Full Version: Was the political system of the Roman Republic unique?
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Polybius describes Romes political system as an unique one, but how unique was the Roman political system? To me it seems that other Italian city states had the same, or similar government systems.

Were other societies in Italy militaristic, to the same degree as Rome?

And what really made Rome  unique, compared to other Italian city states?
Rome was of course much larger and more powerful than other city-states in Italy, and by the late 4th century its habit of expanding its citizenship as a method of annexation was unusual for the ancient world at large.

But many other Italian city-states (and other republican city states in the ancient world more broadly) had the same basic mixture of popular assemblies, an aristocratic council, and elected magistrates. Latin cities, for example had magistrates variously called praetors, dictators and aediles. Oscan communities were led by meddices (sg meddix; Oscan meddiss) who had powers similar to Roman magistrates: the meddix tuticus probably had powers similar to a Roman consul. 

But there were also people who did not organize themselves around nucleated city-states, most notably the Samnites, who existed in a more decentralized confederation, loosely organized around a central sanctuary (Pietrabbodante), with some capacity for centralized decision making concerning military affairs.
I would say that the Roman unicum, at least in Italy, was given by the collegial management of power done by the consuls, elected and limited in their power by the tribune of the plebs.

Apart that, all the system created around the public recognition and the Cursus honorum have played an essential role in the roman characterization.
I have read another time the classical book The social history of Rome, Géza Alföldy. According to him, the real innovation consists in the creation of the Plebs, or better in the recognition of rights to the plebs, in exchange for its partecipation in the military campaigns that initially granted the freedom to Rome, and then granted the conquest of an empire.

And probably this is started with one of the first social reforms in Rome, the reform that transformed Rome in a timocracy. Not a simple monarchy or in an oligarchy, but in a society in which rights and duties were highly related.

Something more here: