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The patricians (from la,
patriciusPatricius may refer to: People * Patricius (consul 500), prominent East Roman general and consul *Patricius (jurist), 5th-century Roman jurist * Patricius (usurper) (died 352), leader of the Jewish revolt against Gallus * Patricius (fl. 354AD), fat ...
) were originally a group of
ruling class In sociology, the ruling class of a society is the social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the ...
families in
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
. The distinction was highly significant in the
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilis ...
, and the early
Republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
, but its relevance waned after the
Conflict of the Orders The Conflict or Struggle of the Orders was a political struggle between the plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the It ...
(494 BC to 287 BC). By the time of the late Republic and
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

Empire
, membership in the patriciate was of only nominal significance. The social structure of Ancient Rome revolved around the distinction between the patricians and the
plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in ...

plebeians
. The status of patricians gave them more political power than the plebeians. The relationship between the patricians and the plebeians eventually caused the Conflict of the Orders. This time period resulted in changing the social structure of Ancient Rome. After the
Western Empire
Western Empire
fell, the term "patrician" continued as a high
honorary title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
in the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. In the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
and in many medieval Italian republics, medieval patrician classes were once again formally defined groups of leading
Grand Burgher Grand Burgher aleor Grand Burgheress emale(from German: Großbürger ale Großbürgerin emale is a specific conferred or inherited title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify eit ...
families, especially in
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...
and
Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; locally ; lij, Zêna ; English, historically, and la, Genua) is the capital of the Regions of Italy, Italian region of Liguria and the List of cities in Italy, sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived ...
. Subsequently "patrician" became a vague term used to refer to
aristocrat The aristocracy is a social class that a particular society considers its highest order. In many states, the aristocracy included the upper class of people (aristocrats) with hereditary rank and titles. In some, such as ancient Greece, Rome, ...
s and the higher
bourgeoisie Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguisti ...

bourgeoisie
in many countries. The legacy of the Roman patrician and plebeian distinction lives on in modern society.


