Social class in Pompeii
Using sources A, B and other sources, what does the evidence reveal about social class in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The social classes in Pompeii and Herculaneum are created using a hierarchy with each class determining your social, legal and political privileges. A variety of archeological and epigraphic including architecture, plaster casts, graffiti, and statues throughout Pompeii and Herculaneum reveal this along with source A and B. Source A depicts an image of the Statue of Eumachia located in Pompeii which helps reveal the status of wealthy women whereas source B is a tomb inscription outside the Herculaneum Gate in Pompeii which divulges into roles in the town council as well as the different positions of hierarchy within the towns.
The social structure in Pompeii and Herculaneum was divided into three broad categories. The people of both towns were born into a particular social class and had limited means to change their status. Evidence such as plaster casts, mosaics, stone carvings and bracelets reveals that about 40 per cent of the Pompeii’s population were slaves and the rest of the population were Freeborn (most elite class) or Freedmen (freed from slavery). Wallace Hadril stated that “social status was not due to wealth but inherited” which is evident in source B as it includes wealthy males and females who have inherited their status as they are all from the same family. This reveals that social class in Pompeii and Herculaneum was often hard to change.
If you were lucky enough to be inherited into a family as a Freeborn male you were the complete social and political elite. This meant you had full legal rights, could own land and business’, controlled finances, had privileged seats in theatres, received honorary statues and tombs as well as being able to hold a position in political office. As apart of political office you could become an Aediel