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To what extent does the Republican system of government reflect the Romans’ reluctance to concentrate power in a few hands and for indefinite periods of time?

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The institutions of the Roman Republic were established as a reaction against the tyranny of Etruscan kings. Once the last of these kings, Tarquin the Proud, had been deposed, the Romans began putting in place a republican system of government that would, in theory, disperse power as much as possible, ensuring that all classes had some stake in the system.

Over the centuries, however, a number of powerful personalities arose—military men such as Pompey and Julius Caesar, who managed to arrogate substantial political power through their exploits on the field of battle. Although they were careful to keep the outward institutions of republican government in tact, in reality they subverted those...

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