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Rome: From Republic to Empire

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The Roman Republic lasted over 400 years. What is the difference between the Republican and Empire's government? What was the advantage of the idea of separation of powers? Was the change from republic to empire positive? Why?

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Solution Summary

The solution discusses the Roman Republic and it's difference with the government of the Roman Empire. The notion of separation of powers is also discussed including a discussion on whether the change was positive or negative.

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The essential idea of the Republic was very complex but semi-democratic. In 507 BC, the Romans overthrew the Etruscan King (Rex) vowing never again to have a monarch. Even during the Empire, no Roman leader ever took the title of King.

Initially, the Republic was split into two levels of society: Patricians (upper class) and Plebeians (lower class). The original Republic offered democracy for only the Patricians. A series of bloody struggles over the centuries resulted in the Plebeians gaining more power and representation: No more enslavement for excessive debt, right to join the military, right to marry whom they chose, right to have a voice in government, and the right to own land.

As far as the government, the Roman Senate was composed of 300 wealthy land-owning Patricians. This body made the laws, especially taxation. The Senate chose judges (praetors ), treasury officials/census counters (Quaestors), and lesser magistrates (Aediles). Many lessor officials began to climb the political ladder as Aediles. The citizens of Rome chose members to the Assemblies (Assembly of Centuries and Assemblies of Tribes). These assemblies in turn chose the Senate from within.

The Senators also chose two Consuls who ruled the Republic for one ...

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