Notes On THe Roman Republic: City-State to World Empire

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Chapter 6

Rome 's great political achievement was to transcend the narrow political orientation of the city-state & to create a world state that unified the different nations of the Mediterranean world. Rome overcame the limitations of the city-state mentality & developed an empirewide system of law & citizenship. Their genius found expression in law and government, the practical, not the theoretical.

Historians divide Roman history into 2 broad periods: the Republic began in 509 B.C., w/ the overthrow of the Etruscan monarchy; the Empire began in 27 B.C., when Octavian (Augustus) became the 1st Roman emperor, ending 500 years of republican self-government. The Republic initiated the trend toward political & legal universalism, which reached fruition in the 2nd period, the Empire.

EVOLUTION OF THE ROMAN CONSTITUTION:

* The Romans, like the Greeks, came to view law as an expression of the public will and not as the creation of god-kings, priest-kings, or a priestly caste.

* Between the patricians and the commoners, or plebeians.

* Patricians owned most of the land and controlled the army.

* The Senate was the principal organ of patrician power.

* The tension between patricians and commoners stemmed from plebeian grievances, which included enslavement for debt, discrimination in the courts, prevention of intermarriage with patricians, lack of political representation, and the absence of a written code of laws.

* In about 450 B.C., the first Roman code of laws was written. Called the Twelve Tables, the code gave plebeians some degree of protection against unfair and oppressive patrician officials, who could interpret customary law in arbitrary way.

* The Senate

* Tribal Assembly

* During their 200-year class struggle, the Romans forged a constitutional system based on civic needs rather than on religious mystery. The essential duty of government ceased to be the regular performance of religious rituals & became the maintenance of order at home & the

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