|THE ROMAN SENATE
& PUBLIC OFFICE
Rome was first ruled by kings, but after driving Tarquin (a notable tyrant) from the throne, the citizens reorganized Rome into a republic. Citizens elected representatives to the Senate, where all national decisions would be made. As Rome grew and grew, the position of senator acquired more and more prestige. Wealth did not make you a noble Roman; serving your country in public office did. Therefore, every rich man wanted to serve at least a one year term in the Senate, then he would have an illustrious title that would impress his friends and look good on his tombstone. By the time of Julius Caesar, only the very wealthy could afford to be a senator. Why? Senators spent millions of their own on bettering the city.
While holding public office meant a lifetime of prestige, it almost bankrupted many senators. The Roman people were games-crazy. They loved public spectacles: gladiator fights, chariot races at the Circus Maximus, and public plays. Senators, as the leaders of the country, were expected to fund these spectacles and keep the people happy. They were not cheap.
After serving one term, senators tried to humbly back out of the "honor" of serving another, especially if their coffers were running low. Because of this, the Senate became a kind of a club, where new members were nominated by the current members. The people no longer voted for representatives. The rich nominated other rich men, new sources of money.
If a senator was beloved enough, the people would declare that a statue must be erected in his honor (at his own expense, of course).
SPORT & ENTERTAINMENT
BACK TO ROME MAIN PAGE
|ABOVE: The Roman Forum, the central marketplace and business hub of ancient Rome. Here citizens met, discussed the latest news.
BELOW: A Roman Senator