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Roman Hist. Lec. # 3
SPQR (=Senatus Populus Que Romanum)
1. Patricians (based on birth)
*(nobiles)=ruling class;
1) orig. =30 ruling patrician clans (gens)
2) example & name system: gens Julii, Gaius Julius Caesar
praenomen (personal)= Gaius; nomen (clan)= Julius; cognomen (family)= Caesar
2. Plebeians--non-nobiles, free, gen. poorer than patricians, some landless (tenant
3. patron/client system: patricians were patrons of their social, econ. inferiors--e.g.,
extended family, plebeians, slaves.
1.Fall of Etruscan dynasty at Rome 510/09 B.C.-Tarquin the Proud kicked out.
Powers of King went to Senate. Solidified by patronage (client ) system
2. Rome (an Etruscan city), head of Etruscan League.
3. Latin League worries? )
4. polit. divisions: Rome 4 prts. 4 votes; ; Rural areas had 30 votes
conflict of orders--the tribunes wanted to be nobiles . ruling class co-opted them
*** idea of "collegiate authority" = really an oligarchy -rule by wealthiest, &
mst pwrful
2 Consuls--(elected annually from Senate, by the assembled centuries of the
hoplite army )
Executive branch-replaced old Kingship- -had imperium = power (got from
*ex-Consuls--went to Senate for life.
Duties: 1. presided at meetings of Senate and the Centuriate Assembly
2. officiated at rituals to determine favorable omens.--cld decide days ok for
doing business
3. commanded armies of the Republic. Outside the city of Rome, consuls
had supreme military authority (imperium) + pwr of life/death over citizen soldiers.
4. In times of emergency--consuls cld appoint a dictator w/imperium-Dictator's orders superceded normal govt., but tenure lilmited to 6 mos..
B. Senate-- (300)-patres conscripti = enrolled fathers--early on was patrician
families (heads)-=ruling class;. determined by birth;
30 each from 10 curiae of 3 orig. Tribes.
*Nobiles--holding consulships--. one way to make your family a known family
C. Curiate Assembly-all citizens (based on curia) (wealthiest have most power)
orig. 3 tribes(Etruscan names) subdivided into 10 curiae (wards)-ea. ward = a # of clans/family groups **Because of patron/client system,
patricians/nobiles ran Curiate Assembly
Conflict of the Orders: 494-287 B.C. Why? How?
 Plebeian debt slavery big problem--due to economic decline after expulsion of
 began—in period right after expulsion of Kings. plebs w/drew-- seceded from
military service-plebs very unhappy--went to Aventine Hill ( possible Greek
influences of democracy)
* moderation on both sides; apparently a Plebeian victory across the board.
Sig.: *Ruling class changed, but still based on wealth.--. rich plebeians gained
most. bec. they eventually cld get consulships & become nobiles.
*Nobiles--holding consulships--. one way to make your family a known family
A. 1st Secession: 494 B.C. 1) Tribune Assembly began forming; (illegal
assoc.iation--gradually became legal)
Two Tribunes (orig.) later >10 Tribunes--elected by Tribune Assembly,
*passed plebiscita when meeting as consilium plebis
B. 451 B.C.: 12 Tables written down--codified by the decemviri, headed by Appius
Claudius; extraordinary committee of patricians, used emergency powers to codify
*1st written down Law: --only known through fragments; but Roman
schoolboys had to memorize it.
--gives 'feeling of severity of Roman law'
Examples: 1. Creditors: could imprison debtors --after 30 days' default. Then, if
debt not paid w/in 60 days, debtor cld be killed or sold.
*some attempt was made to protct ppl from financial exploitation-ex.--interest payments -no more than 12% (prob. computed annually)
2. Parental authority (pater familia)--full support of the law. Any father
cld sell his son 3 times, but after 3rd time, father gave up legal right to raise money
w/his children.
3. Personal injuries:
agreed to compensation.
the lex talionis --prevailed unless the injured party
4. Property--well protected. a) arsonists--burned alive;
b) negligent property destruction--penalty: perpetrator
compensated victim.
5. Laws against wastefulness; extravagance—e.g., funerals--expenses limited
to 3 veils, one small purple tunic, 10 flute players..
6. Major safeguards for citizens: (2)--1. No Roman citizen cld be executed w/out a trial
2. Major sentences--right of appeal to the Centuriate Assembly
C. 445B.C.E.: Centuriate Assembly formed (army in assembly) date ??--probably
earlier Rep = hoplite/phalanx army in Assembly, but its actions were subject to
consent of the Senate.
D. 2nd secession: 449 B.C. Centuriate Assembly--all male citizens, by centuries
(100s)--classified men by wealth/property, a military muster evolved into a regular
assembly **important change: based on property, not birth
Rights:--l) choose people to lead them;
2) chose people to classify
3) right to vote/make War
***all these right s taken away from the Curiate Assembly.-Other rights.: l) elected consuls, praetors, censors;
2) declared war;
3) made peace;
4) tried cases of appeal for capital crimes.
Significance of Earlier Secessions: Plebs got:
1.445 B.C.-plebeians got right to marry patricians (lex Canuleia)
2. 367 B.C.
to hold Consulship--one consul must be
3. 300 B.C.
some rights to priesthoods
E. 3rd secession 287 B.C. Tribune assembly votes-binding on all Romans.
(Lex Hortensia)-(*-made Rome a limited democracy)
Cursus honorum: ranks of offices--recognized; other important officials
Other important officials:
l. (430 B.C.) Dictator--a 6 months ‘ emergency office’ , vast power
(imperium)to rule
2. (ca. 443 B.C.) Censor (2)-(elected-every 5 years by the centuries, for 18 month
terms) -became reserved for distinguished ex-consuls.
Duties: -a. conducted census,
b. classified citizens
c. drew up citizenship, Senate rolls.;
d. could expel Senators;
e. let government contracts (became powerful in 4th cent. B.C.)
3. Quaestor-(2 orig., later 8)--financial officials for Consul, army--elected
annually by Tribune Assembly)
Duties: 4 quaestors
a.investigated major crimes
b disbursed public funds;
c. on campaigns, more quaestors accompanied the armies as
4. (325 B.C.) Proconsuls- could extend Consulship if in military campaign
5. (339 B.C.or 342?) Praetor--242 BC 2nd praetor added--a Consular deputy,
Elected annually by Centuriate Assembly; Senate had to approve.
Duties: a.responsible for law/order/justice admin. w/in city of Rome;
b. had imperium & could command armies
c. entered Senate after their third year in office
6. Aedile- administrator-lower level (reorganized by Tribune Assembly 366 B.C.)-elected annually by Tribal (Tribune) Assembly.
2 plebeian aediles & 2 patrician aediles
Duties: supervised food & water supplies, the market place, weights &
measures, & road maintenance.
l80 B.C. --hierarchy of administrative, official posts set up =cursus honorum
(idea of going up through ranks of elected offices to Consul, Censor)