Tables, the patricians could change the laws at any time to their benefit. And then in 376 BC, the Licinian Law said that one consul must be elected from the plebeian class.

One of the disadvantages of a republic is that many officials are involved in decision-making. This can be troublesome when, at times, swift action is necessary. The Romans were prepared for this by granting one man total power in Rome in a time of crisis, called a dictator. The term of dictator was six-months. The dictator could make decisions on his own, without consulting the Senate. One early dictator of Rome was Cincinnatus. Cincinnatus was asked to be dictator in 458 BC, when Rome had an enemy army approaching. Cincinnatus was once a consul, but had retired to his farm in the country. Cincinnatus accepted the role of dictator, he led an army and defeated the foe, then he stepped down as dictator after only sixteen days. Cincinnatus could have gone the whole term of six months, which would have brought him great power, but Cincinnatus felt that the crisis was over, and he preferred to go back to his farming. Not all dictators of Rome would be as humble as Cincinnatus.

The Gauls, as the Romans called them, where a group of people living in what is now modern-day France. The Gauls, or Celts, were considered barbarians by the Romans because the Gauls lived in villages rather than building cities, and could not read or write. However, the Gauls were excellent craftsmen and courageous warriors. The Romans feared the Gauls. For whatever reason, in 450 BC, some of the Gauls moved across the Alps from their homeland and into Central Italy. As the Gauls moved through Etruria, the land of the Etruscans, many Etruscan cities were destroyed. In 386 BC, the Gauls attacked the city of Rome. The Romans were unable to defeat the Gauls in battle and the Gauls advanced on the city. Many Romans fled, but the senators and a few soldiers stayed on top of one of the hills of Rome. The Gauls then destroyed most of the city. The Gauls left Rome and settled permanently in the northern part of Italy, in an area called the Po River Valley. The Romans have two stories about the invasion of Rome by the Gauls. In one, the sacred geese living in a temple on top of the Capitaline Hill alerted the Romans on the hilltop about the advancing Gauls trying to sneak up the hill. In the second stories, Camillus, a Roman who had been asked to leave the city, returned with an army and drove out the Gauls. We are not sure if these stories are true, but one thing is for sure, the Romans were deeply affected by the invasion of the Gauls, and vowed that Rome would never be invaded again.

Because of the invasion of the Gauls, the Romans, now weakened, were attacked by the Latins. It took many years, but Rome defeated the Latins and other enemies. Whenever Rome won a war, they allowed the defeated people to rule themselves, as long as they were loyal Roman allies. The Roman army grew as it added allies of defeated people. Rome also granted Roman citizenship to defeated people. In this way Rome expanded its territory and influence beyond the city limits of Rome, creating a Roman condeferacy. Soon, no one group of people outside of the Roman confederacy could stand up to Rome.

In 295 BC, a great battle was fought between Rome and an alliance of the Gauls, Samnites (people from Central Italy) and the Etruscans, this was the turning point of the Third Samnite War. None of these groups of people were in the Roman confederacy, and they saw Roman expansion as a threat. At the Battle of Sentinum, Rome defeated the alliance. During battles, the consuls led Roman armies. The legendary Roman hero of this battle was Decius Mus, one of the Roman consuls at the battlefield. Decuis Mus had a dream the night before the battle that one of the consuls would die, but the Romans would win the battle. During the battle, the Romans were losing the battle, so Decuis Mus sacrificed himself by riding his horse directly into the enemy lines to inspire his troops. The move was successful, Decius Mus was pulled from his horse and killed, but the Romans rallied and won the battle. The Romans call this self-sacrifice devotio. After the Battle of Sentinum, only the Samnites and the Greeks in the southern part of Italy were free of Roman rule. Romans left garrisons within newly conquered territories, but also offered Roman citizenship to the conquered people. Newly built Roman roads connected Roman territory, and allowed Roman soldiers to move quickly from one area to another in Italy if trouble arose.

The Pyrrhic War (280-272 BC)

An interesting character in ancient times was King Pyrrhus of the Hellenistic kingdom of Epirus. As you have read in the chapter on Alexander the Great, Olympias, Alexander's mother, came from Epirus, a neighboring kingdom of Macedonia. In 307 BC, Pyrrhus, a second cousin of Alexander through Olympias, became the king of Epirus. Pyrrhus was impressed by the past conquests of Alexander, and felt that he too could carve out a vast empire. Therefore, when the Greek city-state of Taras (Tarentum in Latin) in Southern Italy asked Pyrrhus to send an army to defend them from the Romans, who had declared war on Taras in 280 BC, it was not surprising that Pyrrhus sailed across the Adriatic Sea with an army. The defense of Taras, and the possibility of defeating the Romans was just the adventure Pyrrhus was looking for.

Pyrrhus brought along his friend and trusted advisor, Cineas. It was Cineas who did most of the talking and negotiating with both friend and foe in Italy. Pyrrhus also brought with him 20 war elephants, originally from India. As this was the Hellenistic Age, Hellenistic armies brought elephants to battle against each other, but this would be the first time the Roman army had ever faced, or even seen these beasts. Pyrrhus carried the elephants over the Adriatic Sea from Epirus to Italy, and amazing feat, and the first amphibious attack by war elephants in history.

When Pyrrhus entered the city of Taras, he was not impressed with the people whom he came to defend. The people of Taras were lazy they over-ate and attended plays, while they expected Pyrrhus to fight for them. Pyrrhus closed the amphitheaters to stop the plays. Pyrrhus then forced the men of Taras to join the army, and he worked them into shape. Pyrrhus would not fight for lazy men who did not care to defend themselves.

