The Roman Republic and the Roman Empire

The amusing foundation of Ancient Rome goes along with its historical evidence and incidents.

In 509 BC, the Roman Republic’s initial outlook brought forth expectations of a new era. Its ultimate downfall devastated public screeches only to be calmed down with the new and improvised Roman Empire in 27 BCE.

The improvements and changes in the Roman Empire brought numerous differences between the two significant periods of history.

The Roman Republic

An image of Rome's first Denarius of 54 BC
An image of Rome’s first Denarius of 54 B.C.

The Roman Republic was initially a polytheistic civilization, where people worshipped multiple gods and goddesses. However, it was prevalent in various monotheistic religions as Christianity but maintained harmony.

Ancient Rome went through a significant growth both in size and immense power during the era of the Roman Republic. 

It was the period of a democratic society and had a constitution led by Consuls with the advice of the Senate. Besides, it favored the constitutional Republic governance style over monarchy. 

It would gradually become difficult for the Roman Republic to function due to its Republic nature.

In general terms, the Republic is defined as the state where the people and their elected representatives hold the supreme power. The Roman Republic, too, was a state of the classical Roman civilization, which was run through the public participation of the Romans.

However, in reality, people had little to no influence on the political changes in the kingdom. The core idea of the Republic was more or less invisible when a few selected individuals had an impact.

The Roman Republic functioned following a ” constitution ” set of papers.” The papers had numerous novel features expected to prevent any autocratic system.

The two most significant features of the constitution were the introduction of a strict “term limit” and collegiality. 

The strict term limit determined the number of people in political positions.

The collegiality policy ensured the participation of two people in each position. 

The entire Roman Republic and some parts of the Roman Empire maintained and considered the constitution very sacred. 

The constitution allowed Ancient Rome to maintain its dominance over the entire world to be considered sacred.

Although it was a Republic period, the Roman Republic, in reality, functioned as a combination of oligarchy (group of people having power and authority to work together) and Republic. 

This period gave birth to some very influential leaders and emperors of Ancient Rome who served during the Roman Republic and impacted the future world.

Roman Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Constantine I, Julius Caesar, Cicero, and Diocletian. 

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These Emperors had an immense role in inventing, developing, and creating significant factors that helped Ancient Rome become one of the most influential civilizations.

Apart from Emperors, this period had a group of governors, consuls, and censors. 

The assemblies elected the governors to oversee the government’s executive powers. 

The two Consuls proposed legislation, led armies and led the government. And, the Censors took the census and selected the senators, the Praetors, and the Tribunes.

However, the newest position was of the dictator. The Romans realized that their Republic would be too slow to respond in a dire situation, so they created the dictator’s emergency. 

Dictators may be elected for six months, during which time the constitution would be revoked, and they would have total power.

The male residents of Rome performed everything from ceremonial obligations to making legislation and choosing administrators.

Three independent assemblies served as the foundation of the Roman Republic’s political system. The Curie, the Centuries, and the Tribes were the three assemblies. 

The Roman Senate was intended to advise these assemblies, but in actuality, the Senate was frequently the true source of policy and authority. 

The Senate’s influence came partly from the fact that it was the only constant governing body and the only one that allowed discussion. 

On the other hand, the assemblies could only vote and approve of the Senate’s policy.

Most of the extensive works was done during the Republic period, and the transition occurred. 

Underneath the burden of the expanding territory, Rome’s intricate political structures began to disintegrate, inaugurating a period of internal strife and bloodshed. 

As big landowners forced small farmers off public property, the divide separating rich and poor increased, while government access became grossly inadequate to the upper crust.

Attempts to solve these societal issues, such as Tiberius’ and Gaius Gracchus’ reform initiatives (in 133 B.C. and 123-22 B.C., respectively), resulted in the reformers’ murders at the swords of their antagonists.

During the 500 years of its rule, it went through a constant state of war. The Punic Wars were a series of battles among Rome and Carthage, a prominent city-state in northern Africa. 

Rome had Sicily, the western Mediterranean, and a substantial chunk of Spain after the first two Punic Wars.

They conquered and demolished Carthage in the Third Punic War (149–146 B.C.), enslaving the city’s occupants into slaves and establishing a Roman province in northern Africa.

