Citations:

Text #9622

Livius. "Ab urbe condita"
http://www.the-romans.eu/books/Ab-urbe-co...

But a war with the Volscians was imminent, and the State was torn with internal dissensions; the patricians and the plebeians were bitterly hostile to one another, owing mainly to the desperate condition of the debtors. They loudly complained that whilst fighting in the field for liberty and empire they were oppressed and enslaved by their fellow-citizens at home; their freedom was more secure in war than in peace, safer amongst the enemy than amongst their own people. The discontent, which was becoming of itself continually more embittered, was still further inflamed by the signal misfortunes of one individual. An old man, bearing visible proofs of all the evils he had suffered, suddenly appeared in the Forum. His clothing was covered with filth, his personal appearance was made still more loathsome by a corpse-like pallor and emaciation, his unkempt beard and hair made him look like a savage. In spite of this disfigurement he was recognised by the pitying bystanders; they said that he had been a centurion, and mentioned other military distinctions he possessed. He bared his breast and showed the scars which witnessed to many fights in which he had borne an honourable part. The crowd had now almost grown to the dimensions of an Assembly of the people. He was asked, “Whence came that garb, whence that disfigurement?” He stated that whilst serving in the Sabine war he had not only lost the produce of his land through the depredations of the enemy, but his farm had been burnt, all his property plundered, his cattle driven away, the war-tax demanded when he was least able to pay it, and he had got into debt. This debt had been vastly increased through usury and had stripped him first of his father’s and grandfather’s farm, then of his other property, and at last like a pestilence had reached his person. He had been carried off by his creditor, not into slavery only, but into an underground workshop, a living death. Then he showed his back scored with recent marks of the lash.

On seeing and hearing all this a great outcry arose; the excitement was not confined to the Forum, it spread everywhere throughout the City. Men who were in bondage for debt and those who had been released rushed from all sides into the public streets and invoked “the protection of the Quirites.” Every one was eager to join the malcontents, numerous bodies ran shouting through all the streets to the Forum. Those of the senators who happened to be in the Forum and fell in with the mob were in great danger of their lives. Open violence would have been resorted to, had not the consuls, P. Servilius and Ap. Claudius, promptly intervened to quell the outbreak. The crowd surged round them, showed their chains and other marks of degradation. These, they said, were their rewards for having served their country; they tauntingly reminded the consuls of the various campaigns in which they had fought, and peremptorily demanded rather than petitioned that the senate should be called together. Then they closed round the Senate-house, determined to be themselves the arbiters and directors of public policy. **A very small number of senators, who happened to be available, were got together by the consuls, the rest were afraid to go even to the Forum, much more to the Senate-house. No business could be transacted owing to the requisite number not being present. The people began to think that they were being played with and put off, that the absent senators were not kept away by accident or by fear, but in order to prevent any redress of their grievances, and that the consuls themselves were shuffling and laughing at their misery. Matters were reaching the point at which not even the majesty of the consuls could keep the enraged people in check, when the absentees, uncertain whether they ran the greater risk by staying away or coming, at last entered the Senate-house. The House was now full, and **a division of opinion showed itself not only amongst the senators but even between the two consuls. Appius, a man of passionate temperament, was of opinion that the matter ought to be settled by a display of authority on the part of the consuls; if one or two were brought up for trial, the rest would calm down. Servilius, more inclined to gentle measures, thought that when men’s passions are aroused it was safer and easier to bend them than to break them.

Text #9531

"Patricians", in Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrician_%...

Patrician (from Latin: patricius) is a term that originally referred to a group of ruling class families in ancient Rome. Although the distinction was highly significant in the early republic, its relevance waned after the Struggle of the Orders (494 BC to 287 BC) and by the time of the Late Republic and Empire, membership of this group was of only nominal significance.

