How the Ancient Roman Government Worked


Kelly Macquire
by and
published on 05 June 2023

Western Civilization is forever indebted to the people of ancient Greece and Rome. Among the numerous contributions these societies made are in the fields of art, literature and philosophy; however, perhaps their greatest gift to future generations was the modern perception of government. The contemporary idea of democracy, while borne out of the political struggles in the city of Athens, came to fruition in the Roman Republic, surviving, despite the constant interference of the emperor, through the Roman Empire. Although the present definition of democracy has changed considerably, one must still recognize its early evolution in that eternal city, Rome.

The Roman government of the old Republic had created a unique system of the division of power which was a safeguard against oppression by any single individual. Power, for the most part, lay with a voting public. While not perfect by any definition of the word, it allowed some of the people to have a say in how their government operated. There were elected officials and a representative body. Of course, as long as there were games, festivals, and grain, the average Roman citizen was happy. Under the emperor, the government changed and the emperor became the ultimate decision maker, he had the last word. Considering the context of ancient times and contemporary forms of government, and taking into account its albeit limited representative elements, Rome must, nevertheless, remain an outstanding example of a successful ancient government.



0:00​ Introduction
0:52 Foundation Myth & Early Government
2:18 Government of the Roman Republic
5:46 Government of the Roman Empire
8:22 Legacy of Roman Government
9:36 Outro

Roman Government
Roman Law
Praetorian Guard

Ancient Rome Playlist
The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
Pax Romana or the Roman Peace Explained
Ancient Roman Society and Social Order–cinutQ&list=PLRIPanKDxKpt23JtCUEa7Cw787eohdqIP&index=5&t

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The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

World History Encyclopedia

#history #ancientrome #romanhistory #romangovernment

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2023, June 05). How the Ancient Roman Government Worked. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "How the Ancient Roman Government Worked." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified June 05, 2023.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "How the Ancient Roman Government Worked." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 05 Jun 2023. Web. 16 Apr 2024.