Roman Kingdom

The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history, when the city and its territory were ruled by kings.

Little is certain about the kingdom's history, as no records and few inscriptions from the time of the kings survive, and the accounts of this period written during the Republic and Empire are thought to be based on oral tradition. According to these legends, the Roman Kingdom began with the city's founding circa 753 BC, with settlements around the Palatine Hill along the river Tiber in central Italy, and ended with the overthrow of the kings and the establishment of the Republic circa 509 BC.

Roman Kingdom

753 BC–509 BC
The ancient quarters of Rome
The ancient quarters of Rome
CapitalRome
Common languagesOld Latin
Religion
Roman religion
GovernmentElective monarchy
King 
• 753–716 BC
Romulus
• 715–673 BC
Numa Pompilius
• 673–642 BC
Tullus Hostilius
• 642–616 BC
Ancus Marcius
• 616–579 BC
L. Tarquinius Priscus
• 578–535 BC
Servius Tullius
• 535–509 BC
L. Tarquinius Superbus
Legislature
Historical eraIron Age
753 BC
509 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Alba Longa
Etruscan civilization
Roman Republic
Today part of

Origin

135 Regia tessons etrusques
Shards of terracotta decorative plaques, 6th century BC (Roman Kingdom and Etruscan period), found in the Roman Forum, now in the Diocletian Baths Museum, Rome

The site of the founding of the Roman Kingdom (and eventual Republic and Empire) had a ford where one could cross the river Tiber in central Italy. The Palatine Hill and hills surrounding it provided easily defensible positions in the wide fertile plain surrounding them. Each of these features contributed to the success of the city.

The traditional version of Roman history, which has come down to us principally through Livy (64 or 59 BC-AD 12 or 17), Plutarch (46–120), and Dionysius of Halicarnassus (c. 60 BC – after 7 BC), recounts that a series of seven kings ruled the settlement in Rome's first centuries. The traditional chronology, as codified by Varro (116 BC – 27 BC), allows 243 years for their combined reigns, an average of almost 35 years. Since the work of Barthold Georg Niebuhr, modern scholarship has generally discounted this schema. The Gauls destroyed many of Rome's historical records when they sacked the city after the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC (according to Varro; according to Polybius, the battle occurred in 387/6), and what remained eventually fell prey to time or to theft. With no contemporary records of the kingdom surviving, all accounts of the Roman kings must be carefully questioned.[1]

Monarchy

The kings, excluding Romulus, who according to legend held office by virtue of being the city's founder, were all elected by the people of Rome to serve for life, with none of the kings relying on military force to gain or keep the throne.

The insignia of the kings of Rome were twelve lictors wielding the fasces bearing axes, the right to sit upon a Curule chair, the purple Toga Picta, red shoes, and a white diadem around the head. Of all these insignia, the most important was the purple toga.

Chief Executive

The king was invested with supreme military, executive, and judicial authority through the use of imperium, formally granted to the king by the Comitia Curiata with the passing of the Lex curiata de imperio at the beginning of each king's reign. The imperium of the king was held for life and protected him from ever being brought to trial for his actions. As being the sole owner of imperium in Rome at the time, the king possessed ultimate executive power and unchecked military authority as the commander-in-chief of all Rome's legions. Also, the laws that kept citizens safe from magistrates' misuse of imperium did not exist during the monarchical period.

Another power of the king was the power to either appoint or nominate all officials to offices. The king would appoint a tribunus celerum to serve as both the tribune of Ramnes tribe in Rome and as the commander of the king's personal bodyguard, the Celeres. The king was required to appoint the tribune upon entering office and the tribune left office upon the king's death. The tribune was second in rank to the king and also possessed the power to convene the Curiate Assembly and lay legislation before it.

Another officer appointed by the king was the praefectus urbi, who acted as the warden of the city. When the king was absent from the city, the prefect held all of the king's powers and abilities, even to the point of being bestowed with imperium while inside the city.

The king even received the right to be the only person to appoint patricians to the Senate.

Chief Priest

What is known for certain is that the king alone possessed the right to the auspice on behalf of Rome as its chief augur, and no public business could be performed without the will of the gods made known through auspices. The people knew the king as a mediator between them and the gods (cf. Latin pontifex, "bridge-builder", in this sense, between men and the gods) and thus viewed the king with religious awe. This made the king the head of the national religion and its chief executive. Having the power to control the Roman calendar, he conducted all religious ceremonies and appointed lower religious offices and officers. It is said that Romulus himself instituted the augurs and was believed to have been the best augur of all. Likewise, King Numa Pompilius instituted the pontiffs and through them developed the foundations of the religious dogma of Rome.

Chief Legislator

Under the kings, the Senate and Curiate Assembly had very little power and authority; they were not independent bodies in that they didn't possess the right to meet together and discuss questions of state at their own will. They could only be called together by the king and could only discuss the matters the king laid before them. While the Curiate Assembly did have the power to pass laws that had been submitted by the king, the Senate was effectively an honorary council. It could advise the king on his action but by no means could prevent him from acting. The only thing that the king could not do without the approval of the Senate and Curiate Assembly was to declare war against a foreign nation.

