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Plebeians Dbq



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But Rome was more than just the patricians. It was becoming the main power in Italy and would soon become the dominant Mediterranean power. What it needed was a fighting force. Referring back to the similarity with Greece mentioned earlier, Greece had needed its fighters, too, and made concessions to the lower classes in order to get bodies. Since there weren't enough patricians in Rome to do all the fighting the young Roman Republic engaged in with its neighbors, the patricians soon realized they needed strong, healthy, young plebeian bodies to defend Rome.

In the first few decades following the expulsion of the last king, the plebeians roughly, the Roman lower class had to create ways of dealing with problems caused or exacerbated by the patricians the ruling, upper class :. Their solution to at least the third problem was to set up their own separate, plebeian assemblies, and secede. Since the patricians needed the physical bodies of the plebeians as fighting men, the plebeian secession was a serious problem.

The patricians had to yield to some of the plebeian demands. It is thought that between laws passed in , the lex sacrata , and , the lex publilia , the patricians granted the plebeians the following concessions. Among the soon to be acquired powers of the tribune was the important right to veto. After inclusion in the ranks of the ruling class via the office of tribune and the vote, the next step was for the plebeians to demand codified law. Without a written law, individual magistrates could interpret tradition however they wished. This resulted in unfair and seemingly arbitrary decisions.

The plebeians insisted that this custom end. If laws were written down, magistrates could no longer be so arbitrary. In , upon the return of the commission of three to Rome, a group of 10 men was established to write down the laws. They replaced the year's consuls and tribunes and were given additional powers. One of these extra powers was that the Decemviri 's decisions could not be appealed. The 10 men wrote down laws on 10 tablets. At the end of their term, the first 10 men were replaced by another group of 10 in order to finish the task.

This time, half the members may have been plebeian. Cicero , writing some thrde centuries later, refers to the two new tablets, created by the second set of Decemviri Decemvirs , as "unjust laws. Although failure to step down at the end of the year had always been a possibility with the consuls and dictators, it hadn't happened. One man, in particular, Appius Claudius, who had served on both decemvirates, acted despotically. Appius Claudius was from an originally Sabine family that continued to make its name known throughout Roman history.

This early despotic Appius Claudius pursued and brought a fraudulent legal decision against a free woman, Verginia, daughter of a high ranking soldier, Lucius Verginius. As a result of Appius Claudius' lustful, self-serving actions, the plebeians seceded again. To restore order, the Decemvirs finally abdicated, as they should have done earlier. The laws the Decemviri created were meant to resolve the same basic problem that had faced Athens when Draco whose name is the basis for the word "draconian" because his laws and punishments were so severe was asked to codify Athenian laws. In Athens, before Draco, interpretation of the unwritten law had been done by the nobility who had been partial and unfair. Written law meant everyone was theoretically held to the same standard.

However, even if exactly the same standard were applied to everyone, which is always a wish more than a reality, and even if the laws were written, a single standard doesn't guarantee reasonable laws. In the case of the 12 tablets, one of the laws prohibited marriage between plebeians and patricians. It's worth noting that this discriminating law was on the supplemental two tablets—those written while there were plebeians among the Decemvirs, so it is not true that all plebeians opposed it.

The 12 tablets were an important move in the direction of what we would call equal rights for the plebeians, but there was still much to do. The law against intermarriage between the classes was repealed in When the plebeians proposed that they should be eligible for the highest office, the consulship, the Senate wouldn't completely oblige, but instead created what we might call a "separate, but equal" new office known as military tribune with consular power. This office effectively meant plebeians could wield the same power as the patricians. We know of Athens as the birthplace of democracy, but there was more to Roman's decision to study the Athenian legal system than this, especially since there is no reason to think the Romans were trying to create an Athenian-like democracy.

Athens, too, once had an underclass suffering at the hands of the nobles. One of the first steps taken was to commission Draco to write down the laws. After Draco, who recommended capital punishment for crime, continued problems between rich and poor led to the appointment of Solon the law-giver. Solon and the Rise of Democracy. By the first century B. The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit.

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A people known for their military, political, and social institutions, the ancient Romans conquered vast amounts of land in Europe and northern Africa, built roads and aqueducts, and spread Latin, their language, far and wide. Use these classroom resources to teach middle schoolers about the empire of ancient Rome. Rome transitioned from a republic to an empire after power shifted away from a representative democracy to a centralized imperial authority, with the emperor holding the most power. Julius Caesar was a Roman general and politician who named himself dictator of the Roman Empire, a rule that lasted less than one year before he was famously assassinated by political rivals in 44 B.

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