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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 plebeians (also called plebs) were the general body of free
Roman citizens Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its c ...
who were not
patricians 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 aga ...
, as determined by the
census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...
, or in other words "
commoner '' A commoner, also known as the ''common man'', ''commoners'', the ''common people'' or the ''masses'', was in earlier use an ordinary person in a community or nation who did not have any significant social status, especially one who was a memb ...
s". Both classes were hereditary.


Etymology

The precise origins of the group and the term are unclear, but may be related to the Greek, ''plēthos'', meaning masses. The term then became more widely applied throughout 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 ...
, a struggle for political rights between the plebeians and patricians. By 287 BC, plebeians had eliminated their political disadvantages in relation to the patricians. In the later republic, the term referred instead to citizens of lower socioeconomic status and, by the early empire, referred to non-aristocrats (not senators or
equestrians Equestrian tour on traditional local breed, Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland">Skaftafell.html" ;"title="Icelandic horses in Skaftafell">Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland Equestrianism (from Latin , , , 'h ...
). In Latin, the word is a
singular Singular may refer to: * Singular, the grammatical number In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb agreement (linguistics), agreement that expresses count distinctions (such as "one", ...
collective noun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
, and its
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
is . Plebeians were not a monolithic social class. Those who resided in the city and were part of the 4 urban tribes are sometimes called the , while those who lived in the country and were part of the 31 smaller rural tribes are sometimes differentiated by using the label . (
List of Roman tribes Tribes (Latin ''tribus'') were groupings of citizens in ancient Rome, originally based on location. Voters were eventually organized by tribes, with each Roman tribe having an equal vote in the Tribal Assembly. Original tribes Latin ''tribus'' ...
)


In Ancient Rome

The original management of the separation into orders is unclear, and it is disputed when the Romans were divided under the early kings into patricians and plebeians, or whether the (dependents) of the patricians formed a third group. Certain ("clans") were patrician, as identified by the (family name), but a might have both patrician and plebeian branches that shared a but were distinguished by a , as was the case with the
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 ...
. The 19th-century historian
Barthold Georg NiebuhrImage:BartholdNiebuhr.jpg, Barthold Georg Niebuhr Barthold Georg Niebuhr (27 August 1776 – 2 January 1831) was a Danish–German statesman, banker, and historian who became Germany's leading historian of Ancient Rome and a founding father of moder ...

Barthold Georg Niebuhr
held that plebeians began to appear at Rome during the reign of
Ancus Marcius Ancus Marcius (–617 BC; reigned 642–617 BC)"Ancus Marcius" in ''Encyclopædia Britannica, The New Encyclopædia Britannica''. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 379. was the Roman mythology, legendary fourth king ...
and were possibly foreigners from other parts of Italy settling in Rome as
naturalized Naturalization (or naturalisation) is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen of a country may acquire citizenship Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the law of a country (and/or local jurisdiction) of belongi ...
citizens. In any case, at the outset of the
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 ...
, the patricians had a near monopoly on political and social institutions. Plebeians were excluded from magistracies and religious
colleges A college (Latin: ''collegium'') is an educational institution or a University system, constituent part of one. A college may be a academic degree, degree-awarding Tertiary education, tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate un ...
, and they were not permitted to know the laws by which they were governed. Plebeians served in the army, but rarely became military leaders.


Conflict of the orders

The Conflict of the Orders ( la, ordo meaning "social rank") refers to a struggle by plebeians for full political rights from the patricians. According to Roman tradition, shortly after the establishment of the republic, plebeians objected to their exclusion from power and exploitation by the patricians. The plebeians were able to achieve their political goals by a series of secessions from the city: "a combination of mutiny and a strike". Ancient Roman tradition claimed that the Conflict led to laws being published, written down, and given open access starting in 494 BC with the law of 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 ...
, which also introduced the concept of equality before the law, "often referred to in Latin as ''libertas''", which became foundational to republican politics. This early law also banned intermarriage between patricians and plebeians. This succession also forced the creation of plebeian tribunes with authority to defend plebeian interests. Following this, there was a period of consular tribunes who shared power between plebeians and patricians in various years, but the consular tribunes apparently were not endowed with religious authority. In 445 BC, the ''
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 ...
'' permitted intermarriage among plebeians and patricians. There was a radical reform in 367–6 BC, which abolished consular tribunes and "laid the foundation for a system of government led by two consuls, shared between patricians and plebeians" over the religious objections of patricians, requiring at least one of the consuls to be a plebeian. And after 342 BC, plebeians regularly attained the consulship.
Debt bondage Debt bondage, also known as debt slavery, bonded labour, or peonage, is the pledge of a person's services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation, where the terms of the repayment are not clearly or reasonably stated, and the ...
was abolished in 326, freeing plebeians from the possibility of slavery by patrician creditors. By 287, with the passage of the ''
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 ...
'', plebiscites – or laws passed by the ''
concilium plebis The ''Concilium Plebis'' (English: Plebeian Council, Plebeian Assembly, People's Assembly or Council of the Plebs) was the principal assembly of the common people of the ancient Roman Republic. It functioned as a legislative/judicial assembly, th ...
'' – were made binding on the whole Roman people. Moreover, it banned senatorial vetoes of plebeian council laws. And also around the year 300 BC, the priesthoods also were shared between patricians and plebeians, ending the "last significant barrier to plebeian emancipation". The veracity of the traditional story is profoundly unclear: "many aspects of the story as it has come down to us must be wrong, heavily modernised... or still much more myth than history". Substantial portions of the rhetoric put into the mouths of the plebeian reformers of the early republic are likely imaginative reconstructions reflecting the late republican politics of their writers. Contra claims that plebs were excluded from politics from the fall of the monarchy, plebeians appear in the consular lists during the early fifth century BC. The form of the state may also have been substantially different, with a temporary ad hoc "senate", not taking on fully classical elements for more than a century from the republic's establishment.