Chief Judge

The king's imperium both granted him military powers and qualified him to pronounce legal judgment in all cases as the chief justice of Rome. Though he could assign pontiffs to act as minor judges in some cases, he had supreme authority in all cases brought before him, both civil and criminal. This made the king supreme in times of both war and peace. While some writers believed there was no appeal from the king's decisions, others believed that a proposal for appeal could be brought before the king by any patrician during a meeting of the Curiate Assembly.

To assist the king, a council advised him during all trials, but this council had no power to control his decisions. Also, two criminal detectives (Quaestores Parricidi) were appointed by him as well as a two-man criminal court (Duumviri Perduellionis) which oversaw cases of treason. According to Livy, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and final king of Rome, judged capital criminal cases without the advice of counsellors, thereby creating fear amongst those who might think to oppose him.[2]

Election of the kings

Whenever a king died, Rome entered a period of interregnum. Supreme power of the state would devolve to the Senate, which was responsible for finding a new king. The Senate would assemble and appoint one of its own members—the interrex—to serve for a period of five days with the sole purpose of nominating the next king of Rome. If no king were nominated at the end of five days, with the Senate's consent the interrex would appoint another Senator to succeed him for another five-day term. This process would continue until a new king was elected. Once the interrex found a suitable nominee to the kingship, he would bring the nominee before the Senate and the Senate would review him. If the Senate passed the nominee, the interrex would convene the Curiate Assembly and preside over it during the election of the King.

Once proposed to the Curiate Assembly, the people of Rome could either accept or reject him. If accepted, the king-elect did not immediately enter office. Two other acts still had to take place before he was invested with the full regal authority and power.

First, it was necessary to obtain the divine will of the gods respecting his appointment by means of the auspices, since the king would serve as high priest of Rome. This ceremony was performed by an augur, who conducted the king-elect to the citadel where he was placed on a stone seat as the people waited below. If found worthy of the kingship, the augur announced that the gods had given favorable tokens, thus confirming the king’s priestly character.

The second act which had to be performed was the conferral of the imperium upon the king. The Curiate Assembly’s previous vote only determined who was to be king, and had not by that act bestowed the necessary power of the king upon him. Accordingly, the king himself proposed to the Curiate Assembly a law granting him imperium, and the Curiate Assembly by voting in favor of the law would grant it.

In theory, the people of Rome elected their leader, but the Senate had most of the control over the process.

Senate

According to legend, Romulus established the Senate after he founded Rome by personally selecting the most noble men (wealthy men with legitimate wives and children) to serve as a council for the city. As such, the Senate was the King’s advisory council as the Council of State. The Senate was composed of 300 Senators, with 100 Senators representing each of the three ancient tribes of Rome: the Ramnes (Latins), Tities (Sabines), and Luceres (Etruscans) tribes. Within each tribe, a Senator was selected from each of the tribe's ten curiae. The king had the sole authority to appoint the Senators, but this selection was done in accordance with ancient custom.

Under the monarchy, the Senate possessed very little power and authority as the king held most of the political power of the state and could exercise those powers without the Senate's consent. The chief function of the Senate was to serve as the king’s council and be his legislative coordinator. Once legislation proposed by the king passed the Comitia Curiata, the Senate could either veto it or accept it as law. The king was, by custom, to seek the advice of the Senate on major issues. However, it was left to him to decide what issues, if any, were brought before them and he was free to accept or reject their advice as he saw fit. Only the king possessed the power to convene the Senate, except during the interregnum, during which the Senate possessed the authority to convene itself.

Kings of Rome

Years BC
Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Year King Other notable information
753–717 BC Romulus Myth of Romulus and Remus; founder of Rome; established Roman Senate, army, first religious institutions.
716–673 BC Numa Pompilius Established many of Rome's most important religious and political institutions; introduced twelve-month solar calendar.
673–642 BC Tullus Hostilius Defeated and destroyed Alba Longa; integrated the noble Alban families into the Roman aristocracy.
640–616 BC Ancus Marcius Established port of Ostia; defeated the Sabines.
616–579 BC Tarquinius Priscus Expanded Roman hegemony over Latium; doubled membership in the Senate to 600; drained the Roman Forum, and constructed the Cloaca Maxima and the Circus Maximus.
578–535 BC Servius Tullius Established the Servian Tribes and the centuries; built the Temple of Diana and a new wall around the city; instituted the Compitalia.
535–509 BC Tarquinius Superbus Last King of Rome; overthrew Servius; conquered various Latin cities and established colonies; built the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus; deposed and Roman Republic established.

Romulus

Rome in 753 BC
A map of Rome in 753 BC. Colors show topography, with green lowlands and red highlands. The Latin names of hills are included in all caps.

