The Twelve Tables

Decent Essays

The Twelve Tables and Valerio-Horatian Laws were passed in 449 BC in Rome by the plebs in the tribune assembly and the patricians in the senate, respectively. The Twelve Tables originally sprouted from the Lex Terentilia, which was an attempt from the plebs to define and limit consular power of the patricians. However, since the patricians avoided it and the plebs were divided on the issue, the law was changed. Patricians edited the law to form the Decemvirate, a group of ten that had consular power to write laws. This group created the Twelve Tables, laws important to the Republic, like defining property rights, but more importantly sanctified patrician power. The broader significance of the Twelve Tables was the continuation of patrician domination over the plebs. The reason plebs were divided on the Lex Terentilia was because of the patricians’ complete monopoly of communication with the gods. The plebs were afraid that limiting patrician power could limit them in more ways than the patricians could. After the …show more content…

Livy’s example of this was a patrician named Coriolanus who was a strong opponent to the tribune’s power. When plebian tribunes came to his door and tried to put him on trial, he cried “I am not bound by you!”. After these laws, patricians could no longer defend themselves under this ideal, and directly empowered the plebian tribunes and aediles because of it. But it was how they were ratified that is significant to the Roman Republic. The Pontifex Maximus led a tribune meeting to ratify the very Twelve Tables that had led to this secession. The patricains recognized the plebs’ will to compromise, and in return ratified the Valerio-Horatian Laws. This full circle compromise is key in recognizing that both classes of the Roman Republic recognized the importance of the other side, and that the so called “Conflict of the Orders” isn’t so cut and dry as many would think.

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