After the fall of the Western Empire it remained a high honorary title in the Byzantine Empire. Medieval patrician classes were once again formally defined groups of leading burgess families in many medieval Italian republics, such as Venice and Genoa, and subsequently “patrician” became a vague term used for aristocrats and the higher bourgeoisie in many countries.

According to Livy, the first 100 men appointed as senators by Romulus were referred to as “fathers” (Latin “patres”), and the descendants of those men became the patrician class. The patricians were distinct from the plebeians because they had wider political influence, at least in the times of the Republic. As the middle and late Republic saw this influence stripped, non-patricians (i.e., plebeians) were granted equal rights on a range of areas, and quotas of officials, including one of the two consulships, were exclusively reserved for plebeians. Although being a patrician remained prestigious, it was of minimal practical importance. Excepting some religious offices, plebeians were able to stand for all the offices that patricians could, and contrary to popular belief, plebeians of the senatorial class were no less wealthy than patricians at the height of the republic.

Patricians were historically afforded more privileges than plebeians. They were better represented in the Roman assemblies. The Comitia Centuriata, the main legislative body, was divided into 193 voting centuriae, or centuries. The first two houses, consisting largely of patricians, together had 98 centuriae, a number which was enough to obtain a majority, despite the fact that they were fewer in number. That meant that if the patricians acted in concord, they could always determine the result of the voting of the people’s assembly. So, although it was not forbidden for plebeians to hold magistracies, the patricians dominated the political scene for centuries.

At the beginning of the Republic, all priesthoods were closed to non-patricians. There was a belief that patricians communicated better with the Roman gods, so they alone could perform the sacred rites and take the auspices. This view had political consequences, since in the beginning of the year or before a military campaign, Roman magistrates used to consult the gods. Livy reports that the first admission of plebeians into a priestly college happened in 300 BC, when the college of Augurs raised their number from four to nine. After that, plebeians were accepted into the other religious colleges, and by the end of the Republic, only priesthoods with limited political importance, such as the Salii, the Flamines, and the Rex Sacrorum were filled exclusively by patricians.

Very few plebeian names appear in lists of Roman magistrates during the early Republic. Two laws passed during the fourth century BC began the gradual opening of magistrates to the plebeians: the Lex Licinia Sextia of 367 BC, which established the right of plebeians to hold the consulship; and the Genucian Law of 342 BC, which required that at least one of the consuls be a plebeian (although this law was frequently violated for several decades).

Many of the ancient patrician gentes whose members appear in the founding legends of Rome disappeared as Rome acquired its empire, and new plebeian families rose to prominence. Families such as the Horatii, Lucretii, Verginii and Menenii rarely appear in positions of importance during the later republic. Many old families had both patrician and plebeian branches, of which the patrician lines frequently faded into obscurity, and were eclipsed by their plebeian namesakes.

The distinction between patricians and plebeians in Ancient Rome was based purely on birth. Although modern writers often portray patricians as rich and powerful families who managed to secure power over the less-fortunate plebeian families, plebeians and patricians among the senatorial class were equally wealthy. As civil rights for plebeians increased during the middle and late Roman Republic, many plebeian families had attained wealth and power while some traditionally patrician families had fallen into poverty and obscurity.

The following gentes were regarded as patrician, although they may have had plebeian members or branches.

Aebutia
Aemilia
Aquillia
Atilia
Claudia
Cloelia
Cornelia
Curtia
Fabia
Foslia
Furia
Gegania
Genucia
Herminia
Horatia
Julia
Lartia
Lucretia
Manlia
Menenia
Metilia
Minucia
Mucia
Nautia
Numicia
Papiria
Pinaria
Pollia
Postumia
Potitia
Quinctia
Quinctilia
Romilia
Sempronia
Sergia
Servilia
Sestia
Siccia
Sulpicia
Tarpeia
Tarquinia
Tarquitia
Tullia
Valeria
Verginia
Veturia
Vitellia
Volumnia

A number of other gentes originally belonged to the patricians but were known chiefly for their plebeian branches.

