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Ancient Rome: Constructing The
Class Pyramid
Read the information below and then use it to fill in information on the pyramid for each division within the Athens class structure. Be sure
to name who fits in that portion of the pyramid and also explain what their job or role was. Then, answer the questions at the bottom.
Although there were two main social classes in ancient Rome, the plebeians and the patricians,
the class structure can actually be broken down into four parts. Those that ruled the land obviously had
the most power. These were the consuls. The consuls were the top government posts and these men
served for only one year. One consul ruled the army while the other ruled the rest of the government.
The patricians were the wealthy, upper class. They held the government offices. In fact, they
(men only) were the only ones who could be members of the Senate. The Senators passed the laws
and served in that role for life.
The plebeians were basically everyone else in Roman society. They were shopkeepers, artisans,
and small farmers. Although some were actually quite wealthy, many were very poor. They were
citizens and had the right to vote, but they couldn’t serve in the government.
At the bottom, as in most ancient civilizations, were the slaves. As the Empire grew and more
lands were taken over, the number of slave grew, too. By 100 B.C. about 40% of the people of Italy
were slaves. They worked in homes, fields, mines, and workshops. They helped with all the building
projects. For most slaves, life was hard.
Rome’s Class Structure Pyramid
Were the plebeians or the patricians more important? Explain your answer.
Was it fair to let the plebeians vote but not do anything else in the government? Why or why not?