This divided power of the consuls might work very well in
times of peace. During dangerous wars or insurrections it was likely to prove
disastrous. A remedy was found in the temporary revival of the old kingship
under a new name. When occasion required, one of the consuls, on the advice of
the Senate, appointed a dictator. The consuls then gave up their authority and
the people put their property and lives entirely at the dictator's disposal.
During his term of office, which could not exceed six months, the state was
under martial law. Throughout Roman history there were many occasions when a
dictatorship was created to meet a sudden emergency.
PATRICIANS AND PLEBEIANS
The Roman state, during the regal age, seems to have been
divided between an aristocracy and a commons. The nobles were called
patricians,  and the common people were known as plebeians.  The
patricians occupied a privileged position, since they alone sat in the Senate
and served as priests, judges, and magistrates. In fact, they controlled
society, and the common people found themselves excluded from much of the
religious, legal, and political life of the Roman city. Under these
circumstances it was natural for the plebeians to agitate against the patrician
monopoly of government. The struggle between the two orders of society lasted
about two centuries.