Senate

According to legend Romulus established the Senate after he founded Rome by personally selecting the most noble men (wealthy men with legitimate wives and children) to serve as a council for the city. As such, the Senate was the King’s advisory council as the Council of State. The Senate was composed of 300 Senators, with 100 Senators representing each of the three ancient tribes of Rome: the Ramnes (Latins), Tities (Sabines), and Luceres (Etruscans) tribes. Within each tribe, a Senator was selected from each of the tribe's ten curiae. The king had the sole authority to appoint the Senators, but this selection was done in accordance with ancient custom. Under the monarchy, the Senate possessed very little power and authority as the king held most of the political power of the state and could exercise those powers without the Senate's consent. The chief function of the Senate was to serve as the king’s council and be his legislative coordinator. Once legislation proposed by the king passed the Comitia Curiata, the Senate could either veto it or accept it as law. The king was, by custom, to seek the advice of the Senate on major issues. However, it was left to him to decide what issues, if any, were brought before them and he was free to accept or reject their advice as he saw fit. Only the king possessed the power to convene the Senate, except during the interregnum, during which the Senate possessed the authority to convene itself. The Senate of the Roman Kingdom was a political institution in the ancient Roman Kingdom. The word senate derives from the Latin word senex, which means "old man". Therefore, senate literally means "board of old men" and translates as "Council of Elders." The prehistoric Indo-Europeans who settled Rome in the centuries before the legendary founding of Rome in 753 BC were structured into tribal communities. These tribal communities often included an aristocratic board of tribal elders, who were vested with supreme authority over their tribe. The early tribes that had settled along the banks of the Tiber eventually aggregated into a loose confederation, and eventually formed an alliance for protection against invaders. The early Romans were deeply patriarchal. The early Roman family was called a gens or "clan". Each clan was an aggregation of families under a common living male patriarch, called a pater (the Latin word for "father"). The pater was the undisputed master of his clan. He had the absolute power to resolve any disputes, and to make any decisions for the collective gens. When the early Roman gens were aggregating to form a common community, the patres from the leading clans were selected for the confederated board of elders (what would become the Roman Senate). Legend states that the senate grew to a membership of 300 after three blocks of 100 senators were added at fixed points in time. What likely happened, however, was a gradual aggregation of patres over time, as more clans achieved high status. The early senate derived its ultimate sovereignty from the fact that it was composed of the patriarchal heads of the leading families. As the individual patres led their families, the board of patres led the confederation of those families. In time, the patres came to recognize the need for a single leader. Therefore, they elected a king (rex), and vested in him their sovereign power. The king presided over the senate, appointed individuals to the senate (for life), and expelled individuals from the senate. When the king died, his sovereign power naturally reverted back to the patres.