Roman Aristocracy Essay

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Classics 105 – Roman History What virtues and attainments defined the Roman aristocrat in the Republic? How, if at all, did this conception of the aristocrat change during the empire? Select one biography, by either Suetonius or Plutarch: discuss its subject’s successes and failures in realizing the appropriate aristocratic ideal. Include in your essay some consideration of the importance placed on this matter by the biography’s author (that is, is the matter of aristocratic excellence relevant to the biography, and, if so, in what ways? If not, why not?) What virtues and attainments defined the Roman aristocrat in the Republic? How, if at all, did this conception of the aristocrat change during the…show more content…
A greater client base enhanced the nobles’ political success by increasing their number of votes. The clients were pleased with this arrangement as long as stability and freedom were secured.11 The clientela system had similarities to the process of lobbying observed today in many modern democracies. If the nobility could uphold these benefits to the ordinary Romans, all would be well. This relationship enabled the Roman elite to control not only Rome, but also the rest of Italy and its allies giving the aristocrats more prestige and influence in the political scene.12 In the Republic, aristocracy followed two main virtues, virtus and gloria and displays of these two virtues defined one as a great man, honoring ones ancestors and progeny. Virtus can be translated in many different ways depending on what it concerns. The most common translation is ‘manliness’ but it can also be associated with prayer, money or the quality of man.13 In context to the Roman aristocrat it was in relation to the individuals glory and greatness one attained from serving the Roman state.14 Virtus could also be gained by the good conduct of the aristocracy.15 Their morals in the second BC had been tainted by debauchery but they still prided themselves on not fighting their wars with money, reward or trickery.16 Aristocracy had to
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