Origin

According to
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
, the first 100 men appointed as senators by
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
were referred to as "fathers" (Latin ''patres''), and the descendants of those men became the patrician class. This fact is also included in an account by
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
. The appointment of these one hundred men into the senate gave them a noble status. This noble status is what separated the patricians from the plebeians. Some accounts detail that the one hundred men were chosen because of their wisdom. This would coincide with the idea that Ancient Rome was founded on a merit-based ideal. According to other opinions, the patricians () were those who could point to fathers, i.e. those who were members of the clans () whose members originally comprised the whole citizen body. Other noble families which came to Rome during the time of the kings were also admitted to the patriciate, including several who emigrated from
Alba Longa Alba Longa (occasionally written Albalonga in Italian sources) was an ancient Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rom ...
, after that city was destroyed by
Tullus Hostilius Tullus Hostilius (r. 673–642 BC) was the Roman mythology, legendary third king of Rome. He succeeded Numa Pompilius and was succeeded by Ancus Marcius. Unlike his predecessor, Tullus was known as a warlike king who according to the Roman Histor ...
. The last-known instance of a gens being admitted to the patriciate prior to the 1st century BC was when the
Claudii The gens Claudia (), sometimes written Clodia, was one of the most prominent patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usa ...
were added to the ranks of the patricians after coming to Rome in 504 BC, five years after the establishment of the Republic. ''Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities'', Second Edition,
Harry Thurston Peck Harry Thurston Peck (November 24, 1856 – March 23, 1914) was an American classical scholar, author, editor, and critic. Biography Peck was born in Stamford, Connecticut. He was educated in private schools and at Columbia College, graduating i ...
, Editor (1897)
Titus Livius Titus Livius''Titus'' is the praenomen (the personal name); ''Livius'' is the nomen (the ''gentile'' name, i.e. "belonging to the gens Livia"). Therefore, Titus Livius did not have a cognomen (third name, i.e. family name), which was not unusu ...
, ''
Ab Urbe Condita 300px, Antoninianus of Pacatianus, Roman usurper, usurper of Roman emperor Philip the Arab, Philip in 248. It reads ''ROMAE AETERANMIL ESIMOET PRIMO'', 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.' ''Ab urbe condita'' ( ...
'', Book II
Titus Livius Titus Livius''Titus'' is the praenomen (the personal name); ''Livius'' is the nomen (the ''gentile'' name, i.e. "belonging to the gens Livia"). Therefore, Titus Livius did not have a cognomen (third name, i.e. family name), which was not unusu ...
, ''
Ab Urbe Condita 300px, Antoninianus of Pacatianus, Roman usurper, usurper of Roman emperor Philip the Arab, Philip in 248. It reads ''ROMAE AETERANMIL ESIMOET PRIMO'', 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.' ''Ab urbe condita'' ( ...
'', Book I
The criteria for why Romulus chose certain men for this class remains contested by academics and historians, but the importance of the patrician/ plebeian distinction is accounted by all as paramount to Ancient Roman society. The distinction between the noble class, the patricians, and the Roman populace, the plebeians, existed from the beginning of Ancient Rome. This distinction became increasingly important in the society. The patricians were given noble status when named to the Senate, giving them wider political influence than the
plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in ...
, at least in the times of the early Republic. The patricians in Ancient Rome were of the same status as aristocrats in
Greek society Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era was ...
. Being of the noble class meant that patricians were able to participate in government and politics, while the plebeians could not. This privilege was important in Ancient Roman history and ended up causing a large divide between the two classes. During the middle and late Republic, as this influence gradually eroded, plebeians were granted equal rights in most areas, and even greater in some. For example, only plebeians could serve as the
Tribune of the Plebs #REDIRECT Tribune of the plebs#REDIRECT Tribune of the plebs Tribune of the plebs, tribune of the people or plebeian tribune ( la, tribunus plebis) was the first office of the Roman state that was open to the plebeians, and was, throughout the his ...
. There were quotas for official offices. One of the two consulships was reserved for plebeians. Although being a patrician remained prestigious, it was of minimal practical importance. With the exception of some religious offices which were devoid of political power, plebeians were able to stand for all of the offices that were open to patricians. Plebeians of the senatorial class were no less wealthy than patricians at the height of the republic. Originally patrician,
Publius Clodius Pulcher Publius Clodius Pulcher (93–52 BC) was a populist Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''E ...
willingly arranged to be adopted by a plebeian family in order to qualify to be appointed as the Tribune of the Plebs.


Roman Republic and Empire


Status

Patricians historically had more privileges and rights than plebeians. This status difference was marked at the beginning of the
Republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
: patricians were better represented in the
Roman assemblies The Roman Assemblies were institutions in ancient Rome. They functioned as the machinery of the Roman legislative branch, and thus (theoretically at least) passed all legislation. Since the assemblies operated on the basis of a direct democracy, ord ...
, only patricians could hold high political offices, such as
dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the c ...
,
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
, and
censor Censor may refer to: People with the name *Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">R ...
, and all priesthoods (such as
pontifex maximus The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it becam ...
) were closed to non-patricians. There was a belief that patricians communicated better with the
Roman gods The Roman deities most familiar today are those the Romans identified with Greek counterparts (see ''interpretatio graeca ''Interpretatio graeca'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the I ...
, so they alone could perform the sacred rites and take the
auspices Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. ...