Antonia
Cassia
Cominia
Curiatia
Hostilia
Junia
Marcia

Among the patricians, certain families were known as the gentes maiores, the greatest or perhaps the most noble houses. The other patrician families were called the gentes minores. Whether this distinction had any legal significance is not known, but it has been suggested that the princeps senatus, or Speaker of the Senate, was traditionally chosen from the gentes maiores.

No list of the gentes maiores has been discovered, and even their number is entirely unknown. It has been suggested that the Aemilii, Claudii, Cornelii, Fabii, Manlii, and Valerii were amongst them. The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology suggests that the gentes maiores consisted of those families that had settled at Rome in the time of Romulus, or at least before the destruction of Alba Longa. The noble Alban families which settled at Rome in the time of Tullus Hostilius then formed the nucleus of the gentes minores; these included the Tulii, Servilii, Quinctii, Geganii, Curtii, and Cloelii.

However, Harper’s Dictionary of Classical Antiquities suggests that the Alban families were also included among the gentes maiores, and that the gentes minores consisted of the families admitted to the patriciate under the Tarquins and in the early years of the Republic. In any case, the distinction cannot have been based entirely on priority, because the Claudii did not arrive at Rome until after the expulsion of the kings.

Patrician status still carried a degree of prestige at the time of the early Roman Empire, and Roman emperors routinely elevated their supporters to the patrician caste en masse. The prestige and meaning of the status were gradually degraded, and by the end of the 3rd-century crisis patrician status, as it had been known in the Republic, ceased to have meaning in everyday life. The Emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306–337) reintroduced the term as the Empire’s senior honorific title, not tied to any specific administrative position, and from the first limited to a very small number of holders. The historian Zosimus even states that in Constantine’s time, the holders of the title ranked above the praetorian prefects.

In the Western Roman Empire, the title was sparingly used and retained its high prestige, being awarded, especially in the 5th century, to the powerful magistri militum who dominated the state, such as Stilicho, Constantius III, Flavius Aetius, Comes Bonifacius, and Ricimer. The eastern emperor Zeno (r. 474–491) granted it to Odoacer to legitimize the latter’s rule in Italy after his overthrow of the rebellious magister militum Orestes and his pretender son Romulus Augustulus in 476. In the Eastern Empire, Theodosius II (r. 408–450) barred eunuchs from holding it, although this restriction had been overturned by the 6th century. Under Justinian I (r. 527-565), the title proliferated and was consequently somewhat devalued, as the emperor opened it up to all those above illustris rank, i.e. the majority of the Senate.

In the 8th century, the title was further lowered in the court order of precedence, coming after the magistros and the anthypatos. However it remained one of the highest in the imperial hierarchy until the 11th century, being awarded to the most important stratēgoi (provincial governors and generals) of the Empire. In the court hierarchy, the eunuch patrikioi enjoyed higher precedence, coming before even the anthypatoi. According to the late 9th-century Klētorologion, the insignia of the dignity were ivory inscribed tablets. During the 11th century, the dignity of patrikios followed the fate of other titles: extensively awarded, it lost in status, and disappeared during the Komnenian period in the early 12th century. The title of prōtopatrikios (πρωτοπατρίκιος, “first patrician”) is also evidenced in the East from 367 to 711, possibly referring to the senior-most holder of the office and leader of the patrician order (taxis). The feminine variant patrikia (πατρικία) denoted the spouses of patrikioi; it is not to be confused with the title of zostē patrikia (“girded patrikia”), which was a unique dignity conferred on the ladies-in-waiting of the empress.

References

Bury, John B. (1911). The Imperial Administrative System of the Ninth Century. Oxford University Publishing.

Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.

Kurt Raaflaub, ed. Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders (Blackwell Publishing, 2005)

Gary Forsythe, 2005, A Critical History of Early Rome. University of California Press.

Text #9529

"Conflict of the Orders", in Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of...

