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Republic to Empire | The Politics of Ancient Rome

Nov 22, 2022
Politics
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24
minutes

The political systems of Rome have a profound impact on modern political theory and showed remarkable foresight.

In this episode, we examine how Rome worked politically, and look at the legacy it has left on the modern world.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is the first part of a mini-series on Ancient Rome.

[00:00:28] In today’s episode, part one, we’ll look at the politics of Ancient Rome, how it went from a Republic to an Empire, how the political systems actually functioned, and the legacy that this has left on modern politics.

[00:00:42] In the next part we’ll look at the harsh lives of the people who kept it all together, the millions of people who were kept as slaves.

[00:00:50] And then in part three, the final part of this mini-series, we will look at the bloody life of gladiators. 

[00:00:58] So let’s get started and take our first steps into the world of Ancient Rome and learn more about one of the most influential political systems in human history.

[00:01:11] On March 14th, 144 BC, a group of men gathered in a large meeting hall in Ancient Rome. 

[00:01:20] As one of the men took his seat, a group started to crowd around him. 

[00:01:26] As the man waved the group away, another individual grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled down his white toga

[00:01:36] Amongst the fuss, another man drew a knife and aimed at the first man's neck, but missed. 

[00:01:43] Shocked and confused, the first man cried out calling his attacker a villain and asking him what he was doing.

[00:01:52] But his words were to no avail

[00:01:56] Another man revealed his knife, pulled it out and pushed the cold, hard steel into the man's back. 

[00:02:04] Before long the group had joined in and the first man would be stabbed at least 23 times, his toga red with his own blood. 

[00:02:15] That man's name was Julius Caesar. 

[00:02:19] And while this might be the most famous incident in Roman politics, it is just one of a long story of violence, betrayals, and the constant struggle to create and maintain a fair and functional political system. 

[00:02:34] So, with that in mind, let us take a look at how Ancient Rome developed one of the most famous political systems in world history, and then lost it all.

[00:02:46] The beginnings of Rome are set within myth and legend. 

[00:02:51] Originally, the city was named Latium and its mythical origin story involved two brothers Romulus and Remus, who were twin sons of the war god, Mars.

[00:03:04] The story goes that after being thrown into a river as infants they miraculously survived and were raised by a wolf. 

[00:03:14] When they grew up Romulus killed his twin brother and established the city, Rome, named after him.

[00:03:22] Now, most people remember Rome for its democratic-style political system, but in Rome’s earliest days, from around 753 BC to 509 BC, it was ruled by a King who was advised by a small senate. 

[00:03:41] The word ‘senate’ derives from Latin and translates to English roughly as ‘council of the Elders’, so the senate was essentially a group of older men who advised on political matters.

[00:03:56] Rome functioned as a kingdom until its seventh and final king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, or Tarquin the Proud. 

[00:04:06] Tarquin had usurped, stolen, the throne from his wife’s father, Servius Tullius.

[00:04:13] Tarquin and his wife’s murdered Servius, and this would only be the first of many terrible acts from the “proud” usurper

[00:04:23] Over time, he proved himself to be an arrogant tyrant who increasingly ignored his senate.

[00:04:31] The final straw was when Tarquin’s son raped a nobleman’s wife, Lucretia, and drove her to suicide.

[00:04:40] Lucretia’s husband and many other noblemen in the army vowed to remove Tarquin and his family from the throne.

[00:04:49] And it was not long before the noblemen gathered support from the army and launched their revolt, successfully overthrowing Tarquin in 509 BC.

[00:05:01] After Tarquin’s defeat, and after nearly 245 years of being ruled by a monarch, Rome welcomed a new form of government, the Republic or, the ‘Res Publica’. 

[00:05:15] This term can be loosely translated to English as ‘public affair’, which captures the types of changes that took place.

[00:05:24] Rome transformed into a more democratic system, and Romans would contribute to political decisions through votes. 

[00:05:33] Who exactly voted, though, would change considerably over time.

[00:05:39] The key change from kingdom to republic was that the power that had originally been held by one figure, the king, became much more dispersed, spread out, in an attempt to prevent any tyrant like Tarquin ever ruling again.

[00:05:56] The role of the king was replaced by 2 figures called ‘consuls’ who were given what was called ‘imperium’, which was essentially supreme power in the Roman state and the ability to lead an army.

[00:06:11] The army was, after all, of huge importance to Rome given that it was almost constantly at war in efforts to conquer other lands to expand Roman territories.

[00:06:23] Unlike the Greeks who made their fortunes primarily through trade, the Romans relied on war and conquest, which allowed them not only to extract taxes from their conquered lands, but to take the defeated as prisoners to become slaves. 

[00:06:41] These slaves would be put to work in various roles throughout Rome and became a vital part of the economy, as we will talk more about in the next episode.

[00:06:51] So, back to the political roles of ancient Rome.

[00:06:55] The consuls were at the top, and had supreme control of Rome’s powerful military.

[00:07:02] Political roles in Rome without imperium were the ‘praetors’ who were in the beginning, essentially, tribal leaders but their role developed over the centuries into a more formal office of judges of Roman law.

[00:07:16] Other roles without imperium were quaestors who managed finances and held administrative, or organisational, roles. 

[00:07:25] The censors, on the other hand, were in charge of the census, the record of the population. 

[00:07:31] And there were also people called aediles who looked after public buildings and public events.

[00:07:38] So, that’s a brief overview: two consuls at the top, and different administrative political roles below them.

[00:07:47] Because the consuls held so much power, Romans, with a certain foresight or caution, put measures in place to avoid abuses and to prevent a repeat of the tyrannies of Tarquin the Proud.

[00:08:02] One of these measures was that the two consuls had the power to overrule, or ‘veto’, the other if necessary, ensuring that they always agreed on decisions and power remained more balanced between the pair.

[00:08:18] Another interesting element to Ancient Rome was the creation of the role of “dictator”. 

[00:08:24] Now, when we think of the word “dictator” today, it has some pretty negative connotations, but in Ancient Rome it was a legitimate role.

[00:08:34] A dictator was appointed in extraordinary circumstances, for example when the consuls were away at war.

