Ancient Rome: The Struggle of the Orders

The Struggle of the Orders (494 – 287 B.C.) was a conflict between the Patricians and the Plebeians of the Roman Republic. The Patricians were the aristocrats and had all political powers and rights. The commoners, or Plebeians, were the people who supported the entire civilization. They performed all the working class jobs. The Plebeians also made up the entire Roman army.

In 494 B.C. the Plebeians, tired of being treated like servants, rebelled. At that time, Rome was at war with three Italic tribes. The Plebeians refused to fight in the army and withdrew from it. In order to placate them, the Patricians gave them the right to elect their own officials, and in 471 B.C. the Plebeians formed their own council and became self-governing.

The end of the struggle began in 367 B.C. when, after continuous nagging by the Plebeians, an important law was passed. It stated that one of the two ruling consuls must be a Plebeian, whereas in the past both had been Patricians. And finally, in 287 B.C. the Struggle of the Orders came to an end, when the Hortensian Law was passed. This law assured equal political rights for both parties.


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