Go to page Content

The Roman News: Political Life – text only version

<Left column>

EMPIRE OR REPUBLIC?

Illustrated by CHRISTIAN HOOK

 

LED BY A SINGLE RULER, the Roman Empire has soared to new heights of power and success—or so some people say. Other think life was better before the Empire, when our nation was a republic. Here, The Roman News examines both points of view.

 

SUPPORTERS OF THE Republic point out that back in those days, power wasn’t just in the of one man, the emperor.

 

Instead, Rome was governed by 600 senators, chosen from only the wealthy families.

 

They were led by two consuls, who could never become too greedy or powerful because they ruled for only one year. Then they were replaced by two new consuls.

 

In Republican times, all citizens (free men—not women or slaves, of course) could take part in running our nation.

 

For starters, citizens could choose the senators and consul. They could also go to the Forum or to the Field of Mars in the city of Rome, to hear politicians’ speeches. And afterward, they could vote on important matters, such as whether or not to go to war.

 

A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

 

But of course everything changed after the great Augustus became Rome’s first emperor in 27 B.C. Nowadays, it is the emperor who governs our nation and makes all the important decisions.

 

Some people claim that he has too much power. But these critics forget that it was the emperors who made our nation the greatest in the world—winning vast areas of new land and protecting us against foreign invaders. Besides, even the most powerful emperor can’t rule if the people turn against him—his very life may be in danger if he becomes too unpopular.

 

<Image of a bronze statue of Emporor Augustus> A MIGHTY MAN: Augustus, our first emperor.

 

That’s why emperors are so eager to keep us happy. They pay huge sums of money to give us free food and entertainment—from gladiator games to the triumphs held after their great battles.

 

Here at The Roman News, there’s no doubt in our minds. Under the emperors’ rule, life has been happier, safer, and more glorious. Long live the Roman Empire!

 

<Right column>

 

VESPASIAN’S TRIUMPH

Illustrated by RICHARD HOOK

 

EVERY ROMAN LOVES a good show. And one of the very best was the victory parade given by the emperor Vespasian in A.D. 71. The Roman News’s reporter was at the scene…

 

THE STREETS of Rome had been packed with crowds since before dawn. And every single building that lined the route was jammed with people hanging out of the windows.

 

At midday loud cheering broke out, as the parade finally came into sight.

 

In the lead were the senators, followed by row upon row of Vespasian’s troops.

 

<Image under of soldiers and horses>

 

Extracts from The Roman News by Andrew Langley and Philip de Souza, Candlewick Press, reproduced with permission of Walker Books, text © Andrew Langley 1996.