The political life during the Era of theRepublic
In the Era of the Republic the Roman constitution was based on: Senate, magistrates and popular Assemblies.
The Senate was a council originally made up of three hundred members, chosen
among the leaders of the people, former judges, etc.
It received foreign Ambassadors and signed treaties with the former foreign
countries, appointed the Province governors, controlled the public administration
and made the laws.
Given its great experience and authority, the Senate had been the main organ of the
Republican government for a long period.
In order to avoid abuses, the magistrates held office only one year -- the censors
eighteen months - and then were substituted through new elections. They were divided as follows:
The Consuls (advisors), two in number, presided over the Senate and the
Comitia. They introduced bills and commanded the army in war. In Rome they
ruled a month each; in the army they commanded a day each.
The Preators administered justice.
The Censors took the census of the citizens, both to register them in the electoral
rolls, and to make them pay the taxes. They supervised the citizens' morality, drew
up the list of candidate for the Senate, from which they could
also expel those who were unworthy to hold the appointment.
The Aedili controlled the markets and the food supplies of the city, they also dealt
with the organization of public shows and the building and road maintenance. The
office was the first step to a political career (cursus honorum).
The Quaestors administered the public money, they collected the tributes and paid
the wages of the troops and state officers.
The tribune of the people were the defenders of the plebs, they were sacred, had the
right of veto and could introduce bills.
The Dictator was a temporary magistrate ( the other magistrates were permanent),
appointed by the Consul in exceptional danger cases. He had absolute military and
civil powers and held his office for six-months.
There were three popular Assemblies.They could pass or reject the bills introduced
by the Consuls or Tribunes, but they could not discuss them or introduce new bills.
The Comitia curiata was the most ancient form of assembly ( the curia was an
association of a number of families), they just confirmed the appointments of the
magistrates elected in the other comittees.
The Comitia centuriata elected the consuls, the praetors, and the censors, they
decided about peace or war; they judged criminal cases that involved death sentences for
In the Comitia tributa the citizens met according to their tribe ( according to the area
where they lived), without discriminations: each tribe included patricians and
plebeians who voted together. In the tribe prevailed the majority of voters. The
Comitia tributa elected the Aedili and Quaestors.They were the more democratic form
of popular assembly and their importance increased with time. The Assembly of
the plebs was mainly formed by plebians who elected the tribunes of the people.
Designed by Città dei Ragazzi (Boys' Town of Rome) - 1996 ©