The organisation of the Roman Empire
Different peoples have passed through the peninsula throughout our history, each with its own culture and traditions. We have learnt from all of them and seen certain changes in the way of life taking root; one of the most important influences was the Roman Empire.
“Romanisation” is a well-known process by which many regions under the power of the Roman people acquire their institutions, language, culture, clothing and architecture, for example.
In this “Aquis Querquennis 3D” project we will recreate a series of scenes reflecting what life was like for the different social groups in this Roman camp. This will be done by combining 3D digitising technology and reconstruction through visual special effects and the interpretation of professional actors.
The topic concerning us today is the social organisation of the Roman Empire, established in the Iberian Peninsula around the year 218 BC. The features differentiating some classes from others were mainly civil and political rights and the financial differences existing between members of Roman society.
The main social groups were:
- Monarchs and Emperors
- Patricians: They had all the privileges and were full citizens. Patricians were the oldest families and the children of the founding fathers of Rome. They held magistrate posts and positions on the emperor’s council or in the senate. They were also allowed to worship.
- Plebs: These were the largest group of citizens who were not considered patricians. They had almost the same rights, could elect representatives and have their own political institutions.
- Clients: They had no resources of their own and put themselves at the service of a patrician in exchange for food and/or money.
- Slaves: These had no rights and were forced by their masters to do the hardest jobs. During the Roman Empire, cruelty to slaves was widespread.
- Free men, freedmen or settlers: These were liberated from being slaves, but were still very poor, and so had to work on the land to survive as well as have to pay taxes. They had no right to hold public office.
OTHER SOCIAL CLASSES
- Honorary citizens: Those who renounced their old nationality in exchange for obtaining Roman nationality were welcomed by the Empire.
- Army members: Initially, the majority of the army was made up of patricians or professional soldiers but, as the empire and its problems grew, more and more troops were needed, so plebs began to be accepted, which devalued the army to a certain extent.
Women in Ancient Rome
Women has a social status of their own and were subject to specific social conditions.
Obviously, an Empress had more possibilities than a slave, and women born in freedom were considered Roman citizens; however, none had the same rights as men.
Women were subject to the legal authority of a man, but had freedom of action. They could own property, stand trial or even emancipate themselves by following a very strict legal procedure. After marriage, they were considered as still belonging to their original family and so could divorce.
Freed women held professional jobs, including having their own property. Slaves usually did manual labour and were sometimes forced into prostitution.