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Roman republic

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Roman Republic
"The Senate and People of Rome"
Location of Roman Republic

Roman provinces c. 44 BC

Capital Rome
Languages Latin (imperial), Greek (administrative)
Religion Roman polytheism
Demonym Roman
Government Republic
 - 509–508 BC Lucius Junius Brutus, Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus
 - 27 BC Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Legislature Roman assemblies
 - Caesar becomes dictator 44 BC 
 - Total 1,950,000 km²
752,899 sq mi 

The Roman Republic (Latin: RES·PVBLICA·ROMANORVM) was the representative government of Rome and its territories from 510 BC until the establishment of the Roman Empire, sometimes placed at 44 BC (the year of Caesar's appointment as perpetual dictator) or, more commonly, 27 BC (the year that the Roman Senate granted Octavianus the title "Augustus"). The city of Rome stands on the Tiber River very near the west coast of Italy. It marked the northernmost border of the territory in which the Latin language was spoken and the southern edge of Etruria, the territory in which the Etruscan language was spoken.

Governing of the Roman Republic

Julius Caesar

The Roman Republic was governed by a Senate. The Republican Period generated with the overthrow of the Monarchy in 509 BC. This period lasted over 450 years, until about 59 BC, when a series of civil wars led the Republic into the Principate government and propelled Rome into the Imperial Period. The Roman Republic was a stage in ancient Roman civilization that was defined by a republican form of government. As Rome came out of the Republic, it grew into an Empire. It is not precisely known what event or events fueled the ascension into the Empire. Many historians believe that it was the result of two main events. First was the ordainment of Julius Caesar as dictator.

Mark Antony
Octavian known as Caesar Augustus

In 44 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated. After his assassination, Rome descended into over ten years of civil war as well as social and political upheaval. After Caesar's death, his heir Gaius Octavius (also known as Octavian) came to power.

The second turning point was the Battle of Actium. The Battle of Actium was main battle in the Roman civil war between those who followed Octavian and those who followed Mark Antony. The Roman Legion was the backbone of Roman military power. These legions expanded Rome's borders, which would eventually dominate most of Europe and the area around the Mediterranean Sea.

Mark Antony was a general and politician. He was a steadfast supporter of Julius Caesar as a military commander and administrator. Antony and Octavian were allies until a disagreement led to war. The Battle of Actium took place on the Ionian Sea close to the Roman colony of Actium, Greece. It was fought on the September 2, 31 BC. Mark Antony's fleet of ships was led by Cleopatra VII, his lover, as well as the queen of Egypt.

Octavian secured victory, which allowed him to firm his power over Rome. Afterwards, Octavian gained the title of Princeps, which means "first citizen." Shortly after his victory, the Senate gave Octavian yet another title, the title of Augustus, meaning the exalted or holy one. As Augustus Caesar, Octavian would lead Rome from republic, to empire. The exact end of the republic and beginning of the empire is difficult to pinpoint, as citizens of the time did not note or acknowledge the ending of the Republic.

The Reorganization of the Roman Republic

To understand why there was a need for reorganization of the previous Roman republic into something truly more expansive as the Roman empire, there is an important context to understand. For the previous 100 years before Augustus there was a slave revolt in 135-132 BC as well as three Mithridatic wars near the Black Sea region starting around 88-84 BC. Throughout this period the acting Roman generals began to understand the need for their power to assert itself. They began to usurp the Senate and other governmental institutional powers. Through actions such as those by generals and civilian revolts it is clear that a complete change of the current system was bound to happen.

After the First Mithridatic War in 88 BC, Lucius Cornelius Sulla became the first general to seize power and under a year later civil war broke out in Rome. Sulla had effectively canceled out the power of the Senate while dictating what we in the modern world call a military coup. A second Mithridatic war hit in 83-81 BC and power was restored to the Senate a year after the wars end.

As the fall of the Roman republic continued over this 100 year period the Senate handed power to the First Triumvirate, or what is known as a commission of three individuals to carry out decisions of government. It was composed of Pompey, Crassus and Julius Caesar and was created in direct response to a need of establishing ways to defeat another military revolt. No sooner after the formation of the Triumvirate revolt started, not militarily but internal dispute within and Caesar defeated Pompey, winning dictatorship of Rome. The Senate feeling another usurption of their power by way of military force and threat considered this a serious overstepping of bounds by their standards and by their orders they had Julius Caesar assassinated in 45 BC.[1]


Until 250 AD the Roman army was heavily armed and at its pinnacle. The ruling principle during the time of Augustus was one which the armies waited on the outskirts. Emperor Diocletian was chiefly responsible for the reforms resulting in a transformed Roman army. He addressed the main weakness of the current defense system through the creation of a central reserve or the comitatenses, who now enjoyed the highest status among the army. These new units were to be put into legions of one thousand men rather than the old traditional legion.

Roman Legion

Officially legions were 6,000 however the Roman Imperial Army and its legions were usually at 5,300. This was the first professionally trained and full-time payed army in the worlds history. It faced many enemies during its time as the main weapon of expansion for the Roman empire and is the main defending force of the empire in general.

The basic structure of the army is as follows:

  • Contubernium which usually consist of 8 men.
  • Centuria is made up of 10 Contubernium or a total of 80 men commanded by a centurion.
  • Cohorts consist of 6 Centuria or a total of 480 men.
  • Legio or a Legion consists of 10 cohorts as well as 120 man cavalry unit called the Eques Legionis.
Praetorian Guard

The Cohors Praetoria as it was first known is a creation of military politicians that realized the importance of having disciplined guards present when all other defenses have failed. It was first brought into being during Octavian's ascension and it then served directly under the emperor.[2]


  1. Roman History Timeline West Chester University
  2. Roman History Overview UNRV History: Roman Empire

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