Patricians were people who were in the upper class during the Roman Republic. They were all wealthy-landowners. These people held the highest positions in the Roman Republic, such as the Senate or Consul members.
Plebeians were the people who were in the lower class during the Roman Republic. Most of them were common farmers. These people could vote, just like all other Roman citizens. However, they had no real power. Plebeians could not hold a governmental position.
A republic was a government ruled by the people and their elected leaders. In ancient Rome, adult males, known as the Assembly, could vote on Consul members. The Assembly could also make suggestions to the Senate on laws that they would like to see happen. However, these were never taken seriously. The governmental members, patricians, only wanted to pass laws that would improve their lives. Consul members served for one year, and appointed members of the Senate. Senate members made the laws and had complete control over the people. Senate members served for life.
The Twelve Tables
The 12 tables were the Roman set of laws. They established the the citizens’ property, economic, legal, and social rights.
A tripartite government is a government that has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legislative branch makes the laws for a country. The executive branch enforces the laws. The judicial branch interprets the laws in court. This method is used by countries with democracy or republic.
The Executive Branch
As previously stated, the executive branch enforced the laws. In the ancient Roman republic, this position was held by two consul members. They commanded the army, led the government, and appointed Senate members.
The Legislative Branch
The legislative branch made the laws for the country. In the ancient Roman republic, this position was held by the Senate. They were a powerful force of 300 members. They mostly made laws that would benefit them, not the plebeian portion of the assembly.
The Judicial Branch
The judicial branch interpreted the laws in court. In the ancient Roman republic, this position was held by the supreme court. Their supreme court consisted of 8 judges. They oversaw all of the courts and governed the provinces.
The Roman Senate
The Senate was part of the legislative branch, and was made up of 300 members. Members of the Senate made the laws for ancient Rome. These people served for life. Although the general Assembly members could make suggestions on laws to them, they were never really taken seriously. The Senate tended to pass laws that benefited them.
The Roman Consuls
Consul members served on one year terms. They were part of the executive branch. These people commanded the military and led the government. In a time of crisis, they could appointed a temporary dictator. There were two consuls, and they could veto, or overrule, one another.
Julius Caesar was a Roman general born around 100 B.C. He won many battles, one after another, and used this to put him into power. He became popular with the plebeians, and had them support him into power. Eventually, he led his army into Rome to take over. The Senate eventually appointed him sole ruler of Rome, and made him dictator for life. While in rule, he passed many reforms that reduced crime and increased jobs available to the poor. However, he was eventually assassinated by the members of the Senate.
Ancient Rome vs Present Day America
While ancient Rome fell to Germany in 1453 AD, there are still correlations to present day America. This includes the system of laws that both countries follow. Rome had the Twelve Tables, and we have the Constitution. They are basically the same thing, in that they are both the supreme law of the land. Another similarity between ancient Rome and present day America is the concept of Rule of Law. This idea states that the law is the rule. Everyone must obey the law and receive equal punishment for breaking it.
There are still differences between the Roman's and American's government. That can be expected after five and a half centuries, can't it? Anyways, the first difference is this: Rome changed governmental styles frequently. They started out as a monarchy, then became a republic, and then switched to an empire. However, America has been strictly a democracy, and has never changed. Another difference between these two countries is the path to citizenship. In ancient Rome, only adult males were considered to be citizens. Here in America, we are citizens at birth, and if you were not born here, you can take a test to become a legal citizen. In addition, Ancient Rome only had 8 Supreme Court Judges, whereas we have 9. Finally, when an ancient Roman Senator went into office, he stayed there for life, but in present day America, our Senators serve six year terms.