What Were The Pople Of Ancient Rome Called

People in Ancient Rome

The citizens of Ancient Rome had a range of titles and social statuses among its near seven million inhabitants. Most significantly, citizens of Ancient Rome – known as ‘Romans’ – were divided into two social classes known as the ‘patricians’ and the ‘plebeians’. This distinction was essential to the functioning of Roman governmental and social systems.

At the heart of the city’s social structure were the patricians. Members of Rome’s most noble and wealthy families, the patricians were the ruling class of Ancient Rome and were the only citizens who could become elected officials or religious priests. From this privileged status, they held a vast array of political privileges and advantages. By contrast, the plebeians were the common citizens of Ancient Rome, and had limited to no access to political office or religious officiation. Subsequently, they had to rely on the state for protection, justice, and law.

In addition to the two core classes, there was a third class of non-Romans, known as the ‘peregrini’, who comprised foreign-born merchants and traders, colonists, conquered peoples, slaves, and political fugitives. This third class of ‘outsiders’ were considered to have no political standing and no association with the government or its laws.

A number of key events in the development of Ancient Roman society shaped the way its citizens were identified. The first was the development of the Lex Hortensia in 287 BC. This law made it possible for plebeians to be recognised by the Senate and granted limited access to elected office and priesthoods. This shifted the social power balance and ushered in a period of increased rights and liberties for plebeians.

The second event to shape the people of Ancient Rome was the Social War of 91–88 BC. During this war, plebeians united in an attempt to gain political recognition and rights, but ultimately failed. This led to the Third Servile War, which witnessed a large-scale slave revolt in which the slaves of Ancient Rome sought higher wages, freedom, and citizenship. The revolt was defeated and saw the emergence of a distinct slave class which was denied all political rights.

The term ‘citizen’ was never used to describe the people of Ancient Rome, but the ideals established in Ancient Rome still serve as the foundation for modern concepts of citizenship in a democratic society. From these Ancient Rome roots there is still an enduring understanding that one’s rights and duties as a citizen are essential components of a free, successful, and open society.

Politics in Ancient Rome

The government of Ancient Rome was deeply entwined with its social structure. Political power was largely concentrated within the patrician class and held by a select few individuals and families. This top-down structure of government was encapsulated by a system of representatives known as the ‘senators’. They formed the Senate, and this body of senators was able to exercise a great deal of control over and influence the decisions of Ancient Rome.

At the same time, the plebeians were not completely excluded from the political system. They were able to elect representatives known as ‘tribunes’ to protect them from government abuse, and some of their representatives were allowed to hold limited positions such as magistrates. This arrangement was known as the ‘tribunate’, and it allowed a degree of political representation for the plebeians.

The political structure of Ancient Rome remained relatively stable until the 1st century BC when many of the limitations previously placed on the plebeians were removed. This allowed the plebeians to rise in the social ladder, and it was during this period that Julius Caesar initiated the transformation of Ancient Rome from a republic to a monarchy.

The term ‘citizen’ was rarely used in Ancient Rome, but the political system established their ideals still form the basis for today’s ideas about democracy and citizenship. Laws established in Ancient Rome, such as the Lex Hortensia, provided for the rights of citizens and the protection of their liberties. These ideals have been passed on through time and remain hugely influential today.

Overall, Ancient Rome was a society highly centered around social hierarchy and government power. Citizens of Ancient Rome were divided into two distinct classes and it was not until later periods that the plebeians gained access to higher political office.

Economy of Ancient Rome

The economy of Ancient Rome was largely an agrarian one. Most of the population relied on agriculture as a primary source of income and sustenance. Land ownership was highly concentrated in the hands of the patrician class and lacked any significant internal market. Bartering and trading were also significantly important elements of Ancient Roman society.

During this period, a legal framework for economics was developed. This included the development of a currency system, the consolidation of taxes, and the reinforcement of property rights. The extension of Roman law across its territories meant that trade and commerce flourished. As the empire grew and linked different regions, this enabled the flow of goods, services, and people across its boundaries.

The political stability of Ancient Rome further enabled the development of new markets and increased trade. The Roman economy was heavily reliant on trade with other countries, as goods could be exchanged between different regions. This expanded the range of goods available to the citizens of Ancient Rome and enabled them to enjoy products from a variety of distant cultures.

One of the most important developments for the economy of Ancient Rome was the construction of roads and networks of commerce. Rome’s vast road network made it much easier for traders to travel and for goods to be transported across its territories. The reduction in travel times also allowed for a diversification of goods, services, and labour. This ultimately enabled people to have access to better resources and more leisure time.

The economy of Ancient Rome was largely agrarian and heavily influenced by trade. Laws and regulations allowed the regulation of commerce and encouraged the flow of goods across the empire. The construction of roads enabled goods, services, and trade to move much quicker than before, which in turn provided citizens of Ancient Rome with access to better resources.

Culture of Ancient Rome

The culture of Ancient Rome had a strong influence on the Empire. Religion, language, politics, education, and architecture were all heavily intertwined. Religion in particular was heavily significant, as the Roman gods and goddesses were seen as essential throughout the Empire. As a result, religion had a powerful impact on culture, providing inspiration for grand spectacles, public art, and monuments.

The Latin language was also hugely influential in the culture of Ancient Rome. Latin was the official language and was used by the upper classes and educated classes. As the language of the Roman state, Latin was used for official documents and legal proceedings and was the language of literature, poetry, and philosophy.

Education had a huge impact on culture, as it was an important part of life for the upper class, who sought to understand the Classical Greek and Roman culture and language. Education included learning rhetoric and philosophy, as well as practical subjects such as arithmetic, geometry, engineering, and law. This provided a deeper understanding of Ancient Roman culture, enabling it to thrive and evolve.

Architecture was also highly influential during this period. As the empire expanded, some of the most iconic structures of the time were constructed, such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon. These grand examples of architecture have left a lasting legacy, and their style and design still heavily influences the architecture of today.

The culture of Ancient Rome heavily influenced the empire and its legacy. Religion, language, education, and architecture were all intertwined and highly significant during this period. As a result, Ancient Roman culture continues to be influential in modern society, with many of its practices and beliefs still in use today.

Legacy of Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome was instrumental in shaping many aspects of modern society. Its political system provided the foundations for democracy, its laws the basis for much modern legislation, and its achievements in engineering and architecture the inspiration for generations of developers.

Rome’s impact can also be seen in art, literature, culture, religion and many aspects of daily life. The city’s great works of art, such as the Colosseum, are examples of a classic Roman aesthetic, while its literature, including the works of Virgil, Horace, and Ovid, is often still studied. Its language, Latin, continues to be a source for the English language, as does its legal system.

Overall, Ancient Rome had a profound impact on the world and will remain one of the most influential civilisations in history. As our civilisation evolves and progresses, its impact will be felt in many of the most fundamental aspects of our lives.


The people of Ancient Rome were divided into two social classes, the patricians and the plebeians. Political power was concentrated in the hands of the patrician class and held by a select few. The the Lex Hortensia allowed plebeians to be recognised by the Senate, granting them limited rights. The Social War of 91-88BC saw a failed attempt of plebeians to gain greater rights, while the Third Servile War saw a large scale slave revolt against the government. The legacy of Ancient Rome can still be seen in politics, economics, culture, and art. The ideals of Ancient Rome still remain highly influential in modern society.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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