[00:08:43] This role gave one person the power to lead the Republic for either six months or until the emergency was over and the consul could return to their positions, and it meant that political decisions could continue to take place, even in the absence of the consuls. 

[00:09:00] Clever, right? 

[00:09:02] Now, not all elements of the previous monarchical system were done away with, were removed.

[00:09:09] One element that was kept was the “Senate”.

[00:09:13] In its early days, the senate began at only 100 members but it quickly increased over the years and gained more power as the Republic grew. 

[00:09:25] In Rome, it would meet in venues that are replicated in modern U.S senate houses, with curved benches in rows. 

[00:09:34] But while modern day senators line the seats in smart suits, Roman senators would take their place in white togas with purple robes over the top. 

[00:09:46] They were some of the only individuals in Roman society who could wear the colour, which symbolised their power and wealth.

[00:09:54] The Roman senate had begun with an advisory role but over time it became clear that they were very much directing or instructing the consul.

[00:10:06] The huge role of the senate even led to the emblem of S.P.Q.R, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase that translates as ‘The Senate and the People of Rome’. The emblem even eventually appeared like a government stamp on Roman currency and legal documents.

[00:10:25] The number of people in Rome who actually had a say, though, was small, as the privilege of voting was reserved for only some male citizens.

[00:10:36] Women in Roman society were not permitted to vote at all, nor could those men who were not classed as Roman citizens, such as slaves or criminals.

[00:10:46] So, how did it work for those deemed worthy enough to have a say in the democratic system?

[00:10:53] Well, although we are talking about over 2,000 years ago, the system isn’t so dissimilar from modern democratic systems.

[00:11:02] The main difference is that the Roman Republic was a “direct democracy”, whereas most modern democracies are “representative democracies”.

[00:11:11] What this means in practical terms is that in a “direct democracy”, citizens vote on what decisions should be taken, whereas in a “representative democracy” citizens vote for politicians, or political parties, and those people take the decisions on their behalf.

[00:11:30] So, back to Rome.

[00:11:32] Those allowed to vote were organised into two assemblies: the Tribal Assembly and the Centuriate Assembly.

[00:11:40] The Centuriate Assembly consisted of men organised into groups of 100 that reflected their status in the military.

[00:11:49] Only Romans who could arm themselves for war were members of the Centuriate Assembly. 

[00:11:54] If you were not able to buy good weapons and armour you could not hold important military roles, and because of this you would struggle to earn more money.

[00:12:04] This meant that the Centuriate Assembly was heavily influenced by the richer men of Rome who made up most of its members. This assembly had the power to vote on things like the election of consuls or other high-ranking officials, and to go to war.

[00:12:21] But the poorer men would also be able to vote on other matters through something called the Tribal Assembly.

[00:12:29] This group saw voters split into the tribes that made up Rome, originally beginning with 3 but over time reaching 35 different tribes. This assembly would vote on matters outside of war and elect people for roles without imperium, such as quaestors.

[00:12:48] So how exactly did such elections work?

[00:12:52] Men, and unfortunately we are still only talking about men here, men would make their way through the hustle and bustle of the city to reach the town’s Field of Mars, a publicly owned area of land just outside of the city.

[00:13:08] Here stood a temporary wooden structure with no roof but separated aisles which the men would join according to their assembly group, so their military class or tribe. 

[00:13:20] In front of the crowd, filtering into their respective assemblies, would stand the proud candidates. 

[00:13:27] There would be no formal speeches prepared, they would simply remind their potential voters of their credentials, their suitability for the role, and what they intended to do. The Romans were all about policy, and didn’t want voters to be swayed by the charisma of a candidate.

[00:13:47] Once they found their assembly, the men would begin to filter forward to the front of the line where they would verbally announce their vote, which election officers would immediately record. 

[00:13:59] It wasn’t exactly a fair or efficient system, with little privacy, lots of social pressures and, undoubtedly, mishearing and miscounting

[00:14:10] As a result, in the second century BC, the vocal vote was abolished and men were instead given a blank tablet, a slate, with which they would inscribe the letters of who they wish to elect before they put that tablet in a box. 

[00:14:26] This has clearly influenced our own voting systems today.

[00:14:30] Now, as you can see, even in its early days, ancient Rome had a very sophisticated and complex political system, designed to limit abuses of power and allow participation from every citizen deemed worthy enough.

[00:14:47] But it was certainly not without its flaws

[00:14:50] Initially, the system was designed to benefit the higher-class members of society, the ‘patricians’.

[00:14:58] There was increasing unrest among the lower members of society, the so-called “plebeians”, who saw the rich getting richer while they saw minimal improvements to their lot.

[00:15:10] This led to numerous uprisings beginning in 494 BC, less than twenty years into the Republic. Rome experienced a number of internal conflicts as the plebeians demanded equality, and these continued over the next two centuries. 

[00:15:27] The events have become known as the Conflict of the Orders.

[00:15:31] Concessions were made, and by 367 BC it was required that one of the two consuls was a “plebeian” and “plebeians” were also allowed to become senators.

[00:15:44] Changes were afoot.

[00:15:46] But it would not be inequality or social unrest that would break the Republic. 

[00:15:52] While territories continued to grow as the first century BC approached, at home, Rome was starting to crumble.

[00:16:00] The Roman historian Sallust wrote of how the increasing wealth of the rich led to the rise of a class of men who would cause the fall of the Republic. In his words, ‘there was first a lust for money, then for power’.

[00:16:16] The men he was referring to were Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Pompey, Crassus and Octavian; and, as they plotted for control and power, the Roman Republic began to change.

[00:16:29] There are, of course, countless factors which contributed to the fall of the Republic but the key events involved the plotting, deceit and betrayal of these leading political figures.

[00:16:42] Many people see the first step in Rome’s change being the formation of the alliance called The First Triumvirate, which was made between the powerful army commanders Pompey and Caesar and the extremely wealthy Crassus.

[00:16:58] This group promoted reforms that were very popular with the Roman people and it was not long before they gained a lot of power, passing laws and often going against the senate. 

[00:17:10] But after the death of Crassus, who was killed in battle, Caesar and Pompey’s relationship broke down and they soon turned on one another.

[00:17:21] To undermine Caesar, Pompey began to side with the senate, which demanded that Caesar give up his position as army commander, in fear of the threat he posed to the state.

