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PostSubject: Roman Social Classes   Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:12 pm

Roman Social Classes
Since the founding of Rome by the mythical Romulus, the people of Rome have been split into three social orders - the Patricians, the Equites, and the Plebeians. Historically, social mobility has been possible but limited; Plebeians and Equites can, by accumulating enough influence and money, find their way by adoption or marriage into the venerable Patrician class. However, in the current Roman social order, upward mobility has never been more difficult, with the conservative Optimate clicque of the Patricians jealously guarding entrance into the oldest Patrician families from the dreaded novus homo, or, New Man.

The Patricians
Descended from the first 100 men of the Senate as appointed by Romulus, they are the patres, the Fathers, of Rome. Possessing of both greater wealth, education, and representation, the Patricians are the true and natural apex of Rome, leading its armies, passing its laws, and leading the state. It is only with great resistence at every juncture that the Patricians have relinquished anything to the lower classes. Once, only the Patricians could hold the priesthoods, hold public office, or lead the Legions. While they still stand foremost in all these fields, they have been forced to open each of these fields to the Equites and the Plebs. In the modern style, most traditions are miserly with their money (to others) and conservative in their views, fighting at every inch the rights of the lesser classes. According to law, Patricians must maintain a sum of at least 250,000 Sestertii to maintain their Patrician status. The only way to rise from the lower classes to Patrician is to marry or be adopted; it is, in fact, illegal for the opposite, a Pleb to adopt a Patrician - though it has been done at least once.

The Equites
The Equites are those of the lower nobility, often distinguished in name and wealthy enough to provide large numbers of cavalry to the Legions, but not in possession of a Patrician name. The Equites serve as an honorable class of noblemen who are required to serve the Legion's light cavalry in times of war. This fact has cultivated many distinguished names among the Equestrian class, well-known in war and in possession of great foreign prizes. Many Equestrian families have traditions of honor and duty which distinguish them from the Plebs; however, it is the ambition of many an Equite to cross the gulf and enter into the true apex of the Roman social order, the Patricians. The Patricians, as they are wont to do, look down their noses at these ladder climbers.

The Plebeians
The Plebeians are the common folk of Rome, free men, citizens, who can cast a vote, but carry little in the way of wealth or distinguished pasts. The Plebeians have been the main enemy of the Patricians throughout Rome's history; at one point they went so far as to abandon the city altogether until the Patricians agreed to their demands, gifting them the Tribune of the Plebs. In the past, as is now, they formed the vast bulk of the Roman Legions, first as volunteer landowners, and now as salaried professional soldiers. The number of the Plebs has greatly increased in the last few decades, as the other states of Latium have been granted Roman citizenship. At the same time, their political power has decreased as wealthy Patricians, Equites, and even fellow Plebs have rapidly gobbled up the land they once owned. Flooding into the cities in the search of a new craft, many are left destitute. More than once in the past, this destitution can be harbored for political - or martial - ends.
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