The political system


Social classes and the Senate

Social classes

  • Patricians - Top of society and around 30 families, whealth from land.
  • Equites - Very wealthy merchants.
  • Plebs - Lowest class and 95% of population.
  • The higher the man the greater his duty to look after those below him.

The Senate

  • Made up of 200-300, usually patricians but equites and plebs could be senators.
  • To be a senator had to be elected to junior office of quaestor.
  • Was an advisory body, did not pass laws.
  • Laws proposed by Consuls or tribunes and voted upon by the people in assemblies.
  • Senates advice usually followed.
  • Was the only permanante body in  the rulling of Rome
  • Stopped individuals gaining to much power.
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The Magistrates/the Cursus Honorum

The Magistrates/Cursus Honorum

  • Senators could be elected by the people as a Questor, Aedile, Tribune, Praetor and Consul.
  • Consulx2 - Cheif officials of Republic who commanded the army and handled national and foreign affairs. Gained imperium after a year and become a governor/proconsul.(Age 42)
  • Praetorsx8 - Judical/law officials, second to Consuls. Could become propraetors/govoners, could have imperium.(Age 39)
  • Aedilesx4 - In charge of water and corn supplys aswell as organization of games.(Age 36)
  • Quaestorsx20 - Assisted Consuls and supervised state finance.(Age 30)
  • Tribune - The office for plebs, 10 elected each year and had the right to Veto.
  • Censor - Was an ex Consul and older member of the senate who organised elections.
  • Dictatorship - In a time of crisis, the Senate could appoint a dictator for six months who had complete controll of millitary and civil affairs.
  • The Lex Villa Annalis - Set the minimum age limits and stated that you had to be in Rome to be elected aswell as not having consecutive Consulships.
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Importance of tribunes

Importance of tribunes

  • Officials elected by the people with power to prevent any action by the state that was percieved to be against the plebians.
  • Can Veto(rejecting a decision or proposal) any polotician except a dictator.
  • Peoples assemblys had power to pass laws
  • Populares senators used tribunes to pass measures through assemblys without suport of the Senate.
  • Sulla abolished the right to Veto and barred them from future political office.
  • Reversed after Sulla's death by Pompey and Crassus as Consuls.
  • 67BC tribune Gabinius secured Popmpey's command against the pirates
  • 66BC tribune Manilius secured Pompey's command against the Mithridates.
  • 59BC Vatinius proposed bills granting Caesar Cisalpine Gaul and ratifying Pompey's eastern settlement.
  • 49BC Anthonys SCU against Ceasar ignored by Senate.
  • 43BC Titius proposed 2nd triumvirate.
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Optimates and Populares and The Popular Assemblies

Optimates and Populares 

  • Were no political parties but we can categorize senators as either Populares or Optimates.
  • Optimates belived in the power of the Senate and did not want the plebs to gain more power.
  • Populares in favour of the people and used them aswell as the army to increase their power in the state.

The Popular Assemblies

  • Comitia Centuriata - Elected magistrates with impeerium.
  • Comitia Tributa - Elected lesser magistrates.
  • Consilium Plebis - elected Tribunes.

The Gracchi

  • Tiberius and Gaius as Tribunes recommended land reforms and were murderd by the Senate.
  • Showed that Tribunes could propose laws wich benefited the people and themselves.
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