As far as expectations were concerned, the Roman Republic was supposed to be more peaceful and justifiable with its foreign policy.

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While both the Roman Republic and Roman Empire equally participated in some brutal and gruesome battles. The centralized power could not control the vast military powers of the Roman Republic, adding to numerous civil wars and political chaos.

However, despite immense growth and the upliftment of Ancient Rome, the Roman Republic ended with the new ruler Augustus. 

The adopted son of Julius Caesar, Augustus, in 27 B.C., began ruling as a sole ruler and made all significant decisions making Ancient Rome an autocratic form of government. 

The Roman Empire

A statue of the first ruler of the Roman Empire - Augustus
A statue of the first ruler of the Roman Empire – Augustus

After the end of the Roman Republic in 27 B.C., the Roman Empire came into existence. 

The Pax Romana, which lasted for the first two decades of the Empire, was a period of exceptional prosperity and security (“Roman Peace”). 

During the Roman Empire, people were more influenced by the idea of Roman Imperial cults that had a belief that Emperors and some members of their families had divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman state. 

The authority made them special and had nothing to do with earthly happenings. The ones with this authority could never be judged by an average person but only by someone with divine authority.

Influenced by the Imperial cult’s beliefs, the Roman Empire preferred absolute monarchy governance and fancied power and authority.

And, The Roman Empire was a fully autocratic system. Here, the power stayed in the hands of the emperor and his family. 

The influential leaders of the Roman Empire were Emperor Caesar Augustus, Claudius, Tiberius, Vespasian, Antonius Pius, Nero, and Aurelian.

These emperors had a vital role in the upliftment of the Roman Empire. They helped the Roman Empire become one of the most powerful Empires of the world with the invention and discoveries.

At the same time, the institutions and culture of Romans had a meaningful and profound influence on the development of linguistics, theology, art, architecture, literature, philosophy, law, and forms of governance.

On the contrary, some Roman Emperors like Domitian and Tiberius behaved inhumanly and made the lives of the Romans difficult.

For instance, the prominent artists had poor social positions among the Romans. They regarded painters, artisans, and craftsmen alike as physical laborers, despite the high value put on works of art. 

However, during the era of Trajan (A.D. 98–117), Rome expanded to its greatest extent. 

With the reign of Commodus (177–192), an era of escalating difficulty and deterioration began. The Gallic Empire and the Palmyrene Empire drifted free from the Roman state in the third century, and the Empire was led by a collection of smaller emperors, frequently from the troops.

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Apart from that, the Romans’ were known for the language and the script they invented. They registered Greek and Latin as their official language.

The Latin language morphed into the medieval and modern Romance languages, whereas Medieval Greek had become the language of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Epidemics were prevalent in the ancient world, and pandemics occasionally committed genocide in the Roman Empire.

The Romans were a sickly people. About 20% of the inhabitants — a sizable proportion by old standards — resided in one of the numerous cities, the greatest of which was Rome, with a demographic of one million.

Life expectancy is estimated to be in the mid-20s, with perhaps more than half of children dying before they become adults. A dense urban population and poor hygiene increased the risk of illness.

 Due to the land-water connections between the vast territories of the Roman Empire, the transmission of infectious diseases from one area to another has become easier and faster than in smaller, geographically restricted societies.

The rich were, however, not immune to unhealthy conditions. Only two of the fourteen descendants of Emperor Marcus Aurelius became adults.

The extended stay of the Roman Empire eventually came to an end, which led to the formation of the Western and Eastern Roman Empire in 476 AD.

Conclusion

Although both the Roman Republic and Roman Empire were significantly contrasting in numerous fields, they had few things in common.

The difference in governance and the similarity in oppression were proof that they were very different yet very similar. Both the Republic and Roman Empire had three types of the general public; women, children, and slaves.

The oppression of people had different names in the two contrasting eras. The Roman Republic used its Republic nature as an excuse and gave power to few individuals. 

The Roman Empire believed in the emperor’s absolute power and had no control whatsoever. In both eras, the people were deprived of all their rights. 

The people in power lived a comfortable quality of life, whereas the oppressed lived to work for their next meal.

The eventual demise of the Republic and Roman Empire came with the succession of another form of new governance with numerous changes.

Despite the differences, both the eras of ancient Rome had their significance in history books.

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