Discuss Roman’s from 500b-31bc

In the 6th century BC, Rome was under the government of the Etruscans, who
make enormous contribution to Roman Culture. However, in 500bc, the Romans
revolted against their rules and subsequently formed their own republic
which lasted from 500b-31bc.

The Romans constitution was an unwritten accumulation of laws and
customs. The Romans were a conservative people and were never willing to
deprive their chief magistrates of the great power exercised by the
monarch. They elected two patricians to the office of the consul and
endowed them with the imperium. They were assisted by two financial
officials called qusestors, whose number reached eight. Like the king, the
consuls led the army, had religious duties, and served as judges. The power
of the consul, however, was limited legally and institutionally as well as
by custom. The power of the consul was not granted for; it was for one
year. Each consul could prevent any action by his colleagues simply by
saying no to his proposal, and the religious power of the consul was shared
with others. Even the imperium was limited. Although the consul had full
power of life and death while leading an army, within the sacred boundary
of the city of Rome the citizens had the right to appeal all cases
involving capital punishment to the popular assembly. Beside, after their
one year in office, the consul would spend the rest of their lives as
members of the senate. It was a reckless council consul who failed to ask
the advice of the senator or who failed to follow it when there was no
general agreement. The many checks on consular action tended to prevent
initiative, swift action, and change, but this was just what a
conservative, traditional, aristocratic republic wanted. Only in the
military sphere did divided counsel and a short term of office create
important problems. The Romans tried to get around the difficulties by
sending only one consul into the field, or when this possible, allowing
each consul command on alternate days. In really serious crises, the
consuls, with the advice of the senate, could appoint a single man, the
dictator, to the command and retire in his favour. The dictator’s term of
office was limited to six months, but his own imperium was valid both
inside and outside the city without appeal.

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These devices worked well enough in the early years of republic, when
Rome’s battles were near home. Longer wars and more sophisticated opponent,
however, revealed the system’s weaknesses and required significant changes.

Long campaigns prompted the invention of the proconsulship in 325bce,
whereby the term of a consul was extended. This innovation contained the
seeds of many troubles for the constitution. The creation of the office of
Praetor also helped provide commanders of Rome’s many campaigns. The basic
function of the praetor was judicial, but they also had imperium and served
as generals. Praetors’ terms were limited for one year. By the end of the
republic, there were eight praetors, whose annual terms could be extended
for military commands when necessary. The job of identifying citizens and
classifying them according to age and property was at first the
responsibility of the consul. After the middle of the fifth bce, this job
was delegated to new office, that of censor. The senate elected two censors
every five years. They conducted a census and drew up the citizens rolls.

Their task was not just clerical; the classification the citizens fixed
taxation and status, so the censors had to be men of fine reputation,
former consul. By the fourth century they had gained new powers. They
compiled the roll of the senators and could strike senators from that roll
not only for financial, but also for moral reasons.

When the monarchy ended, the senate became the single continuous
deliberative body in the Roman State, greatly increasing its power. Its
members were prominent patricians, often leaders of clans and patron of
many clients. The senate soon gained control of the state finance and of
foreign policy. Its formal advice was not lightly ignored either by
magistrates or by popular assemblies. On the other, the most important
assembly in the early republic was the centuriate assembly, which was, in a
sense, the roman army acting in a political capacity. Its unit was the
century, theoretically 100 fighting men classified according to their
weapons, armour, and equipment. Since each man equipped himself, this meant
the organization was by classes according to wealth. voting was by century
and proceeded in order of classification from the calvary down. The
assembly elected the consuls and several others magistrates, voted on bill
put forward, made decisions of war and peace, and also serve as the court
of appeal against decisions of the magistrates affecting the life or
property of citizens. In theory, the assembly had final authority, but the
senate exercised great, if informal, influence.

The clientage was one of the most important institutions that came
into existence in the early roman republic. Beneath this institution, the
poor and lower class people in society could work for the elite on their
large estates called latifundia and in return were given economic support.

