What are some features of the early Roman democracy?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The period of time in Rome's history in which a democracy was most prevalent is called the Roman Republic.  It commenced with the abolition of the monarchy in 509 BC.  The early period was ruled by a group of aristocrats that were called patricians.  The patricians could trace their lineage back to the earliest rulers of Rome.  The early period was marked by the emergence of a Senate to control the political and military affairs of Rome.  To be a member of the Senate, you had to be approved by the members of the Senate and you needed to be quite wealthy.  The power of the Senate was derived by tradition and precedence and was not based on written law.  One of the important functions of the Senate at this time was its role in foreign affairs.  The Senate oversaw a period of unprecedented expansion in the early years of the Republic.  Over time, the Senate was forced to concede rights to the lower classes, or plebeians.  This made the republic less aristocratic than it was in its earliest history.