because history just ain't what it used to be

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Similarities Between the Roman Legal and Political Systems and Modern Democracies

In History on March 3, 2010 at 17:15

by Bryan Fidler

Many elements of the Roman Republican political and legal system are present in modern democracies. In 450 BC the Twelve Tables were established to put in writing the procedure that was to be followed for various crimes. We have written laws in place today at the Federal, State, and local levels that dictate criminal procedures. Also, as is the case today, there were some Roman laws that were in the tables that fell into disuse, but were never repealed.

There were several Roman Courts, each dealing with a different statutory offense. Today we also separate courts and crimes, with Federal Courts that deal with federal crimes, Circuit Courts handling felony criminal cases and civil cases, and District Courts that have traffic court, and court for misdemeanor crimes. There were also prisons, capital offenses, and lawyers, but the definition of these things in Roman times was much different than today. Another similarity is that there were many frivolous lawsuits as people were awarded money and material goods when suits were won. This is still a problem within our legal system.

The government was in theory a participatory and representative democracy, as we have in modern times, but voting and offices were limited to certain people. There was a system of checks and balances in place, which we have now also. Furthermore, there often was a typical path of advancement in the political realm, starting with quaestor and moving on eventually to consul, just as we see local politicians progress to the State, and often Federal level, as they gain experience and exposure.

Jahnige, Joan. “The Roman Legal System.” Legal Latin. 2005. KET, Web. 2 Mar 2010. (

McManus, Barbara. “Roman Cursus Honorum.” Roman Government. July 2003. The College of New Rochelle, Web. 2 Mar 2010. (


What Does the Future Hold?

In History, Opinion on March 2, 2010 at 14:57

by Becky Hottle

What Does the Future Hold? (The View from 264 BCE)

Although the Punic Wars are coming, I believe that there is a hopeful life ahead. In that future, everyone would be treated equally in Rome. The Struggle of the Orders was ‘resolved’ a long time ago, but many people are still being treated unfairly.

I hope a new invention will come soon to help us with farming. The wheel and the plow help enormously, but maybe something could be made that would help us not only plant the crops, but harvest them. It is so tiring harvesting all of our crops in the fields. As far as culture goes, I feel that — by one means or another — the Roman way of life will be introduced to many other civilizations and nations. We have a different view on many things, and I hope it translates into the future. As a Roman civilian, I look forward to changes, but hope we still keep the Roman culture alive.

What Does the Future Hold? (The View from 2010 CE)

By looking at the world around me today, I can’t predict what is going to happen. Not that anyone can, but I can’t even begin to think about how our world can go through more change than right now.

Brand new technology is being created that makes life so much easier. Computers, newly improved cars,and new tools all help us to do the things we do every day.

But all of these things really make me wonder if we really need them.

People back in Rome and Greece didn’t have our materials, but their civilizations were very successful and powerful. I just know in the future, I do not want to lose what we have today to new and improved technology.

Thought for the Day: Don’t let it go to your head.

In Thought-for-the-Day on March 1, 2010 at 22:47

by Martha Schick and Jim Knell

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” (

So said John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, a historian in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. This phrase simply tells us what we don’t want to believe: many times, we have to bend our morals to get what we want.

In extreme historical examples, we know that absolute power can change the world for the worst. Hitler used it to kill innocent people. That can also be said of Alexander, the Great as well.

This tells us something about humans getting too much power.

When people simply have power over themselves, and their decisions only affect their own lives, they are often not satisfied.

Something within us wants to be influential.

And it should be noted that many of the people that history has chosen to remember were in fact corrupted by power. It’s practically a requirement.

Wanting to be influential is not necessarily a bad thing. But what we do with the power… that is what decides how we are remembered.