The first time the Romans fought Pyrrhus was in 280 BC, at the Battle of Heraclea. The Roman horses were terrified of the elephants, and although Pyrrhus won the battle, he admired the strength and courage of the Roman army. "If only I had men like the Romans on my side, I could conquer the world," is what Pyrrhus was quoted as saying about the Roman army after the battle. Pyrrhus admired the organization of the Roman army, and the fact that all of the dead Romans had wounds in the front of their bodies, no Romans had fled the battlefield that day.

After the Battle of Heraclea, Pyrrhus sent Cineas to Rome with an offer of peace. The terms were that Rome must end the war with Taras and allow Pyrrhus' army to move about Italy. The Roman Senate seemed to agree until Appius Claudius, an old Roman who had once been a senator, but stepped down due to his age and blindness, stood up and gave a great speech that convinced the Romans to continue the fight.

The Romans sent Fabricius, an honest but poor man, to Pyrrhus' camp to try to convince Pyrrhus to release the Roman prisoners of war captured at Heraclea. Pyrrhus tested Fabricius first by trying to bribe him with gold, and next by trying to scare him with an elephant, but Fabricius, though poor, would not take the gold, and was unafraid of the beast. Pyrrhus, impressed by Fabricius, asked Fabricius to join his army Fabricius refused. Later, when Fabricius was elected consul, Pyrrhus' doctor sent Fabricius a letter saying that, for a fee, he would poison the king. Fabricius sent a letter to Pyrrhus telling him about his doctor. Pyrrhus punished the doctor, and allowed all of the Roman prisoners of war to return home.

The following year in 279 BC, the Romans fought Pyrrhus again at Asculum. The Romans tried to handle the elephant attack, but after a long battle, Pyrrhus won again, though he had lost many men and was wounded himself in the battle. After one of this commanders congratulated him on the victory, Pyrrhus said, "Another victory like this, and I will be totally ruined!" To this day we call any victory at a high cost a Pyrrhic victory, named after the king of Epirus. Pyrrhus called the Roman army a hydra, because, though they lost many men in battle, they could always find replacements. Pyrrhus' army, on the other hand was running out of men, and was finding it difficult to replace his losses.

Frustrated with his war with the Romans, Pyrrhus turned his attention to the nearby island of Sicily, a land he wished to conquer. Leaving a garrision behind in Taras, Pyrrhus crossed the Straits of Messina, into Sicily in 279 BC. The City of Syracuse on Sicily asked Pyrrhus to drive out the Carthaginians, who also settled in Sicily. Carthage was an ancient Phoenician settlement in Africa, very close to Sicily. The Mamertines,mercenary fighters, hired by the king of Syracuse, took over a whole city in the north-east corner of Sicily, and were also a threat to Syracuse. Upon his arrival, Pyrrhus was proclaimed the King of Sicily.

Pyrrhus fought both the Carthaginians and the Mamertines, but again became frustrated and returned back to Italy to fight the Romans. One great victory for Pyrrhus in Sicily was the battle of Eryx, where he took over the Carthaginian city. When Pyrrhus left Sicily, he said, "What a battlefield I leave for Rome and Carthage," predicting that Rome and Carthage would go to war over the possession of the island.

In 275 BC, Pyrrhus fought the Romans for the third time at Beneventum. This was a Roman victory. The Romans captured some of Pyrrhus' elephants and riders, and paraded them through the streets of Rome. Pyrrhus left Italy with very little of his original army. In 272 BC, Rome defeated Taras, adding southern Italy to its growing empire. In that same year, Pyrrhus was killed in the streets of Argos, trying to add southern Greece to his territory.

Rome was now the master of Italy and had stood up to a Hellenistic army considered one of the best in the ancient world. But would Pyrrhus' prediction of Rome and Carthage fighting over Sicily come true? We will find out in the next online textbook page.

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome was the largest city in the then known world. It is thought that Rome’s population was over 1 million people when the city was at the height of its power. From Rome, the heart of government beat military decisions were taken and the vast wealth Rome earned was invested in a series of magnificent buildings.

To start with, many buildings in Rome were built around the forum. Traditionally, this had been a market place and an area where people met. Therefore, it would have been a natural place to put government buildings, temples and palaces. As Rome grew, however, the forum became more and more crowded. Therefore, a second city centre was planned and built some distance from the forum but still in Rome itself.

Rome itself had some magnificent buildings erected within the city. Some exist to this day, all be it in a less wonderful state. The most famous is probably the Colosseum where thousands of Roman citizens would gather for their entertainment – be it animals fighting or gladiators etc. Such grand buildings were constructed so that emperors would be remembered by future generations. The Colosseum was built on the orders of the Emperor Vespasian and completed when the Emperor Titus was in power. The building was finally completed in AD 80.

Rome also had numerous triumphal arches constructed throughout the city to celebrate military victories. These served a dual purpose. First, they were a celebration of the military victories the Romans had and, second, they were a reminder to the people of Rome of how powerful the army was.

As with any city, Rome had its rich and poor areas. The poor could only afford to live in wooden houses which were a serious fire risk in a hot country like Italy. On a number of occasions, Rome suffered severe damage as a result of fires starting in the city’s slums. The slums were also dangerous places to go to if you had any money as crime was very common. The Emperor Augustus created a police force to patrol the city but the poor areas remained all but untamed. However, for the influential people of Rome, this was of little importance as they never visited such areas.

Watch the video: 01 Από τη Ρώμη στη Νέα Ρώμη (January 2022).