Rome and the Roman Republic

Rome is the heir of a glorious past; one of the most interesting moments in its history was the period of the roman Republic.

The roman Republic (Res publica Populi Romani) was the govern system of the city of Rome in the period between the 509 BCE and 27 BCE, when Rome was administered by an oligarchic republic. This long republican period also coincides with most of the roman conquers in Europe and in the Mediterranean Sea, especially between the III and the II century BCE; during the I century BCE, Rome has instead been devastated by internal conflicts caused by social changes, but this was also the century with the biggest cultural and literary flowering, thanks to the encounter with the Hellenistic culture, the real symbol of “classic” during all the next centuries. In 27 BCE the military expansion extended the territory of the Republic to include the entire Italian peninsula, the Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily Islands, most of the Gaul, of the Iberia, of the Balkans Peninsula, of the coastal region of Asia Minor and North Africa, Egypt and Greek.

The powers before reserved for the king, (army command, juridical power and maximum religious authority) were assigned to two consoles and, for what regards the religious field, to the pontifex maximus. With the increasing complexity of the Roman state, the institution of other offices was necessary such as aediles, censors, quaestors, tribunes who constituted the magisterial power.

For each one of these charges three main principles was to be followed: the annuity, or the observance of one year mandate (the charge of censor was an exception, that could last up to 18 months), the collegiality, or the assignation of the same charge to at least two men at a time, each one of them exercised a power of mutual veto over the actions of the other one, and the gratuity.

The second pillar of the Roman Republic was the popular assemblies, that hold various functions, among which the one to elect magistrates and to vote for the laws. The social composition was different from one assembly to another; among these assemblies the most important body were the assemblies of the century, where the weight in the voting was proportional to the census, according to a mechanism (the one of the division of income brackets in Centuries) that made preponderant the weight of patrician families.

Starting from the agricultural reform proposed by the tribune Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus in 133 BCE, the political convulsions became always more serious, causing the rise of a series of dictators, civil wars and temporary armed truces, during the successive century. The roman world was going to become too ample and complex for the republican institutions. The clash between three strong men, Caesar, Pompey and Crassus became unavoidable, when Caesar refused to release command. His victory over the other two allowed him assuming the command and the title of dictator, acquiring full powers.

But at his death by the conspirators, did not follow the restoration of the Republic but a new period of wars during which two contenders, Augustus and Mark Antony, fought to have the absolute power, considering the Republic already surpassed.