What Was the Difference Between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire?

One of the differences between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire that followed it was the former republic’s inability to manage the huge amount of territory that it had acquired. The Roman Empire, however, was able to control Rome’s holdings, and remained more effective at stifling civil unrest. By removing the system of checks and balances that was in place during the republic, the Roman Empire’s incumbent emperor was able to respond quickly and with greater force to any perceived or unfolding threat.

Both forms of Roman governance were involved in harsh and often ruthless wars of territorial expansion, with most of them taking place during the time Rome remained a republic. The republic’s system of government, however, was based on a written constitution, elected officials and other representative groups while the Roman Empire was governed in the manner of an emperor-based imperial dictatorship.

During the time of the Roman Republic, the power of the senate, which began as a forum for debate, increased and eventually gained a degree of influence on Rome’s military affairs. Nonetheless, the Roman Republic was never a true republic in the strict sense of the word. The governing and legislative power remained consolidated within a small group of individuals of noble birth and men who had amassed a great degree of wealth.