I was shocked recently to learn that in ancient Rome, Senators had no legislative powers, and could only issue advisory statements. This advice would end up having profound influence over the legislation that was passed, but the Senators could only pass legislation indirectly through popular assemblies. Who would have thought?
This I learned in two lectures about how the Roman Republic worked (before the revolution) and I was further fascinated to learn we really don't know how it worked--not everything, at least. From this I concluded that Isabel Paterson's chapter in God of the Machine about how Rome established equal law for all probably didn't reflect the truth about Roman government, though I do not fault Paterson because figuring out exactly how Rome operated is a daunting task.
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