The Roman SocietyThe changes in the Roman government affected the social classes andrights gradually became more equal among the people of Rome.
New laws and newleaders tried to make society become closer in equality through reforms. It wasa long and difficult process to be freed or to become a citizen of Rome and notmany accomplished it. Plebeians and woman were thought of as worthless citizensin society, but through time they gained more rights. To show that this is true,I will be addressing four topics: plebeians versus.
patricians, women, merchantsand artisans, and slaves and non-citizens.When Rome established a republic in 509 B.C.
, two major classesdeveloped. The patricians controlled the government with a Senate, made up of300 elected officials. The senate chose two consuls to administer the laws ofRome. The only power that plebeians had in the government was with a popularassembly, which approved the choice of consuls. Plebeians could not hold publicoffice or marry into a patrician family. During the time of the Republic to thetime 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 toplebeians who out-numbered everyone else in population.Around 494 B.C., an Assembly of Centuries and an Assembly of Tribes rlyof Centuries and an Assembly of Tribes replaced the popular assembly. TheAssembly of Centuries represented the Roman Army and all the classes that wereincluded in it and they elected the consuls. The Assembly of Tribes was made upof ten elected plebeians and spoke for the plebeians interests, but had littleinfluence on the government.
In 445 B.C, plebeians won the right to marry patricians. The Assemblyof Tribes gained the right to pass laws and veto any government action thatthreatened the rights of the plebeians. By about 300 B.C., plebeians had earnedthe right to hold all major political and religious posts.
In 366 B.C., theywon the right to consulship. When Rome took over the control of an empire, thediscrimination between the classes became indistinct.Julius Caesar was one of the many emperors that tried to bring the richand poor closer tothe poor by limiting the wealthy peoples’ land ownership.During the early republic, the woman of Rome had few legal rights. Amale was always responsible for the care and support of the family’s women. Thequestion of women as heirs was irrelevant.
Like all plebeians, even womenpatricians could not vote or hold public office. They were usually married offaround the age of 14 to be housewives.Even though women didn’t have many rights, thethe poor by limiting thewealthy peoples’ land ownership.During the early republic, the woman of Rome had few legal rights. Amale was always responsible for the care and support of the family’s women. Thequestion of women as heirs was irrelevant.
Like all plebeians, even womenpatricians could not vote or hold public office. They were usually married offaround the age of 14 to be housewives.Even though women didn’t have man Rome, especially if their husbands orfathers held public office. Examples of these women would be Messalina (wife ofemperor 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 thecommon people.
But, as the republic changed to an empire, it helped them out alot. With the empire expanding and the need to spread the Roman culture,merchants and artisans became more important than ever. The artisans spread theRoman culture by sending their many crafts and “masterpieces” to the newlyconquered 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 ofthis rising of the merchants and artisans status happened during the Pax Romana.Grn Ron Rome, especially if their hu0Aclass and some rich merchants and artisansjoined 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 fromcountries that the Roman empire had taken over. They were used as gladiatorsalong with criminals (some freedmen did volunteer, though, for these “murderousGames” also). In addition, slaves were used as actors in early Roman plays andwere owned by the managers who produced the plays. Some laws even specifiedthat only slaves might be tortured.
But later, freemen could also be torturedin cases of treason. It was the right of the master to offer his slaves fortorture in order to prove his own innocence or to discipline them. It was alsohis right to free any slaves that he owned if they showed their honor to him ina time of crisis, which he would have to prove. The right to torture slaves wasnot removed in Roman law until in 240 A.D.Many non-citizens were also treated as if they were slaves. Theyusually were from some land conquered by the Romans, and were trying to make abetter life in one of the cities.
Intermarriages among the citizens and non-citizens of Rome were not allowed. The only way people were granted citizenshipwas if someone of high power gaveure ure slaves was not removed in Roman lawuntil in 240 A.D.Many non-citizens were also treated as if they were slaves. Theyusually were from some land conquered by the Romans, and were trying to make abetter life in one of the cities.
Intermarriages among the citizens and non-citizens of Rome were not allowed. The only way people were granted citizenshipwas if someone of high power gave it to them. Soon the lands surrounding Romeunder Roman Power were considered provinces of Rome, therefor the people thatlived in them werhe rights among the people of Rome through long and difficultprocesses, became closer to equality. All of the social classes went throughindividual changes. Some, like the patricians, lost more in the end than whatthey started out with.
Others, like non-citizens gained more rights with lawsthat affected them. Overall, they each were effected by the government of theRoman empire.BIBLIOGRAPHY1) World History, Patterns of Civilization. New Jersey: Burton F.
Beers, 19932) Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 19933) The World Book Encyclopedia Chicago, London, Sydney, Toronto, 1985