auspices
. Additionally, not only were the patricians of higher status in political offices but they also had the best land in Ancient Rome. Having the best land would allow the patrician class to have more opportunities, such as being able to produce better agriculture. This view had political consequences, since in the beginning of the year or before a military campaign, Roman magistrates used to consult the gods. Livy reports that the first admission of plebeians into a priestly college happened in 300 BC with the passage of the Lex Ogulnia, when the college of
Augurs An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury: Interpreting the will of the gods by studying the flight of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting t ...
raised their number from four to nine. After that, plebeians were accepted into the other religious colleges. By the end of the Republic, only priesthoods with limited political importance, such as the
Salii In , the Salii ( , ) were the "leaping priests" (from the verb ''saliō'' "leap, jump") of supposed to have been introduced by King . They were twelve youths, dressed as archaic warriors: an embroidered , a , a short red cloak ('')'', a sword, ...
, the Flamines, and the
Rex Sacrorum In ancient Roman religion, the ''rex sacrorum'' ("king of the sacred", also sometimes ''rex sacrificulus'') was a senatorial priesthood reserved for patricians. Although in the historical era, the ''pontifex maximus The (Latin Latin (, ...
, were filled exclusively by patricians. While it was not illegal for a plebeian to run for political office, a plebeian would have not have had the backing needed to win a seat. Since society was organized in this way, the patrician class was essentially in complete control of Ancient Rome's government. In Cassius' accounts of Ancient Rome, he details how important and advantaged the patrician class was over the plebeian class. He indicates the status difference between patricians and plebeians by detailing about the specific shoes the patricians wore. Cassius states, "For the shoes worn by the patricians in the city were ornamented with laced straps and the design of the letter, to signify that they were descended from the original hundred men that had been senators." It is clear through Cassius' account that these details mattered and represent the differentiation between classes. For more on Ancient Rome's social class distinction visit Social Class in Ancient Rome. Very few plebeian names appear in lists of
Roman magistrate The Roman magistrates were elected officials in Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest hi ...
s during the early Republic. Two laws passed during the fourth century BC began the gradual opening of magistrates to the plebeians: the
Lex Licinia Sextia The Sextian-Licinian Rogations were a series of laws proposed by tribunes of the plebs Tribune of the plebs, tribune of the people or plebeian tribune ( la, tribunus plebis) was the first office of the Roman state that was open to the plebeians ...
of 367 BC, which established the right of plebeians to hold the consulship; and the Genucian Law of 342 BC, which required that at least one of the consuls be a plebeian (although this law was frequently violated for several decades). Many of the ancient patrician gentes whose members appear in the founding legends of Rome disappeared as Rome acquired its empire, and new plebeian families rose to prominence. A number of patrician families such as the Horatii, Lucretii, Verginii and Menenii rarely appear in positions of importance during the later republic. Many old families had both patrician and plebeian branches, of which the patrician lines frequently faded into obscurity, and were eclipsed by their plebeian namesakes. The decline accelerated toward the end of the Republic, principally because of the civil wars, from the Social War to the proscriptions of the
Triumvirs A triumvirate ( la, triumvirātus) or a triarchy is a political institution ruled or dominated by three powerful individuals known as triumvirs ( la, triumviri). The arrangement can be formal or informal. Though the three are notionally equal, ...
, which took a heavy toll on them. As a result, several illustrious patrician houses were on the verge of extinction during the 1st century BC, sometimes only surviving through adoptions, such as: *
Julii Caesares The Julii Caesares were the most illustrious family of the patrician (ancient Rome), patrician ''gens Julia gens, Julia''. The family first appears in history during the Second Punic War, when Sextus Julius Caesar (praetor 208 BC), Sextus Julius ...
* Manlii Torquatii * Papirii Masones *
Postumii Albini The gens Postumia was a noble Patrician (ancient Rome), patrician family at ancient Rome. Throughout the history of the Roman Republic, Republic, the Postumii frequently occupied the chief Roman magistrate, magistracies of the Roman state, beginnin ...
*
Servilii Caepiones The gens Servilia was a patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elite ...
However, large gentes with multiple seem to have coped better; the
Aemilii The gens Aemilia, originally written Aimilia, was one of the greatest patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Pa ...
,
Claudii The gens Claudia (), sometimes written Clodia, was one of the most prominent patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usa ...
,
Cornelii The gens Cornelia was one of the greatest patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), ...
,
Fabii , made between 1773–1780 for Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna. The gens Fabia was one of the most ancient patrician (ancient Rome), patrician families at ancient Rome. The gens played a prominent part in history soon after the establishment of the Ro ...
, Sulpicii, and
Valerii The gens Valeria was a patrician (ancient Rome), patrician family at ancient Rome, prominent from the very beginning of the Roman Republic, Republic to the latest period of the Roman Empire, Empire. Publius Valerius Poplicola was one of the Rom ...
all continued to thrive under the
Principate The Principate is the name sometimes given to the first period of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republ ...
.


