The founding of Rome goes back to the very early days of civilization. It is so old, it is today known as 'the eternal city'. The Romans believed that their city was founded in the year 753 BC. Modern historians though believe it was the year 625 BC.
|Early Rome was governed by kings, but after only seven of them had ruled, the Romans took power over their own city and ruled themselves.They then instead had a council known as the 'senate' which ruled over them. From this point on one speaks of the 'Roman Republic'.|
The word 'Republic' itself comes from the Latin (the language of the Romans) words 'res publica' which mean 'public matters' or 'matters of state'.
The senate under the kings had only been there to advise the king. Now the senate appointed a consul, who ruled Rome like a king, but only for one year. - This was a wise idea, as like that, the consul ruled carefully and not as a tyrant, for he knew that otherwise he could be punished by the next consul, once his year was up.
Rome knew four classes of people. This division was very important to the Romans.
The lowest class were the slaves. They were owned by other people. They had no rights at all.
The next class were the plebeians. They were free people. But they had little say at all.
The second highest class were the equestrians (sometimes they are called the 'knights'). Their name means the 'riders', as they were given a horse to ride if they were called to fight for Rome. To be an equestrian you had to be rich.
The highest class were the nobles of Rome. They were called 'patricians'. All the real power in Rome lay with them.