The Conflict of the Orders, also referred to as the Struggle of the Orders, was a political struggle between the Plebeians (commoners) and Patricians (aristocrats) of the ancient Roman Republic lasting from 494 BC to 287 BC, in which the Plebeians sought political equality with the Patricians. It played a major role in the development of the Constitution of the Roman Republic. Shortly after the founding of the Republic, this conflict led to a secession from Rome by Plebeians to the Sacred Mount at a time of war. The result of this first secession was the creation of the office of Plebeian Tribune, and with it the first acquisition of real power by the Plebeians.

At first only Patricians were allowed to stand for election to political office, but over time these laws were revoked, and eventually all offices were opened to the Plebeians. Since most individuals who were elected to political office were given membership in the Roman Senate, this development helped to transform the senate from a body of Patricians into a body of Plebeian and Patrician aristocrats. This development occurred at the same time that the Plebeian legislative assembly, the Plebeian Council, was acquiring additional power. At first, its acts (“plebiscites”) applied only to Plebeians, although after 339 BC, with the institution of laws by the first Plebeian dictator Q. Publilius Philo, these acts began to apply to both Plebeians and Patricians, with a senatorial veto of all measures approved by the council.

It was not until 287 BC that the Patrician senators lost their last check over the Plebeian Council. However, the Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy in the senate still retained other means by which to control the Plebeian Council, in particular the closeness between the Plebeian Tribunes and the senators. While this conflict would end in 287 BC with the Plebeians having acquired political equality with the Patricians, the plight of the average Plebeian had not changed. A small number of aristocratic Plebeian families had emerged, and most Plebeian politicians came from one of these families. Since this new Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy was based on the structure of society, it could only be overthrown through a revolution. That revolution ultimately came in 49 BC, when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, and began a civil war, which overthrew the Roman Republic, and created the Roman Empire.

In 494 BC Rome was at war with three Italic tribes (the Aequi, Sabines and Volsci), but the Plebeian soldiers refused to march against the enemy, and instead seceded to the Sacred Mount outside Rome. A settlement was negotiated and the patricians agreed that the plebs be given the right to elect their own officials. The Plebeians named these new officials Plebeian Tribunes (tribuni plebis).

During the early years of the republic, the Plebeians were not allowed to hold magisterial office. Neither Tribunes nor Aediles were technically magistrates, since they were both elected solely by the Plebeians, rather than by both the Plebeians and the Patricians. In 445 BC, the Plebeians demanded the right to stand for election as consul (the chief-magistrate of the Roman Republic), but the Roman senate refused to grant them this right. Ultimately, a compromise was reached, and while the Consulship remained closed to the Plebeians, Consular command authority (imperium) was granted to a select number of Military Tribunes. These individuals, the so-called Consular Tribunes (“Military Tribunes with Consular powers” or tribuni militares consulari potestate) were elected by the Centuriate Assembly (the assembly of soldiers), and the senate had the power to veto any such election. This was the first of many attempts by the Plebeians to achieve political equality with the Patricians. Starting around the year 400 BC, a series of wars were fought against several neighboring tribes (in particular the Aequi, the Volsci, the Latins, and the Veii). The disenfranchised Plebeians fought in the army, while the Patrician aristocracy enjoyed the fruits of the resulting conquests. The Plebeians, by now exhausted and bitter, demanded real concessions, so the Tribunes Gaius Licinius Stolo and Lucius Sextius passed a law in 367 BC (the Licinio-Sextian law), which dealt with the economic plight of the Plebeians. However, the law also required the election of at least one Plebeian Consul each year. The opening of the Consulship to the Plebeians was probably the cause behind the concession of 366 BC, in which the Praetorship and Curule Aedileship were both created, but opened only to Patricians.

