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PLEBES.

appear in the possession of the right to occupy parts; of the ager publicus. (Livy, vii. 16 ; Niebuhr, iii. p. 1, &c.) In B. c. 366, L. Sextius Laterantis was the first plebeian consul. The patricians, however, who always contrived to yield no more than what it was absolutely impossible for them to retain, stripped the consulship of a considerable part of its power and transferred it to two new curule offices, viz., that of praetor and of curule aedile. [aedjles ; praetor.] But after such great advantages had been once gained by the plebeians, it was impos­sible to stop them in their progress towards a perfect equality of political rights with the patricians. In B. c. 356 C. Marcius Rutilus was the first plebeian dictator ; in b. c. 351, the censorship was thrown open to the plebeians, and in b. c. 336 the praetor-ship. The Ogulnian law, in b. c. 300, also opened to them the offices of pontifex and augur. These advantages were, as might be supposed, not gained without the fiercest opposition of the patricians and even after they were gained and sanctioned by law, the patricians exerted every means to obstruct the operation of the law. Such fraudulent attempts led, in b. c. 286, to the last secession of the ple­beians, after which, however, the dictator Q. Hor-tensius successfully and permanently reconciled the two orders,'secured to the plebeians all the rights they had acquired until then, and procured for their plebiscita the full power of leges binding upon the whole nation.

In a political point of view the distinction be­tween patricians and plebeians now ceased, and Rome, internally strengthened and united, entered upon the happiest period of her history. Plow completely the old distinction was now forgotten, is evident from the fact that henceforth both con­suls were frequently plebeians. The government of Rome had thus gradually changed from an op^ pressive oligarchy into a moderate democracy, in which each party had its proper influence and the power of checking the other, if it should venture to assume more than it could legally claim. It was this constitution, the work of many generations, that excited the admiration of the great statesman Polybius.

We stated above that the plebeians during their struggle with the patricians did not seek power for the mere gratification of their ambition, but as a necessary means to protect themselves from op­pression. The abuse which they, or rather their tribunes, made of their power, belongs to a much later time, and no traces of it appear until more than half a century after the Hortensian law ; and even then, this power was only abused by indivi­duals, and not on behalf of the real plebeians, but of a degenerating democratical party, which is un­fortunately designated by later writers by the name of plebeians j and thus has become identified with them. Those who know the immense influence which religion and its public ministers had upon the whole management of the state, will not wonder that the plebeians in their contest with the aristocracy exerted themselves as much to gain access to the priestly offices as to those of a purely political character ; as the latter in reality would have been of little avail without the former. The office of curio maximus, which the plebeians sought and obtained nearly a century after the Ogulnian law (Liv. xxvii. 6, 8), seems indeed to afford ground for supposing that in this instance the ple­beians sought a distinction merely for the pur-

PLEBISCITUM.

'pose of extending their privileges ; but Ambrosch (Studien u. Andeutungen, p. 95) has rendered it more than probable that the office of curio maxi-mus was at that time of greater political import­ance than is generally believed, It is also well known that such priestly offices as had little or no connection with the management of public affairs, such as that of the rex sacrorum, the flamines, salii, and others, were never coveted by the ple­beians, and continued to be held by the patricians down to the latest times. (Dionys. v. 1 ; Cic. pro Dom. 14 ; Fest. s. v. Major, flam.}

After the passing of the Hortensian law, the political distinction between patricians and ple­beians ceased, and with a few unimportant ex­ceptions, both orders were placed on a footing of perfect equality. Henceforth the name populus is sometimes applied to the plebeians alone, and sometimes to the whole body of Roman citizens, as assembled in the comitia centuriata or tributa. (Liv. xxvii. 5 ; Cic. ad Ait. iv. 2 ; Gell. x. 20.) The term plebs or plebecula, on the other hand, was applied in a loose manner of speaking to the multitude or populace in opposition to the nobiles or the senatorial party. (Sallust, Jug. 63 ; Cic. ad Att. i. 16 ; 11 or. Epist. ii. 1. 158 ; Hirt. Bell.-Ale®. 5, &c.)

A person who was born a plebeian, could only be raised to the rank of a patrician by a lex curiata, as was sometimes done during the kingly period, and in the early times of the republic. Caesar was the first who ventured in his own name to raise plebeians to the rank of patricians, and his example was followed by the emperors. [patricil]

It frequently occurs in the history of Rome that one and the same gens contain plebeian as well as patrician families. In the gens Cornelia, for instance, we find the plebeian families of the Balbi, Mammillae, Merulae, &c., along with the patrician Scipiones^ Sullae, Lentuli, &c. The occurrence of this phenomenon may be accounted for in different ways. It may have been, that one branch of a plebeian family was made patrician, while the others remained plebeians. (Cic. Brut. 16, de Leg. ii. 3 ; Sueton, Ner. 1.) It may also have hap­ pened that two families had the same nomen gen- tilicium without being actual members of the same gens. (Cic. Brut. 16 ; Tacit. Annal. iii. 48.) Again, a patrician family might go over to the plebeians, and as such a family continued to bear the name of its patrician gens, this gens apparently contained a plebeian family. (Liv. iv. 16 ; Plin. H. N. xviii. 4.) At the time when no connubium existed be* tween the two orders, a marriage between a patri­ cian and a plebeian had the consequence, that the same nomen gentilicium belonged to persons of the two orders. (Niebuhr, ii. p. 337, n. 756 ; Suet. Aug. 2.) When a peregrinus obtained the civitas through the influence of a patrician, or when a slave was emancipated by his patrician master, they generally adopted the nomen gentilicium of their benefactor (Cic. ad Fam. xiii. 35, 36, c. Vcrr. iv. 17 ; Appian, Civil. 100), and thus appear to belong to the same gens with him. (Comp. Becker, 1. c. p. 133, &c. ; Ihne, I. c.) [L. S.J

PLEBISCFTUM, a name properly applied to a law passed at the Comitia Tributa on the roga­tion of a Tribune. According to Laelius Felix (Gellius, xv. 27, and the note in the edition of Gronovius), he who had authority to convene not the imiversus populus, but only a part, could hold

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