By the end of the 6th century, with the kings ousted, a republic oligarchy
was established, with two chief magistrates, known as consuls, from the
artistocratic class elected annually.
Early in the republic, all power was concentrated into the hands
of the patricians, aristocratic, wealthy land holders. Plebians were anyone who was
not a patrician (the equestrian class would come later), and many were just as wealthy as
the patricians. These "aristocratic" plebians came to fight what has been
called the "War of the Orders" with the aristocrats in charge over the next 200
years. During this time period, during the early 5th century, a
tribune of Plebians was elected to protect their class's rights, and reserved the power to
veo movement by the artocratic Senate. By 367 BC, the first plebian had been elected
consul, and in 450 BC, the twelve tabls were published, providing the first written, fair
laws in the Roman world. Despite all of these things, power still depended on wealth
in Ancient Rome, and even a Plebian would have to have access to financial resources to be
elected to the magistracy.
originally a marshy valley between the Quirinal and Esquiline Hills, became the focus of
public and political life. It was divided down the middle by the cloaca maxima,
probably originially meant to be a storm sewer or drainage ditch. By the 6th
century BC it was covered, and by the 2nd century BC it was Rome's chief
sewer. Shops and houses lined the forum on the northeast and southwest sides.
People assembled in the Comitium, a rectangular enclosure oriented to the four
points of the compass. The Senate House (curia) was built into the north
end of the Comitium, as was a speaker's platform, the rostra. On the
southeast end of the forum stood the regia, the former kings' palace. It
was now occupied by the Pontifex Maximus and Vestal Virgins.
A great combined effort
by the Latins and Greeks at the colony of Cumae overthrew the Etruscans from power south
of the Tiber. Rome then became a member - and eventually leader - of a lose alliance
of nations developing along the Tiber called the Latin League. Soon, however,
disaster struck. Gallic tribes, who had been slowly infiltrating across the Alps
into Northern Italy, crosse the Apennines and sacked Rome in 390 BC. Legend has it
that only the fortified capital survived the destruction. Rome did not withstand
such losses until 476 AD at the hand of Alaric the Goth.
Rome survived, however,
and quickly recovered to begin the conquest of Italy. Taking ove the Latin League,
each Estruscan city slowly fell; the hill peoples followes suit. The Samnites built
up the most resistance, but by 290 BC all of central Italy was under Roman rule. The
Romans continued their campaign by driving the Gallic sackers out of Italy in 283 BC, and
then turned south to the Greek city/states. Despite intervention by King Pyrrhus of
Epirius, they were subsequently conquered in 275 BC.
Then Rome fought some
its moxt taxing years in its long history - the Punic Wars against the people of Carthage
in North Africa (now the city of Tunis in Tunisia). The first was waged over the
possession of Sicily (264-241 BC), and then against the great general Hannibal (218-201
BC). Invading Italy out of a Spanish power base in 218 BC, he won three great
victories, such as that at Cannae in Apulia, 216 BC, and managed to detach much of
southern Italy from Rome before his defeat by the Scipios compaigning in North Africa
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