The legendary Romulus was Rome's first king and the city's founder. After he and his twin brother Remus had deposed King Amulius of Alba and reinstated the king's brother and their grandfather Numitor to the throne, they decided to build a city in the area where they had been abandoned as infants. After Remus was killed in a dispute, Romulus began building the city on the Palatine Hill. His work began with fortifications. He permitted men of all classes to come to Rome as citizens, including slaves and freemen without distinction.[3] He is credited with establishing the city's religious, legal and political institutions. The kingdom was established by unanimous acclaim with him at the helm when Romulus called the citizenry to a council for the purposes of determining their government.[4]

Romulus established the senate as an advisory council with the appointment of 100 of the most noble men in the community. These men he called patres (from pater, father, head), and their descendants became the patricians. To project command, he surrounded himself with attendants, in particular the twelve lictors.[4][5] He created three divisions of horsemen (equites), called centuries: Ramnes (Romans), Tities (after the Sabine king) and Luceres (Etruscans). He also divided the populace into 30 curiae, named after 30 of the Sabine women who had intervened to end the war between Romulus and Tatius. The curiae formed the voting units in the popular assemblies (Comitia Curiata).[6]

Platner - Ancient Rome city growth
Growth of the city region during the kingdom

Romulus was behind one of the most notorious acts in Roman history, the incident commonly known as the rape of the Sabine women. To provide his citizens with wives, Romulus invited the neighboring tribes to a festival in Rome where the Romans committed a mass abduction of young women from among the attendees. Several wars were fought in the aftermath. Finally, after the women themselves intervened to end the Battle of the Lacus Curtius, the last war—with the Sabines—ended. The two peoples were united in a joint kingdom, with Romulus and the Sabine king Titus Tatius sharing the throne.[7]

In addition to the war with the Sabines, Romulus waged war with the Fidenates and Veientes and others.[8] He reigned for thirty-seven [9] or thirty-eight [10] years.

According to the legend, Romulus vanished at age fifty-four [11] while reviewing his troops on the Campus Martius. He was reported to have been taken up to Mt. Olympus in a whirlwind and made a god. After initial acceptance by the public, rumors and suspicions of foul play by the patricians began to grow. In particular, some thought that members of the nobility had murdered him, dismembered his body, and buried the pieces on their land.[12] These were set aside after an esteemed nobleman testified that Romulus had come to him in a vision and told him that he was the god Quirinus.[13] He became, not only one of the three major gods of Rome, but the very likeness of the city itself.

Numa Pompilius

After Romulus died, there was an interregnum for one year, during which ten men chosen from the senate governed Rome as successive interreges. Eventually, the senate chose the Sabine Numa Pompilius, to succeed Romulus, on account of his reputation for justice and piety.[14]

Numa’s reign was marked by peace and religious reform. He constructed a new temple to Janus and, after establishing peace with Rome's neighbours, closed the doors of the temple to indicate a state of peace. They remained closed for the rest of his reign.[15]

He established the Vestal Virgins at Rome, as well as the Salii, and the flamines for Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus. He also established the office and duties of Pontifex Maximus.[16]

Numa reformed the Roman calendar by adjusting it for the solar and lunar year, as well as by adding the months of January and February to bring the total number of months to twelve.[15]

Numa reigned for 43 years.

Tullus Hostilius

Tullus Hostilius was warlike as Romulus had been and completely unlike Numa as he lacked any respect for the gods. Tullus waged war against Alba Longa, Fidenae and Veii and the Sabines. During Tullus's reign, the city of Alba Longa was completely destroyed and Tullus integrated its population into Rome.

Tullus is attributed with constructing a new home for the Senate, the Curia Hostilia, which survived for 562 years after his death.

According to Livy, Tullus neglected the worship of the gods until, towards the end of his reign, he fell ill and became superstitious. However, when Tullus called upon Jupiter and begged assistance, Jupiter responded with a bolt of lightning that burned the king and his house to ashes.[17]

His reign lasted for 31 years.

Ancus Marcius

Following the mysterious death of Tullus, the Romans elected a peaceful and religious king in his place, Numa’s grandson, Ancus Marcius. Much like his grandfather, Ancus did little to expand the borders of Rome and only fought wars to defend the territory. He also built Rome's first prison on the Capitoline Hill.

Ancus further fortified the Janiculum Hill on the western bank, and built the first bridge across the Tiber River. He also founded the port of Ostia on the Tyrrhenian Sea and established Rome’s first salt works. Rome grew, as Ancus used diplomacy to peacefully unite smaller surrounding cities into alliance with Rome. Thus, he completed the conquest of the Latins and relocated them to the Aventine Hill, thus forming the plebeian class of Romans.

He died a natural death, like his grandfather, after 25 years as king, marking the end of Rome's Latin-Sabine kings.

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus was the fifth king of Rome and the first of Etruscan birth. After immigrating to Rome, he gained favor with Ancus, who later adopted him as son. Upon ascending the throne, he waged wars against the Sabines and Etruscans, doubling the size of Rome and bringing great treasures to the city.