Shortly after the founding of the republic, the Centuriate Assembly became the principal Roman assembly in which magistrates were elected, laws were passed, and trials occurred. Also around this time, the Plebeians assembled into an informal Plebeian Curiate Assembly, which was the original Plebeian Council. Since they were organized on the basis of the Curia (and thus by clan), they remained dependent on their Patrician patrons. In 471 BC, a law was passed due to the efforts of the Tribune Volero Publilius, which allowed the Plebeians to organize by Tribe, rather than by Curia. Thus, the Plebeian Curiate Assembly became the Plebeian Tribal Assembly, and the Plebeians became politically independent.

During the regal period, the king nominated two quaestors to serve as his assistants, and after the overthrow of the monarchy, the Consuls retained this authority. However, in 447 BC, Cicero tells us that the Quaestors began to be elected by a tribal assembly that was presided over by a magistrate. It seems as though this was the first instance of a joint Patricio-Plebeian Tribal Assembly, and thus was probably an enormous gain for the Plebeians. While Patricians were able to vote in a joint assembly, there were never very many Patricians in Rome. Thus, most of the electors were Plebeians, and yet any magistrate elected by a joint assembly had jurisdiction over both Plebeians and Patricians. Therefore, for the first time, the Plebeians seemed to have indirectly acquired authority over Patricians. Most contemporary accounts of an assembly of the Tribes refer specifically to the Plebeian Council. The distinction between the joint Tribal Assembly (composed of both Patricians and Plebeians) and the Plebeian Council (composed only of Plebeians) is not well defined in the contemporary accounts, and because of this, the very existence of a joint Tribal Assembly can only be assumed through indirect evidence. During the 4th century BC, a series of reforms were passed (the leges Valeriae Horatiae or the “laws of the Consul Publius Valerius Publicola and the Dictator Quintus Hortensius”), which ultimately required that any law passed by the Plebeian Council have the full force of law over both Plebeians and Patricians. This gave the Plebeian Tribunes, who presided over the Plebeian Council, a positive character for the first time. Before these laws were passed, Tribunes could only interpose the sacrosanctity of their person (intercessio) to veto acts of the senate, assemblies, or magistrates. It was a modification to the Valerian law in 449 BC which first allowed acts of the Plebeian Council to have the full force of law over both Plebeians and Patricians, but eventually the final law in the series was passed (the “Hortensian Law”), which removed the last check that the Patricians in the senate had over this power.

In the decades following the passage of the Licinio-Sextian law of 367 BE, a series of laws were passed which ultimately granted Plebeians political equality with Patricians. The Patrician era came to a complete end in 287 BC, with the passage of the Hortensian law. When the Curule Aedileship had been created, it had only been opened to Patricians. However, an unusual agreement was ultimately secured between the Plebeians and the Patricians. One year, the Curule Aedileship was to be open to Plebeians, and the next year, it was only to be open to Patricians. Eventually, however, this agreement was abandoned and the Plebeians won full admission to the Curule Aedileship. In addition, after the Consulship had been opened to the Plebeians, the Plebeians acquired a de facto right to hold both the Roman Dictatorship and the Roman Censorship since only former Consuls could hold either office. 356 BC saw the appointment of the first Plebeian Dictator, and in 339 BC the Plebeians facilitated the passage of a law (the lex Publilia), which required the election of at least one Plebeian Censor for each five-year term. In 337 BC, the first Plebeian Praetor (Q. Publilius Philo) was elected. In addition, during these years, the Plebeian Tribunes and the senators grew increasingly close. The senate realized the need to use Plebeian officials to accomplish desired goals, and so to win over the Tribunes, the senators gave the Tribunes a great deal of power, and unsurprisingly, the Tribunes began to feel obligated to the senate. As the Tribunes and the senators grew closer, Plebeian senators were often able to secure the Tribunate for members of their own families. In time, the Tribunate became a stepping stone to higher office.