[00:17:34] But Caesar remained very popular with the Roman people and the pair went to war, with Caesar defeating Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus in 48BC. After his defeat, Pompey fled to Egypt but he was murdered on arrival.

[00:17:51] Following his victory in the civil war, Caesar returned to Rome triumphant and became leader as dictator. 

[00:17:59] Now, as a reminder, “dictator” was a legitimate position in Ancient Rome that could be adopted in times of emergency. 

[00:18:08] But, in perhaps an eerie parallel with what we see in some countries today, this six-month term limit of dictator was removed, and Caesar was declared dictator for life.

[00:18:22] This caused great anxiety for many senators who feared Caesar would name himself king, and the Republic would return to a monarchy. 

[00:18:32] As a result, during that fateful meeting in 44 BC, Caesar felt the cold steel of his colleagues’ knives.

[00:18:42] The assassins included Marcus Junius Brutus, who was like a son to Caesar.

[00:18:48] As he lay dying in a pile of blood, Caesar uttered the famous words ‘et tu, Brute?’, or “you too, Brutus?”, when he recognised Brutus as one of his killers.

[00:19:01] Not all were in support of the killing, however. 

[00:19:04] After Caesar’s death, Mark Antony and Caesar’s nephew Octavian hunted down Caesar’s killers but they soon turned on each other, too.

[00:19:14] Antony was believed to be plotting against Rome with Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt and eventually, he was defeated by Octavian in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

[00:19:27] Following his victory, Octavian was celebrated as Rome’s saviour and he was given the title Augustus, meaning ‘the great one’.

[00:19:37] Over these years, Romans had become increasingly fed up with the civil wars that had raged on since the beginning of the first century BC. 

[00:19:46] This only added to Augustus’s popularity, for the Romans believed he brought peace and prosperity and had the power to stop rebellious senators. 

[00:19:57] Within 10 years, Augustus was given supreme power over Rome and he became the first emperor, putting an end to the almost 500 years of Republican government.

[00:20:10] As emperor, he took on the responsibilities of the consul. The role of consul wasn’t completely disbanded, but they had their power stripped from them, with only decorative roles remaining.

[00:20:24] Although his uncle had been murdered because he was getting too powerful, Octavian doubled down, intimidating and murdering his opponents in the Senate, and ruling with a rod of iron.

[00:20:37] This would be a strategy almost every subsequent Emperor would follow.

[00:20:42] And while Rome remained an empire for centuries more, it would not last forever.

[00:20:48] It split into East and West in 286 AD, with each side ruled by different leaders and existing almost independently of the other. 

[00:20:59] The Western Roman Empire lasted until 476 AD, while the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, continued until the 15th century.

[00:21:11] It began as a monarchy for 244 years, developed under a Republican system for around 500 years before flourishing as a colossal empire for over 1000 years.

[00:21:24] It’s truly turbulent history with an unmistakable legacy.

[00:21:29] While there are plenty of physical remains, from the forum to bath houses to the Colosseum, the remnants of Ancient Rome that are most clearly felt are those that we can see today through political systems around the world.

[00:21:43] Many of us live in political systems modelled on the ideas of the Republic and its fundamental concept of governing through legislative and executive democratic systems. 

[00:21:55] We can see this most clearly in the United States, as the Founding Fathers paid close attention to the story of Ancient Rome when they drafted the Constitution in 1787. 

[00:22:07] This resulted in the three branches of American government, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial, clearly mirroring the consul, senate, and praetors of Rome.

[00:22:20] It was certainly imperfect, but it’s astounding to think that these ideas and concepts, from over 2000 years ago, have such an influence over our societies, lives and freedoms to this very day. 

[00:22:36] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on The Politics of Ancient Rome. 

[00:22:42] I know it might be “ancient history”, but it is amazing to see the parallels between this ancient society and the modern day.

[00:22:51] As a reminder, this is part one of a three-part mini-series on ancient Rome. 

[00:22:56] Next up we’ll talk about some of the least fortunate people in ancient Roman society, the slaves, and then in part three it’ll be, well yes another unfortunate group, gladiators.

[00:23:09] As always I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:12] What other parallels can you see between ancient Roman politics and the modern day?

[00:23:18] Can you think of another period in history that has been as influential on modern political systems? 

[00:23:24] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:28] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:37] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:42] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a member
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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is the first part of a mini-series on Ancient Rome.

[00:00:28] In today’s episode, part one, we’ll look at the politics of Ancient Rome, how it went from a Republic to an Empire, how the political systems actually functioned, and the legacy that this has left on modern politics.

[00:00:42] In the next part we’ll look at the harsh lives of the people who kept it all together, the millions of people who were kept as slaves.

[00:00:50] And then in part three, the final part of this mini-series, we will look at the bloody life of gladiators. 

[00:00:58] So let’s get started and take our first steps into the world of Ancient Rome and learn more about one of the most influential political systems in human history.

[00:01:11] On March 14th, 144 BC, a group of men gathered in a large meeting hall in Ancient Rome. 

[00:01:20] As one of the men took his seat, a group started to crowd around him. 

[00:01:26] As the man waved the group away, another individual grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled down his white toga

[00:01:36] Amongst the fuss, another man drew a knife and aimed at the first man's neck, but missed. 

[00:01:43] Shocked and confused, the first man cried out calling his attacker a villain and asking him what he was doing.

[00:01:52] But his words were to no avail

[00:01:56] Another man revealed his knife, pulled it out and pushed the cold, hard steel into the man's back. 

[00:02:04] Before long the group had joined in and the first man would be stabbed at least 23 times, his toga red with his own blood. 

[00:02:15] That man's name was Julius Caesar. 

[00:02:19] And while this might be the most famous incident in Roman politics, it is just one of a long story of violence, betrayals, and the constant struggle to create and maintain a fair and functional political system. 

[00:02:34] So, with that in mind, let us take a look at how Ancient Rome developed one of the most famous political systems in world history, and then lost it all.

[00:02:46] The beginnings of Rome are set within myth and legend. 

[00:02:51] Originally, the city was named Latium and its mythical origin story involved two brothers Romulus and Remus, who were twin sons of the war god, Mars.