Patricians vs. plebeians

The distinction between patricians and
plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in ...
in Ancient Rome was based purely on birth. Although modern writers often portray patricians as rich and powerful families who managed to secure power over the less-fortunate plebeian families, plebeians and patricians among the senatorial class were equally wealthy. As civil rights for plebeians increased during the middle and late
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
, many plebeian families had attained wealth and power while some traditionally patrician families had fallen into poverty and obscurity. However, no amount of wealth could change one's class.


Marriage

A marriage between a patrician and a plebeian was the only way to legally integrate the two classes. However, once the Twelve Tables were written down, a law was written which made the marriage between the two classes illegal. If a marriage was to occur between a patrician and a plebeian, the children of that marriage would then be given patrician status. This law was created to prevent the classes from mixing. In Ancient Rome women did not have power in the household. However, according to Mathisen, having a recognized marriage, so not illegally marrying into the other class, was important. Having a legally recognized marriage ensured that the children born from the marriage were given Roman citizenship and any property they might inherit.


The Conflict of The Orders

Eventually, the plebeians became unsatisfied with being the lower class and not having the same rights and privileges as the patricians. This time in Roman history is called the
Conflict of the Orders The Conflict or Struggle of the Orders was a political struggle between the plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the It ...
, which took place between 500-287 BCE. Due to the patricians having the political status, the plebeian class had no representation in the government to advocate for their interests. By not having anyone advocating for their interests, this also meant that the Plebeians did not know the laws they had to abide by. Since the patricians were of high social status, they did not want to lose this status; they were not in agreement with changing the structure of society by giving plebeians more status. Eventually, the plebeian class came together and created their own governing body, the Council of the Plebs. Another advancement that came from the Conflict of the Orders was the twelve tables. At this time in Ancient Rome, the monarchy had been overthrown. The plebeians wanted to know the laws, which resulted in the written form of laws: the
Twelve Tables The ''Law of the Twelve tables'' ( la, Leges Duodecim Tabularum or ) was the legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand y ...
. Even once these laws were written down, and the new Centuriate Assembly was created, the patrician class remained in power. The assembly separated citizens into classes, however, the top two class, Equestrians and Patricians, were able to control the majority of the vote. This meant, that while the plebeians were able to vote, if the patrician classes voted together, they could control the vote. Ancient Rome, according to Ralph Mathisen, author of ''Ancient Roman Civilization: History and Sources,'' made political reforms, such as the introduction of the Council of the Plebs and the Tribunes of the Plebs. These two political bodies were created to give the plebeians a voice. After the Conflict of the Orders, according to Mathisen, Plebeians were able to rise in politics and become members of the Senate, which used to be exclusively for patricians.


Fading of distinction

A series of laws diminished the distinction between the two classes, including ''
Lex CanuleiaThe (‘ Canuleian law’), or , was a law of the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization, run through res publica, public Representation (politics), represe ...
'' (445 BC; which allowed the marriage—''ius connubii''—between patricians and
plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in ...
), '' Leges Liciniae Sextiae'' (367 BC; which made restrictions on possession of public lands—''ager publicus''—and also made sure that one of the consuls was plebeian), '' Lex Ogulnia'' (300 BC; plebeians received access to priest posts), and ''
Lex Hortensia The ''lex Hortensia'', also sometimes referred to as the Hortensian law, was a law passed in Ancient Rome in 287 BC which made all resolutions passed by the Plebeian Council, known as ''plebiscita'', binding on all citizens. It was passed by the dic ...
'' (287 BC; verdicts of plebeian assemblies—''plebiscita''—now bind all people). Gradually, by the late Republic, most distinctions between patricians and plebeians had faded away.


Modern Day

"Patrician" and "plebeian" are still used today to refer to groups of people of high and lower classes.


