Roman Republic

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The Roman republic began, according to the traditional chronology (Atticus and Varro), in 509 BC after the Romans rebelled against the Etruscan-dominated monarchy. The early Roman republic was divided into the patricians and the plebeians. Patricians and plebeians were both citizens, but patricians were the wealthier class and could hold more government positions, while plebeians, the lower class, could not marry a patrician, and could not in practice hold office. The top Roman officials were called consuls, two of which were elected every year. They controlled the army and ran the government. They could veto each other's decisions. Praetors interpreted the laws and acted as judges in court cases. Rome's legislative body was the senate, a group of, originally, 300 patrician men that served for life. By 200 BC the senate could propose laws, hold debates on issues, and approve building programs. In 471 BC, again according to the traditional chronology, the Council of the Plebs was set up by the plebeians to give them power in government.