As a result, the elites could enjoy protection from the lower class in
fights against fellow elites and sometimes need supporters for political
reasons. This system enabled the administrators that time to have some
advantage as revolts were at a minimal level. In the royal period, Roman
Society was divided in two by a distinction based on birth. The wealthy
Patrician upper class held a monopoly of power and influence. its members
alone could conduct state religious ceremonies, sit in the senate, or hold
office. They also forbid marriage outside their group. The next group in
Rome was the Plebeian lower class consisted of the poor, dependent small
farmers, labourers, and artisans, the clients of the authority.

The laws and constitutions of the early republic gave to the
patricians almost a monopoly of power and privileges. Plebeians were barred
from public office, from priesthoods, and from other public religious
offices. They could not serve as judges and could not even know the law,
for there was no published legal code. The only law was traditional
practice, and that existed in the minds and actions of patrician
magistrates. Plebeians were subject of the imperium, but could exercise its
power. They were not allowed to marry patricians. When Rome gained new land
by conquest, patrician magistrate distributed it in a way that favoured
patricians. The patricians dominated the assemblies and the senate. These
are some of the factors that urged the plebeians to undertook a campaign to
achieve political and, legal and social equality. Finally, after two
centuries of continuous effort they prevailed. This is called the Struggle
of order.

The most important source of plebeian success was the need for their
military service. According to tradition, the plebeians, angered by
patrician resistance to their demands, withdrew from the city and camped on
the Sacred Mount. There they formed a plebeian tribal assemble and elected
plebeian tribunes to protect them from the arbitrary power of the
magistrates. They declared the tribute inviolate and sacrosanct; anyone
laying violent hands on him was accursed and liable to death without legal
trial. By extension of this right to protect the plebeians, the tribune
gained the power to veto any action of a magistrate or bill in roman
assembly or the senate. The Plebeians assembly voted by tribe, and a vote
by the assembly was binding on plebeians. They tried to make their decision
binding on all Romans, but could not do until 287bce. The next step was for
the plesbeians to obtain access to the laws, which they accomplished by
450bce when early romans customs in all its harness and simplicity was
codified in the Twelve Tables. In 455bce, plebeians gained the rights to
marry patricians. The main prize, the consulship, the patricians did not
yield easily. Not until 367bce. did legislation, the licinian-sextian laws-
provide at least one consul could be a plebeian. In 300bce, they were
admitted to the priesthood, the last religious barrier to equality. In 287
bce, the plebeians completed their triumph. They once again withdrew from
the city and secured the passage of a law whereby decisions of the
plebeians’ assembly bound all Romans and did not require the approval of
the senate.

Due to its mountainous and rocky terrain, Rome did not have much
fertile land and with a growing population came the call for ‘the necessary
adjustment. By 338 bce, Rome had controlled central Italy and during the
next decades expanded north and south. By 264, the Romans had conquered all
of modern Italy. As a results of problems within society, social problems.

The growing population soon outran the land available for farming and was
faced with crises for finding more land. This illustrates why colonization
became important and how Romans extended their territory. The Romans did
not destroy any of the Latin cities or their people, nor did they treat
them alike. Some near Rome received full Roman citizenship. Others farther
away gained municipal status, which gave the private rights of
intermarriage and commerce with roans, but not the public rights of voting
and holding office in Rome. They retained the rights of local self
government and could obtain full roman citizenship if they move to Rome.

They followed Rome in foreign policy and provide soldiers to serve in the
Roman Legions. During these conquest led by the nobles, and they shared the
land among the Plebeians although the noble restrained more for themselves.

Overall, the Romans treated conquerors generously and liberal.

As a result of these conquest that soon expanded Italy out of its
boundary, the Romans came into contact with Carthage. By then Italy had
established colonies in North Africa. In their attempts to maintain and
preserve their overseas territory, Italy and carthage fought some deadly
battles, better known as the Punic war.

