Thursday, May 9, 2013

Not so Ritzy Republics- Part 3

Before the Roman Empire, there was the Roman Republic, the first republic in history. For years they lived well, advancing far beyond their contemporaries. Their government worked well because of their balance of power. I'm not going to go over it all because it would take this whole post but I will give the general idea.

Rome had two classes: the Patricians (Upper) and the Plebians (Lower). Then they had three levels of governance: one filled by patricians, one by plebians, and the last (the Senate) by any who had served in the other levels. This made sure that someone spoke for the rich and the poor, not that they simply said they did. They also had an election once a year that one would never want to win. The election was to find the greatest threat the republic and then banish that person for ten years.

Julius Caesar
There was the position of consul that could was held by two people for a year each. In time of crisis, the consuls would elect a dictator. Unlike today, the dictator would only stay in office while there was a crisis (usually a war). They had the right to veto anything and everything, to do as they pleased. Usually they would be elected for a certain number of years, however, most resigned early.

Still, as the years went by, the Senators became greedy. They already served for life and believed they could do as they wanted. Corruption spread (land meant for the poor feed the senators' purses and soldiers returned to Rome only to be homeless) and poverty was found everywhere.

Various dictators came into power to fix the problems, most resigning after only a few months in office. When Julius Caesar came to power, first as a consul and then as a dictator, he was loved by the Roman people. First he had campaigned by speaking with the common people, gaining their support and then out maneuvered every competitor to elections. Re-elected to dictator more than once, each time he extended the length of his term. In his final term, he made himself dictator for life.

Caesar Agustus
As dictator, Julius Caesar strengthened the economy and the Roman borders while fighting personal battles against various acquaintances (including a son-in-law). Now that he had become dictator for life, many in the Senate feared he would crown himself king, taking away any republic power they had. In a Senate session, over sixty senators fell upon and stabbed him to death.

Oddly enough, the actions that were meant to keep Julius Caesar from creating a monarchy instead created an empire. Octavius, the nephew of Julius and adopted son, was made Emporer of Rome, ending the Republic. He was renamed Augustus and took Caesar as his title after the man who laid his career.


Bookishqueen

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