The Imperial Republic

Harriet I. Flower

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

The Imperial Republic

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  • Classical Studies
  • Ancient Roman History
  • Classical History



Rome did not begin as a republic, nor as a small town any different from many others in Central Italy. It was only subsequently, after the emergence of a government based on elected magistrates and its gradual development into a characteristically Roman type of political system, that it became the Mediterranean capital, a city of around a million people, whose size and complexity would not be seen again in Europe until late-eighteenth-century London. All subsequent Roman history grows out of the achievements of the Roman Republic, in its developed form. Rome's overseas empire was already vast by the time of Augustus, the first emperor. Similarly, genres of Latin literature, concepts of law and the system of the courts, the Latin language itself, and many aspects of material culture were also products of the Republic. This article outlines three criteria for articulating and distinguishing different phases of the republican community: internal politics, religion, and empire.

Keywords: Roman Republic; history; politics; religion; empire; Rome; Latin; literature; law; material culture

Article.  6226 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Roman History ; Classical History

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