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Ancient Rome
Who Did What in the Roman Republic



Who Did What in the Roman Republic
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.52

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    aediles, imperium, insubstantial, law-makers, plebian, praetor, purple-trimmed, quaestors, plebeian, dictator, stint, administration, affluent, unworthy, senate, publicly
     content words:    Roman Republic, Though Augustus, Roman Empire


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Who Did What in the Roman Republic
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Democracy, by definition, means rule by people. Both the word and the concept itself came from Greece a long time ago. When the Romans revolted and expelled the Etruscan king, Tarquin the Proud, in 510 B.C. (some say 509 B.C.), they vowed never to be governed by emperors again. Thus, they borrowed the Greek idea of democracy and created the Roman Republic.
 
2     In the Roman Republic, power was in the hands of two consuls. Once a year, the Romans gathered together and elected two capable men to be their consuls. The election was open to all Roman male citizens. Women, slaves, foreigners, and people born in provinces were not allowed to vote.
 
3     Though in theory consuls had a lot of say on state affairs, their actual authority was quite limited. There are several reasons for it. First, the term of consuls lasted only one year. The short serving period made it hard for any one person to gain enough influence. Second, before any action was taken, the two consuls must attempt to reach an agreement. If one opposed an idea, he could simply say "veto" ("I forbid") and have the matter dropped. Third, after their one-year stint as the top officials, consuls became members of the senate. Senators in the Roman Republic were not law-makers. They were consuls' advisors. They normally served for life. Because of this special "retirement benefit," consuls almost always did what the senate wanted them to do. After all, they would not want to anger their future co-workers by refusing to listen to them.

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