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The Senate Illustration

Consuls, Senate,
Assembly

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Government under the Roman Republic

The Roman system of government might seem a little strange to us, but for them it worked for almost 500 years.  The republic was run by the Senate.  The senate passed all laws and collected all taxes.  All members of the Senate were of the Patrician or wealthy landowner class.

At the head of the senate were two consuls.  The Consuls controlled the legions of Rome.  A senator was selected by the Consuls and remained a senator for life.  The Consuls also selected the new members of the Senate if a senator died.  To become a consul, you had to be elected by a majority of the popular vote from all citizens of Rome.

There was a second part of Roman government, the assembly.  The assembly was elected by Romans from the plebeian class.  The Assembly had no real power per the governmental structure, but if you didn't listen to the assembly they had the power of most of the citizens behind them and could make life very interesting.

Structure of Government Under the Republic

2 Consuls
Head of Government
Senate (300 members) Assembly
PATRICIANS PATRICIANS PLEBEIANS
1 year term Life term  
Consuls chose the Senators   Elected the 2 Consuls
Ran the government, overseeing the work of other government officials. Advised the consuls. Advised the Assembly. Elected government officials including judges.
Directed (commanded) the army Directed spending, including tax dollars  
Acted as judges Approved or disapproved laws made by the Assembly Voted on laws suggested by government officials
In an emergency, consuls could choose a dictator – a single ruler to make quick decisions. Made decisions concerning relationships with foreign powers Declared war or peace
Both consuls had to agree on their decisions. Each had the power to Veto the other. In Latin, veto means “I forbid.”    


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