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Social Structure in Rome
In ancient Rome, the upper-class citizens were called patricians. The patricians had special classes because they had extra money to be highly educated. These classes were arranged due to wealth. The patricians were highly educated and had far more advantages than anyone else. They owned a lot of property, and they were the only ones that could perform religious customs. Patricians had more power than any other social class in Rome because patricians created the laws for the people. They were the majority of the Senate and they had the right to vote. Patricians also had a choice in responsibilities. For example, they did not have to be in the military, whereas others were required to participate. Since they were patricians, they automatically were qualified to take over the throne. Patricians had very important jobs and had much power over other citizens of ancient Rome.
In Ancient Rome, the plebeians were the poor, low-class citizens. There were more plebeians than patricians in Rome. They participated in the army, and they paid the taxes for the city. The plebeians could pay the taxes because the government gave them enough free things that they could save up money from little jobs that a patrician might hire them for. They could not marry the patricians or take part in the government. The plebeians had their own “group” of people that met to talk about the ideas of the senate. The plebeians were treated so badly that if they fell into debt, they could be sold into slavery. Many times, the plebeians and patricians fought over
of ancient Rome. Since the plebeians were unemployed, the government gave them baths, free grain, and games to keep them quiet and happy. The poor people, over time, succeeded in winning the privilege to be magistrates, or consuls. Overall, the plebeians had many more restrictions than the patricians, and they had a more difficult life living in Ancient Rome.
The slaves of Ancient Rome were at the bottom of the class system. The only way you could become a slave is if you were a plebiean and you fell into debt or if you were a prisoner of war. An old philosopher once said, “Treat your slaves with kindness,” though in the more modern days most did not. He said this because he thought that slaves were equal to their masters, and he did not agree with the way the slaves were being treated. Slaves would farm land, work mills, shop, cut/shave hair, and wash hands in between courses of food. They did this all for their masters. Some slaves' jobs were also to be gladiators, or fighters who fought others or animals, farmers, craftsmen, traders, laborers, or people who did manual labor. Some slaves were also sold at
by their masters if their masters did not think highly of their work.
Slaves could also receive freedom from their masters. Slaves would also often receive tips from local, kind citizens and once they gained enough money, they could pay their masters for freedom. Certain slaves were also given freedom in their master’s will, and sometimes masters would give freedom to their favorite slaves.
Once the slaves had gained freedom in one of the various ways, a special ceremony was held called a manumission, which publicly enounced their freedom to all of the other citizens in Rome. After their manumission, they usually worked hard to become traders. Some even became citizens and then started a whole new life as a citizen.
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