The political structure of the Roman Republic

Roman Republic
3 mn read

When the Romans managed to overthrow the Etruscan from power in 509 BCE, they were not only changing the political system of the time but also establishing a form of government that would remain relevant for years to come. Upon freeing themselves from the Etruscans of the north, Romans decided to form their own structure of government in which citizens elected their representatives into power. The governmental system put in place during this time has acted as a precursor to many modern governments. To best understand the structure of the Roman Republic, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the class structure of the Republic. The natural-born citizens who were not slaves were divided into patricians and plebeians. The former represented the noble and wealthy class, while the latter described the normal inhabitants of Rome. Due to division between the classes, which was further fueled by the fact that the two classes would not intermarry, the patricians would occupy the highest levels of authority, such as consuls and the senate. The plebeians, on the other hand, would only form the assembly, which was the governing body of the Republic.

Who replaced the Republic with the Empire?

The world was ruled by Rome a thousand years ago, but Rome could not rule itself, and it thus took the efforts of two men, Julius Caesar and his nephew and heir Augustus, to wrestle the chaos and return the public into an empire. Following dirty politics that saw Caesar rise to governor of Gaul, senators plotted and murdered him due to his autocratic style of leadership.

Upon his death, Augustus succeeded him, and together with the help of Marc Antony, they succeeded in defeating all Caesar’s enemies and then shared the spoils with Augustus taking Rome for himself, and Antony got Egypt. The Egyptian queen was quick to seduce Antony, and together, they plotted against Augustus. However, before they could attack, Augustus attacked first and destroyed both Cleopatra and Anthony, who committed suicide before they had been caught. Augustus was seen as a hero in Rome and, as a result, became the first emperor of Rome. The transition from a republic to an empire was complete.

How did Romanization affect the people of the empire?

The process of Romanization was mainly facilitated by the spread of the army and government officials throughout Rome. As government officials were dispatched to rule the empire, they introduced the Roman culture, which was in most instances associated with the rulers and conquerors. That said, the culture was prestigious wherever it reached, and most people wanted to be associated with it so that they could be identified with the powerful Romans. As a result, people started adopting Roman names and even practised speaking in Latin. They became accustomed to Roman ways, such as gladiatorial games and baths, and through this process they became Romans.

How did Christianity survive persecution to become the new Roman state religion?

The Roman Empire initially trusted in polytheism and imperial cultism, where the emperor was a divine being. At the time, Christianity was persecuted. However, Christianity was installed as the state religion during the reign of Constantine I, who rules as both Augustus and Caesar from 306AD and was the sole emperor of East and West from 324AD to 337AD.

What were the different fates of the western and eastern sides of the Roman Empire?

The people of Constantinople believe that they came from Rome. Even after the collapse of Rome, contemporary Romans believe that the empire survived by deciding to move East. In essence, both Eastern and Western Romans remained the same until historians designated the title Byzantine Empire that moved East. This is attributable to the fact there exist different cultures between East and West with respect to language, architecture and religion. Aside from these obvious distinctions, the Eastern Roman empire was more cosmopolitan than the Western side, whereas, on the other hand, the Western was an important centre of trade and commerce.

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