The first Punic war, 264-241, was fought over the control of the
Medditaranean Sea and who was going to keep Sicily, which was rich in oil.

When Hiero, tyrants of Syracuse, invade the province of Massena in Sicily,
which the mamertines owed. The mamertines asked carthage for help and they
agreed. But one sect of the mamertine faction, fearing that carthage might
take undue advantage of the opportunity, asked Rome for help and so the
Romans were more than delightful to accept the offer for they had long
hated carthage. This was enough to begin the first Punic war. This was a
naval war and thus forces the Romans, who were land based to build a navy
powerful enough to defeated Carthage. In 214 bce Carthage signed a treaty
giving up Sicily and the island between Italy and Sicily; it also agreed to
pay a war indemnity in ten annual instalments. Neither side should attack
the allies of the other. In 238bce, while Carthage was still occupied with
the rebellion, Rome seized power Sardinia and Corsica and demand that
carthage pay an additional indemnity. Carthage falter because of financial
strains, but was still able to controlled Spain. The Romans did not treat
the citizens of these new colonies with the same manner they had done in
Italy. Instead these states were made subjects who could pay taxes to the
Romans and were ill treated.

The second Punic war follow in 218-202bc. This came as a result of
Rome’s main ignorance. Although, Rome had defeated Carthage severely in the
first Punic war, it did not destroy its means of production. Instead
Carthage still had Spain and developed their army. When Saguntum a province
in Spain, and ally of Carthage made a proposal to become ally with Rome,
The Romans agreed. This also started to influence other Carthagians allies
and Carthage grew outraged by this. In this war the Romans were nearly
wiped out and come close to total defeat without surrendering. In this war
Carthage had a powerful commander, Hannibal, whose father thought him to
hate and destroy Rome. He had rebuilt the army in Spain and then led his
army in Guals across the Alps in Italy. He had many men as well as
elephants. In 216 bce, Hanibal marched in to Apulia to tempt the Romans,
under different generals, into another open fight. The Romans army of
almost 8000 was killed or captured. This was Rome’s most devastated defeat.

Hannibal stayed in Rome for 15 years, where he plunder and dismantled
Italy. Nevertheless, Rome great strength for they would never surrender. As
if everything was normal, the people buy and sell as if Hannibal was not in
existence. While Hannibal was in Rome a series of events were unfolding in
Spain that bothered him enormously. He was overshadowed of his supplies in
Spain. In 202bce, in the battle of Zuma, the Romans defeated Hannibal and
ended the second war. This time Cartage was stripped of all possession that
might allow it to come back into being. Rome gain complete control of all
the territory.

The Romans began to concentrate more on wealth and continued to
expand their territory more eastward. The Middle east and the Near east
were find attractive because of the civilized lifestyle that was there,
which enable the people to enjoyed a great deal of wealth. Rome soon
conquered Greece and the Macedonians, before Asia manor and the Egypt and
the Palestine At this time, Rome had become more brutal towards the
defeated people. A new class called the equestrian, who had come into
being, were placed in the East to collect taxes from the locals for the
states. Usually, merchants or bankers, the more money they collect they
more they get to keep so these collector often exploited the locals for
self interest. There was no proper governance, therefore the well to do
could do anything to get wealthier. Mining and other enterprises were
exploited with the labour of the local people, who had become slaves. For
200 years, the Roman Republic made profit as a result of the exploitation
of the East. This later caused Rome to fail. It led to the Roman revolution
of 133-31bc and the ruling class were making bad decisions.

