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Ancient Rome Lesson for Kids: Government & Laws

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Ancient Rome is well-known for many of its inventions and contributions to society that can still be found all over the world. Come and learn about the government systems, the people within the government, as well as some of the laws during that time.

What Was Ancient Rome?

Today, when someone talks about Rome, they are talking about the capital of Italy. However, when someone talks about ancient Rome, they are talking about something different. Ancient Rome began in 753 BCE with the founding of Rome which started out as a small town on the Tiber River in Italy, but the Roman Empire eventually grew to be most of Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia. For hundreds of years, they were considered to be the leaders of the world. When the government collapsed in 476 CE, ancient Rome came to an end.

Government Systems of Ancient Rome

While the initial government of ancient Rome was a monarchy, ruled by kings, ancient Rome is best known for their republic form of government, where citizens elected representatives to rule for them. This form of government has provided the basis for many present-day governments, including the United States, which is considered a democratic republic.

The Roman Republic

In 509 BCE, unhappy with being ruled by kings, the Roman republic form of government was established. It was led by co-consuls who were appointed and only served a one-year term. The consuls were advised by the Senate. For many years, both of these positions could only be held by patricians, the wealthy aristocrats. The Senate made decisions about how to deal with the finances, relationships with other countries and judgment calls during times of war. While plebians, the lower-class citizens, did not originally have any say or power in government, a plebian council was eventually formed to represent the common people.

The Senate
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The Roman Empire

In 59 BCE, Julius Caesar was elected consul and this began the decline of the Roman Republic. Julius Caesar is one of the most well-known figures of ancient Rome. His military leadership was admired by some as it made ancient Rome even stronger than it had previously been. Others believed that he was too powerful, violent and cruel. In 45 BCE, he became the first dictator of Rome (no more co-consuls). Many did not want the republic form of government to end, so in 44 BCE, Julius Caesar was assassinated. However, the decline of the republic had already begun and in 27 BCE, the second period of ancient Rome, known as the Roman Empire, officially began with the republic form of government being replaced with emperors - Augustus being the first Roman Emperor. This form of government continued until 476 CE, when Rome fell and the last emperor gave up his crown.

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