The Romans' early government was a monarchy that mirrored the structure of Roman households, with a patriarchal king who exercised power that was checked only by a council of elders, the Senate. Initially, the overthrow of the monarchy had resulted in only moderate changes; instead if king, the government was headed by two elected officers called consuls. Although the consuls of the infant republic were supposedly chosen by all citizens, the Roman assembly of this period actually voted in affiliated blocs with shared interests, economic or territorial. And since groups consisting of the wealthiest citizens voted first, a majority could be reached even before the before the votes of the poorer groups were cast. Consequently, the consuls were inevitably members of aristocratic families, known in Rome as patricians because they traced descent from a famous ancestor or “father”. During his term of office, which lasted for one year, each consul exercised essentially the same power as a king. The only limit on consular power was the right of each consul to veto the actions of the other which often led to stalemate or violent conflict.
Within a generation after the establishment of the republic, patrician dominance of the government began to be challenged by the plebs. This was the first stage in a centuries- long contest known as the Struggle of the Orders. In 287 B.C.E, the plebeians succeeded in passing a law that made decisions enacted in their own assembly, the concilium plebs, binding on the Roman government-whether the senate approved them or not. It was at this time that the phrase Senatus Populusque Romanum came into regular use, abbreviated SPQR and designating any decree or decision made by "the Roman Senate and People". There reforms had several important consequences over the long term. Successful plebeians could now work their way into the upper reaches of Roman society, which loosened the hold of patrician families. At the same time, laws preventing wealth from becoming a controlling factor in Roman politics barred senators from engaging directly in commerce. This restriction had the effect of creating a new social order.
By the end of the second century B.C.E., there were a million slaves in Italy alone. Rome’s became one of the most slave- based economies in history. The ready availability of slaves made Roman slavery a far more impersonal and brutal institution than it had been in other ancient civilizations. Some domestic slaves were treated as trusted family members. But the general lot of slaves was horrendous. Some businessman owned slaves whom they trained as gladiators, to be mauled by wild animals or by other gladiators for the amusement of a paying public.
The status of woman was low at this age. Thus, they were thought of like a purpose for an expedient marriage. It usually happened that they compulsorily and easily had to divorce depends on the husband's convenience. In the early republic, the new laws were created that allowed married women to control their own property, instead of handing that wealth over to their husbands. These changes were intended in greater independence for woman.
When the Romans arrived in Italy, the dominant inhabitants of the peninsula were a people whom the Greeks called Tyrrhenians. To the Romans, the Etruscans were mysterious because their language has never been fully deciphered. The two most important foundation myths told by the Romans were also derived from Etruscan tradition. One aspect of Etruscan was of more limited influence. Etruscan women enjoyed a very high status and played important roles in public life. Etruscan families even traced their descent through the female line. Some of these practices certainly affected the Romans, whose women were less sequestered than their Greek counterparts. Yet they did not enjoy the same freedoms...