One of his first reforms was to add 100 new members to the Senate from the conquered Etruscan tribes, bringing the total number of senators to 200. He used the treasures Rome had acquired from the conquests to build great monuments for Rome. Among these were Rome’s great sewer systems, the Cloaca Maxima, which he used to drain the swamp-like area between the Seven Hills of Rome. In its place, he began construction on the Roman Forum. He also founded the Roman games.

Priscus initiated great building projects. The most famous is the Circus Maximus, a giant stadium for chariot races. After that, he started the building of the temple-fortress to the god Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. However, before it was completed, he was killed by a son of Ancus Marcius, after 38 years as king. His reign is best remembered for introducing the Roman symbols of military and civil offices, and the Roman triumph, being the first Roman to celebrate one.

Servius Tullius

Las cuatro regiones de Roma
A map of the City of the Four Regions, roughly corresponding to the city limits during the later kingdom. The division is traditionally, though probably incorrectly, attributed to Servius Tullius. The seven hills of Rome are shown in green, with Latin names.

Priscus was succeeded by his son-in-law Servius Tullius, Rome's second king of Etruscan birth, and the son of a slave. Like his father-in-law, Servius fought successful wars against the Etruscans. He used the booty to build the first wall all around the Seven Hills of Rome, the pomerium. He also reorganized the army.

Servius Tullius instituted a new constitution, further developing the citizen classes. He instituted Rome's first census which divided the population into five economic classes, and formed the Centuriate Assembly. He used the census to divide the population into four urban tribes based on location, thus establishing the Tribal Assembly. He also oversaw the construction of the temple to Diana on the Aventine Hill.

Servius’ reforms made a big change in Roman life: voting rights based on socio-economic status, favoring elites. However, over time, Servius increasingly favored the poor in order to gain support from plebs, often at the expense of patricians. After a 44-year reign, Servius was killed in a conspiracy by his daughter Tullia and her husband Lucius Tarquinius Superbus.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus

The seventh and final king of Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. He was the son of Priscus and the son-in-law of Servius whom he and his wife had killed.

Tarquinius waged a number of wars against Rome's neighbours, including against the Volsci, Gabii and the Rutuli. He also secured Rome's position as head of the Latin cities. He also engaged in a series of public works, notably the completion of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, and works on the Cloaca Maxima and the Circus Maximus.

However, Tarquin's reign is remembered for his use of violence and intimidation to control Rome, and his disrespect of Roman custom and the Roman Senate.

Tensions came to a head when the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, raped Lucretia, wife and daughter to powerful Roman nobles. Lucretia told her relatives about the attack, and committed suicide to avoid the dishonour of the episode. Four men, led by Lucius Junius Brutus, and including Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, Publius Valerius Poplicola, and Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus incited a revolution that deposed and expelled Tarquinius and his family from Rome in 509 BC.

Tarquin was viewed so negatively that the word for king, rex, held a negative connotation in Latin language until the fall of the Roman Empire.

Brutus and Collatinus became Rome's first consuls, marking the beginning of the Roman Republic. This new government would survive for the next 500 years until the rise of Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, and would cover a period during which Rome's authority and area of control extended to cover great areas of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Public offices after the monarchy

Capitoline Brutus Musei Capitolini MC1183
The Capitoline Brutus, an ancient Roman bust from the Capitoline Museums is traditionally identified as a portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus

To replace the leadership of the kings, a new office was created with the title of consul. Initially, the consuls possessed all of the king’s powers in the form of two men, elected for a one-year term, who could veto each other's actions. Later, the consuls’ powers were broken down further by adding other magistrates that each held a small portion of the king’s original powers. First among these was the praetor, which removed the consuls’ judicial authority from them. Next came the censor, which stripped from the consuls the power to conduct the census.

The Romans instituted the idea of a dictatorship. A dictator would have complete authority over civil and military matters within the Roman imperium, and was not legally responsible for his actions as a dictator and therefore was unquestionable. However, the power of the dictator was so absolute that Ancient Romans were hesitant in electing one, reserving this decision only to times of severe emergencies. Although this seems similar to the roles of a king, dictators of Rome were limited to serving a maximum six-month term limit. Contrary to the modern notion of a dictator as a usurper, Roman Dictators were freely chosen, usually from the ranks of consuls, during turbulent periods when one-man rule proved more efficient.

The king's religious powers were given to two new offices: the Rex Sacrorum and the Pontifex Maximus. The Rex Sacrorum was the de jure highest religious official for the Republic. His sole task was to make the annual sacrifice to Jupiter, a privilege that had been previously reserved for the king. The Pontifex Maximus, however, was the de facto highest religious official, who held most of the king’s religious authority. He had the power to appoint all Vestal Virgins, flamens, pontiffs, and even the Rex Sacrorum himself. By the beginning of the 1st century BC, the Rex Sacrorum was all but forgotten and the Pontifex Maximus given almost complete religious authority over the Roman religion.

