Sir John Dalberg-Acton , an English Catholic historian, politician, and writer made the remarks “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” in a letter he wrote to Mandell Creighton on April 1887. Acton’s remarks may apply to the governmental system of Ancient Rome as it did in his days concerning religious order, power, and authority.
Ancient Rome was ruled by a government system called the Republic. This meant that the people or some portion of the people retained supreme control over the government. The ruling people were known as the Senate, patricians who were appointed by the consuls. The consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic, serving as the heads of government. Power itself seemed not to be the problem of corruption but how that power was attained and used is what is in view concerning Ancient Rome.
One example of the adage “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is that of the right of a male to kill members of one’s own family. This was a form of unlimited or absolute power that was given to the paterfamilias, a “family father”, which was a Roman man who belonged to a family. The paterfamilias had power over everyone in his household, including the power of life and death. From this position, Roman community life was also viewed as a kind of family life, male dominance and control.
Another example of the adage “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is that of the Senate and that of Julius Caesar. The governing body of the Senate plotted to kill Julius Caesar, after he joined forces with Crassus and Pompey in an effort to control Roman politics. Crassus and Pompey were given military appointments by the Senate and they also gained vast amount of land and money. Julius Caesar used his power by giving land and money to his soldiers in order to gain their loyalty and he also assumed power that was not legally given. The Senate did finally murder Julius Caesar. Is this how people in power exact justice or...