[00:03:04] The story goes that after being thrown into a river as infants they miraculously survived and were raised by a wolf. 

[00:03:14] When they grew up Romulus killed his twin brother and established the city, Rome, named after him.

[00:03:22] Now, most people remember Rome for its democratic-style political system, but in Rome’s earliest days, from around 753 BC to 509 BC, it was ruled by a King who was advised by a small senate. 

[00:03:41] The word ‘senate’ derives from Latin and translates to English roughly as ‘council of the Elders’, so the senate was essentially a group of older men who advised on political matters.

[00:03:56] Rome functioned as a kingdom until its seventh and final king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, or Tarquin the Proud. 

[00:04:06] Tarquin had usurped, stolen, the throne from his wife’s father, Servius Tullius.

[00:04:13] Tarquin and his wife’s murdered Servius, and this would only be the first of many terrible acts from the “proud” usurper

[00:04:23] Over time, he proved himself to be an arrogant tyrant who increasingly ignored his senate.

[00:04:31] The final straw was when Tarquin’s son raped a nobleman’s wife, Lucretia, and drove her to suicide.

[00:04:40] Lucretia’s husband and many other noblemen in the army vowed to remove Tarquin and his family from the throne.

[00:04:49] And it was not long before the noblemen gathered support from the army and launched their revolt, successfully overthrowing Tarquin in 509 BC.

[00:05:01] After Tarquin’s defeat, and after nearly 245 years of being ruled by a monarch, Rome welcomed a new form of government, the Republic or, the ‘Res Publica’. 

[00:05:15] This term can be loosely translated to English as ‘public affair’, which captures the types of changes that took place.

[00:05:24] Rome transformed into a more democratic system, and Romans would contribute to political decisions through votes. 

[00:05:33] Who exactly voted, though, would change considerably over time.

[00:05:39] The key change from kingdom to republic was that the power that had originally been held by one figure, the king, became much more dispersed, spread out, in an attempt to prevent any tyrant like Tarquin ever ruling again.

[00:05:56] The role of the king was replaced by 2 figures called ‘consuls’ who were given what was called ‘imperium’, which was essentially supreme power in the Roman state and the ability to lead an army.

[00:06:11] The army was, after all, of huge importance to Rome given that it was almost constantly at war in efforts to conquer other lands to expand Roman territories.

[00:06:23] Unlike the Greeks who made their fortunes primarily through trade, the Romans relied on war and conquest, which allowed them not only to extract taxes from their conquered lands, but to take the defeated as prisoners to become slaves. 

[00:06:41] These slaves would be put to work in various roles throughout Rome and became a vital part of the economy, as we will talk more about in the next episode.

[00:06:51] So, back to the political roles of ancient Rome.

[00:06:55] The consuls were at the top, and had supreme control of Rome’s powerful military.

[00:07:02] Political roles in Rome without imperium were the ‘praetors’ who were in the beginning, essentially, tribal leaders but their role developed over the centuries into a more formal office of judges of Roman law.

[00:07:16] Other roles without imperium were quaestors who managed finances and held administrative, or organisational, roles. 

[00:07:25] The censors, on the other hand, were in charge of the census, the record of the population. 

[00:07:31] And there were also people called aediles who looked after public buildings and public events.

[00:07:38] So, that’s a brief overview: two consuls at the top, and different administrative political roles below them.

[00:07:47] Because the consuls held so much power, Romans, with a certain foresight or caution, put measures in place to avoid abuses and to prevent a repeat of the tyrannies of Tarquin the Proud.

[00:08:02] One of these measures was that the two consuls had the power to overrule, or ‘veto’, the other if necessary, ensuring that they always agreed on decisions and power remained more balanced between the pair.

[00:08:18] Another interesting element to Ancient Rome was the creation of the role of “dictator”. 

[00:08:24] Now, when we think of the word “dictator” today, it has some pretty negative connotations, but in Ancient Rome it was a legitimate role.

[00:08:34] A dictator was appointed in extraordinary circumstances, for example when the consuls were away at war.

[00:08:43] This role gave one person the power to lead the Republic for either six months or until the emergency was over and the consul could return to their positions, and it meant that political decisions could continue to take place, even in the absence of the consuls. 

[00:09:00] Clever, right? 

[00:09:02] Now, not all elements of the previous monarchical system were done away with, were removed.

[00:09:09] One element that was kept was the “Senate”.

[00:09:13] In its early days, the senate began at only 100 members but it quickly increased over the years and gained more power as the Republic grew. 

[00:09:25] In Rome, it would meet in venues that are replicated in modern U.S senate houses, with curved benches in rows. 

[00:09:34] But while modern day senators line the seats in smart suits, Roman senators would take their place in white togas with purple robes over the top. 

[00:09:46] They were some of the only individuals in Roman society who could wear the colour, which symbolised their power and wealth.

[00:09:54] The Roman senate had begun with an advisory role but over time it became clear that they were very much directing or instructing the consul.

[00:10:06] The huge role of the senate even led to the emblem of S.P.Q.R, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase that translates as ‘The Senate and the People of Rome’. The emblem even eventually appeared like a government stamp on Roman currency and legal documents.

[00:10:25] The number of people in Rome who actually had a say, though, was small, as the privilege of voting was reserved for only some male citizens.

[00:10:36] Women in Roman society were not permitted to vote at all, nor could those men who were not classed as Roman citizens, such as slaves or criminals.

[00:10:46] So, how did it work for those deemed worthy enough to have a say in the democratic system?

[00:10:53] Well, although we are talking about over 2,000 years ago, the system isn’t so dissimilar from modern democratic systems.

[00:11:02] The main difference is that the Roman Republic was a “direct democracy”, whereas most modern democracies are “representative democracies”.

[00:11:11] What this means in practical terms is that in a “direct democracy”, citizens vote on what decisions should be taken, whereas in a “representative democracy” citizens vote for politicians, or political parties, and those people take the decisions on their behalf.

[00:11:30] So, back to Rome.

[00:11:32] Those allowed to vote were organised into two assemblies: the Tribal Assembly and the Centuriate Assembly.

[00:11:40] The Centuriate Assembly consisted of men organised into groups of 100 that reflected their status in the military.

