The Government of Ancient Rome

The Government of Ancient Rome

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Rome is located on the Tiber River in Italy. This environment provided arable land, and therefore had good crops. In addition, a peninsula provided access to the sea on both sides. Rome had a Mediterranean climate, and the Tiber provided sources of water for easy access to the sea and transportation. The Alps and the Apennines provided the water for Rome?s river system, and the ash from nearby volcanoes provided fertile soil, as to further promote the wellness of the arable land. There were natural harbors, providing trade and economy growth.
Rome had a tripartite government that maintained elements of monarchy, oligarchy, and republic. Rome?s tripartite government had three branches. The branches were executive, legislative, and judicial.
The first branch was the executive branch. The executive branch had magistrates who represented the tradition of monarchy, led the government and the army, acted as judges and high priests, and occupied the ruling position once held by a king. They also managed tax collection and the maintenance of roads. Consuls, or the two leaders elected by citizen?s representatives, held the highest office of state and powers, and conducted games in the Circus Maximus. They also helped the Genoese merchants and sailors with difficulties with local authorities. Praetors heard cases, developed much of the civil and criminal law, and some had jurisdiction over important criminal cases. Censors, or the ?moral guardians? of Rome, assessed wealth of citizens, and supervised public morals and management of public finances. The dictator had military control, and was temporarily all-powerful. The dictator also dictated policies in times of need.
The second branch was the legislative branch. The legislative branch had a senate that passed many decrees, represented the tradition of oligarchy, advised consuls, and controlled state finances and passed laws. Patricians were the upper class, ran the government, and acted as leaders.
The third branch was the judicial branch. The judicial branch had an assembly that represented the democratic element of the Roman Republic, placed men in classes according to how much military equipment they could provide, and elected tribunes, or the representatives of the common people, or plebeians. There was a council of plebeians, which had little power, could not hold office, and could not serve as priests, because they were common people.
The Roman Republic ensured a system of checks and balances. Checks and balances means to keep any one branch of government from gaining more power than the others gain.

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For example, only the senate could pass laws, but the tribunes could veto them. Each consul had the power to veto an act of another.
The Twelve Tables, Rome?s first code of laws, ensured justice for all. Roman law consisted of ancient customs, and none of these customs were written down. This enabled judges to choose which laws to follow and which to ignore. Plebeians demanded a written law code because they were being punished too severely. In 450 B.C., the Twelve Tables became the first written law code.
Roman people were divided into social classes called patricians and plebeians. Patricians were the upper class, ran the government, and acted as leaders. Plebeians were the common people, had little power, or lower class. They could not hold office or serve as priests.
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