Notes

  1. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1991). Asimov's Chronology of the World. New York: HarperCollins. p. 69. ISBN 0-06-270036-7.
  2. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.49
  3. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:8
  4. ^ a b "Titus Livius (Livy), The History of Rome, Book 1, chapter 8". www.perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  5. ^ He may have chosen this number from the number of the birds who foretold his sovereignty
  6. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:8, 13
  7. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:9–13
  8. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:14–15
  9. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.21
  10. ^ Plutarch Life of Romulus 29.7
  11. ^ Plutarch Life of Romulus 29.7
  12. ^ Livy Ab Urbe Book I ch.16
  13. ^ Plutarch Life of Romulus Book I ch. 28
  14. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:17–18
  15. ^ a b Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:19
  16. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:20
  17. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:31

References

Further reading

  • Forsythe, Gary. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
  • Livy, Aubrey De Sélincourt, R. M Ogilvie, and S. P Oakley. The Early History of Rome: Books I-V of The History of Rome From Its Foundations. London: Penguin Books, 2002.
  • Miles, Gary B. Livy: Reconstructing Early Rome. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995.
  • Neel, Jaclyn. Early Rome: Myth and Society: A Sourcebook. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.
  • Ogilvie, R. M. Early Rome and the Etruscans. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1976.

External links

Ab urbe condita

Ab urbe condita (Latin pronunciation: [ab ˈʊrbɛ ˈkɔndɪtaː]), or Anno urbis conditæ (Latin pronunciation: [ˈannoː ˈʊrbɪs ˈkɔndɪtae̯]), often abbreviated as AUC in either case, is a convention that was used in antiquity and by classical historians to refer to a given year in Ancient Rome. Ab urbe condita literally means "from the founding of the City," while anno urbis conditæ means "in the year since the City's founding." Therefore, the traditional year of the foundation of Rome, 753 BC, would be written AUC 1, while AD 1 would be AUC 754. The foundation of the Empire in 27 BC would be AUC 727.

Usage of the term was more common during the Renaissance, when editors sometimes added AUC to Roman manuscripts they published, giving the false impression that the convention was commonly used in antiquity. In reality, the dominant method of identifying years in Roman times was to name the two consuls who held office that year. In late antiquity, regnal years were also in use, as was the Diocletian era in Roman Egypt after AD 293, and in the Byzantine Empire after AD 537, following a decree by Justinian.

Constitution of the Roman Kingdom

The Constitution of the Roman Kingdom was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles originating mainly through precedent. During the years of the Roman Kingdom, the constitutional arrangement was centered on the king, who had the power to appoint assistants, and delegate to them their specific powers. The Roman Senate, which was dominated by the aristocracy, served as the advisory council to the king. Often, the king asked the Senate to vote on various matters, but he was free to ignore any advice they gave him. The king could also request a vote on various matters by the popular assembly (the "Curiate Assembly"), which he was also free to ignore. The popular assembly functioned as a vehicle through which the People of Rome could express their opinions. In it, the people were organized according to their respective curiae. However, the popular assembly did have other functions. For example, it was a forum used by citizens to hear announcements. It could also serve as a trial court for both civil and criminal matters.

Executive magistrates of the Roman Kingdom

The executive magistrates of the Roman Kingdom were elected officials of the ancient Roman Kingdom. During the period of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman King was the principal executive magistrate. His power, in practice, was absolute. He was the chief executive, chief priest, chief lawgiver, chief judge, and the sole commander-in-chief of the army. He had the sole power to select his own assistants, and to grant them their powers. Unlike most other ancient monarchs, his powers rested on law and legal precedent, through a type of statutory authorization known as "Imperium" (Latin: "Command"). He could only receive these powers through the political process of a democratic election, and could theoretically be removed from office. As such, he could not pass his powers to an heir upon his death, and he typically received no divine honors or recognitions. When the king died, his power reverted to the Roman Senate, which then chose an Interrex to facilitate the election of a new king. The new king was then formally elected by the People of Rome, and, upon the acquiescence of the Roman Senate, he was granted his Imperium by the people through the popular assembly.

Founding of Rome

The tale of the Founding of Rome is recounted in traditional stories handed down by the ancient Romans themselves as the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth. The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, twins who were suckled by a she-wolf as infants in the 8th century BC. Another account, set earlier in time, claims that the Roman people are descended from Trojan War hero Aeneas, who escaped to Italy after the war, and whose son, Iulus, was the ancestor of the family of Julius Caesar. The archaeological evidence of human occupation of the area of modern-day Rome, Italy dates from about 14,000 years ago.

Imperator

The Latin word imperator derives from the stem of the verb imperare, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to commander under the Roman Republic. Later it became a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen. The English word emperor derives from imperator via Old French Empereür. The Roman emperors themselves generally based their authority on multiple titles and positions, rather than preferring any single title. Nevertheless, imperator was used relatively consistently as an element of a Roman ruler's title throughout the principate (derived from princeps, from which prince in English is derived) and the dominate. In Latin, the feminine form of Imperator is imperatrix.

Interrex

The interrex (plural interreges) was literally a ruler "between kings" (Latin inter reges) during the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic. He was in effect a short-term regent.