[00:11:49] Only Romans who could arm themselves for war were members of the Centuriate Assembly. 

[00:11:54] If you were not able to buy good weapons and armour you could not hold important military roles, and because of this you would struggle to earn more money.

[00:12:04] This meant that the Centuriate Assembly was heavily influenced by the richer men of Rome who made up most of its members. This assembly had the power to vote on things like the election of consuls or other high-ranking officials, and to go to war.

[00:12:21] But the poorer men would also be able to vote on other matters through something called the Tribal Assembly.

[00:12:29] This group saw voters split into the tribes that made up Rome, originally beginning with 3 but over time reaching 35 different tribes. This assembly would vote on matters outside of war and elect people for roles without imperium, such as quaestors.

[00:12:48] So how exactly did such elections work?

[00:12:52] Men, and unfortunately we are still only talking about men here, men would make their way through the hustle and bustle of the city to reach the town’s Field of Mars, a publicly owned area of land just outside of the city.

[00:13:08] Here stood a temporary wooden structure with no roof but separated aisles which the men would join according to their assembly group, so their military class or tribe. 

[00:13:20] In front of the crowd, filtering into their respective assemblies, would stand the proud candidates. 

[00:13:27] There would be no formal speeches prepared, they would simply remind their potential voters of their credentials, their suitability for the role, and what they intended to do. The Romans were all about policy, and didn’t want voters to be swayed by the charisma of a candidate.

[00:13:47] Once they found their assembly, the men would begin to filter forward to the front of the line where they would verbally announce their vote, which election officers would immediately record. 

[00:13:59] It wasn’t exactly a fair or efficient system, with little privacy, lots of social pressures and, undoubtedly, mishearing and miscounting

[00:14:10] As a result, in the second century BC, the vocal vote was abolished and men were instead given a blank tablet, a slate, with which they would inscribe the letters of who they wish to elect before they put that tablet in a box. 

[00:14:26] This has clearly influenced our own voting systems today.

[00:14:30] Now, as you can see, even in its early days, ancient Rome had a very sophisticated and complex political system, designed to limit abuses of power and allow participation from every citizen deemed worthy enough.

[00:14:47] But it was certainly not without its flaws

[00:14:50] Initially, the system was designed to benefit the higher-class members of society, the ‘patricians’.

[00:14:58] There was increasing unrest among the lower members of society, the so-called “plebeians”, who saw the rich getting richer while they saw minimal improvements to their lot.

[00:15:10] This led to numerous uprisings beginning in 494 BC, less than twenty years into the Republic. Rome experienced a number of internal conflicts as the plebeians demanded equality, and these continued over the next two centuries. 

[00:15:27] The events have become known as the Conflict of the Orders.

[00:15:31] Concessions were made, and by 367 BC it was required that one of the two consuls was a “plebeian” and “plebeians” were also allowed to become senators.

[00:15:44] Changes were afoot.

[00:15:46] But it would not be inequality or social unrest that would break the Republic. 

[00:15:52] While territories continued to grow as the first century BC approached, at home, Rome was starting to crumble.

[00:16:00] The Roman historian Sallust wrote of how the increasing wealth of the rich led to the rise of a class of men who would cause the fall of the Republic. In his words, ‘there was first a lust for money, then for power’.

[00:16:16] The men he was referring to were Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Pompey, Crassus and Octavian; and, as they plotted for control and power, the Roman Republic began to change.

[00:16:29] There are, of course, countless factors which contributed to the fall of the Republic but the key events involved the plotting, deceit and betrayal of these leading political figures.

[00:16:42] Many people see the first step in Rome’s change being the formation of the alliance called The First Triumvirate, which was made between the powerful army commanders Pompey and Caesar and the extremely wealthy Crassus.

[00:16:58] This group promoted reforms that were very popular with the Roman people and it was not long before they gained a lot of power, passing laws and often going against the senate. 

[00:17:10] But after the death of Crassus, who was killed in battle, Caesar and Pompey’s relationship broke down and they soon turned on one another.

[00:17:21] To undermine Caesar, Pompey began to side with the senate, which demanded that Caesar give up his position as army commander, in fear of the threat he posed to the state.

[00:17:34] But Caesar remained very popular with the Roman people and the pair went to war, with Caesar defeating Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus in 48BC. After his defeat, Pompey fled to Egypt but he was murdered on arrival.

[00:17:51] Following his victory in the civil war, Caesar returned to Rome triumphant and became leader as dictator. 

[00:17:59] Now, as a reminder, “dictator” was a legitimate position in Ancient Rome that could be adopted in times of emergency. 

[00:18:08] But, in perhaps an eerie parallel with what we see in some countries today, this six-month term limit of dictator was removed, and Caesar was declared dictator for life.

[00:18:22] This caused great anxiety for many senators who feared Caesar would name himself king, and the Republic would return to a monarchy. 

[00:18:32] As a result, during that fateful meeting in 44 BC, Caesar felt the cold steel of his colleagues’ knives.

[00:18:42] The assassins included Marcus Junius Brutus, who was like a son to Caesar.

[00:18:48] As he lay dying in a pile of blood, Caesar uttered the famous words ‘et tu, Brute?’, or “you too, Brutus?”, when he recognised Brutus as one of his killers.

[00:19:01] Not all were in support of the killing, however. 

[00:19:04] After Caesar’s death, Mark Antony and Caesar’s nephew Octavian hunted down Caesar’s killers but they soon turned on each other, too.

[00:19:14] Antony was believed to be plotting against Rome with Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt and eventually, he was defeated by Octavian in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

[00:19:27] Following his victory, Octavian was celebrated as Rome’s saviour and he was given the title Augustus, meaning ‘the great one’.

[00:19:37] Over these years, Romans had become increasingly fed up with the civil wars that had raged on since the beginning of the first century BC. 

[00:19:46] This only added to Augustus’s popularity, for the Romans believed he brought peace and prosperity and had the power to stop rebellious senators. 

[00:19:57] Within 10 years, Augustus was given supreme power over Rome and he became the first emperor, putting an end to the almost 500 years of Republican government.

[00:20:10] As emperor, he took on the responsibilities of the consul. The role of consul wasn’t completely disbanded, but they had their power stripped from them, with only decorative roles remaining.