Land issue was one of the main problems that came to plague the
republic. Before the Punic wars in Italy most Romans were free small
independent farmers. Peasants could no longer own land for 10 of 100 were
killed and While in Italy for fifteen years Hannibal devastated the land,
vines, olives. During and after the Punic war, the nobles the imported
slaves, these were often prisoners of war. They work on the nobles estates
called Latifundia, the wide field. This hurt small farmers for slave labour
was free, once purchased the slaves nobles could produce farm good using
slaves. This helped the nobles to undersold the small farmers in the
market. Small farmers almost evaporated, they drift into the city, mainly
Rome, where many of them became beggars as no land nor work was left. They
formed a ruthless proletariat a treat to the noble and also sold their bid
to nobles. As a result of this the army also grew weaker and there were
constant slaves revolts. The largest and most dangerous was Spartacus 71-
73bc, who led a rebellion of 90 000 slaves for 2 years Romans could not do
anything. Spartacus and his anta rage were crucified. Another problem was
the rise of the equestrians. The equestrian were making enormous profits
from the eastern provinces and opposed any solutions to these problems. The
plebeians also create problems for the republic. They were people without
property, mob, and the underclass. They were jobless, hungry and angry and
sought stability in society. But they could not for there was no political
force to enforce their plight.

This does not mean that there was no call for reform. People would
sought reform and faced huge consequences. In 133bc, Tiberius Gracchus,
tried to help solve some problems. The nobles seized many acres of land for
their own self-interest and was determined to keep them. Gracchus thought
this was wrong for these were lands belong to the public and should be
redistributed to the poor. The senates have declines his request and
Gracchus seemed very determine to gained reform was later murder by
affiliates from the senate. But it did not end there, as his brother,Gaius
Grassius, who continued his land reform to end the latifundia. He tried to
have the equestrians on his side by making them judges in the courts. These
courts were designed to try governors, but those governors who did well
were sentenced and the bad ones were rewarded. This enables the senator to
murdered Gaius as well. As a result of this, there were splits in Romans
politics. The optimates, they were the senate oligarchy, the nobles
represented own interest. The other was the populares, who claimed to speak
for the people. These groups had conflicted interest that also attributed
to the down fall of the Roman Empire.

Civil war started with the rise of General Marius. The populares
elected him to fight for them. He brought the army into politics;
militarized the Republic, first in roman history. He opened the army
willing to men willing to serve, who did not have to have land. These were
mainly poor people for them the army was their staken life. They were
prepared to defend army above everything else, but this was not true in
reality, many were only loyal to him for the land they could get. After
battles, the soldier would demand land forcing Marius to sought land from
the senators. Sometimes they would get land but when they did not things
got really dangerous. Three different set of civil war was fought over
sixty years. As a result of this, the optimates were forced to get there
own army. Sulla led their army and for years, he fought Marius til his
death. Sulla ceased control of Rome in 83bc.But he did not reign long, he
renounced power and went back to a normal lifestyle. The power went back to
the senate and things continue to get worse. With Sulla’s retirement came
Pompey; he was able to put out war, but when he demanded land from the
senate, they refused. This goes to show the inefficiency of the system.

This made Pompey create and alliance with two generals, Julius Caesar and
Crassus. This alliance came to be known as the Triumvirate, rule by three.

They divided the republic three ways among themselves. As time progressed,
the generals got very ambitious each wanted full power of the government.

This cause war and the abolition of the alliance. After, crassus’s death,
Pompey and Caesar went at war, but Caesar came out with the victory. Having
gotten Pompey’s head chopped off. In the war with Pompey, he killed as many
senators he could. Afterwards, “proscription” used against the senate. This
meant that the state would declare men to be traitor, who were mainly men
from the senate class, their name were written a on board and anyone killed
him could get his property. This was a very efficient policy as the members
of the senate class were liquidated. This is how Caesar got rid of his many
of his opposers. In 443bce the senate had Caesar assassinated. But this did
not do any good as the society became frozen. Later, three generals formed
a new alliance called the second triumvirate, Mark Anthony, Octavian and
Lepidus. Again the empire was divided into three and each man was
ambitious. After Lepidus died, the real conflict started between Octavius
and Anthony. This was decided at the battle of Actium in 31 bce. Octavius
won the war thus becoming the first emperor of Rome. He managed to rule for
he filed all the vacancies in the top post and also made the senate out of
his own personal appointees who were loyal to him.


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