Roman Class System
An integral part of Roman culture is the divergence of class systems. The laws of ancient Rome actually enforced this divide. People were born into one of two extremes. You were either considered upper class or lower class. There was no concept for a middle class in the Roman empire. This had a major influence in how you would live out your life. Children born into the noble class would eventually strive for a senate seat or to progress their wealth, while being born into the lower class, for the most part, were stuck there even though there was the ability for upward mobility it was extremely uncommon if not impossible in some cases. Aside from these two major groups of classes there was no bridging class between the two. No middle class to speak of creates a major distinction between wealth and life opportunities.
The upper class consisted of two sub classes. These were Senators (Senatorial Class) or the rich (Equestrian Class). The Senatorial Class was completely defined by holding a political office and their families. They were distinguishable by tunics with broad stripes on them. There was also a massive monetary requirement attached as well, further enforcing the divide by being required to prove “that they had property worth at least 1,000,000 sesterces”(vroma.org). They had no income purely from being in the senate however but were forbidden to participate in any “nonagricultural business, trade or public contracts”(McManus).
The Equestrian Class was the lowest of the Upper Class and was majorly defined by an individuals wealth or family line. They were set apart from society by wearing tunics with narrow stripes on them. “A man could be formally enrolled in the equestrian order if he could prove that he possessed a stable minimum amount of wealth (property worth at least 400,000 sesterces)”(McManus). This price was mostly unattainable for common people and was a major driving factor in the massive divide...
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