What Was Ancient Rome’s Influence on Government and Democracy Today

Rome 12 Tables

The Law of 12 Tables divided Roman citizenry into two main groups: plebeians and patricians. Credits: Ancient Civilization

The Birth of Legislation

Roman society recognized two distinct classes: patricians – the noble-born, and plebeians – the common folk. In the birth of Rome, plebeians held virtually no rights whatsoever, and in order to obtain them they fought for a long time. Which is where the internet slang word “Pleb” comes from, meaning the commoner.
The greatest success was establishing the position of the tribune. At any given time, there were ten of the plebeians, chosen from the ranks of the commoners, and they had the right to prevent the Senate from passing detrimental laws to common folk through vetoing them. Veto is actually a Latin verb with the meaning of ’I forbid’. This tradition of preventing detrimental laws remains to this day as a part of the arsenal of a president in the West where they have the ability to dispute a law, or send it to be reanalyzed by the parliament.This would seem unreasonable to the Romans of the Republic – the man who leads the Army is at the same time the one who protects the common folk? Where is Cicero to protect the fatherland from vicious the mighty?

The base for all subsequent development of Roman law was the Law of 12 Tables, written down in the 5th century BC. Initially it only included laws that were related to the patricians, letting them treat plebeians any way they wished. An uprising allowed the plebeians to be introduced in the legal system, and thus setting a path for the common man to fight for his rights.

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