The story

The periods of the history of Rome


The history of Rome is divided into three moments:

  • Monarchic (753-509 BC);
  • Republican (507-27 BC);
  • Imperial (27 BC - 476 AD).

Monarchic Period: the Etruscan domain

Much of the information about the Monarchic period is based on the legends told by the Romans. At this time the city must have been ruled by kings of different origins; the last of Etruscan origins must have dominated the city for about a hundred years.

During the rule of the Etruscans, Rome acquired the city aspect. Several public works were carried out among them, temples, marshes drains and a sewage system.

At this time, Roman society was organized as follows:

  • Patricians or nobles: Descendants of the families that promoted the initial occupation of Rome. They were great land and cattle owners.
  • Commoners: They were usually small farmers, traders, shepherds, and artisans. They constituted the majority of the population and had no political rights.
  • Clients: They were businessmen, intellectuals, or peasants who had an interest in making a public career and who therefore resorted to the protection of some patron, usually a wealthy patrician.
  • Slaves: They were indebted commoners and mainly prisoners of war. They did all kinds of work and were considered material goods. They had no civil or political rights.

The last Etruscan king was Tarquin the Superb. He was deposed in 509 BC, probably for dissatisfying the patricians with measures in favor of the commoners.

In the place of Tarquin, the patricians put in power two magistrates, called consuls. With that, the Monarchic period ended and the Republican period began.

Republican Period

Republic is a word of Latin origin and means "public thing". During the transition from monarchy to republic, it was the patricians who held power and controlled the political institutions. By concentrating religious, political power and justice, they exercised government seeking to benefit.

For the commoners, with no right to political participation, only duties remained, such as paying taxes and serving the army.

Political and social organization in the republic

In the republic, the power formerly exercised by the king was shared by two consuls. They held office for a year and were assisted by a council of 100 citizens, responsible for finance and foreign affairs. This council was named Senate, and it was responsible for promulgating the laws drawn up by the Patrician-dominated Assembly of Citizens.


Reproduction of a session of the Roman Senate

As Rome grew and became powerful, the differences between patricians and commoners widened. Marginalized, the commoners started a struggle against the patricians, which lasted for about two centuries (V-IV BC).

During these two centuries, the commoners won their rights. Among them, to elect their own representatives, called commoner tribunes. The tribunals had the power to veto Senate decisions that were detrimental to the interests of the commoners.

Other achievements were the prohibition of debt enslavement and the establishment of written laws, valid for both patricians and commoners. Until then, in Rome, the laws were not written and the commoners were judged according to the criteria of the patricians. By establishing written laws, the commoners guaranteed a fairer judgment.

The commoners also conquered civil equality, with the authorization of marriage between patricians and commoners; political equality, with the right to elect representatives for various positions, including that of consul; and religious equality, with the right to exercise priestly functions.