published on 28 April 2011
A Patrician was a wealthy upper class citizen of the Roman Republic. From the Latin pater ("father") the term was originally used to describe the earliest Senators of the Republic, who were the elite Roman citizens. The term patrician evolved through the history of the Republic, and by the early days of the Roman Empire, the term was mostly a term of prestige.
The origin of the concept of Patrician stems from the first 100 men appointed to the roman Senate. Referred to as fathers by Romulus, these men were the original “Patrician” class, and their descendants evolved into the elite class that effectively ruled Rome.
Like any other elite social class in history, the Patricians received much special treatment in society. They were better represented in the government, giving them the voting majority for generations. They were wealthier, owned slaves, ate well, and lived in better housing. They also held separate public festivals from the Plebeians.
Being a Patrician was a right of birth. One could not earn the status. However, many plebeian families were able to attain certain degrees of wealth and status in the community, allowing them quite a bit of power politically and socially, sometimes rivaling their Patrician brethren.
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