Noble plebeians

The completion of plebeian political emancipation was founded on a republican ideal dominated by ''nobiles'' who were defined not by caste or heredity, but by their accession to the high offices of state, elected from both patrician and plebeian families. There was substantial convergence in this class of people, with a complex culture of preserving the memory of and celebrating one's political accomplishments and those of one's ancestors. This culture also focused considerably on achievements in terms of war and personal merit. Throughout the
Second Samnite War The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars (343–341 BC, 326–304 BC, and 298–290 BC) were fought between the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run throug ...
(326–304 BC), plebeians who had risen to power through these social reforms began to acquire the aura of ' ("nobility", also "fame, renown"), marking the creation of a ruling elite of ''nobiles''. From the mid-4th century to the early 3rd century BC, several plebeian–patrician " tickets" for the consulship repeated joint terms, suggesting a deliberate political strategy of cooperation. No contemporary definition of ''nobilis'' or ''novus homo'' – a person entering the nobility – exists; Mommsen, positively referenced by Brunt (1982), said the ''nobiles'' were patricians, plebeians whose families had become plebeian, and plebeians who had held curule offices (eg dictator, consul, praetor, and curule aedile). Becoming a senator after election to a quaestorship did not make a man a ''nobilis'', only those who were entitled to a curule chair were ''nobiles''. However, by the time of Cicero in the post-Sullan republic, the definition of ''nobilis'' had shifted. Now, ''nobilis'' came to refer only to former consuls and the direct relatives and male descendants thereof. The new focus on the consulship "can be directly related to the many other displays of pedigree and family heritage that became increasingly common after Sulla" and with the expanded senate and number of praetors diluting the honour of the lower offices. A person becoming ''nobilis'' by election to the consulate was a ''novus homo'' (a new man). Marius and
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
are notable examples of ''novi homines'' (new men) in the late Republic, when many of Rome's richest and most powerful men – such as
Lucullus Lucius Licinius Lucullus (; 118–57/56 BC) was an '' optimatis'' politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Lucius Cornelius Sulla. In the culmination of over twenty years of almost continuous military and government service ...
,
Marcus Crassus Marcus Licinius Crassus (; 115 – 53 BC) was a 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 *''Epis ...

Marcus Crassus
, and
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization f ...
– were plebeian nobles.


Later history

In the later republic, the term lost its indication of a social order or formal hereditary class, becoming used instead to refer to citizens of lower socioeconomic status. By the early empire, the word was used to refer to people who were not senators (of the empire or of the local municipalities) or
equestrians Equestrian tour on traditional local breed, Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland">Skaftafell.html" ;"title="Icelandic horses in Skaftafell">Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland Equestrianism (from Latin , , , 'h ...
.


Life


Childhood and education

The average plebeian did not come into a wealthy family; the politically active ''nobiles'' as a whole comprised a very small portion of the whole population. The average plebeian child was expected to enter the workforce at a young age. Plebeians typically belonged to a lower socio-economic class than their patrician counterparts, but there also were poor patricians and rich plebeians by the late republic. Education was limited to what their parent would teach them, which consisted of only learning the very basics of writing, reading and mathematics. Wealthier plebeians were able to send their children to schools or hire a private tutor.


Living quarters

Plebeians in ancient Rome lived in buildings called , apartment buildings that housed many families. These apartments usually lacked running water and heat. Not all plebeians lived in these run-down conditions, as some wealthier plebs were able to live in single-family homes, called a
domus 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 ...

domus
.


