Roman Republic

Definition

by Wikipedia
published on 28 April 2011
Map of 2nd Century Roman Expansion (US Military Academy)

The Roman Republic was the phase of the ancient Roman civilisation characterised by a republican form of government. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, c. 509 BC, and lasted over 450 years until its subversion in 29 BC, through a series of civil wars, into the Principate form of government and the Imperial period.

The Roman Republic was governed by a complex constitution, which centred on the principles of a separation of powers and checks and balances. The Constitution of the Roman Republic was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. It was not formal or even official, as it was largely unwritten, uncodified, and constantly evolving. The evolution of the constitution was heavily influenced by the struggle between the aristocracy (the patricians), and other talented Romans who were not from famous families, the plebeians. Early in its history, the republic was controlled by an aristocracy of individuals who could trace their ancestry back to the early history of the kingdom. Over time, the laws that allowed these individuals to dominate the government were repealed, and the result was the emergence of a new aristocracy which depended on the structure of society, rather than the law, to maintain its dominance.

The Senate's was the highest authority in the Roman Republic, which derived from the esteem and prestige of the Senate. This esteem and prestige was based on both precedent and custom, as well as the high calibre and prestige of the Senators. The Senate passed decrees, the so-called senatus consultum, which was officially "advice" from the Senate to a magistrate. In practice, however, these were usually obeyed by the magistrates. The focus of the Roman Senate was directed towards foreign policy. Though it technically had no official role in the management of military conflict, the Senate ultimately was the force that oversaw such affairs. The requirements for becoming a senator included having at least 100,000 denarii worth of land, being born of the patrician (noble aristocrats) class, and having held public office at least once before. New Senators had to be approved by the sitting members.

Between 500 BC and 300 BC, the Republic saw its territory expand from central Italy to the entire Mediterranean world. In the next century, Rome grew to dominate North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Greece, and what is now southern France. During the last two centuries of the Roman Republic, it grew to dominate the rest of modern France, as well as much of the east.

The precise event which signalled the end of the Roman Republic and the transition into the Roman Empire is a matter of interpretation. Towards the end of the period a selection of Roman leaders came to so dominate the political arena that they exceeded the limitations of the Republic as a matter of course. Historians have variously proposed the appointment of Julius Caesar as perpetual dictator in 44 BC, the defeat of Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and the Roman Senate's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian (Augustus) under the first settlement in 27 BC, as candidates for the defining pivotal event ending the Republic.

Many of Rome's legal and legislative structures can still be observed throughout Europe and the rest of the world by modern nation state and international organisations. The Romans' Latin language has influenced grammar and vocabulary across parts of Europe and the world.



