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The Patricians Vs.
The Plebeians
 Referred to as the elite
or rich families in
ancient Rome.
 They took over after
kings were kicked out in
509 B.C.
 The upper class
 Dominated the Senate
and Republic.
 Ruled unjustly, treated
Plebeians unfairly
 Lived within Rome,
 The working/ poor class of
 Farmers, metal workers,
artisans, and merchants.
 Lived in the countryside
 People from other conquered
 Dependent on the Patricians
 In debt after wars
 Had voting power but no
control of the Republic. Held
no office.
 Not fairly represented.
Struggle of the Orders
 A Struggle for economic & political rights.
 The Plebeians wanted a change in the
 They wanted more say. The Patricians held all the
power in the Republic and were the only ones
allowed to hold office.
 4 main grievances
Power of the Patricians
Law of debt = Slavery
Unequal division of public land
Power of the Patricians
 The Pats and the Plebs both worked to kick out
kings but Pats reaped all the benefits.
 Could vote but cant hold office.
 The power of Rome rested in the upper class
 Power exercised in a harsh and selfish
 1st struggle between the rich and poor
Poverty & The Unjust law of
Unjust law of Debt
 Wars left the Plebs
dependent and poor
 Not protected by city
walls, during war time.
 Out fighting for country
while home is
destroyed. Poor
when they come back.
 Having lost everything
because of war they
now need to borrow
 If they couldn’t pay off
the debt you could be
arrested, thrown into a
dungeon, and made a
slave to that person.
 Was meant to keep the
poor class poor.
Unequal division of land
 Land acquired after wars that should
have been divided up among the people.
 Instead the Pats shared it between
 The longer patricians controlled the land,
the more they would look upon it as their
own property
Patricians and Plebeians
 Two groups of Rome that struggled for power!
 Lets battle in a Debate!
37 Class Struggle 11/18
 Is it fair that some people are rich and
others are poor? Why?
The Struggle of the Orders
 Could not take the injustices so they revolted
 Throwing down their weapons and
abandoning the army.
 In 494 B.C. the Plebeians revolt and form
their own council & elected officials.
Struggle of the Orders
 This frightened many of
the Patricians because
they thought Rome would
fall apart if the 2 groups
couldn’t work together.
 Patricians knew if people
stayed unhappy, they
might rise up and
overthrow the whole
Changes in the
 To calm the angry
Plebeians, the Patricians
made some changes in the
 The law of debt had been
revoked and anyone
imprisoned was released.
 Most important effect was
the creation of a new office,
 Tribunes = Protect
Plebeians rights.
 Only could be held by a
 Had the power to veto.
Twelve Tables
 Before the 12 tables the
laws were not written
down, laws were
interpreted by the
 How would this have
been a disadvantage for
 450 B.C. ten officials began
writing down Rome’s laws.
 Became a basis for Roman
 Developed the idea that all
free citizens had a right to
the protection of the law.
 494 BCE: traditional date of the First Secession of
the Plebs, during which they established their own
assembly and elected their own magistrates and the
 450 BCE: traditional date of the Law of the Twelve
Tables, the first codification of Roman law
 445 BCE: patricians and plebeians were permitted to
 367 BCE: plebeians became eligible for the
 342 BCE: law passed making it mandatory that one
of the two Consuls must be a plebeian
****Over time the distinction between Pleb & Pat
disappeared but it took a very long time. ****
Challenges Outside of
 Shortly after Rome becomes
a Republic, war breaks out.
 Over 200 years of fighting.
 In 387 the Gauls attack
Rome and takes over the
 Romans pay them a huge
amount of money to leave.
 After this other neighbors try
the same thing.
 Rome won most of the wars
but it took a toll on the
 Many places were
destroyed and many people
A Dictator is Chosen.
 During difficult wars,
the Romans chose a
dictator to replace the
2 consuls.
 A dictator is a ruler
with absolute power.
 The dictator lead the
city, but could only be
in power for 6 months.
Why do you think during
tough wars did Rome have
a dictator?
 Cincinnatus was one of
early Rome’s most famous
 Cincinnatus was originally a
farmer, but was asked to
defend the city against a
powerful enemy.
 Once he won the war, he
immediately resigned as
dictator and returned to his
farm. Even before his 6
month term ended.
 Fighting did not end with
Cincinnatus. Rome
continued to fight with their
neighbors for many years.
What are some
reasons that
Cincinnatus would
be honored so
highly in Rome?
Cincinnatus 519 B.C. - ?
Cincinnatus is the most famous
dictator from the early Roman
Republic. Because he wasn’t eager
to hold on to his power, the Romans
considered Cincinnatus an ideal
leader. They admired his abilities
and his loyalty to the republic. The
early citizens of the United States
admired the same qualities in their
leaders. In fact, some people called
George Washington the “American
Cincinnatus” when he refused to run
for a third term as president. The
people of the state of Ohio also
honored Cincinnatus by naming one
of their major cities, Cincinnati, after