Ancient History & Civilisation


The Republican Political System

The Magistrates


Two hold office for five years. Role: to carry out the census, the revision of the roll of citizens, also review membership of the senate, admit and expel senators.


Two a year - senior executive officers of the state. Role: to preside over senate and assemblies when in Rome, govern provinces and lead armies abroad to fight all major wars.


Initially one (four a year from 227; six a year from 197 with need to organize Spanish provinces). Role: primarily judicial and to govern provinces lead armies not led by the consuls.


Four a year (two curule, two plebeian) Role: municipal administration, organization of corn supplies and festivals etc.


Ten a year. No patrician allowed to hold the office. Role: to preside over concilium plebis.


Number gradually rises to ten a year. Role: financial administration at Rome and in the provinces.

The Senate

Membership around 300, regulated by the censors. Members had to be from the 18 senior equestrian centuries - therefore property of at least 400,000 HS. (one HS=100 sesterces, the silver coin that was the basic currency before the introduction of the denarius during the Second Punic War) They had little formal power, but were there to advise the magistrates, especially the consuls. Also received foreign embassies. Considerable prestige from the auctoritas of its ex-magistrates and exercised much power, influence because of its permanence.

The Assemblies


Only plebeians allowed to attend - divided into 35 tribes (4 urban, 31 rural) -membership based on ancestry - presided over by a Tribune of the plebs.

FUNCTION (a) Election of the ten tribunes of the plebs and the plebeian aediles+ special commissioners, (b) Passing Legislation.


Made up of citizens including patricians - divided into 35 tribes (4 urban, 31 rural). Membership based on ancestry. Presided over by a consul, praetor or curule aedile.

FUNCTION (a) Election of curule aediles, quaestors, + special cornmissioners. (b) Passing Legislation.


Made up of citizens - divided into 193 voting centuries. Originally derived from military organization of citizen militia. Membership of the group was based on possession of a standard of equipment. Eighteen equestrian cavalry centuries at the top (equites equo publico - able to claim a horse paid for by the state). Had come to be based on property qualification. Those better equipped wealthier voted first. Also had fewer members in their centuries - therefore had a disproportionate influence on voting. Presided over by a consul or praetor.

FUNCTION (a) Election of consuls, praetors and censors, (b) Declarations of War and ratification of Peace Treaties. Some legislation.

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