An Introduction to Roman Politics - mrsgraham.net

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					          roman Politics
          (an introduction)

Throughout the 
History of Rome, 
politics had been a 
constant struggle 
between the power of 
the Senate 
(Patricians) and the 
Assemblies( 
plebeians). This was 
known as the 
Struggle of the 
Orders. The final 
century BC saw the 
dismantling of 
Senatorial power
               Roman Society
Government: The Senate (debates issues and puts
            forward proposals for laws (leges)
            The Assemblies         (votes on the senate’s
            proposals and passes laws but doesn’t have
            the ability to make laws)
              ----------------------------
               The People:
              The nobility (Patricians)
              The Knights (Equites)
              The people (Plebians)
              non citizens & slaves
Artists view of Senate proceedings
  Roman Government
CONSULS (2): chief civil and military
magistrates; invested with imperium
PRAETORS (2-8): administered civil law at
Rome.
AEDILES (2): In charge of religious festivals,
public games, temples, upkeep of city,
regulation of marketplaces, grain supply.
QUAESTORS (12-20): financial officers and
administrative assistants (civil and military); in
charge of state treasury at Rome; in field,
served as quartermasters and seconds- in-
command.
TRIBUNES (10): charged with protection of
lives and property of plebians; had power of
veto (Lat. "I forbid") over elections, laws,
decrees of the senate, and the acts of all other
magistrates (except dictator);
CENSORS (2): elected every 5 years to
conduct census, enroll new citizens, review roll
of senate (ex- consuls only) -- enormous
prestige and influence (auctoritas).
                     The Equites
n   As  the  previous  diagram  showed  the  equites 
    (knights)  did  not  have  a  place  in  the  workings  of 
    government  but  the  distinction  between  the 
    Patricians and  the Equites is  not  always  apparent 
    from historical events and needs to be clarified.
    n   Some patricians represented the interests of the equites
        while some equites were happy to maintain the status quo.
n   The  equites  were  essentially  the  financiers  of  the 
    empire.
n   They  organised  the  collection  of  taxes  and  acted  as 
    bankers to the empire.
n   This  sort  of  work  was  beneath  the  senatorial  classes 
    who  gained  their  wealth  from  the  ownership  of  land 
    and  so  the  two  classes  worked  in  tandem.    The 
    senators  running  government  and  controlling  the 
    land  and  the  equites  controlling  the  commercial  side 
    of things.
n   The  was movement  between  the  classes  but  it  was 
    very  difficult  for  someone  from  the  equestrian  class 
    to become a senator.
n   Those  who  held  the  rank  of  senator  were  very 
    protective  of  their  position  of privilege  and  rarely 
    extended  their  rank  beyond  those  whose  family  were 
    already senatorial.
n   As  with  most  things  the  equites  interests  were 
    represented  by  senators  such  as  M Crassus and
    Julius Caesar (in exchange for financial backing and 
    political support in elections).
                 A political career
n   A man of senatorial rank would start their career 
    early, possibly working in the law courts or for one of 
    the city administrators.
n   They would then go to the provinces and hold a very 
    minor command.

    n   Military and political careers went hand in hand.  Glory and 
        prestige on the field of battle were essential qualities in a 
        Roman politician.
n   Upon returning to Rome they would stand for 
    election to one of the smaller administrative posts 
    such as Aedile.
n   After which it would be back to the provinces but this 
    time one could expect to hold a more influential post 
    in command of a sizeable force.
n   The career would continued to jump between Rome 
    and the  provinces with each successive step 
    requiring greater influence, prestige and ability and 
    as such offered much stiffer competition until one 
    reached the consulship and then went onto become a 
    governor in the provinces.

n   All the time behind this was the idea that the senate 
    itself controlled who got what post and when.  By 
    doing so they made sure that they all had an equal 
    chance of holding posts and exploiting the system 
    while also controlling anyone who got too powerful.
                       Elections
n   It  is  important  to  know  how  Roman  politics 
    worked  if  we  are  to  fully  understand  the  driving 
    force  behind  many  of  the  actions  taken  by 
    politicians during this period.
.
n   Power  and Wealth were  the  two  driving  forces 
    behind any politicians career.  There was no sense 
    that  government  was  for  the  interests  of  the 
    people  or that  there  was a moral  obligation  to run 
    government in the interests of the people.
n   One of the more peculiar aspects of the Roman society was the 
    relationship between a client (clientela) and his patron 
    (patronus). This was a complex system of interdependency by 
    which a wealthy patron gave to his less fortunate clients one
    or more of the following:
     
n   legal counsel, legal aid 
n   their sportula (a regular monetary handout, "the dole") 
n   free meals in their homes 
n   other gifts and/or resources (land, livestock, right to grow crops on 
    their land)
      
n   and the client reciprocated by providing to the patron:
     
n   respect 
n   political support 
n   an escort if their patrons wished to walk around the city or go on a 
    journey. 
n   financial support 
n   other services
               THE CLIENT PATRON SYSTEM

                                                     SENATORS


                     EQUITES


Tax collectors, merchants, traders (not just citizens)


                                                              wealthy CITIZENS
                                                                  Merchants

                                               Middle class CITIZENS
                                                   Shop keepers

                                                             Lower class CITIZENS
                                                                 Tradesmen
n   The higher up the scale one was the more clients you 
    had  to  look  after.    Equally  you  could  control  the 
    clients of your clients and their client also etc.

n   Consequently  a  senator  who  wanted  to  win  an 
    election  would  ask  his  clients  to  vote  for  him.    They 
    in  return  would  ask  their  clients  to  vote  for  the 
    patron and so on down the line.
n   This  way  a  senator  could  count  on  thousands  of 
    votes  while  only  having  direct  contact  with  a 
    manageable number of clients.
n   But the expectations  of patrons  were matched  by the 
    expectations  of  their  clients  and  to  ensure  a  loyal 
    client  base  patrons  would  distribute  their  wealth 
    freely. 
                  The Salutatio
                  Calling Hour
n   Each morning, at daybreak, the patron's house would be 
    opened for salutatio, when the patron would hold court 
    in the atrium of his house. During this time unofficial 
    business would be conducted, favors requested, political 
    support lined up for votes on important issues, and each 
    client would receive his sportula(a regular monetary 
    handout). 
n   Once the relationship was established it was maintained 
    over generations
n   Consequently although the financial system was 
    inherently unequal the client-patron system  ensured 
    that a significant amount of the empire wealth that 
    went into the hands of the privileged few managed to 
    find its ways down through the system, especially at 
    election time (which, for many posts, was an annual 
    affair).
n   And it wasn’t just at election time that the client-
    patron system worked.  When the assemblies voted 
    on laws they had to be cajoled into voting for the 
    laws put forward by the senators.
n   Not forgetting that these laws would always enact 
    measures that favoured the senatorial classes.
n   For the people to vote for these laws there had to be 
    something in it for the people.
          Roman Values
    know what these are and use
               them
n   Mos Maiorum
n   Gratia

n Amicitae
n Nobilitas
n   Dignitas
n   Gravitas                READ ROMAN PATHS 
n   Fides                   TO POWER.
n   Pietas                  There will be a test on it 
n   Find the meanings of    next week
    these terms.

				
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