The Romans' Struggle Of Orders

The Romans' Struggle Of Orders

The clash between the social classes in Rome erupted into a historical divide.

The Struggle of Orders was a social conflict between the Roman aristocracy (patricians) and the Roman commoners (plebeians). The clash between social classes began due to the plebeians' desire to have greater political representation in government and protection from avaricious aristocrats. The problem stemmed from economic troubles the commoners faced as wheat farmers. Wheat farming on the same land every year led to the depletion of soil nutrients, and thus, the farmers had to move to new land to replant the crops in fresh soil until eventually, the soil worsened over time. The farmers' income sharply declined over a short period of time whereas Rome as a whole was still experiencing a population boom — hence the disparity in population size and lack of resources threw the plebeians into a panic. Over time, the farmers borrowed money from the patricians to continue producing enough food to last until the next planting season, but the dying nature of farm work prevented the commoners from paying back their debts. The result was that nearly all the farmers of Rome were in debt to the Roman aristocracy.

The patricians chose to regain their wealth by condemning the plebeians into “nexum” — debt slavery.

Commoners were appalled by the punishment they’d have to pay for their debts, so they gave careful thought to the circumstances Rome was in before making their next move. In the midst of the Struggle of Orders, Rome was also preoccupied in a conflict of sorts with their neighbors, the Etruscans. The patricians required the protection of the commoners who not only labored as farmers but also served as the backbone of the Roman army. The plebeian foot soldiers realized the physical power they held in their hands and chose to walk away from the problem — literally. The foot soldiers marched outside of Rome, refused to shield the aristocrats and demanded political and economic reformation in exchange for Rome’s protection. The strike terrified the vulnerable patricians who immediately agreed to the plebeians’ request. Thus, began Rome’s reform.

The Struggle of Order continued well into the 400s as the commoner class fought and won numerous victories in the tussle for legislative equality between the social classes.

For instance, in 471 B.C.E., the plebeians attained their very own assembly which issued regulations pertaining only to the lower class. The law, in itself, was still unknown to the majority of the commoners who understood that they would need to grasp the workings of the government and its judicial system if the commoner class were to obtain any rights. Consequently, the laws were written down onto 12 tablets in 449 B.C.E. which lessened the aristocrats’ control over legal matters. Now, in court cases, the accuser would have to cite which statue they were accusing the defendant by, and the accused would have the right to know. A lawyer was still required in order to navigate the legal system, but this systematic move ensured the protection of the plebeian rights in court.

Yet another issue the plebeians faced was their exclusion from the Roman Senate.

In response, an association known as the office of tribune was established with the legislative branch of Rome. The tribune office was entrusted with the power to veto any legislation the senate declared that would hurt the commoner class in any way. The office was also given the power to call the senate to order and allow plebeians to meet with the tribunes at any given time to express complaints. Although the tribune office lacked any legislative power itself, this aspect was later reformed as well. Furthermore, despite the fact that the tribunes were part of the wealthiest class the plebeians had, they were unable to run as senators.

To be a senator, the individual would have to be a member of the upper class — an impossible occurrence for plebeians because the law did not permit commoners to intermarry with patricians. The law was changed, but social prejudice further encouraged legislation to rule that plebeians who had married into the upper class could not serve as senators. The year 367 B.C.E. brought another victory for the commoner class. Chief magistrates who were originally composed of individuals from the upper class now required at least one of their members to be a commoner. The following years produced more councils governed by plebeians. Finally, in 267 B.C.E., the ultimate triumph of the lower class was achieved through the Lex Hortensia, which acknowledged all Romans — plebeian or patrician — equal under the law.

All rulings issued by the plebeian assembly would now hold power over both the lower and upper class.

It became the new elite governing force which marked the end of the Struggle of Orders as Rome became a unified force. Rome’s social unionization strengthened their power in their conflict against the Italian peninsula. Rome met the series of external threats as the prevailing victor. The Samnian and Oskan folk both eventually came under the rule of Rome, and the alliances gave Rome a greater hold on the lands around them. The Romans’ series of victories were brought to a halt by the Greeks, but the Greeks — having faced a severe loss of men and supplies — chose to go back home rather than conquer the defeated force.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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11 Reasons Why You Should Release Your Wanderlust Spirit And Study Abroad In College

It will change your life forever.

As I entered college I told myself that I would never study abroad in the next four years of my studies. I knew I didn't want to be away from home for an extended period of time. I loved to travel, but I never thought it would be possible for me while I paid for college. Things changed, however, and this past January I took a course with the Orchestra on my campus to Sweden and Norway. While it was only for one month versus the 3 to 5 of an entire semester, my time abroad changed my perspective of wanting to go and study elsewhere. Here are 11 reasons why you should study abroad while you are in college:

1. You get to explore the world.

Unless you are blessed with wealth, having the chance to travel the world for long periods of time don't come very often. Not only do you get this opportunity, but it typically doesn't cost much more than you already pay for tuition.

2. You mature in a different way.

Sure, being a college student helps you mature... but having to go through that same experience while learning and adapting to a new culture just seems to make you mature differently. You learn financial skills and budgeting and discover how you learn.

3. You appreciate the smaller things.

While the food there was DELICIOUS, often times I had no idea what I was being served. This was definitely something that I always took advantage of having the privilege to know.

4. You learn about your own culture.

Turns out, it isn't normal to only get a single slice when ordering pizza. While at two different pizza places, you are served an entire pizza with a fork and a knife. This soon became like number 3, and I learned to appreciate sliced pizza.

5. You learn about the culture of others.

While learning what you intended to study while abroad, often times there are other museums and cultural visits. I was able to see many different churches, historical museums, and traditional places such as the Grand Cafe while I was away. While walking the streets, you also learn the atmosphere and how people spend their day to day lives.

6. You can practice your language skills.

With not having known more than a few key phrases before I arrived, you quickly learn what different signs mean. Even though in Sweden and Norway pretty much everybody speaks various amounts of English, it was fun to learn new words and phrases.

7. You gain independence.

You have to spend your money wisely, you have to take transportation you've never taken before, and you have to learn how to manage your time. You gain all of this while being able to explore a completely unfamiliar place. You learn to rely less on others and more on yourself.

8. You learn to adapt.

In my case, I had to learn how to adapt with the orchestra. We performed in a wide variety of places and some of which we barely fit on stage. We played in acoustic cathedrals and then we performed on dry, theatre stages. We never knew what we faced until the day of the performance.

9. Studying abroad is different than a vacation.

Typically, when you are on a vacation you go somewhere to relax and have fun. While studying abroad is both fun and relaxing at times, you are also there to gain more knowledge about your desired topics. Studying abroad provides you with a greater understanding if different topics, unlike a vacation.

10. You connect with others.

Not only did I connect with many people within the orchestra, but I was also able to connect with people I never knew I would! For instance, this photo shows two of my sorority sisters. The woman on the left is someone who lives I Sweden that I had never met before!

11. You make memories you will never forget.

I don't think I need to say anything more.

Cover Image Credit: Paige Wormer

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