[00:20:24] Although his uncle had been murdered because he was getting too powerful, Octavian doubled down, intimidating and murdering his opponents in the Senate, and ruling with a rod of iron.

[00:20:37] This would be a strategy almost every subsequent Emperor would follow.

[00:20:42] And while Rome remained an empire for centuries more, it would not last forever.

[00:20:48] It split into East and West in 286 AD, with each side ruled by different leaders and existing almost independently of the other. 

[00:20:59] The Western Roman Empire lasted until 476 AD, while the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, continued until the 15th century.

[00:21:11] It began as a monarchy for 244 years, developed under a Republican system for around 500 years before flourishing as a colossal empire for over 1000 years.

[00:21:24] It’s truly turbulent history with an unmistakable legacy.

[00:21:29] While there are plenty of physical remains, from the forum to bath houses to the Colosseum, the remnants of Ancient Rome that are most clearly felt are those that we can see today through political systems around the world.

[00:21:43] Many of us live in political systems modelled on the ideas of the Republic and its fundamental concept of governing through legislative and executive democratic systems. 

[00:21:55] We can see this most clearly in the United States, as the Founding Fathers paid close attention to the story of Ancient Rome when they drafted the Constitution in 1787. 

[00:22:07] This resulted in the three branches of American government, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial, clearly mirroring the consul, senate, and praetors of Rome.

[00:22:20] It was certainly imperfect, but it’s astounding to think that these ideas and concepts, from over 2000 years ago, have such an influence over our societies, lives and freedoms to this very day. 

[00:22:36] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on The Politics of Ancient Rome. 

[00:22:42] I know it might be “ancient history”, but it is amazing to see the parallels between this ancient society and the modern day.

[00:22:51] As a reminder, this is part one of a three-part mini-series on ancient Rome. 

[00:22:56] Next up we’ll talk about some of the least fortunate people in ancient Roman society, the slaves, and then in part three it’ll be, well yes another unfortunate group, gladiators.

[00:23:09] As always I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:12] What other parallels can you see between ancient Roman politics and the modern day?

[00:23:18] Can you think of another period in history that has been as influential on modern political systems? 

[00:23:24] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:28] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:37] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:42] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is the first part of a mini-series on Ancient Rome.

[00:00:28] In today’s episode, part one, we’ll look at the politics of Ancient Rome, how it went from a Republic to an Empire, how the political systems actually functioned, and the legacy that this has left on modern politics.

[00:00:42] In the next part we’ll look at the harsh lives of the people who kept it all together, the millions of people who were kept as slaves.

[00:00:50] And then in part three, the final part of this mini-series, we will look at the bloody life of gladiators. 

[00:00:58] So let’s get started and take our first steps into the world of Ancient Rome and learn more about one of the most influential political systems in human history.

[00:01:11] On March 14th, 144 BC, a group of men gathered in a large meeting hall in Ancient Rome. 

[00:01:20] As one of the men took his seat, a group started to crowd around him. 

[00:01:26] As the man waved the group away, another individual grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled down his white toga

[00:01:36] Amongst the fuss, another man drew a knife and aimed at the first man's neck, but missed. 

[00:01:43] Shocked and confused, the first man cried out calling his attacker a villain and asking him what he was doing.

[00:01:52] But his words were to no avail

[00:01:56] Another man revealed his knife, pulled it out and pushed the cold, hard steel into the man's back. 

[00:02:04] Before long the group had joined in and the first man would be stabbed at least 23 times, his toga red with his own blood. 

[00:02:15] That man's name was Julius Caesar. 

[00:02:19] And while this might be the most famous incident in Roman politics, it is just one of a long story of violence, betrayals, and the constant struggle to create and maintain a fair and functional political system. 

[00:02:34] So, with that in mind, let us take a look at how Ancient Rome developed one of the most famous political systems in world history, and then lost it all.

[00:02:46] The beginnings of Rome are set within myth and legend. 

[00:02:51] Originally, the city was named Latium and its mythical origin story involved two brothers Romulus and Remus, who were twin sons of the war god, Mars.

[00:03:04] The story goes that after being thrown into a river as infants they miraculously survived and were raised by a wolf. 

[00:03:14] When they grew up Romulus killed his twin brother and established the city, Rome, named after him.

[00:03:22] Now, most people remember Rome for its democratic-style political system, but in Rome’s earliest days, from around 753 BC to 509 BC, it was ruled by a King who was advised by a small senate. 

[00:03:41] The word ‘senate’ derives from Latin and translates to English roughly as ‘council of the Elders’, so the senate was essentially a group of older men who advised on political matters.

[00:03:56] Rome functioned as a kingdom until its seventh and final king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, or Tarquin the Proud. 

[00:04:06] Tarquin had usurped, stolen, the throne from his wife’s father, Servius Tullius.

[00:04:13] Tarquin and his wife’s murdered Servius, and this would only be the first of many terrible acts from the “proud” usurper

[00:04:23] Over time, he proved himself to be an arrogant tyrant who increasingly ignored his senate.

[00:04:31] The final straw was when Tarquin’s son raped a nobleman’s wife, Lucretia, and drove her to suicide.

[00:04:40] Lucretia’s husband and many other noblemen in the army vowed to remove Tarquin and his family from the throne.

[00:04:49] And it was not long before the noblemen gathered support from the army and launched their revolt, successfully overthrowing Tarquin in 509 BC.

[00:05:01] After Tarquin’s defeat, and after nearly 245 years of being ruled by a monarch, Rome welcomed a new form of government, the Republic or, the ‘Res Publica’. 

[00:05:15] This term can be loosely translated to English as ‘public affair’, which captures the types of changes that took place.

[00:05:24] Rome transformed into a more democratic system, and Romans would contribute to political decisions through votes. 

[00:05:33] Who exactly voted, though, would change considerably over time.

[00:05:39] The key change from kingdom to republic was that the power that had originally been held by one figure, the king, became much more dispersed, spread out, in an attempt to prevent any tyrant like Tarquin ever ruling again.

[00:05:56] The role of the king was replaced by 2 figures called ‘consuls’ who were given what was called ‘imperium’, which was essentially supreme power in the Roman state and the ability to lead an army.