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Timeline

Visual Timeline
  • 753 BCE
    The legendary founding date of Rome.
  • 509 BCE
    Quaestors become a prominent position in the Roman Republic.
  • 484 BCE
    The first temple of Castor & Pollux is dedicated in Rome by Aulus Postumius following his victory over the Latins at the Battle of Lake Regillus.
  • 450 BCE
    The laws of the 'Twelve Tables', the basis of Roman law, are compiled.
  • 450 BCE
    The number of Roman quaestors is increased to four and made open to plebians.
  • c. 440 BCE
    Roman quaestors are chosen by the assembly rather than the consuls.
  • 367 BCE
    Livy mentions Celtic armies in Ancona and one such group moves against Rome once more.
  • 343 BCE - 341 BCE
    First Samnite War (Rome vs. Samnites).
  • 340 BCE - 338 BCE
    Latin War, victory for Rome.
  • 334 BCE
    Rome signs a peace treaty with the Senones tribe.
  • 326 BCE - 304 BCE
    Second Samnite War.
  • 298 BCE - 290 BCE
    Third Samnite War. Victory for Rome, peace with the Etruscans.
  • 297 BCE
    Celts and Samnites join forces and defeat the Romans at Camertium.
  • c. 295 BCE
    In a battle lasting all day, Romans narrowly defeat a force of Celts and Samnites at Sentinum.
  • 285 BCE
    Roman forces heavily defeat the Senones at Lake Vadimo.
  • 285 BCE - 282 BCE
    Rome defeats the Celts in Italy. Rome's dominance in central Italy is secured.
  • 284 BCE
    Gauls of the Insubres and Boii tribes defeat the Romans at Arretium.
  • 283 BCE
    Rome decisively defeats the Senones at Picenum.
  • 283 BCE
    Romans defeat the Etruscans and Celts at lake Vadimonis.
  • 282 BCE
    A Celtic army with many youth among their ranks is again defeated by Romans.
  • 282 BCE - 272 BCE
    Roman war against Tarentum. Rome conquers Tarentum. Rome’s dominance in lower Italy is secured.
  • 280 BCE
    Celts join with Pyrrhus, aiding in his victory over the Romans at Heraclea.
  • 279 BCE
    Celts stay with Pyrrhus and fight in the Epirote army at Asculum, a victory over the Romans.
  • 264 BCE - 241 BCE
    First Punic War. Carthage cedes Sicily to Rome.
  • 241 BCE - 238 BCE
    The rebellion of the mercenaries: Unpaid mercenaries under the leadership of Mathos and Spendios rebel against Carthage. Despite a peace treaty, Rome seizes the opportunity to strip Carthage of Sardinia and Corsica.
  • 229 BCE - 228 BCE
    Rome fights Illyrian pirates. Queen Teuta pays tribute to Rome.
  • 225 BCE
    Two Roman armies surround and defeat a Celtic army at Telamon.
  • 223 BCE
    Romans successfully campaign against Celtic tribes of Cisalpine Gaul.
  • 222 BCE
    Rome conquers Cisalpine Gaul (modern-day Provence, France).
  • 222 BCE
    The Celts are defeated at Clastidium by Roman forces.
  • 219 BCE
    Illyrian coast is under Roman control.
  • 217 BCE
    Victory of Hannibal over the Romans at Lake Trasimene.
  • 216 BCE
    Battle of Cannae. Worst defeat in Roman history, against Carthage.
  • 216 BCE
    "Hannibal ante portas." Hannibal directly threatens the city of Rome, but cannot advance due to lack of supplies and reinforcements.
  • c. 215 BCE - c. 216 BCE
    The Boii crush a Roman army 25,000 strong at Litana. Victory was, in part, achieved by pushing precariously cut trees down atop the horrified Romans as they marched.
  • 214 BCE - 205 BCE
    First Macedonian War: Rome defeats Philip V of Macedon.
  • 207 BCE
    Battle of Metaurus. Carthage loses against Rome and loses control of Iberia (Spain).
  • 204 BCE
    Scipio Africanus sails over to Africa.
  • 202 BCE
    Battle of Zama. The Carthaginian army is defeated, Hannibal flees to Hadrumentum.
  • 201 BCE
    Syracuse joins the Roman Republic, province of Sicily is formed.
  • 200 BCE - 196 BCE
    Second Macedonian War: Roman victory.
  • 193 BCE
    The Boii are defeated by the Romans, suffering, according to Livy, 14,000 dead.
  • 191 BCE
    Antiochus III and his army, including many Galatians, are defeated by Rome at Magnesia.
  • 191 BCE - 134 BCE
    Various resistance movements against Rome in Iberia. Viriato leads the Lusitanians against Rome from 154 to 139 BC.
  • 190 BCE
    Battle of Magnesia ad Sipylum, disastrous defeat for Antiochos III against Romans.
  • c. 189 BCE
    The treaty of Apameea Kibotos. Peace and alliance is established between the Seleucid Kingdom and Rome joined by her allies, such as Pergamon and Rhodes. The Seleucids have to evacuate all the land and the cities from Asia Minor and to pay a huge war indemnity.
  • 172 BCE - 168 BCE
    Third Macedonian War: Perseus of Macedon challenges Rome and is defeated.
  • 149 BCE - 146 BCE
    Third Punic War.
  • 146 BCE
    Rome sacks Corinth and dissolves the Achaean league. Greece is ruled by Rome.
  • 146 BCE
    Roman influence over Greece begins to rise.
  • 137 BCE
    4,000 Celtiberians trap a force of 20,000 Romans at Numantia forcing their surrender.
