AR226 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Class Conflict, Socii, Battle Of Lake Regillus

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8 Feb 2016
AR 226 Lecture 5
Jan 19/16
Struggle of the Orders and Roman Conquest of Italy
Patricians: from patres “fathers”
Privileged small group of noble families who formed upper classes at Rome
Both parents had to be patricians
Formed about 1 out of 10 of the total population of Rome
Plebeians/Plebs: the masses (from Greek plethos meaning multitude) including wealthy
plebs aristocrats whose city states had been absorbed by Rome day labourers
Patron-Client System
Reflects basic division between patricians and plebeians
Plebs were clients attached to their patrons (patricians) in a subordinate way which was
legal and formal in early Republic
Each patrol was a man of great influence and sought a political role in account with his
position, so patron-client system achieved political dominance
Became hereditary, passed down from father to son
Conditions Leading to the Struggle
Wealthy plebs mostly excluded from consulships until 366 BCE
Needed protection from abuses of powers: public land inaccessible to plebs although
patricians became largest land-owners
Heavy military burden: had to pay taxes (tribute) for army’s support
Grain shortage and famines
Many plebs fell into debt: became like a slave - a Nexus “a man in fetters” (man in chains
– only had is body for payment)
Protest in for of Secession
Plebs protested in form of secessions; withdraw from Roman community
494 BCE: First secessions: Livy: plebs withdrew to Aventine Hill and created own state
within the state and over the next 200 years it merged with state
494 BCE: First Secession
Concillium Plebs/Plebeian Council: Only Plebs Belonged not Patricians
oOrganized on a tribal bases (4 in city and 21 rural)
oVoted separately in tribes and then tribes cat votes for candidates of about the law
in question
oCouncil could only be called by plebeian tribunes and could vote only on motions
put to it by presiding tribune
oMade resolutions called “plebiscits” like laws; in 287 BCE became binding on all
of Rome
oAlso elected 2 Plebeian Tribunes: by mid 5th century BCE increased to 10
oNot state officials or magistrates: authority based on “lex sacrata” (sacred law)
sealed by a solemn oath
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oAnyone who harmed a tribune was cured
oTribune became sacrosanct and it was a capital offense to harm them
Plebeian Tribunes Given Special Rights
1. Right to intervene on behalf of plebs
2. Right to veto against any act performed by magistrates, against election, laws and advise
of senate to magistrates
oOnly dictators exempted from these veto powers
Important Function: held meetings of Plebeian Assembly
Plebeian Aediles: associated with distribution of grain in middle Republic, later oversaw
games, marketplace, roads and building projects
o451/50 BCE: supervision of consulships decemvirate (10 man board) appointed to
write down the law so that “liberty shall be equal for all” says Livy
oKnown as the law of the Twelve Tables” starting point in development of Roman law
and were basis of Roman law for centuries
oEmphasis is on civil law though some provisions dealt with criminal offenses
o***Table 11 – Intermarriage shall not take place between patricians and plebeians
Circa 387 BC: Rome sacked by Gauls
oNeeded men to be land owners, so that they could be soldiers
367 BC: Licinian-Sextian laws
oLegislation required that public or state owned land had to be lease regularly, limiting
the amount of public land (ager publicus) that any one individual could own to about
300 acres
oDealt with the indebtedness: laws states that interest already paid had to be deducted
from the total that someone had still remaining and that the remaining debt would be
repaid within 3 years
o326 BC – abolishment of debt bondage, so a person could never become a nexus
oAbolish consular tribuneship; consuls were now allowed to be plebs
356 BC: Plebs could be praetors and dictators
351 BC: Plebs could be censors
300 BC: Plebs could be Pontifex Maximus
ca. 287 BC: Lex Hortensia: Plebicites of plebeian council has full force of laws even
patricians had to obey plebicites
Sovereignty of people was over, class struggle was over *kind of
Ordinary plebs made some gains
oRemoval of threat of enslavement for debt
oProtection from abuse
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