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Democracy in Rome

Part of the series 2,500 Years of Democracy
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John North examines how genuine democracy was in Republican Rome, and the perils and pleasures of being a citizen and/or running for office.

The Romans are famous as imperialists, not as pioneers in the history of democracy. This is neither surprising nor altogether unfair on them; all the same, they earn their place in this democracy series on the grounds that the system they operated in the middle and late Republican period (from about 300 BC until the establishment of the Empire in about 50 BC) contained a strong element of popular participation, even if balanced by a still stronger aristocratic tradition.

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