Ancient Roman Class Structure | Classes of Rome
Patricians, or upper-class Romans, were patrons to plebian clients. The patrons provided many types of support to their clients who, in turn. Roman citizens were divided into two classes, Plebeians and Patricians. The plebeians were the lower class. They included everyone who was not a patrician. The origin of the distinction between patricians and plebeians is unclear: elaborate ritual, such as in the marriage ceremony of confarreatio.
Slaves who lacked skills or education performed agricultural or other forms of manual labor. Those who were violent or disobedient, or who for whatever reason were considered a danger to society, might be sentenced to labor in the mines, where they suffered under inhumane conditions. Slaves subjected to harsh labor conditions also had few if any opportunities to obtain their freedom. Since slaves were legally property, they could be disposed of by their owners at any time.
All children born to female slaves were slaves. Some slave owners, as for instance Tacitus ,[ citation needed ] freed slaves whom they believed to be their natural children. Slaves who had the education or skills to earn a living were often manumitted upon the death of their owner as a condition of his will. Slaves who conducted business for their masters were also permitted to earn and save money for themselves, and some might be able to buy their own freedom.
Religion in Ancient Rome - Crystalinks
Over time, legislation was passed to protect the lives and health of slaves. Although many prostitutes were slaves, for instance, the bill of sale for some slaves stipulated that they could not be used for commercial prostitution.
The status of liberti developed throughout the Republic as their number increased.Differences between Patricians and Plebeians
Livy states[ citation needed ] that freedmen in the Early Republic mainly joined the lower classes of the plebeians. Juvenal, writing during the Empire when financial Freedmen were often highly educated and made up the bulk of the civil service during the early Empire.
The Augustan poet Horace was himself the child of a freedman from Venusia in southern Italy. Many became enormously wealthy as the result of bribes, fraud, or other forms of corruption, or were given large estates by the Emperor they served. Many of the Satires of Juvenal contain angry denouncements of the pretensions of wealthy freedmen, some 'with the chalk of the slave market still on their heel'.
Juvenal saw these successful men as nouveaux riches who were far too ready to show off their often ill-gotten wealth. Another famous caricature is seen in the absurdly extravagant character of Trimalchio in Satyricon. The majority of freedmen, however, joined the plebeian classes, and often worked as farmers or tradesmen.
Social class in ancient Rome
The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans: The Gladiator and the Monster, pp. In Early Rome In the early stages of Rome, the plebeians had few rights.
All of the government and religious positions were held by patricians. The patricians made the laws, owned the lands, and were the generals over the army. Plebeians couldn't hold public office and were not even allowed to marry patricians.
Marriage in ancient Rome
The Plebeians Revolt Starting around BC, the plebeians began to fight against the rule of the patricians. This struggle is called the "Conflict of the Orders. They protested by going on strike. They would leave the city for a while, refuse to work, or even refuse to fight in the army. Eventually, the plebeians gained a number of rights including the right to run for office and marry patricians.
The Twelve Tables were laws that were posted in the public for all to see. They protected some basic rights of all Roman citizens regardless of their social class. Plebeian Officers Eventually the plebeians were allowed to elect their own government officials. They elected "tribunes" who represented the plebeians and fought for their rights.
They had the power to veto new laws from the Roman senate. Plebeian Nobles As time went on, there became few legal differences between the plebeians and the patricians. The plebeians could be elected to the senate and even be consuls.
Plebeians and patricians could also get married. Wealthy plebeians became part of the Roman nobility. However, despite changes in the laws, the patricians always held a majority of the wealth and power in Ancient Rome.