During the era of the kingdom, the Roman King appointed new senators through a process called lectio senatus, but after the overthrow of the kingdom, the Consuls acquired this power. Around the middle of the 4th century BC, however, the Plebeian Council enacted the “Ovinian Plebiscite” (plebiscitum Ovinium), which gave the power to appoint new senators to the Roman Censors. It also codified a commonplace practice, which all but required the Censor to appoint any newly elected magistrate to the senate. While this was not an absolute requirement, the language in the law was so strict that the Censors rarely disobeyed it. We don’t know what year this law was passed, although it was probably passed between the opening of the Censorship to Plebeians (in 339 BC) and the first known lectio senatus by a Censor (in 312 BC). By this point, Plebeians were already holding a significant number of magisterial offices, and so the number of Plebeian senators probably increased quickly. It was, in all likelihood, simply a matter of time before the Plebeians came to dominate the senate.

Under the new system, newly elected magistrates were awarded with automatic membership in the senate, although it remained difficult for a Plebeian from an unknown family to enter the senate. On the rare occasion that an individual of an unknown family (ignobilis) was elected to high office, it was usually due to the unusual character of that individual, as was the case for both Gaius Marius and Marcus Tullius Cicero. Several factors made it difficult for individuals from unknown families to be elected to high office, in particular the very presence of a long-standing nobility, as this appealed to the deeply rooted Roman respect for the past. In addition, elections were expensive, neither senators nor magistrates were paid, and the senate often did not reimburse magistrates for expenses associated with their official duties. Therefore, an individual usually had to be independently wealthy before seeking high office. Ultimately, a new Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy (nobilitas) emerged, which replaced the old Patrician nobility. It was the dominance of the long-standing Patrician nobility which ultimately forced the Plebeians to wage their long struggle for political power. The new nobility, however, was fundamentally different from the old nobility. The old nobility existed through the force of law, because only Patricians were allowed to stand for high office, and it was ultimately overthrown after those laws were changed. Now, however, the new nobility existed due to the organization of society, and as such, it could only be overthrown through a revolution.

The Conflict of the Orders was finally coming to an end, since the Plebeians had achieved political equality with the Patricians. A small number of Plebeian families had achieved the same standing that the old aristocratic Patrician families had always had, but these new Plebeian aristocrats were as uninterested in the plight of the average Plebeian as the old Patrician aristocrats had always been. During this time period, the Plebeian plight had been mitigated due to the constant state of war that Rome was in. These wars provided employment, income, and glory for the average Plebeian, and the sense of patriotism that resulted from these wars also eliminated any real threat of Plebeian unrest. The lex Publilia, which had required the election of at least one Plebeian Censor every five years, contained another provision. Before this time, any bill passed by an assembly (either by the Plebeian Council, the Tribal Assembly, or the Centuriate Assembly) could only become a law after the Patrician senators gave their approval. This approval came in the form of an auctoritas patrum (“authority of the fathers” or “authority of the Patrician senators”). The lex Publilia modified this process, requiring the auctoritas patrum to be passed before a law could be voted on by one of the assemblies, rather than after the law had already been voted on. It is not known why, but this modification seems to have made the auctoritas patrum irrelevant.

By 287 BC, the economic condition of the average Plebeian had become poor. The problem appears to have centered around widespread indebtedness, and the Plebeians quickly demanded relief. The senators, most of whom belonged to the creditor class, refused to abide by the demands of the Plebeians, and the result was the final Plebeian secession. The Plebeians seceded to the Janiculum hill, and to end the secession, a Dictator named Quintus Hortensius was appointed. Hortensius, a Plebeian, passed a law called the “Hortensian Law” (lex Hortensia), which ended the requirement that an auctoritas patrum be passed before any bill could be considered by either the Plebeian Council or the Tribal Assembly. The requirement was not changed for the Centuriate Assembly. The Hortensian Law also reaffirmed the principle that an act of the Plebeian Council have the full force of law over both Plebeians and Patricians, which it had originally acquired as early as 449 BC. The importance of the Hortensian Law was in that it removed from the Patrician senators their final check over the Plebeian Council. It should therefore not be viewed as the final triumph of democracy over aristocracy, since, through the Tribunes, the senate could still control the Plebeian Council. Thus, the ultimate significance of this law was in the fact that it robbed the Patricians of their final weapon over the Plebeians. The result was that the ultimate control over the state fell, not onto the shoulders of democracy, but onto the shoulders of the new Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy.