[00:06:11] The army was, after all, of huge importance to Rome given that it was almost constantly at war in efforts to conquer other lands to expand Roman territories.

[00:06:23] Unlike the Greeks who made their fortunes primarily through trade, the Romans relied on war and conquest, which allowed them not only to extract taxes from their conquered lands, but to take the defeated as prisoners to become slaves. 

[00:06:41] These slaves would be put to work in various roles throughout Rome and became a vital part of the economy, as we will talk more about in the next episode.

[00:06:51] So, back to the political roles of ancient Rome.

[00:06:55] The consuls were at the top, and had supreme control of Rome’s powerful military.

[00:07:02] Political roles in Rome without imperium were the ‘praetors’ who were in the beginning, essentially, tribal leaders but their role developed over the centuries into a more formal office of judges of Roman law.

[00:07:16] Other roles without imperium were quaestors who managed finances and held administrative, or organisational, roles. 

[00:07:25] The censors, on the other hand, were in charge of the census, the record of the population. 

[00:07:31] And there were also people called aediles who looked after public buildings and public events.

[00:07:38] So, that’s a brief overview: two consuls at the top, and different administrative political roles below them.

[00:07:47] Because the consuls held so much power, Romans, with a certain foresight or caution, put measures in place to avoid abuses and to prevent a repeat of the tyrannies of Tarquin the Proud.

[00:08:02] One of these measures was that the two consuls had the power to overrule, or ‘veto’, the other if necessary, ensuring that they always agreed on decisions and power remained more balanced between the pair.

[00:08:18] Another interesting element to Ancient Rome was the creation of the role of “dictator”. 

[00:08:24] Now, when we think of the word “dictator” today, it has some pretty negative connotations, but in Ancient Rome it was a legitimate role.

[00:08:34] A dictator was appointed in extraordinary circumstances, for example when the consuls were away at war.

[00:08:43] This role gave one person the power to lead the Republic for either six months or until the emergency was over and the consul could return to their positions, and it meant that political decisions could continue to take place, even in the absence of the consuls. 

[00:09:00] Clever, right? 

[00:09:02] Now, not all elements of the previous monarchical system were done away with, were removed.

[00:09:09] One element that was kept was the “Senate”.

[00:09:13] In its early days, the senate began at only 100 members but it quickly increased over the years and gained more power as the Republic grew. 

[00:09:25] In Rome, it would meet in venues that are replicated in modern U.S senate houses, with curved benches in rows. 

[00:09:34] But while modern day senators line the seats in smart suits, Roman senators would take their place in white togas with purple robes over the top. 

[00:09:46] They were some of the only individuals in Roman society who could wear the colour, which symbolised their power and wealth.

[00:09:54] The Roman senate had begun with an advisory role but over time it became clear that they were very much directing or instructing the consul.

[00:10:06] The huge role of the senate even led to the emblem of S.P.Q.R, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase that translates as ‘The Senate and the People of Rome’. The emblem even eventually appeared like a government stamp on Roman currency and legal documents.

[00:10:25] The number of people in Rome who actually had a say, though, was small, as the privilege of voting was reserved for only some male citizens.

[00:10:36] Women in Roman society were not permitted to vote at all, nor could those men who were not classed as Roman citizens, such as slaves or criminals.

[00:10:46] So, how did it work for those deemed worthy enough to have a say in the democratic system?

[00:10:53] Well, although we are talking about over 2,000 years ago, the system isn’t so dissimilar from modern democratic systems.

[00:11:02] The main difference is that the Roman Republic was a “direct democracy”, whereas most modern democracies are “representative democracies”.

[00:11:11] What this means in practical terms is that in a “direct democracy”, citizens vote on what decisions should be taken, whereas in a “representative democracy” citizens vote for politicians, or political parties, and those people take the decisions on their behalf.

[00:11:30] So, back to Rome.

[00:11:32] Those allowed to vote were organised into two assemblies: the Tribal Assembly and the Centuriate Assembly.

[00:11:40] The Centuriate Assembly consisted of men organised into groups of 100 that reflected their status in the military.

[00:11:49] Only Romans who could arm themselves for war were members of the Centuriate Assembly. 

[00:11:54] If you were not able to buy good weapons and armour you could not hold important military roles, and because of this you would struggle to earn more money.

[00:12:04] This meant that the Centuriate Assembly was heavily influenced by the richer men of Rome who made up most of its members. This assembly had the power to vote on things like the election of consuls or other high-ranking officials, and to go to war.

[00:12:21] But the poorer men would also be able to vote on other matters through something called the Tribal Assembly.

[00:12:29] This group saw voters split into the tribes that made up Rome, originally beginning with 3 but over time reaching 35 different tribes. This assembly would vote on matters outside of war and elect people for roles without imperium, such as quaestors.

[00:12:48] So how exactly did such elections work?

[00:12:52] Men, and unfortunately we are still only talking about men here, men would make their way through the hustle and bustle of the city to reach the town’s Field of Mars, a publicly owned area of land just outside of the city.

[00:13:08] Here stood a temporary wooden structure with no roof but separated aisles which the men would join according to their assembly group, so their military class or tribe. 

[00:13:20] In front of the crowd, filtering into their respective assemblies, would stand the proud candidates. 

[00:13:27] There would be no formal speeches prepared, they would simply remind their potential voters of their credentials, their suitability for the role, and what they intended to do. The Romans were all about policy, and didn’t want voters to be swayed by the charisma of a candidate.

[00:13:47] Once they found their assembly, the men would begin to filter forward to the front of the line where they would verbally announce their vote, which election officers would immediately record. 

[00:13:59] It wasn’t exactly a fair or efficient system, with little privacy, lots of social pressures and, undoubtedly, mishearing and miscounting

[00:14:10] As a result, in the second century BC, the vocal vote was abolished and men were instead given a blank tablet, a slate, with which they would inscribe the letters of who they wish to elect before they put that tablet in a box. 

[00:14:26] This has clearly influenced our own voting systems today.

[00:14:30] Now, as you can see, even in its early days, ancient Rome had a very sophisticated and complex political system, designed to limit abuses of power and allow participation from every citizen deemed worthy enough.

[00:14:47] But it was certainly not without its flaws

[00:14:50] Initially, the system was designed to benefit the higher-class members of society, the ‘patricians’.

