Roman Empire Social Hierarchy

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient roman civilization where the government was headed by emperors.  The empire had large territorial holdings around the area of the Mediterranean Sea in Asia, Europe and Africa. Like all other societies and dynasties, the Roman Empire too was divided on the basis of a social hierarchy. This Class System was also called the Plebeian and Patrician Distinction.

The people were majorly divided among two classes namely Upper Class and Lower Class.  There was a stark difference in between the earning, social standing, responsibilities and functions of these classes. The upper class was the rich class whereas the lower class consisted of the poor.

Let’s take a look at the exact division and distinction in the social hierarchy levels of the Roman Empire:

roman empire social hierarchyUpper Class

The upper class consisted of those romans that were born in Rome and had Roman blood. They were very wealthy and were further divided into two divisions which were the Senatores and the Equites.The following are more details of the same:

  • Senatorial Class/ Senatores:  Also referred to as the Noble Class, the Senatores were those Upper class romans who came from the royal and the Roman political families of the dynasty. The Head of the family was the Leader and was someone in front of whom everyone had to bow down as far as decisions were concerned. The people who belonged to this class didn’t take up jobs as they were responsible for ruling over others.
  • Equestrian Class/ Equites: this class of the upper class romans was mainly the Economic Class and came below the Senatorial Class. These individuals used to perform the tasks which were the Senatorial Class was not allowed to do. These people took up many types of jobs and professions.

Plebeian/ Lower Class

The Plebeian or lower class during the Roman era was that class which consisted of the lower grade people who didn’t own much wealth and worked hard to make their day to day living. This class was also divided into many different subclasses which are given as follows:

  • The Commons: The Commons was a class, the people of which were referred to as the Vulgus or the Plebs. These romans were born free and were those who were allowed to marry other roman citizens and have kids.Toga was a dress which the commons had to wear as a form of recognition.
  • Latins: These were those people who were not born free but still got the status of the Romans.
  • Foreigners/ Peregrini: this category consisted of those who were born free but didn’t belong to the exact Roman areas.
  • Freed People/ Libretti: this category consisted of those people who were once Slaves to Roman people and then got their freedom by any reason were among this category. These people had certain rights which other slaves didn’t have.
  • Slaves: this category consisted of those individuals who were born Slaves or were sold as Slaves due to any reason were categorized.