10 Amazing Facts About Ancient Rome And The Romans
According to literature, Rome was founded in 753 BC by the twins named Romulus and Remus. They built their settlements on the Palatine and Aventine hills respectively. (Rome sits on seven hills.) Remus grew jealous of Romulus and mocked the size of the walls he had built, so Romulus killed him. He then named the city after himself and was crowned king. Whether or not this story is true, it highlights the warlike origins of Rome. Around 753 BC the foundations of one of the most powerful empires in history were laid – one which would shake the very foundations of the world.
The social structure of the Republic was basically divided between two main groups: the patricians, or the wealthy noble class, and the plebeians, the broad mass of peasant citizens. One’s class was hereditary, meaning that even if one was lucky enough to be one of the few plebeians who became wealthy and rich(or at least attained enough wealth to be considered middle class), especially as a merchant, one was still considered a plebian.
The chief body of the Republic was the Senate. Contrary to popular belief, it held no law-making power, and consisted of an advisory function to the various assemblies, which actually passed the laws. However, the Senate was the most important body in the Republic and the most influential – political careers were made or broken in the Roman Senate. The Senate appointed governors and generals, directed the use of public funds, and received ambassadors on behalf of the city! The Senate also had the important power of empowering the two Consuls to appoint a Dictator (for a period of six months) in times of emergency.
The executive power in Roman politics was vested in the cursus honorum, which constituted the order of posts one went through in the Roman hierarchy. It comprised a mixture of political and military posts, each having a particular age requirement for election. The cursus honorum began with a period of around ten years of service in the army, especially the calvary (the “equites”). However, this requirement, because of nepotism, was not rigidly applied. In fact, because of the absence of political parties, political advancement came almost exclusively through family ties and personal influence.
The next step (or first) after military service was the office of the quaestor, at the minimum age of thirty (men of patrician descent could subtract two years from all age requirements). Quaestors automatically became Senate members; thus, the executive and legislative branches of the Republic were closely intertwined. In total, there were eight to twelve quaestors who served for a period of one year.