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- Created 2012-02-22
) was the period of the
ancient Roman civilization
when the government operated as a
. It began with the overthrow of the
, traditionally dated around 509 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two
, elected annually by the citizens and advised by a
gradually developed, centered on the principles of a
separation of powers
checks and balances
. Except in times of dire national emergency, public offices were limited to one year, so that, in theory at least, no single individual wielded absolute power over his fellow citizens.
Roman society was
. The evolution of the
Constitution of the Roman Republic
was heavily influenced by the struggle between the
, Rome's land-holding aristocracy, who traced their ancestry back to the early history of the Roman kingdom, and the
, the far more numerous citizen-commoners. Over time, the laws that gave patricians exclusive rights to Rome's highest offices were repealed or weakened, and leading plebeian families became full members of the aristocracy. The leaders of the Republic developed a strong
tradition and morality
requiring public service and
in peace and war, making military and political success inextricably linked.
During the first two centuries of its existence the Republic expanded through a combination of conquest and alliance, from central Italy to the entire Italian peninsula. By the following century it included North Africa, the
, Greece, and what is now southern France. Two centuries after that, towards the end of the 1st century BC, it included the rest of modern France, and much of the eastern Mediterranean. By this time, despite the Republic's traditional and lawful constraints against any individual's acquisition of permanent political powers, Roman politics was dominated by a small number of Roman leaders, their uneasy alliances punctuated by a series of
The victor in one of these civil wars,
(later known as Augustus), reformed the Republic as a
, with himself as Rome's "first citizen" (
). The Senate continued to sit and debate. Annual magistrates were elected as before, but final decisions on matters of policy, warfare, diplomacy and appointments were privileged to Augustus through his wielding of a number of separate powers simultaneously. One of his many titles was
from which the title "emperor" is derived, and he is customarily called the first Roman Emperor.
The Republic was never restored, but neither was it ever formally abolished (the term
continued to be used to refer to the state apparatus), so the exact date of the transition to the
is a matter of interpretation. Historians have variously proposed the appointment of
in 44 BC, the defeat of
Battle of Actium
in 31 BC, and the
's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian under the first settlement and his adopting the title
in 27 BC, as the defining
ending the Republic.
Many of Rome's legal and legislative structures can still be observed throughout Europe and much of the world in modern
, the language of the Romans, has influenced language across parts of Europe and the world.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 09 December), licensed under
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