The Roman republic which was characterized by Republican form of government is known to have lasted a period of more than 400 years after it started by overthrowing the Roman monarchy. The Roman Republic was controlled by a special group of people who emanated from high class families whose history could be traced back to ancient kingdoms.
It is this domination that led to the emergence of the constitution as other talented Romans not from famous families struggled with the aristocrats to have the ruling power. They pushed for laws that allowed individuals to rule not from their family popularity and dominance, but from the current structure of the society.
The Roman senate was a political institution that survived most chronological events in the Roman history. Founded in early days, it survived events such as the split of the Roman Empire, the fall of the Roman republic and the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Though the senate was politically weak during the early regime as it was overruled by powerful executive magistrates, it had several roles in the Roman Republic (McManus). The senate was responsible for passing of decrees that were known as senatus consultum in ancient Roman Republic whose main composition was advices to the Roman magistrates from the senate. Though those advices from the senate did not hold any legal force they were followed in practice.
These decrees too served in interpretation of the law although in instances where there were clashes between the two, the law overrode the decrees. In cases of conflicts especially military conflicts, the senate was useful in provision of key advices to the chief magistrates known as Roman Consuls. The senate helped manage and run the civil government as it had massive power over it.
The senate was key in management of state finances and had the authority to disburse government funding to other projects. Administration of provinces in the Roman republic was done by consuls and praetors. The senate was also responsible for the supervision of the administration in all the provinces and was instrumental in determination and distribution of magistrates amongst the provinces (Brunt, 423-444).
Augustus Caesar is known for being the first ruler of the Roman Empire whose rule altered several aspects of the senate and governance. His governance was the Principate where he restored the republic and went to own the two most formidable republican powers, the consular imperium and tribunican veto.
Through his rule, Augustus altered the balance of power in the Roman system. Augustus granted himself tribunician powers where he had the traditional tribune power to introduce legislations, force citizens to obey his orders among many other things. Senatorial provinces that were under the control of the senate still fell under the sole control of Augustus as they fell under imperial provinces controlled fully by him. He included many members of his own family in key administrative positions in the public domain.
Augustus regime saw him strip the senate most of its powers as he was keen to remain dominant and a sole decision maker in governance issues thereby outranking other senators in the state (Lacey, 176-184). For instance, the senate held the responsibility of running the civil government and had the power to authorize fund disbursement to government projects. It also supervised administration of all provinces. In Augustus rule, he altered all these by being the sole administrator of all aspects governance.
Brunt, Peter. “The Role of the Senate in the Augustan Regime” The Classical Quarterly 34.2 (1984): 423-444
Lacey, Kirkpatrick. “Octavian in the Senate, January 27 B. C.” Journal of Roman Studies 64 (1974): 176-184
McManus, Barbara. Augustus and Tiberius: Historical Background. 4 April 2010.