Ancient history begins and ends with the ancient evidence. The evidence represents not only the foundation of the discipline, but the material out of which any argument must be built, and it is not possible to go further than it allows. This is part of the reason why the nature and value of the evidence for early Rome have long been, and remain, matters of considerable and sometimes contentious debate. The best evidence, simply because it is contemporary, is arguably the archaeological, but the sorts of questions that archaeological evidence can answer are often of little help when it comes to matters such as the politics and political structures of early Rome, which are the focus of this collection. For such matters, it is still necessary to work with the literary evidence. However, since the historical value of the literary evidence is so hotly contested, the uses to which that evidence is put and the conclusions that are drawn from it inevitably vary considerably. Despite more than a century of research, there is still nothing even remotely resembling a consensus on how the literary sources should best be handled. This paper explores some of the problems with the evidence for early Rome, considers something of the limits and uses of that evidence, as well as introduces the contributions that make up this collection of studies on power and politics in early Rome.