Attire

Plebeian men wore a
tunic A tunic is a garment File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabr ...
with a belt at the waist, and women wore a long dress called a
stola 200px, Statue of Livia, Livia Drusilla wearing a stola and Palla (garment), palla The stola () was the traditional garment of Ancient Rome, Roman women, corresponding to the toga, that was worn by men. The stola was usually woollen. Originall ...

stola
.


Meals

Since meat was very expensive, animal products such as pork, beef and veal would have been considered a delicacy to plebeians. Instead, a plebeian diet mainly consisted of bread and vegetables. Common flavouring for their food included honey, vinegar and different herbs and spices. A well-known condiment to this day known as 'garum', which is a fish sauce was also largely consumed.


Derivatives


United States military academies

In the U.S. military, plebes are
freshmen A freshman, first year, or frosh, is a person in the first year at an educational institution, usually a secondary or post-secondary school. Arab world In much of the Arab world The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), formally th ...
at the U.S. Military Academy,
U.S. Naval Academy , mottoeng = From Knowledge, Seapower , type = U.S. service academy , established = , academic_affiliations = APLU Space-grant , superintendent = VADM Sean Buck , head_label = Commandant of Midshipmen , head = CAPT Thomas R. Buchanan ...

U.S. Naval Academy
,
Valley Forge Military Academy and College Valley Forge Military Academy and College (VFMAC) is a private college preparatory boarding school (grades 7–12) and military junior college in Wayne, Pennsylvania. It follows in the traditional Military academy, military school format with Ar ...
, the
Marine Military Academy The Marine Military Academy is a private college preparatory academy located in Harlingen, Texas Texas (, ) is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. It is the second largest U.S. state by ...
, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy,
Georgia Military College Georgia Military College (GMC) is a Public college, public military junior college in Milledgeville, Georgia. It is divided into the junior college, a military junior college program, high school, middle school, and elementary school. It was origi ...
, and
California Maritime Academy The California State University Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime or CSU Maritime Academy) is a public university A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state ownership or receives significant Government spendi ...
. The term is also used for new cadets at the
Philippine Military Academy The Philippine Military Academy (PMA; fil, Akademiyang Militar ng Pilipinas; es, Academia Militar de Filipinas) is the premier military academy for Filipinos aspiring for a commission as a military officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines ...

Philippine Military Academy
.


Philippine Military Academy

Since the construction of
Philippine Military Academy The Philippine Military Academy (PMA; fil, Akademiyang Militar ng Pilipinas; es, Academia Militar de Filipinas) is the premier military academy for Filipinos aspiring for a commission as a military officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines ...

Philippine Military Academy
, the system and traditions were programmed the same as the
United States Military Academy The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point or simply Army is a four-year United States service academy in West Point, New York West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United Stat ...
. First Year Cadets in PMA are called Plebes or ''Plebos'' (short term for Fourth Class Cadets) because they are still civilian antiques and they are expected to master first the spirit of
Followership Followership is the actions of someone in a subordinate role. It can also be considered as a specific set of skills that complement leadership, a role within a Hierarchy, hierarchical organization, a social construct that is integral to the leadersh ...

Followership
. As plebes, they are also expected to become the "working force (force men or ''"porsmen"'') in the Corps of Cadets. They must know also the different plebe knowledges.


British Empire

Early public schools in the United Kingdom would enroll pupils as "plebeians", as opposed to sons of gentry and aristocrats. In British,
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
,
Australian Australians, colloquially referred to as "Aussies", are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines ...
,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...
and
South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or B ...
, the
back-formation In etymology, back-formation is the process of creating a new lexeme by removing actual or supposed affixes.Crystal, David. ''A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Sixth Edition'', Blackwell Publishers, 2008. The resulting neologism is called ...
''pleb'', along with the more recently derived
adjectival form In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
''plebby'', is used as a derogatory term for someone considered unsophisticated or uncultured.


In popular culture

A British comedy show, ''
Plebs 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 ...
'' has since 2013 followed plebeians during Ancient Rome in a comical manner. In
Margaret Atwood Margaret Eleanor Atwood (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often infl ...
's novel
Oryx and Crake ''Oryx and Crake'' is a 2003 novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood Margaret Eleanor Atwood (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher A teacher (also called a schoolteacher or formally ...
, there is a major class divide. The rich and educated live in safeguarded facilities while others live in dilapidated cities referred to as the "pleeblands".


See also

* * * * * *
Plebgate "Plebgate" (or "Plodgate", "Gategate") was a British political scandal which started in September 2012. The trigger was an altercation between Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, who resigned from his position as the Government Chief Whip The ...

Plebgate
(aka Plodgate or Gategate), a 2012 British political scandal involving the use of the word as a slur


References

Books * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * *


External links


Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, article ''Plebs''


* {{Authority control Social classes in ancient Rome Social history of the United Kingdom Class-related slurs Social divisions