Patrician families

The following were regarded as patrician, although they may have had plebeian members or branches. * Aebutia * Aemilia * Aquillia * Aternia *
AtiliaAtilia (sometimes spelt Attilia), daughter of Atilia gens, Atilius Serranus and first wife of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, whom he married c. 73 BC, after his intended wife, Aemilia Lepida#Cato, Aemilia Lepida, married Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pi ...
*
ClaudiaClaudia may refer to: People Ancient Romans *Any woman from the Roman Claudia gens *Claudia (vestal), a Vestal Virgin who protected her father Appius Claudius Pulcher in 143 BC *Claudia Augusta (63–63 AD), infant daughter of Nero by his second w ...
*
Cloelia Cloelia ( grc, Κλοιλία) was a legendary woman from the early history of ancient Rome. As part of the peace treaty which ended the Roman-Etruscan Wars#War with Clusium in 508 BC, war between Rome and Clusium in 508 BC, Roman hostages were t ...
*
Cornelia Cornelia may refer to: People *Cornelia (name), a feminine given name *Cornelia (gens), a Roman family Places *425 Cornelia, the asteroid ''Cornelia'', a main-belt asteroid ;Italy *Cornelia (Rome Metro), an underground station on Rome Metro *Via ...
* Curtia * Fabia * Foslia * Furia * Gegania * Genucia * Herminia * Horatia *
Julia Julia is usually a feminine given name. It is a Latinate feminine form of the name Julio (given name), Julio and Julius. (For further details on etymology, see wikt:Iulius#Latin, Wiktionary entry “Julius”.) The given name ''Julia'' had been ...
* Lartia *
Lucretia According to Roman tradition, Lucretia ( /luːˈkriːʃə/ ''loo-KREE-shə'', Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the ...
* Manlia * Menenia * Metilia * Minucia * Mucia * Nautia * Numicia * Papiria * Pinaria * Pollia * Postumia * Potitia * Quinctia * Quinctilia * Romilia * Sempronia * Sergia * Servilia * Sestia * Siccia * Sulpicia gens, Sulpicia * Tarpeia gens, Tarpeia * Tarquinia gens, Tarquinia * Tarquitia gens, Tarquitia * Tullia gens, Tullia * Valeria gens, Valeria * Verginia gens, Verginia * Veturia gens, Veturia * Vitellia gens, Vitellia * Volumnia gens, Volumnia A number of other originally belonged to the patricians but were known chiefly for their plebeian branches. * Antonia gens, Antonia * Cassia gens, Cassia * Cominia gens, Cominia * Curiatia gens, Curiatia * Hostilia gens, Hostilia * Junia gens, Junia * Marcia gens, Marcia


Gentes maiores et minores

Among the patricians, certain families were known as the , the greatest or perhaps the most noble houses. The other patrician families were called the . Whether this distinction had any legal significance is not known, but it has been suggested that the , or Speaker of the Senate, was traditionally chosen from the . No list of the gentes maiores has been discovered, and even their number is entirely unknown. It has been suggested that the Aemilii, Claudii, Cornelii, Fabii, Manlii, and Valerii were amongst them. The ''Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology'' suggests that the gentes maiores consisted of families that settled at Rome in the time of
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
, or at least before the destruction of
Alba Longa Alba Longa (occasionally written Albalonga in Italian sources) was an ancient Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rom ...
. The noble Alban families that settled in Rome in the time of
Tullus Hostilius Tullus Hostilius (r. 673–642 BC) was the Roman mythology, legendary third king of Rome. He succeeded Numa Pompilius and was succeeded by Ancus Marcius. Unlike his predecessor, Tullus was known as a warlike king who according to the Roman Histor ...
then formed the nucleus of the gentes minores. These included the Julii, Tulii, Servilii, Quinctii, Geganii, Curtii, and Cloelii.''Oxford Classical Dictionary'', 2nd ed. (1970). However, ''Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities'' suggests that the Alban families were also included among the gentes maiores, and that the gentes minores consisted of the families admitted to the patriciate under the King of Rome, Tarquins and in the early years of the
Republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
. In any case, the distinction cannot have been based entirely on priority, because the Claudii did not arrive at Rome until after the expulsion of the kings.


