Question by Lisa: what was the difference between a wealthy Roman and a poor Roman in Ancient Rome history?
I wanted to know, what were the differences between the wealthy Romans (patrician) and a poor Roman (plebeian)? What could a patrician do that a plebeian couldn’t? I can’t seem to find all the info I want or need and I want to learn about Life in Ancient Rome. Please help!
Answer by Swissman
What mainly separated the two was political life. Patricians were the senator class; only they can act as consuls. They ruled Rome and were extremely wealthy. Their social and economic status came from the lots of land they owned.
Plebeians were from all stratums of society. Some of them were very rich but were disbarred from political life when the Etruscans were overthrown (since they were Etruscan themselves) on 508 B.C. The plebians soon after started electing a tribune as their leader. For them they had the same prestige as a consul (there were two consuls during the Republic; they were the highest political seats and acted as kings but were elected, like presidents if you will). The number of tribunes increased to ten some time during the fifth century and politically they became very respected figures and there were laws that protected them as being sacred and should not be harmed. The tribunes were the leaders at the popular assemblies (these assemblies were where the laws were passed during the monarchic and Republic period). The plebians soon started being granted political power when they threatened to secede (stop fighting for Rome) and Roman enemies were at her gates. This technique worked great. By 376 BC the Sextian laws were passed which stated from then on a plebian can be consul but will be called a military tribune instead of consul. The law made it that one consul position was reserved for plebians to vote for the tribune they wished to be consul.
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