Comparing Patricians and Plebeians

Ancient Roman history shows that Rome had two different political periods. One was the Roman Kingdom and the other was the Roman Republic. During these periods, society was divided into two classes called patricians and plebeians. When the last king of Rome died in 509 BCE, the Roman Republic was established. Patricians monopolized all the power in Rome, and plebeians were becoming more and more upset. Between 500 to 287 BCE Rome experienced struggle between the classes. This period is called the Conflict of the Orders.

To gain more wealth and power, the Patricians took plebeian land and heired slaves to work on it. The plebeians almost left Rome to find their own society, but patricians needed them for military power and so they granded plebeians the right to participate in politics and elect their own officials.

The patricians were the wealthy land-owning noble class in Rome. They often owned slaves who would work their farms for them. The patricians inherited their power and held almost all the important government positions such as the consuls. However, only males could vote. In early Rome, patricians were the only ones who could hold political or religious office. The plebeians were the commoners in Rome and had the highest population in society.

They included merchants, farmers, and craft workers. Many lived in apartments above or behind their shops and rented the stories above it. After the Conflict of the Orders, plebeians were allowed to participate in politics and gain political offices and power in society. The plebeians elected tribunes to give them a voice in government. However, the patricians held most of the power.

Patricians and Plebeians rarely married between classes. Both classes were considered citizens of Rome. In both Patrician and Plebeian society, males were heads of the family. These could be the father, grandfather, or uncle. He was called pater familias. They honored the elderly. Women had no rights in society, meaning they could not vote and did not hold political office or political power. Both classes owned slaves. They also worshipped the same gods