Late Roman and Byzantine period

Patrician status still carried a degree of prestige at the time of the early Roman Empire, and Roman emperors routinely elevated their supporters to the patrician caste ''en masse''. This prestige gradually declined further, and by the end of the Crisis of the Third Century, 3rd-century crisis patrician status, as it had been known in the Republic, ceased to have meaning in everyday life. The emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306–337) reintroduced the term as the empire's senior honorific title, not tied to any specific administrative position, and from the first limited to a very small number of holders.Kazhdan (1991), p. 1600 The historian Zosimus (historian), Zosimus states that in Constantine's time, the holders of the title ranked even above the praetorian prefects. In the late Western Roman Empire, the title was sparingly used and retained its high prestige, being awarded, especially in the 5th century, to the powerful who dominated the state, such as Stilicho, Constantius III, Flavius Aetius, Comes Bonifacius, and Ricimer. The patrician title was occasionally used in Western Europe after the end of the Roman Empire; for instance, Pope Stephen II granted the title "Patricius of the Romans" to the Frankish ruler Pepin the Short. The revival of patrician classes in medieval Italian city-states, and also north of the Alps, is covered in Patrician (post-Roman Europe), patricianship. The eastern emperor Zeno (emperor), Zeno (r. 474–491) granted it to Odoacer to legitimize the latter's rule in Italy after his overthrow of the rebellious Orestes (father of Romulus Augustulus), Orestes and his son Romulus Augustulus in 476. In the Eastern Empire, Theodosius II (r. 408–450) barred eunuchs from holding it, although this restriction had been overturned by the 6th century. Under Justinian I (r. 527–565), the title proliferated and was consequently somewhat devalued, as the emperor opened it up to all those above rank, i.e. the majority of the Byzantine Senate, Senate. In the 8th century, in the Eastern Roman Empire, the title was further lowered in the court order of precedence, coming after the and the . However it remained one of the highest in the imperial hierarchy until the 11th century, being awarded to the most important (provincial governors and generals, allies) of the Empire. In the court hierarchy, the eunuch enjoyed higher precedence, coming before even the . The title was also granted to important allied foreign rulers, as the early Old Great Bulgaria, Bulgarian ruler Kubrat, who’s ring A was inscribed in Greek XOBPATOY and ring C was inscribed XOBPATOY ПATPIKIOY, indicating the dignity of ''Patrikios'' (Patrician) that he had achieved in the Byzantine world. According to the late 9th-century , the insignia of the dignity were ivory inscribed tablets. During the 11th century, the dignity of followed the fate of other titles: extensively awarded, it lost in status, and disappeared during the Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty, Komnenian period in the early 12th century. The title of (, "first patrician") is also evidenced in the East from 367 to 711, possibly referring to the senior-most holder of the office and leader of the patrician order ().Bury (1911), p. 28 The feminine variant () denoted the spouses of ; it is not to be confused with the title of ("girded "), which was a unique dignity conferred on the ladies-in-waiting of the empress.


See also

*Nobility *Aristocracy


References


Sources

* * *


Further reading

*Ferenczy, Endre. 1976. ''From the Patrician State to the Patricio-Plebeian State.'' Amsterdam: A. M. Hakkert. * *Mitchell, Richard E. 1990. ''Patricians and plebeians: The origin of the Roman state.'' Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press. *Raaflaub, Kurt A., ed. 2004. ''Social struggles in Archaic Rome: New perspectives on the conflict of the orders.'' 2d ed. Oxford: Blackwell. * *Rosenstein, Nathan and Robert Morstein-Marx. 2010. ''A Companion to the Roman Republic.'' Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. *Stewart, Roberta. 1998. ''Public office in early Rome: Ritual procedure and political practice.'' Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press. *Tatum, W. Jeffrey. 1999. ''The patrician tribune: Publius Clodius Pulcher.'' Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press. *Williamson, Callie. 2005. ''The laws of the Roman people: Public law in the expansion and decline of the Roman Republic.'' Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.


External links

* {{Authority control Roman patricians, Social classes in ancient Rome Ancient Roman titles