Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 where the government operated as a republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy
Roman Kingdom
The Roman Kingdom was the period of the ancient Roman civilization characterized by a monarchical form of government of the city of Rome and its territories....

, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

, elected annually by the citizens and advised by a senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

. A complex constitution
Constitution of the Roman Republic
The Constitution of the Roman Republic was a set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. The constitution was largely unwritten, uncodified, and constantly evolving...

 gradually developed, centered on the principles of a separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 and checks and balances. Except in times of dire national emergency, public offices were limited to one year, so in theory at least, no single individual could dominate his fellow-citizens.

In practice, Roman society was hierarchical
Social class in ancient Rome
Social class in ancient Rome was hierarchical, but there were multiple and overlapping social hierarchies. The status of free-born Romans was established by:* ancestry ;...