The office of interrex was supposedly created following the death of Rome's first king Romulus, and thus its origin is obscured by legend. The Senate of the Roman Kingdom was at first unable to choose a new king. For the purpose of continuing the government of the city, the senate, which then consisted of one hundred members, was divided into ten decuriae (groups of ten); and from each of these decuriae one senator was nominated as decurio. Each of the ten decuriones in succession held the regal power and its badges for five days as interrex; and if no king had been appointed at the expiration of fifty days, the rotation began anew. The period during which they exercised their power was called an interregnum, and on that occasion lasted for one year, after which Numa Pompilius was elected as the new king.After the death of each subsequent king an interrex was appointed by the senate. His function was to call a meeting of the Comitia Curiata which would elect a new king.Under the Republic, interreges were appointed to hold the comitia for the election of the consuls when the consuls, through civil commotion or other cause such as death, had been unable to do so during their year of office. Each interrex held the office for only five days, as under the kings. The comitia were, as a general rule, not held by the first interrex, who was originally the curio maximus, but more usually by the second or third; but in one instance we read of an eleventh, and in another of a fourteenth interrex. The comitia to elect the first consuls were held by Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus as interrex was also called praefectus urbis. The interreges under the republic, at least from 482 BC, were elected by the senate from its whole body, and were not confined to the decem primi or ten chief senators as under the kings. Plebeians, however, were not admissible to this office; and consequently when the senate included plebeians, the patrician senators met together without the plebeian members to elect an interrex. For this reason, as well as on account of the influence which the interrex exerted in the election of the magistrates, we find that the tribunes of the plebs were strongly opposed to the appointment of an interrex. The interrex had jurisdictio.Interreges continued to be appointed occasionally until the time of the Second Punic War. After that no interrex was appointed until the senate, by command of Sulla, named L. Valerius Flaccus to hold the comitia for his election as Dictator in 82 BC. In 55 BC another interrex was appointed to hold the comitia in which Pompey and Crassus were elected consuls. There were interreges in 53 and 52 BC; in 52 an interrex held the comitia in which Pompey was appointed sole consul.

Kingdom of Soissons

In historiography, the Kingdom or Domain of Soissons refers to a rump state of the Western Roman Empire in northern Gaul, between the Somme and the Seine, that lasted for some twenty-five years during Late Antiquity. The rulers of the rump state, notably its final ruler Syagrius, were referred to as "Kings of the Romans" (Latin: rex Romanorum) by the Germanic peoples surrounding Soissons, with the polity itself being identified as the Regnum Romanorum, "Kingdom of the Romans", by the Gallo-Roman historian Gregory of Tours. Whether this title was used by Syagrius himself, who claimed to be governing a Roman province and not a state independent from central imperial authority, or was applied to him by the barbarians surrounding his realm in a similar way to how they referred to their own leaders as kings is unknown.The emergence of the Domain of Soissons began when Emperor Majorian (457–461) appointed Aegidius as magister militum of Roman Gaul. When Majorian was killed on the orders of Ricimer in 461, Aegidius maintained his own rule in the remnants of Roman Gaul that came to be known as the Domain or Kingdom of Soissons. In the chaos of contemporary Gaul, he maintained his power against Franks to his east and Visigoths to his south; his relations to the Romano-British of Brittany may have been friendly. Aegidius died in 464 or 465. His son Syagrius succeeded to the rule. In 486 Syagrius lost the Battle of Soissons to the Frankish king Clovis I and the domain was thereafter under the control of the Franks.

Lictor

A lictor (possibly from Latin: ligare, "to bind") was a Roman civil servant who was a bodyguard to magistrates who held imperium. Lictors were used since the Roman Kingdom, and according to Roman historian Livy, the custom may have originated earlier, in the Etruscan civilization.

List of films set in ancient Rome

This page lists films set in the city of Rome during the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic or the Roman Empire. Where films are only partly set in Rome, they are so noted.

Mauro-Roman Kingdom

The Mauro-Roman Kingdom (Latin: Regnum Maurorum et Romanorum) was an independent Christian Berber kingdom centered on the city of Altava which controlled much of the ancient Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis, located in present-day northern Algeria. The kingdom was first formed in the fifth century as Roman control over the province weakened and Imperial resources had to be concentrated elsewhere, notably in defending the Italian Peninsula itself from invading Germanic tribes.

The rulers of the Mauro-Roman Kingdom would repeatedly come into conflict with the Vandals of the neighbouring Vandalic Kingdom, which had been established following the Vandalic conquest of the Roman province of Africa. King Masuna of the Moors and Romans would ally with the armies of the Eastern Roman Empire during their reconquest of Northern Africa in the Vandalic War. Following the Eastern Roman victory over the Vandals, the Mauro-Roman Kingdom would maintain its alliance with the Eastern Roman Empire, assisting it in wars against invading Berbers of other tribes and kingdoms, such as the Kingdom of the Aures.

