Republican government

Now the plebs also had the right to propose and pass laws that would go to the comitia centuriata, the assembly above the Senate. Those who sat on the comitia centuriata were patrician but were painfully aware of the possible consequences of overturning plebeian proposals. Growing pleb-power didn’t sit well with many patricians, so in an effort to divide and rule, a mixed patrician-plebeian assembly was formed in 366, called the comitia tributa. This was
allowed to pass laws with senate
approval from 339. It’s uncertain how
effective this move was for the
patriciate, but at least they could veto
or amend plebeian proposals from
within a democratic voting legislative,
in theory maintaining the appearance
of unity.

For the plebs it meant the potential
hurdle of the ancient and aristocratic
comitia centuriata was removed, but
plebeian politicians still wanted more.
In 287 there came a dramatic change.
The law was altered to enable both the
plebeian concilium plebis tributa and the
mixed comitia tributa to pass laws independently of the Senate. There were now two branches of government which, surprisingly, tended towards co-operation and brought some peace between the Republic’s political parties.

Expansion of the Roman Confederacy between 338 and 290 BC.
Click map for larger, downloadable image.


Click the button to find out more about the Senate and senators in the Republican period


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