The traditional account was long accepted as factual, but it has a number of problems and inconsistencies, and almost every element of the story is controversial today; some scholars, such as Richard E. Mitchell, have even argued that there was no conflict at all, the Romans of the late Republic having interpreted events of their distant past as if they were comparable to the class struggles of their own time. The crux of the problem is that there is no contemporaneous account of the conflict; writers such as Polybius, who might have met persons whose grandparents participated in the conflict, do not mention it (which may not be surprising, since Polybius’ history covered a period after the conflict), while the writers who do speak of the conflict, such as Livy or Cicero, are sometimes thought to have reported fact and fable equally readily, and sometimes assume that there were no fundamental changes in Roman institutions in nearly 500 years. However, there are numerous Roman and Greek authors who record the events which form part of the conflict of the orders, and they each rely on more ancient sources, and if the story were false it could only be because there were some great collusion between them to distort history or some deliberate fabrication of history, which seems unlikely.

For instance, the fasti report a number of consuls with plebeian names during the 5th century, when the consulate was supposedly only open to patricians, and explanations to the effect that previously patrician gentes somehow became plebeians later are difficult to prove. Another point of difficulty is the apparent absence of armed revolt; as the history of the late Republic shows, similar types of grievances tended to lead to bloodshed rather quickly, yet Livy’s account seems to entail debate mostly, with the occasional threat of secessio. None of this is helped by our basic uncertainty as to who the plebs actually were; many of them are known to have been wealthy landowners, and the “lower class” label dates from the late Republic.

References

Abbott, Frank Frost (1901). A History and Description of Roman Political Institutions. Elibron Classics (ISBN 0-543-92749-0).
Byrd, Robert (1995). The Senate of the Roman Republic. U.S. Government Printing Office, Senate Document 103-23.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius (1841). The Political Works of Marcus Tullius Cicero: Comprising his Treatise on the Commonwealth; and his Treatise on the Laws. Translated from the original, with Dissertations and Notes in Two Volumes. By Francis Barham, Esq. London: Edmund Spettigue. Vol. 1.
Lintott, Andrew (1999). The Constitution of the Roman Republic. Oxford University Press (ISBN 0-19-926108-3).

Polybius (1823). The General History of Polybius: Translated from the Greek. By James Hampton. Oxford: Printed by W. Baxter. Fifth Edition, Vol 2.
Taylor, Lily Ross (1966). Roman Voting Assemblies: From the Hannibalic War to the Dictatorship of Caesar. The University of Michigan Press (ISBN 0-472-08125-X).
Kurt Raaflaub, ed. Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of Orders (University of California Press, 1986) ISBN 0-520-05528-4
Shindler, Michael (2014). Patrician and Plebeian Sociopolitical Dynamics in Early Rome. The Apollonian Revolt.

Ihne, Wilhelm. Researches Into the History of the Roman Constitution. William Pickering. 1853.
Johnston, Harold Whetstone. Orations and Letters of Cicero: With Historical Introduction, An Outline of the Roman Constitution, Notes, Vocabulary and Index. Scott, Foresman and Company. 1891.
Mommsen, Theodor. Roman Constitutional Law. 1871-1888
Tighe, Ambrose. The Development of the Roman Constitution. D. Apple & Co. 1886.
Von Fritz, Kurt. The Theory of the Mixed Constitution in Antiquity. Columbia University Press, New York. 1975.
The Histories by Polybius
Cambridge Ancient History, Volumes 9–13.
A. Cameron, The Later Roman Empire, (Fontana Press, 1993).
M. Crawford, The Roman Republic, (Fontana Press, 1978).
E. S. Gruen, "The Last Generation of the Roman Republic" (U California Press, 1974)
F. Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World, (Duckworth, 1977, 1992).
A. Lintott, "The Constitution of the Roman Republic" (Oxford University Press, 1999)