[00:14:58] There was increasing unrest among the lower members of society, the so-called “plebeians”, who saw the rich getting richer while they saw minimal improvements to their lot.

[00:15:10] This led to numerous uprisings beginning in 494 BC, less than twenty years into the Republic. Rome experienced a number of internal conflicts as the plebeians demanded equality, and these continued over the next two centuries. 

[00:15:27] The events have become known as the Conflict of the Orders.

[00:15:31] Concessions were made, and by 367 BC it was required that one of the two consuls was a “plebeian” and “plebeians” were also allowed to become senators.

[00:15:44] Changes were afoot.

[00:15:46] But it would not be inequality or social unrest that would break the Republic. 

[00:15:52] While territories continued to grow as the first century BC approached, at home, Rome was starting to crumble.

[00:16:00] The Roman historian Sallust wrote of how the increasing wealth of the rich led to the rise of a class of men who would cause the fall of the Republic. In his words, ‘there was first a lust for money, then for power’.

[00:16:16] The men he was referring to were Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Pompey, Crassus and Octavian; and, as they plotted for control and power, the Roman Republic began to change.

[00:16:29] There are, of course, countless factors which contributed to the fall of the Republic but the key events involved the plotting, deceit and betrayal of these leading political figures.

[00:16:42] Many people see the first step in Rome’s change being the formation of the alliance called The First Triumvirate, which was made between the powerful army commanders Pompey and Caesar and the extremely wealthy Crassus.

[00:16:58] This group promoted reforms that were very popular with the Roman people and it was not long before they gained a lot of power, passing laws and often going against the senate. 

[00:17:10] But after the death of Crassus, who was killed in battle, Caesar and Pompey’s relationship broke down and they soon turned on one another.

[00:17:21] To undermine Caesar, Pompey began to side with the senate, which demanded that Caesar give up his position as army commander, in fear of the threat he posed to the state.

[00:17:34] But Caesar remained very popular with the Roman people and the pair went to war, with Caesar defeating Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus in 48BC. After his defeat, Pompey fled to Egypt but he was murdered on arrival.

[00:17:51] Following his victory in the civil war, Caesar returned to Rome triumphant and became leader as dictator. 

[00:17:59] Now, as a reminder, “dictator” was a legitimate position in Ancient Rome that could be adopted in times of emergency. 

[00:18:08] But, in perhaps an eerie parallel with what we see in some countries today, this six-month term limit of dictator was removed, and Caesar was declared dictator for life.

[00:18:22] This caused great anxiety for many senators who feared Caesar would name himself king, and the Republic would return to a monarchy. 

[00:18:32] As a result, during that fateful meeting in 44 BC, Caesar felt the cold steel of his colleagues’ knives.

[00:18:42] The assassins included Marcus Junius Brutus, who was like a son to Caesar.

[00:18:48] As he lay dying in a pile of blood, Caesar uttered the famous words ‘et tu, Brute?’, or “you too, Brutus?”, when he recognised Brutus as one of his killers.

[00:19:01] Not all were in support of the killing, however. 

[00:19:04] After Caesar’s death, Mark Antony and Caesar’s nephew Octavian hunted down Caesar’s killers but they soon turned on each other, too.

[00:19:14] Antony was believed to be plotting against Rome with Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt and eventually, he was defeated by Octavian in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

[00:19:27] Following his victory, Octavian was celebrated as Rome’s saviour and he was given the title Augustus, meaning ‘the great one’.

[00:19:37] Over these years, Romans had become increasingly fed up with the civil wars that had raged on since the beginning of the first century BC. 

[00:19:46] This only added to Augustus’s popularity, for the Romans believed he brought peace and prosperity and had the power to stop rebellious senators. 

[00:19:57] Within 10 years, Augustus was given supreme power over Rome and he became the first emperor, putting an end to the almost 500 years of Republican government.

[00:20:10] As emperor, he took on the responsibilities of the consul. The role of consul wasn’t completely disbanded, but they had their power stripped from them, with only decorative roles remaining.

[00:20:24] Although his uncle had been murdered because he was getting too powerful, Octavian doubled down, intimidating and murdering his opponents in the Senate, and ruling with a rod of iron.

[00:20:37] This would be a strategy almost every subsequent Emperor would follow.

[00:20:42] And while Rome remained an empire for centuries more, it would not last forever.

[00:20:48] It split into East and West in 286 AD, with each side ruled by different leaders and existing almost independently of the other. 

[00:20:59] The Western Roman Empire lasted until 476 AD, while the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, continued until the 15th century.

[00:21:11] It began as a monarchy for 244 years, developed under a Republican system for around 500 years before flourishing as a colossal empire for over 1000 years.

[00:21:24] It’s truly turbulent history with an unmistakable legacy.

[00:21:29] While there are plenty of physical remains, from the forum to bath houses to the Colosseum, the remnants of Ancient Rome that are most clearly felt are those that we can see today through political systems around the world.

[00:21:43] Many of us live in political systems modelled on the ideas of the Republic and its fundamental concept of governing through legislative and executive democratic systems. 

[00:21:55] We can see this most clearly in the United States, as the Founding Fathers paid close attention to the story of Ancient Rome when they drafted the Constitution in 1787. 

[00:22:07] This resulted in the three branches of American government, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial, clearly mirroring the consul, senate, and praetors of Rome.

[00:22:20] It was certainly imperfect, but it’s astounding to think that these ideas and concepts, from over 2000 years ago, have such an influence over our societies, lives and freedoms to this very day. 

[00:22:36] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on The Politics of Ancient Rome. 

[00:22:42] I know it might be “ancient history”, but it is amazing to see the parallels between this ancient society and the modern day.

[00:22:51] As a reminder, this is part one of a three-part mini-series on ancient Rome. 

[00:22:56] Next up we’ll talk about some of the least fortunate people in ancient Roman society, the slaves, and then in part three it’ll be, well yes another unfortunate group, gladiators.

[00:23:09] As always I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:12] What other parallels can you see between ancient Roman politics and the modern day?

[00:23:18] Can you think of another period in history that has been as influential on modern political systems? 

[00:23:24] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:28] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:37] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:42] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]