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The Struggle Of The Orders And Its Disappointing Anticlimax

1441 words - 6 pages

The Struggle of the Orders, although commonly thought to be a successful venture by the plebeians to gain a legislated equality, was merely a transition of power from a patrician-ruled aristocracy to the Nobilis - a class consisting of the 'best of both worlds'. In the time leading up to, and throughout the Struggle, the classes vied for power; the plebeians pushing to gain it, and the patricians grasping at the threads of their failing authority. With the close of the Struggle of the Orders, a new class was formed and raised to rule - the Nobilis.The Struggle of the Orders was, essentially, a class conflict, however not in a fiscal sense; unlike Marxian classes, the gap between the plebeians - who were the lower class; and the patricians - the upper class, was a legal issue (Nicols, J., 2005). The patricians were "a small group of citizens - they represented less than 10% of Rome's population - who were legally and socially superior to the majority of citizens," (Gowen, H., 2001). Through their acquisition of wealth and land, and having descended from the Patres - the original Roman senators - they had gained this privileged position, dominating the social, political, and economic arenas (Ross, S., 2005). The plebeians were the rest of the Roman people; this group ranged from peasants, farmers, and labourers to the richest members, who were equal to the patricians in all but class-status. In reality, both classes had their wealthy and poor members; the classes were a distinction carried over from the fall of the Roman Kingdom that allowed patricians sole access to the King's imperium - "...the power of law and command..." (UNRV, 2003). Due to this distinction and, hence, the plebeians' absent representation, the class gap became an ever-widening gorge in Rome's new government.From its earliest stages, the Roman Republic was destined for failure; in a virtual transfer of power from Tarquin the Great to the patricians, an aristocracy, rather than a democracy, was created. The establishment of the Republic - a move swiftly enacted by L. Junius Brutus, followed Tarquin's ousting, which was incited by his son's rape of Lucretia:There is no question that the Brutus who won such glory through the expulsion of Superbus [Tarquin] would have inflicted the gravest injury on the State had he wrested the sovereignty from any of the former kings, through desire of a liberty for which the people were not ripe, (Titus Livius, 1905, 2.1).Playing on the people's desire for freedom, the Kingdom was abolished and a governmental blend of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy came about. An administration of counterbalances and compromise; this was not in the interests of the plebeians. Rather, the new rulership of Rome became an overly cautious body, too conservative to make any decisive changes (Hooker, R., 1996). Thus, with imperium firmly in the hands of the patricians, the plebeians were left with no one to champion their cause bar themselves - and having no...

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