Who Was Classified As A Citizen In Ancient Rome

The Definition of Roman Citizenship

Roman citizenship was the right to be a full citizen of the Roman Empire. It was an exclusive right that was only granted to those who were born in the Empire, and it marked someone as a privileged member of society. This right had various benefits, such as the right to vote, to receive a public education, to run for government office, to own and sell property, to conduct business, and to even bring a legal action in court. Becoming a citizen of Rome was a highly sought-after honor.

The Process of Becoming a Roman Citizen

In ancient Rome, there was a process that individuals had to go through to be granted Roman citizenship. This process was known as the “Civitas”. It was a lengthy process that could take several years. First, a potential citizen had to find a sponsor, who was typically a Roman noble. The sponsor would then refer the person to the appropriate magistrate, who was in charge of granting citizenship. This magistrate would then review the person’s qualifications and decide if they were suitable to receive the honor.
If they were accepted, they would then be issued a document called the “Praetorian Edict”. This document formally declared them a Roman citizen and allowed them to enjoy the various rights and privileges that came with it.

The Types of People Who Held Roman Citizenship

In ancient Rome, there were three types of people who had Roman citizenship. The first type were Roman citizens by birth. These individuals were born within the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire, and so were automatically granted citizenship.
The second type of citizens were “patricians”, who were highly esteemed members of society. obys descended from ancient Roman families and had political influence. They also had access to certain privileges that were not extended to commoners.
The third type of citizen were “freedmen”, who were individuals who had previously been slaves and had then been oficially freed. Freedmen were granted Roman citizenship as a reward for their service.

The Laws That Governed Roman Citizenship

The Roman laws of citizenship were strict and tightly regulated. In particular, the laws strictly forbid any foreigner from becoming a citizen of the Empire. This was seen as essential for maintaining the integrity of Roman law and society.
In addition, Roman citizenship could be revoked by the Emperor if the person violated any of the rules of the Empire, or if they became involved in any activity deemed illegal or subversive.

The Benefits of Roman Citizenship

Becoming a Roman citizen held numerous benefits. Once granted, a citizen could enjoy several privileges that ordinary people did not have access to. Some of these included the right to vote and run for government office, to own property, and to receive a public education.
The citizens of Rome were also exempt from some taxes and were allowed to carry weapons. They also had the right to bring a legal action in court. All of these privileges made Roman citizenship a highly sought-after honor.

The Significance of Roman Citizenship

In ancient Rome, the granting of Roman citizenship was a highly significant event. It represented a person’s acceptance into the privileged minority that had access to the highest levels of society and power. As such, it served as a potent symbol of status and prestige.
For centuries, the granting of Roman citizenship was a coveted honor that was only granted to the most deserving individuals. Even today, it still stands as a testament to the grandeur and glory of the Ancient Roman Empire.

The Legacy of Roman Citizenship

The granting of Roman citizenship has left a lasting legacy on the modern world. Many of the methods used to grant Roman citizenship have been adopted by countries around the world as a way to recognize and reward those who become valuable members of society.
Moreover, the idea of citizenship has become an important concept in western culture. It has come to represent the rights and responsibilities of those living in a particular country, as well as the sense of belonging that comes with it.

The Decline of Roman Citizenship

As the Roman Empire began to decline, so too did the status of Roman citizenship. It became easier to obtain, as the Empire started to grant citizenship to those who could not meet the traditional requirements.
Eventually, it no longer carried the same prestige as it did in previous centuries, and it was viewed more as a legal formality than a coveted honor. This marked the eventual demise of Roman citizenship and its eventual replacement by other forms of recognition and identification.

The Symbols of Roman Citizenship

Throughout its long history, the granting of Roman citizenship has been accompanied by various symbols and rituals. These symbols have come to represent the authority of the Roman Empire and the importance of the citizen’s rights and responsibilities.
The most popular symbols of Roman citizenship were the Citizenship Oath, the Sacra Purificatio, the Bulla Aurea, and the Cicero Head. These symbols were used to mark the occasion of the granting of citizenship and served as a reminder of the prestige and responsibility that came with it.


In ancient Rome, the granting of Roman citizenship was an exclusive honor that was only available to those who fulfilled certain conditions. It granted citizens a wide range of rights and privileges, from the right to vote to the ability to own property. Moreover, the granting of citizenship was accompanied by various symbols and rituals that represented the Empire’s authority and the importance of the citizen’s responsibilities. It served as an important symbol of its time and still stands as a potent example of the greatness of the Roman Empire.

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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