History Honors SI

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Student Paper

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Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Classics | European History | Political History

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This paper examines the formation of the plebeian movement and government in the Roman Republic during the 5th Century BC of the Struggle of the Orders. The Struggle of the Orders was a political conflict between the plebeian and patrician classes of Rome that lasted from the 5th-3rd Centuries BC of the Republic. Most of this period is shrouded in legend, but later Roman historians provide evidence that suggests a major social and political revolution occurred during the early years of this struggle. Using kernels of evidence from these histories, namely that of the 1st Century BC historian Livy, I construct a new narrative of the early struggle that reveals a city crippled by divisive revolution. I begin by examining the catalysts of this social revolution, then focus in on the First Secession of 494 BC and the establishment of the plebeian movement and formation of its anti-government. Next I move to the impact of the plebeian movement and the radical oligarchy of the Decemvirate that followed. Lastly, I examine the Second Secession of 449 BC and the incorporation of the plebeian institutions into the Roman government through the Valerio-Horatian Laws and the Twelve Tables. I particularly focus on the development of the plebeian order, the scale and nature of this revolution, and the role the city of Rome’s geography played. I argue that the Secessions mark a full scale political revolution carried out by less advantaged Romans that redefined the Roman government for centuries to come.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.