The Struggle of the Orders and its disappointing Anticlimax

Essay by trueliarHigh School, 12th grade March 2005

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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...