The Rise of the Roman Senate Essay

This essay has a total of 1685 words and 9 pages.

The Rise of the Roman Senate



The history of the Roman Senate can be broken up into three parts. The first part is the
Senate in the early times of Rome. The second part is the Senate during the later
Republic. Finally, the third part is the Senate in the first century. These three parts
show how the Roman Senate went from a respectful power to a corrupt power.


Rome's early government was a monarchy. A monarchy is a government in which the supreme
power is actually lodged in a monarch, or king. This monarchy led the way for the coming
oligarchy. An oligarchy is a form of government where the power is given to a few people
or a dominant class. This oligarchy was removed by a democracy. A democracy is a form of
government where the supreme power is given to the people. Whoever studies the history of
Rome will come to realize that the reason for the rise of the Roman civilization was due
to the senatorial authority. There was a dual government between prince and Senate, which
developed into the Empire. During the Empire, when all the power was in the hands of the
Emperor, the Senate kept a tradition of respect for the people.


Although there is much information on the history of the Roman Senate, we are only going
to cover the Senate in the early times of the Roman Empire. This




paper will attempt to show how the Senate dominated the Roman government and became a
great force during the Early Republic.


The origin of the Senate can be attributed to the beginning period when each clan in
Latium was under the rule of its own Elder. As the clans merged, the position of each
Elder was lower to that of the king of the community. As soon as Romulus, the founder of
Rome, was elected king, he took a council of advisors called the senatus, or elders, into
his trust.


The term of office for the first senators was for life. When a senator died, the king
chose a man from the same group to take his place. The senators were considered as so many
kings from the whole community, although the chief power was given in one of their body,
namely the king.


The Senate was the ultimate source of the ruling power and was also a guarantee of the
performance of the monarchy. "During the Era of the Roman Republic, lawmaking was a
bicameral activity" (T.R. Reid, 1997)There were two important functions of the Senate. One
was to give advice to the king. The second function was to cast the vote passed by the
assembly of the people. The Senate




was unable to meet until they had been called upon by the king. From the encouragement
between the king and the Senate, the extensive powers of the Senate were developed.


The Senate was soon after given the power to veto proposals from the king before he
brought them before the citizens. When the king found the opinion of the individual
members in the Senate, he avoided any possibility of opposition from the Senate. The first
recorded act from the Senate was to have Romulus send messengers to all of the neighboring
nations. They did this because they wanted an alliance and to have inter-marriage.


The third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius, enrolled nobles from Alba in the Senate. He did
this after he granted citizenship to the people in that city. He also built the Senate
house called the Curia Hostilia.

The fourth Roman king, Ancus Marcius, declared war on the advice of the Senate.
The fifth king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, added one hundred members of the Lucerian tribe to the Senate.
The Senate acknowledged the sixth king of Rome, Servius Tullius, however, he was not acknowledged by the people of Rome.


When Tarquinius Superbus succeeded Servius, he put the leading senators to death. He did
this because he believed that the senators favored Servius' cause. The numbers of the
senators were greatly reduced. Tarquinius did not make any effort to fill in more
senators. He was the first king to not consult with the Senate. War, peace, and alliances
were either brought up or broken off by himself without the advice of the Senate. Tarquin
was banished from Rome and the rule of the kings ended. The people of Rome worked on
reorganizing the government after the rule of Tarquin.


Instead of the king, there were two patrician magistrates. They were called consuls.
Patricians were people of noble or high rank. The plebeians on the other hand were people
of the lesser or poor rank. The consuls were chosen for one year and were given all of the
powers that were once had by the king. One of the first things done by the consuls was to
fill up the Senate with men known for their political cleverness.

The number of the Senate was raised to three hundred members. It was still made up mostly
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