Rome: From City-State to Empire Politics
Politics • A small city-state in western Italy. • 753 BCE a Monarchy • 509 BCE a republic. • It was originally ruled by a king, Roman aristocrats threw off the monarchy and established a republic in which the wealthy class, know as patricians, dominated. • Romans took great pride in their political system, believing that they enjoyed greater freedom than did many of their more autocratic neighbors.
Republic • A form of government in which power rests with citizens who have the right to elect the leaders who make governmental decisions. • Indirect democracy. • Voting rights granted only to free-born males. • Patricians versus plebeians. • Written Code of Law • Senate
Empire Building • Took more than 500 years, began in 490s BCE. • Conquest and wars led to expansion. • Partial measures over time. • Romans saw conquest as a measure of defense. • Greece, Egypt, and Mesopotamia under Roman domination. • Civil War broke out during the 1st century BCE changing Rome, for authority was vested in an emperor- Octavian-Augustus. • He was careful to maintain the forms of a republic- senate, consuls, public assemblies, and referred to himself as “first man” even as he accumulated enormous personal power.
Roman Law • All citizens had the right to equal treatment under the law. • A person was considered innocent until proven guilty. • The burden of proof rested with the accuser rather than the accused. • Any law that seemed unreasonable or grossly unfair could be set aside.