Text #9530

"Plebs", in Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plebs

In ancient Rome, the plebs was the general body of free Roman citizens who were not patricians, as determined by the census. From the 4th century BC or earlier, known as commoners or part of lower social status

Literary references to the ‘plebs’, however, usually mean the ordinary citizens of Rome as a whole, as distinguished from the elite—a sense retained by “plebeian” in English. In the very earliest days of Rome, plebeians were any tribe without advisers to the King. In time, the word – which is related to the Greek word for crowd, plethos – came to mean the common people.

In Latin the word plebs is a singular collective noun, and its genitive is plebis.

The origin of the separation into orders is unclear, and it is disputed when the Romans were divided under the early kings into patricians and plebeians, or whether the clientes (or dependents) of the patricians formed a third group. Certain gentes (“clans”) were patrician, as identified by the nomen (family name), but a gens might have both patrician and plebeian branches that shared a nomen but were distinguished by a cognomen, as was the case with the gens Claudia.

The 19th-century historian Barthold Georg Niebuhr held that plebeians began to appear at Rome during the reign of Ancus Marcius and were possibly foreigners settling in Rome as naturalized citizens. In any case, at the outset of the Roman Republic, the patricians had a near monopoly on political and social institutions. Plebeians were excluded from magistracies and religious colleges, and they were not permitted to know the laws by which they were governed. Plebeians served in the army, but rarely became military leaders.

Dissatisfaction with the status quo occasionally mounted to the point that the plebeians engaged in a sort of general strike, a secessio plebis, during which they would withdraw from Rome, leaving the patricians to themselves. From 494 to 287 BC, five such actions during the so-called “Conflict of the Orders” resulted in the establishment of plebeian offices (the tribunes and plebeian aediles), the publication of the laws (the Law of the Twelve Tables), the establishment of the right of plebeian–patrician intermarriage (by the passage of the Lex Canuleia), the opening of the highest offices of government and some state priesthoods to the plebeians and passage of legislation (the Lex Hortensia) that made resolutions passed by the assembly of plebeians, the concilium plebis, binding on all citizens.

During the Second Samnite War (326–304 BC), plebeians who had risen to power through these social reforms, began to acquire the aura of nobilitas, “nobility” (more literally “notability”), marking the creation of a ruling elite of nobiles that allied the interests of patricians and noble plebeians. From the mid-4th century to the early 3rd century BC, several plebeian–patrician “tickets” for the consulship repeated joint terms, suggesting a deliberate political strategy of cooperation. Although nobilitas was not a formal social rank during the Republican era, in general a plebeian who had attained the consulship was regarded as having brought nobility to his family. Such a man was a novus homo, a “new man” or self-made noble and his sons and descendants were nobiles.

Marius and Cicero are notable examples of novi homines in the late Republic, when many of Rome’s richest and most powerful men—such as Lucullus, Crassus, and Pompeius—were plebeian nobles. Some or perhaps many noble plebeians, including Cicero and Lucullus, aligned their political interests with the faction of optimates, conservatives who sought to preserve senatorial prerogatives. By contrast, the populares or “people’s party”, which sought to champion the plebs in the sense of “common people”, were sometimes led by patricians such as Julius Caesar and Clodius Pulcher.

References E.T. Salmon, Samnium and the Samnites (Cambridge University Press, 1967), p. 217. Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War (University of California Press, 2005), p. 269. Fergus Millar, “The Political Character of the Classical Roman Republic, 200–151 B.C.,” as reprinted in Rome, the Greek World, and the East (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), p. 126; P.A. Brunt, “Nobilitas and novitas,” Journal of Roman Studies 72 (1982) 1–17.< “plebby”. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 September 2012. “pleb”. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 September 2012.

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