  • 133 BCE
    Rome captures Numantia. End of Iberian resistance.
  • 133 BCE
    Attalus III, the last king of Pergamon, bequeathes the whole of Pergamon to Rome.
  • 133 BCE
    Numantia falls to the Romans who besiege the oppidum. Mass suicide ensues among many of the survivors. Land reforms by Tiberius Gracchus.
  • 125 BCE
    Rome intervenes on behalf of Massalia against the Saluvii Celts.
  • 121 BCE
    Gallia Narbonensis becomes a Roman province.
  • 113 BCE
    Romans defeated at Noreia by the Cimbri.
  • 109 BCE
    Cimbri defeat a Roman army under Julius Silanus.
  • 106 BCE
    The governor of the Roman province of Macedonia, M. Minucius Rufus, celebrates his victory over a raid of the Dacians allied with the Celtic tribe of the Scordiscii in the Balkans.
  • 106 BCE
    Roman statesman and orator Cicero is born.
  • 105 BCE
    Cimbri, Teutons, and Ambrones are victorious at Arausio killing 60,000 Romans.
  • 102 BCE
    Marius, after reforming the Roman army, defeats the Teutons and Ambrones at Aquae Sextiae.
  • 101 BCE
    At Vercellae the Romans crush the Cimbri who reportedly lose near 100,000.
  • 91 BCE - 89 BCE
    Social War between Rome and her Italian allies. Italians want Roman Citizenship and equal share in power. Only won by Rome by granting the Italian wishes.
  • 88 BCE - 87 BCE
    First Civil War between Marius and Sulla. First march on Rome by Sulla.
  • 88 BCE - 63 BCE
    Mithridatic Wars between Mithridates VI and Roman Republic .
  • 83 BCE
    Sulla's second march on Rome. Mass Proscriptions.
  • 83 BCE
    Pompey fights under the Roman dictator Sulla.
  • 81 BCE
    Sulla is persuaded to give Pompey his first triumph.
  • 72 BCE
    Crixos, a Celt and second in command under Spartacus, is killed. 300 Romans are sacrificed in his honor.
  • 71 BCE
    Pompey is granted his second triumph.
  • 70 BCE
    Pompey and Crassus are made consuls.
  • 67 BCE
    The Gabinian Law is passed, giving Pompey great power to deal with pirates.
  • 66 BCE
    The Manilian Law is passed, giving Pompey great power to deal with Mithridates VI of Pontus.
  • 64 BCE
    The Roman general Pompey defeats the Seleucid Antiochus XIII and incorporates Syria as a province of the Roman empire.
  • 64 BCE
    Galatia becomes a client state of Rome.
  • 62 BCE
    Pompey returns to Italy, and disbands his army upon landing.
  • 60 BCE - 53 BCE
    First Triumvirate' between Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.
  • 58 BCE
    Caesar attacks the Helvetii while on migration and defeats them.
  • 58 BCE - 57 BCE
    Cicero is exiled from Rome.
  • 58 BCE - 51 BCE
  • 56 BCE
    The navies of Rome and the Veneti Gauls clash resulting in a Roman victory. This is the first recorded naval battle in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 55 BCE
    Caesar attempts to invade Britain.
  • 54 BCE
    Caesar successfully invades Britain but withdraws to Gaul.
  • 54 BCE - 53 BCE
    Ambiorix of the Eburones tribe destroys around 9,000 Roman soldiers at Atuatuca.
  • 54 BCE - 43 CE
    Roman influence grows in Britain owing to trade.
  • 53 BCE
    Battle of Carrhae. Crassus is captured and executed by the Parthians.
  • 52 BCE
    Caesar defeated at Gergovia by Vercingetorix.
  • 52 BCE
    After becoming trapped and besieged at Alesia Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar.
  • 51 BCE
    Caesar's capture of Uxellodunum ends the Gallic War.
  • 49 BCE
    Caesar crosses the Rubicon. Civil war between Caesar and Pompey begins.
  • 49 BCE - 48 BCE
    Burebistas sends Acornion of Dionysopolis as ambassador to negotiate an alliance with Pompey.
  • 46 BCE
    The Bellovaci unsuccessfully rise against Roman rule in Belgica.
  • 44 BCE
    The Allobroges unsuccessfully rise against Roman rule in southern Gaul.
  • 44 BCE
    Caesar becomes dictator for life. On the 'Ides of March' (15th) he is killed by conspirators including Brutus and Cassius. Octavian, son of Caesars niece Atia, is posthumously adopted as his heir.
  • 43 BCE
    Roman statesman and orator Cicero dies.
  • 43 BCE - 36 BCE
    Second Roman Triumvirate: Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus (official approvement by Senate). Mass proscriptions including Cicero.
  • 42 BCE
    Octavian and Antony defeat Republicans under Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi (Greece).
  • 36 BCE
    Octavian strips Lepidus of all power but Pontifex Maximus (suppreme priest). Lepidus dies of old age in 12 BC.
  • 33 BCE
    The Belgic Morini and the Celts of Aquitania unsuccessfully rise against Roman rule.
  • 31 BCE
    Octavian defeats Antony and Cleopatra at the sea battle of Actium (Greece). Antony and Cleopatra commit suicide.
  • 27 BCE
    Octavian gets extraordinary powers by the Senate and given the name Augustus.

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