The Roman Society Essay Research Paper The

The Roman Society Essay, Research Paper The Roman Society The changes in the Roman government affected the social classes and rights gradually became more equal among the people of Rome. New laws and new

The Roman Society Essay, Research Paper

The Roman Society

The changes in the Roman government affected the social classes and

rights gradually became more equal among the people of Rome. New laws and new

leaders tried to make society become closer in equality through reforms. It was

a long and difficult process to be freed or to become a citizen of Rome and not

many accomplished it. Plebeians and woman were thought of as worthless citizens

in society, but through time they gained more rights. To show that this is true,

I will be addressing four topics: plebeians versus. patricians, women, merchants

and artisans, and slaves and non-citizens.

When Rome established a republic in 509 B.C., two major classes

developed. The patricians controlled the government with a Senate, made up of

300 elected officials. The senate chose two consuls to administer the laws of

Rome. The only power that plebeians had in the government was with a popular

assembly, which approved the choice of consuls. Plebeians could not hold public

office or marry into a patrician family. During the time of the Republic to the

time of the empire, plebeians, who fought in many wars to help Rome gain power,

demanded more rights. The government slowly began to change to appeal to

plebeians who out-numbered everyone else in population.

Around 494 B.C., an Assembly of Centuries and an Assembly of Tribes rly

of Centuries and an Assembly of Tribes replaced the popular assembly. The

Assembly of Centuries represented the Roman Army and all the classes that were

included in it and they elected the consuls. The Assembly of Tribes was made up

of ten elected plebeians and spoke for the plebeians interests, but had little

influence on the government.

In 445 B.C, plebeians won the right to marry patricians. The Assembly

of Tribes gained the right to pass laws and veto any government action that

threatened the rights of the plebeians. By about 300 B.C., plebeians had earned

the right to hold all major political and religious posts. In 366 B.C., they

won the right to consulship. When Rome took over the control of an empire, the

discrimination between the classes became indistinct.

Julius Caesar was one of the many emperors that tried to bring the rich

and poor closer tothe poor by limiting the wealthy peoples’ land ownership.

During the early republic, the woman of Rome had few legal rights. A

male was always responsible for the care and support of the family’s women. The

question of women as heirs was irrelevant. Like all plebeians, even women

patricians could not vote or hold public office. They were usually married off

around the age of 14 to be housewives.

Even though women didn’t have many rights, thethe poor by limiting the

wealthy peoples’ land ownership.

During the early republic, the woman of Rome had few legal rights. A

male was always responsible for the care and support of the family’s women. The

question of women as heirs was irrelevant. Like all plebeians, even women

patricians could not vote or hold public office. They were usually married off

around the age of 14 to be housewives.

Even though women didn’t have man Rome, especially if their husbands or

fathers held public office. Examples of these women would be Messalina (wife of

emperor Claudius), Livia (second wife of Augustus), and Julia and Julia

(daughter of Augustus and granddaughter of Augustus).

During early Rome, the Merchants and artisans were included among the

common people. But, as the republic changed to an empire, it helped them out a

lot. With the empire expanding and the need to spread the Roman culture,

merchants and artisans became more important than ever. The artisans spread the

Roman culture by sending their many crafts and “masterpieces” to the newly

conquered lands. The merchants, with all of this new land under Roman power,

were free to trade along any route as Rome controlled most of them. Most of

this rising of the merchants and artisans status happened during the Pax Romana.

Grn Ron Rome, especially if their hu0Aclass and some rich merchants and artisans

joined the upper class.

At the bottom of all of the classes were the slaves and non-citizens.

Neither of them had very many rights. Slaves were usually prisoners of war from

countries that the Roman empire had taken over. They were used as gladiators

along with criminals (some freedmen did volunteer, though, for these “murderous

Games” also). In addition, slaves were used as actors in early Roman plays and

were owned by the managers who produced the plays. Some laws even specified

that only slaves might be tortured. But later, freemen could also be tortured

in cases of treason. It was the right of the master to offer his slaves for

torture in order to prove his own innocence or to discipline them. It was also

his right to free any slaves that he owned if they showed their honor to him in

a time of crisis, which he would have to prove. The right to torture slaves was

not removed in Roman law until in 240 A.D.

Many non-citizens were also treated as if they were slaves. They

usually were from some land conquered by the Romans, and were trying to make a

better life in one of the cities. Intermarriages among the citizens and non-

citizens of Rome were not allowed. The only way people were granted citizenship

was if someone of high power gaveure ure slaves was not removed in Roman law

until in 240 A.D.

Many non-citizens were also treated as if they were slaves. They

usually were from some land conquered by the Romans, and were trying to make a

better life in one of the cities. Intermarriages among the citizens and non-

citizens of Rome were not allowed. The only way people were granted citizenship

was if someone of high power gave it to them. Soon the lands surrounding Rome

under Roman Power were considered provinces of Rome, therefor the people that

lived in them werhe rights among the people of Rome through long and difficult

processes, became closer to equality. All of the social classes went through

individual changes. Some, like the patricians, lost more in the end than what

they started out with. Others, like non-citizens gained more rights with laws

that affected them. Overall, they each were effected by the government of the

Roman empire.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1) World History, Patterns of Civilization. New Jersey: Burton F. Beers, 1993

2) Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1993

3) The World Book Encyclopedia Chicago, London, Sydney, Toronto, 1985