Eventually, the diplomatic ties between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Mauro-Roman Kingdom would break down. King Garmul would invade the Eastern Roman Praetorian Prefecture of Africa in an attempt at capturing Roman territories. His defeat in 578 AD led almost immediately to the end of the Mauro-Roman Kingdom, which was fragmented and partially reincorporated into the Roman Empire.

The kingdom was succeeded by some smaller romanized Berber successor states, such as the Kingdom of Altava. These petty kingdoms would last in the Maghreb until the conquest of the region by the Umayyad Caliphate in the seventh and eighth centuries.

Overthrow of the Roman monarchy

The overthrow of the Roman monarchy, a political revolution in ancient Rome, took place around 509 BC and resulted in the expulsion of the last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, and the establishment of the Roman Republic.

The semi-legendary Roman histories

tell that while the king was away on campaign, his son Sextus Tarquinius raped a noblewoman, Lucretia. Afterwards she revealed the offence to various Roman noblemen, and then committed suicide. The Roman noblemen, led by Lucius Junius Brutus, obtained the support of the Roman aristocracy and the people to expel the king and his family and to institute a republic. The Roman army supported Brutus, and the king went into exile. Despite a number of attempts by Lucius Tarquinius Superbus to reinstate the monarchy, the citizens established a republic and thereafter elected two consuls annually to rule the city.

Plebeian Council

The Concilium Plebis (English: Plebeian Council or Plebeian Assembly) was the principal assembly of the ancient Roman Republic. It functioned as a legislative assembly, through which the plebeians (commoners) could pass laws, elect magistrates, and try judicial cases. The Plebeian Council was originally organized on the basis of the Curia. Thus, it was originally a "Plebeian Curiate Assembly". The Plebeian Council usually met in the well of the comitium and could only be convoked by the Tribune of the Plebs. The assembly elected the Tribunes of the Plebs and the plebeian aediles, and only the plebeians were allowed to vote.

Political history of the Roman military

Rome's military was always tightly keyed to its political system. In the Roman kingdom the social standing of a person impacted both his political and military roles. The political system was from an early date based upon competition within the ruling elite. Senators in the Republic competed fiercely for public office, the most coveted of which was the post of Consul. Two were elected each year to head the government of the state, and would be assigned a consular army and an area in which to campaign. From Gaius Marius and Sulla onwards, control of the army began to be tied into the political ambitions of individuals, leading to the political triumvirate of the 1st century BC and its military resolution. The late Republic and Empire was increasingly plagued by usurpations led by or supported by the military, leading to the crisis of the third century in the late empire.

Quirinus

In Roman mythology and religion, Quirinus (; Latin: Quirīnus, [kʷɪˈriːnʊs]) is an early god of the Roman state. In Augustan Rome, Quirinus was also an epithet of Janus, as Janus Quirinus. His name may be derived from the Sabine word quiris "spear".

Roman Constitution

The Roman Constitution was an uncodified set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. The Roman constitution was not formal or even official, largely unwritten and constantly evolving. Having those characteristics, it was therefore more like the British and United States common law system than a sovereign law system like the English Constitutions of Clarendon and Great Charter or the United States Constitution, even though the constitution's evolution through the years was often directed by passage of new laws and repeal of older ones.

Concepts that originated in the Roman constitution live on in both forms of government to this day. Examples include checks and balances, the separation of powers, vetoes, filibusters, quorum requirements, term limits, impeachments, the powers of the purse, and regularly scheduled elections. Even some lesser used modern constitutional concepts, such as the bloc voting found in the electoral college of the United States, originate from ideas found in the Roman constitution.

Over the years, the Roman constitution continuously evolved. By the late 5th century BC, the Constitution of the Roman Kingdom had given way to the Constitution of the Roman Republic. By 27 BC, the Constitution of the Roman Republic had transformed into the Constitution of the Roman Empire. By 300 AD, the Constitution of the Roman Empire had been reformed into the Constitution of the Late Roman Empire. The actual changes, however, were quite gradual. Together, these four constitutions formed four epochs in the continuous evolution of one master constitution.

Roman Senate

The Roman Senate (Latin: Senātus Rōmānus) was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome, (traditionally founded in 753 BC). It survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, and the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries.

During the days of the kingdom, it was little more than an advisory council to the king. The last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was overthrown following a coup d'état led by Lucius Junius Brutus, who founded the Roman Republic. During the early Republic, the Senate was politically weak, while the various executive magistrates were quite powerful. Since the transition from monarchy to constitutional rule was most likely gradual, it took several generations before the Senate was able to assert itself over the executive magistrates. By the middle Republic, the Senate had reached the apex of its republican power. The late Republic saw a decline in the Senate's power, which began following the reforms of the tribunes Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.

After the transition of the Republic into the Principate, the Senate lost much of its political power as well as its prestige. Following the constitutional reforms of the Emperor Diocletian, the Senate became politically irrelevant. When the seat of government was transferred out of Rome, the Senate was reduced to a purely municipal body. This decline in status was reinforced when the emperor Constantine the Great created an additional senate in Constantinople.

