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