Background info of Rome. Around 80BCish.

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  • Created by: Abby
  • Created on: 19-12-12 15:58

Patricians Background

Patricians - Patres = fathers - large land owners, noble birth who can trace back ancestory

  • Political - controlled state by monopoly of all positions in authority. Patrician magistrates controlled assembly.
  • Religious - controlled religious instituions of the state. Colleges of Priests were in hands of patricians. Played important part in political decisions.
  • Legal - all civic and criminal law in their hands. Legal code not written down. Worst punishment was exile - get to keep slaves, money, objects and get to chose where they were sent to.
  • Social - special form of marriage, conducted by Pontifix Maximus. Forbidden to marry Plebian.
  • Economic - large landowners. Afford to lease large tracts of public land - ager publicus -, did not engage in industry or trade.
  • Military - dominated army. Entrance based on property qualifications. Soldier had to provide own equiptment. Afford to keep property running while away at war.
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Plebian - Pleb = multitude - body of pupulas Romanus. Small farmers, traders, labourers, craftsmen. Excluded from decisions about Rome.

  • Political - exposed to authority of consuls. No appeal. No right to hold public office. Excluded from senate. Those who were not clientela of patricians were out voted by patricians.
  • Religious - excluded from any part of administration of state religion and important priesthoods. Encouraged to practise.
  • Legal - no knowledge of laws or access to administration of legal system. No right to appeal. Punishment could be anything to torturous death. Punishment normally unjust and biased.
  • Social - own form of marriage. Could not legally marry a patrican, if they did children were automatically plebian.
  • Economical - clients granted land in return for support. Endured poverty. Law of dept = unwritten. Had to pay tributum (military tax). No share in distrabution of public land. Made money through trade. Often wealthier that exclusive patricans. Wealthy Plebs resented lack of rights. Excluded from grazing land rights.
  • Military- served in army but had to leave land unattended. Able to put pressure on patricians to introduce reform during military crisis.
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Roman Family

Basic unit of society.


  • Paternal authority and complete disciplinary control - Patria potestas and manus - Family = Roman family included many generations. The oldest couple down to grand children.
  • Lordship - Dominium - Slaves = generally prisioners of war. Could be freed by paterfamilias.
  • Patronage - Patrocinium - Clients = Clients, although dependants, enjoyed some privilages of the family. Granted protection and land by patron in return for economical and political services.

Paterfamilias had power of life and death over family, though he was restrained from using power in an abusing way by customs and public opinion.

Children would learn: obedience, respect, obligations to family and Gods, mos maiourum (ansestral custom)

Teaching of respect meant Romans did not question authority.

Romans taught: dignitas (prestige), auctoritas (reputation), libertas (freedom), gravitas (seriousness)

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Roman Magistrates - in circus honorum

Consuls - 2 - 1 year - Imperium authority - elected by Comitia centuriata - commanded army. Conducted chief elections. Presided over meetings of the Senate. Implemented senate decisions.

Praetors - 6 - 1 year - Imperium authority - elected by Comitia centuriata - Praetor urbanus: supreme civil judge of Rome; could command army; summon comitia centuriata; introduce legislation. Praetor peregrinus; dealt with lawsuits involving foreigners; issued annual 'edicts' - important source of Roman law.

Aedile - 4 - 1 year - Potestas authority - elected by Comitia tributa and Comcilium plebis - maintained streets. Regulated traffic. In charge of public buildings. Cities water supply. Controlled markets - supervised measures and weights. Games and feastivals.

Quaestors - 8 - 1 year - Protestas authority - elected by Comitia tributa - financial and admisitration officials. Maintained public records. Superintended treasuruy. Acted as paymasters when accompanying generals on campaigns. Supervised sale of war booty. Financial assistants to governors.

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Roman Magistrates - not in circus honorum

Tribunes - 10 - 1 year - Potestas authority - elected by Concilium plebis and Comitia tributa - defemded lives of plebians. Right of veto against elections of magistrates, laws and decrees of the senate and actions. Could veto against any of nine colleagues. Summoned concilium plebis and gained resolutions from it.

Censors - 2 - 18 months (elected every five years - Potestas authority - elected by Comitia centuriata - took census. Had right to take judical proceedings against any citizen suppressing information regarding property. Controlled public morals - could expel senators for lax morality. Prepared list of members of senate. Supervised leasing of public lands and buildings and letting of government contracts.

Dictator - 1 - 6 months in crisis - Imerpium of 2 consuls - Appointed by consul on proposal of senate - superseded all other magistrates in a military or serious domestic emergency.

Master of the Horse - 1 - 6 months in crisis - Imperium authority - appointed by dictator - dictator's lieutenant.

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How Rome Was Governed

SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus - the senate and the Roman people.

Body of Roman citizens were ulitmate power. They elected magistrates, enacted laws, acted as law court.

Roman might be a citizen through manumission - freeing of a slave, by birth or grant of citizenship.

Citizen had right to appeal against magistrate.

Not much value for the poor.

Restrictions on power of people - could only meet in assembly to transact buisness only when summoned by complete magistrate.

Most legislation and regular buisness carried out in tribal assembly - less subject to influence of rich.

Rome was not democracy. Senate was advisory body of the respublica - around 300 member who were senators for life. Senators could only meet on summons of competent magistrate.

Political career could only be considered by those who had great wealth.

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Roman Politics

Rome did not have political parties.

Political allies = boni (good men)

Political opponents were 'wicked', 'dishonest'.

'fault line' discerned between those who believed in authority and direction of political buisness by the senate.

Optimates - 'best men', stood for tradition. Normally older patricians. e.g Cato

Populares - normally younger patricians. Valued tradition but wanted more reform. e.g Caesar.

Cicero claims to be a populare but evidence shows him to be more of a optimate. However he couldn't call himself either as he wasn't a patrician.

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Physical Characteristics of Rome

At certain times of the year the Roman calender would be jam packed with elaborate celebrations. Romans would not forgo celebrating the Games. Spring and Summer were filled with celebration and games. Autumn and Winter was filled with dirt and disease.

Appian way was main road into Rome. Everyone walked in on foot.

Rome stank because of millions of hearth fires, forges and batheries. Very smokey.

One of the worlds largest cities. Couldn't expand due to being situated in the middle of seven hills.

Fertile plains due to being near river.

Centeral location along western side contributed to success.

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