After Romulus Augustulus was deposed in 476 the Senate in the West functioned under the rule of Odovacer, 476–489 and during Ostrogothic rule, 489–535. It was restored after the reconquest of Italy by Justinian I. However, the Senate in Rome ultimately disappeared at some point after AD 603 (the year in which the last known senator was mentioned). Despite this, the title "senator" was still used well into the Middle Ages as a largely meaningless honorific. However, the Eastern Senate survived in Constantinople, until the ancient institution finally vanished there, c. 14th century.

Roman assemblies

The Roman Assemblies were institutions in ancient Rome. They functioned as the machinery of the Roman legislative branch, and thus (theoretically at least) passed all legislation. Since the assemblies operated on the basis of direct democracy, ordinary citizens, and not elected representatives, would cast all ballots. The assemblies were subject to strong checks on their power by the executive branch and by the Roman Senate. Laws were passed (and magistrates elected) by Curia (in the Curiate Assembly), Tribes (in the Tribal Assembly), and Centuries (in the Centuriate Assembly).

When the city of Rome was founded (traditionally dated at 753 BC), a senate and an assembly, the Curiate Assembly, were both created. The Curiate Assembly was the principal legislative assembly during the era of the Roman Kingdom. While its primary purpose was to elect new kings, it also possessed rudimentary legislative powers. Shortly after the founding of the Roman Republic (traditionally dated to 509 BC), the principal legislative authority shifted to two new assemblies, the Tribal Assembly ("Citizen's Assembly") and the Centuriate Assembly. Eventually, most legislative powers were transferred to another assembly, the Plebeian Council ("Assembly of the Commoners"). Ultimately, it was the Plebeian Council that disrupted the balance between the senate, the legislative branch, and the executive branch. This led to the collapse of the republic, and the founding of the Roman Empire in 27 BC. Under the empire, the powers that had been held by the assemblies were transferred to the senate. While the assemblies eventually lost their last semblance of political power, citizens continued to gather into them for organizational purposes. Eventually, however, the assemblies were ultimately abandoned.

Roman magistrate

The Roman magistrates were elected officials in Ancient Rome.

During the period of the Roman Kingdom, the King of Rome was the principal executive magistrate. His power, in practice, was absolute. He was the chief priest, lawgiver, judge, and the sole commander of the army. When the king died, his power reverted to the Roman Senate, which then chose an Interrex to facilitate the election of a new king.

During the transition from monarchy to republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the executive (the Roman king) to the Roman Senate. When the Roman Republic was founded in 509 BC, the powers that had been held by the king were transferred to the Roman consuls, of which two were to be elected each year. Magistrates of the republic were elected by the people of Rome, and were each vested with a degree of power called "major powers" (maior potestas). Dictators had more "major powers" than any other magistrate, and after the Dictator was the censor, and then the consul, and then the praetor, and then the curule aedile, and then the quaestor. Any magistrate could obstruct ("veto") an action that was being taken by a magistrate with an equal or lower degree of magisterial powers. By definition, plebeian tribunes and plebeian aediles were technically not magistrates since they were elected only by the plebeians, and as such, they were independent of all other powerful magistrates.

During the transition from republic to the Roman empire, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the Roman Senate back to the executive (the Roman Emperor). Theoretically, the senate elected each new emperor; in practice each emperor chose his own successor, though the choice was often overruled by the army or civil war. The powers of an emperor (his imperium) existed, in theory at least, by virtue of his legal standing. The two most significant components to an emperor's imperium were the "tribunician powers" and the "proconsular powers". In theory at least, the tribunician powers (which were similar to those of the plebeian tribunes under the old republic) gave the emperor authority over Rome's civil government, while the proconsular powers (similar to those of military governors, or proconsuls, under the old republic) gave him authority over the Roman army. While these distinctions were clearly defined during the early empire, eventually they were lost, and the emperor's powers became less constitutional and more monarchical. The traditional magistracies that survived the fall of the republic were the consulship, praetorship, plebeian tribunate, aedileship, quaestorship, and military tribunate. Mark Antony abolished the offices of dictator and Master of the Horse during his Consulship in 44 BC, while the offices of Interrex and Roman censor were abolished shortly thereafter.

Roman–Etruscan Wars

The Roman–Etruscan Wars were a series of wars fought between ancient Rome (including both the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic) and the Etruscans, from the earliest stages of the history of Rome. Information about many of the wars is limited, particularly those in the early parts of Rome's history, and in large part is known from ancient texts alone.

Epochs
Constitution
Law
Government
Magistrates
Military
Economy
Culture
Society
Technology
Latin
Writers
Major cities
Lists and other
topics
History
Geography
Politics
Economy
Society
Ancient Rome
Roman Kingdom
Roman Republic
Roman Empire
Miscellaneous
Etruscan civilization
Ancient Rome
Medieval
and
Early Modern
states
French Revolutionary
and Napoleonic eras
(1792–1815)
Post-Napoleonic
states

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.