they are the two major social classes of the Roman empire.

the plebeians were often the landless poor

the patricians were the overbearing landowning aristocracy of Rome

• up to 27 BCE, much of the subsequent history of Rome can be traced by following te relationship between the two classes

in the Roman Republic (Senatus Populusque Romanus) there was a constant tension between the plebeians and the patricians

Rome's system of government tried to compensate for the tension between the two classes

the plebeian council was created in 494 BCE to compensate for Plebeian army rebellion. It had the power to monitor judicial decisions concerning the plebeians

although the plebeians had fewer rights than the patricians they still had to serve in the army and pay taxes to the very people that were oppressing them

Key Definitions / Terms
Senatus Populusque Romanus: SPQR, The Senate and the People of Rome

Republic: a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them

Plebleians: of or relating to the common people of ancient Rome

Patricians: a member of one of the noble families of the ancient Roman Republic, which before the third century B.C. had exclusive rights to the Senate and the magistracies.

Historical Significance
the two social classes are signifigant because they define how Rome was run. They created a tension neccessary to facilitate a change in the system of government that encompasses both needs: the Republic

the significance of the Plebeian council was in that it was the first political power gained by the plebs, and that it provided a legal mechanism to safeguard against the abuse of plebeians at the hands of patricians.

Interesting Facts
by the first century BC, many of the wealthiest and most prominent senatorial figures were actually plebeians, as many of the old patrician families died out



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Related Articles:

Roman Government Formation

plebeians versus patricians


*use Citation Builder for proper MLA format

Newman, Garfield. Echoes from the Past: World History to the 16th Century.Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 2001.

UNRV History. Birth of the Roman Republic. 2007. 7 May 2007 <http://www.unrv.com/empire/birth-of-the-roman-republic.php>

Dictionary.com. Definitions. 2007. 9 May. 2007. <http://dictionary.reference.com/>.

Carlton, . The Birth of Rome.. 8 May 2007 <http://www.sbceo.k12.ca.us/~vms/carlton/Rome_Reading_1.html>.


  1. Who were the Plebeians?
    1. A council of twenty men fighting for justice
    2. The common people of ancient Rome
    3. Men with beards
    4. Religious men

  2. Senatus Populusque Romanus translates to:
    1. Romaine Lettuce Salad
    2. The Population in the Roman Senate
    3. Rome ruled by the People
    4. The Senate and the People of Rome

  3. What part of Roman life did the tension between the two classes affect the most?
    1. Education
    2. Religion
    3. Government
    4. Economy

  4. Why was the Plebeian council created?


    1. To appease the revolting plebeian army
    2. To fix rift between plebs and patricians
    3. To give the plebeians more work
    4. To form a new government

  5. What was the main source of the tension between the Plebeians and the Patricians?


    1. The patricians made unlawful decisions
    2. The plebeians had to pay equal taxes and do army service for lower rights
    3. The patricians stole from the government
    4. The patricians gave the plebeians a faulty aqueduct