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Economic and Political Differences Between the Patricians and the Plebeians

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By mmoore32
Words 874
Pages 4
University of the People,
HIST 1421 Greek and Roman Civilization,
Written Assignment 3

Intro: The Republic of Rome was not composed of one sole roman people, they were subdivided into two classes known as the patricians and plebeians. Despite living in close proximity, these two groups were put into separate social strata. Although both classes had rights, the patricians did not share the full rights of the people with their neighbors the plebeians. The economics and political differences became so great that eventually lead to a revolt by the plebeians within Rome.

Body: In Ancient Rome, the patricians were the wealthy landowners who lived within the city and had their properties work by slaves. These men were composed of the aristocrats, noblemen and upper ruling class in Rome. The plebeian class consequently was made up of the commoners and other free Romans such as the farmers, merchants, architects and artisans. Despite the fact that quite a few of the plebeians had a abundance of wealth, they were still considered lower class and could not join the upper echelons of the ruling powers. The Roman nation during this time was going through a uprising, as they became increasingly intolerant of their tyrannical kings. In a act of this rebellious sentiment, the patricians and plebeians worked together to rid themselves of the monarchies. After disposing of the monarchs in Rome, they began to assemble new politics, created voting assemblies and instituted laws, such as Valerian Laws, that condemned those trying to become a king as a traitor to the nation. Unfortunately, despite the working united to create a republic, a majority of the power fell into the hands of the patricians. For example, the power in the assemblies were not equal. "The plebeians could, it is true, still vote in the comitia centuriata, but they could not hold any of the new offices, nor could they sit in the senate." (Morey, n.d.)

This, in of itself, might not have been that terrible, but the patricians began to use their political power in impertinently towards the plebeian class. While the patricians lived a lavish lifestyle and callously flaunted their riches and exerting little effort to assist the poor. From the perspective of the plebeians, they were acting no better than the kings they had helped to overthrow. The plebeians were still composed of the farmers and commoners, living outside the city in the countryside. When wars would come, as they inevitably do, the plebeians would suffer more than those of the patricians, who were protected by the city walls. As was aforementioned, a majority of the plebian class was made up of the farmers and builders, therefore, they would have to leave their land unattended to serve in the military. These absences would inevitably have dire consequences for the plebeians. When these men served in the army, they would have to leave the land unattended and this lead to the property being either ruined due to neglect or ravaged by enemy forces. With their land typically destroyed and their families driven away while they served their country, they lost their home, fields and way of life. While their neighboring countrymen were under great distress, the patricians made the animosity greater by adding fuel to the fire. They took advantage of the downtrodden state of the plebeians by creating inequitable law of debt. Without money, their property destroyed and most of their possessions claimed by enemies during the war, plebeians needed to turn to the patricians for assistance. This led to them becoming debtors to the patricians that were loaned money, receiving harsh penalties if the debt couldn't be reimbursed. As a result of this policy of debt in addition to the failure of the assembly to provide for the wellbeing of the plebeians, they decided to secede from Rome, traveling to the mountain of Mons Sacer. After coming to terms with the fact that Rome couldn't function without the plebeians, the patricians began dialogue with their countrymen. The two group were able to come to a negotiated resolution, the patricians releasing some of the plebs from the debt and creating a office of the Tribune of the Plebs.

Conclusion: While the patricians and plebeian were tied together, they had an abundance of disparity and conflicts. With the combination of plebeians not being able to sit in the senate/ not being allowed to hold office, along with the destruction of their land, the crushing debt placed upon them by the patricians was inevitably more than enough to cause the decision to withdraw from Rome. The difficulties were simply the most pronounce of the myriad that plagued Rome at the time. The spoils of war had been unequally divided and distributed by the ruling patricians as well as the public land among other things. It should go without saying that a plebeian upheaval was bound to occur.


Morey, W. (n.d.). Greek Government. Retrieved on 11th July, 2016 from
Rymer, E. (2014). Plebeians in Ancient Rome, Retrieved on 11th July, 2016 from
Munro, R. (n.d.). Patricians and Plebeians, Retrieved on 11th July, 2016 from…...

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