Question Two: Culture and Identity
Examine the life and position of high status men and/or women in an ancient classical society.

Note: high status may refer to people who enjoyed public prestige and/or wealth and/or held a prominent political position and/or were members of the aristocracy/nobility.


In your answer:
- explain their role within the household.
-Examine their social and/or political duties and responsibilities
-Draw developed conclusions about the ways in which the state reinforced these roles.

Question number: 2 Culture and Identity
Name of classical society, i.e Rome/Athens: Ancient Rome


Ancient Rome, like most societies, valued wealth. Wealth above all, divided this great classical society and it was only the rich who were granted high positions of power in this society. Therefore high status men often also enjoyed public prestige, a prominent political position and inclusion as members of high society. High status women were rare as ancient Rome was a strongly patriarchal society. In fact, women were not even considered citizens. They had no legal or political rights and during the early ages of ancient Rome, come not even divorce unfaithful husbands, despite the fact that if a woman committed adultery, her husband could have her killed. High status men were the paterfamilias or head of the family. They looked after and provided for their household, including their slaves and made the income. Men belonging to the equestrian order were successful business men who dominated money-lending, tax-collecting and trade. These men could become exceedingly wealthy yet they were not the most respected members of society. The Patricians of the Senatorial Class were 600-900 of ancient Rome/s wealthiest citizens, and were lower than only the Emperor himself. Upon qualifying for the Senatorial Class, the paterfamilias would enter the senate: a time-consuming yet prestigious institution.

High status men advanced through the status/hierarchy of Roman society through the Cursus Honorum or ladder of offices. The first of these offices was the Tribune which consisted of 10 members who were elected by the Plebians or general public of ancient Rome. Tribunes could veto laws or suggest new ones. High status men became Quaestors which was the first actual office in the Senate. There were 20 Quaestors whol looked after the banks of ancient Rome. High status men then aspired to be Aediles.The four aediles were in charge of law and order as well as the public markets and games. The next office was that of Praetors who looked after the courts as one of eight other members. Retired praetors became pro-praetors who were occasionally given jobs such as looking after provinces or small armies, although ambitious men strived to reach the very top of the Cursus honorum and become a consul. Two consul members were elected annually and held power and responsibiltiy over all below them. They also controlled Rome's armies and again Proconsuls could control provinces or large armies. High status was generally obtained by wealth yet religious figures or military heroes often advanced quicker through the Cursus Honorum as they were admired and respected by not just the public but other patricians too.

High status men had a number of social and political duties but perhaps even more important than what they did was what they didn't do. According to patrician and writer, Cicero in "On Duties" 42.150" "the lowest of all trades are those which cater to sensual pleasures" such as bakers, fishmongers, actors and exotic dancers. Manual and factory work was also considered not respectable as the "very payments they receive brand them as slaves." Cicero also expresses his dislike for those merchants who purchase wholesale items and immediately resell them as to profit deception - in Cicero's view - deception was necessary. Clearly these jobs and the people who undertook them were not respected or considered suitable occupations for High status men. Even associating with people such as actors could be degrading so some. Although with the prestige of being Senator, patricians received duties such as writing and delivering speeches, constructing reports and participating in committees. However, as we have learned from Pliny the Younger, who detailed his high respected Uncle, Pliny the Elder's day, high status men such as him would complete all of their tasks but then "he devoted the rest of his time to study" Letters 2.9. Although it is likely that Pliny the Elder studied more than other high status men, it is clear that personal advancement of knowledge was very important and even expected in ancient Rome.

A curious relationship that underpinned the entire great infrastructure of ancient Rome also created responsibilities for high status men. The patron-client relationship was evident at all stages of society and everyone except the emperor had a patron. High status men were often patrons to many less wealthy or respected than themselves and therefore had numerous duties. Patrons undertook clients and promised to provide food, money, influence or for the poor, a dole of 6 1/4 sesterces or an invite to dinner in return for support at elections and of their favour legislation. During election time clients often followed their patron around to demonstrate his popularity and influence and every day clients were expected to greet their patron in the morning "salutatio" and escort them to the Forum if necessary "deductio". Furthermore, high status men required their clients to show respect and gratitude by wearing a toga, an expensive item which symbolised citizenship. The patron-client relationship was not a legally binding contract, but a sort of moral obligation that was governed by a surprisingly well adhered to honour system. An interesting aspect of the patron/client relationship, and one that is particularly relevant to high status men, is political patronage. This entailed a high status man taking a lower patrician under his wing to help him advance through the cursus honorum. This provided benefits for both parties yet it could be risky for the patron as the actions and success or failure of their client reflected on them. This is observed by Pliny the Younger who writes in Letters 2.9 about the advancement of his friend/client Sextus. Sextus is facing a promotion to Quaestor yet is lacking the support to attain the position. As Pliny had appealed to his own patron, the Emperor, if Sextus is unsuccessful he will think Pliny has misled him. Therefore Pliny must lobby other patricians to support Sextus as his "own honour and reputation are at stake."

The state of Ancient Rome reinforced the role and duties of high status men in several ways. Firstly, there were strict wealth requirements for the two highest classes of ancient Roman society. Equiites required 400,000 sesterces including the value of any land and Patricians needed I million sesterces. Occasionally Patricians were barred from the senate because they did not possess enough land, despite having over 1 million sesterces. This is because members of the Senatorial class were banned from business as it could interfere with their political policies and success, so the majority of their income came from land ownership. In addition to this, patricians were paid no salary by the state for being in the senate. The state also imposed age minimums for all positions in the Senate, with the first official officer of Quaestor comprising of only those over 30 years old. If anyone harmed a tribune they were severely punished and could be killed. Another aspect that reinforcced the roles and duties of high status men was a concept called "mos Maiorum" or the way of our ancestors. In ancient Rome, this was upheld by everyone and was an honour system that dictated the patron/client relationship as well as the structure and advancement through the Cursus Honorum. If a patrician did not follow the Cursus Honorum, for example, did not start as tribune or skipped a position, it was considerered wrong and they were publicly shamed. Caesar never became consul, yet advanced to Emperor which was highly unusual and caused great dissention in the public.


Question One: Citizenship and Society
Name of classical society: ancient Rome.

Examine the institution of slavery and the life of a slave in an ancient classical society.
In your answer:
-explain the duties of domestic and/or public slaves
-examine a range of attitudes that different citizens and/or groups of citizens had to their slaves
-draw developed conclusions about the positive impact that slavery had for households and society as a whole.


Slavery was an important part of life in ancient Rome. Everyone had slaves. Even the poorest people would have one or two, and the richest might have several thousand to run their estates. Salves farmed properties, would participate in mining or do household duties such as caring for children, escorting their masters, washing, cooking, cleaning or doing complicated tasks such as keeping books in a business. Attitudes to slaves varied so they were treated in very different ways by different owners.

In early Rome, slaves were uncommon, so they were expensive and well cared for by their masters, as they would want to avoid replacing them. As Rome expanded, it conquered many other nations and took thousands of prisoners of war. Livy, in 1v34 explains such a campaign and says that the "rest of the prisoners were sold by auction". Many prisoners were sold as slaves, leading to a massive influx of slaves. This meant that slaves became less valuable because they were common and easy to replace. Often this lead to the mistreatment of slaves, especially slaves on large estates, because it was easy to replace them if they died.

Usually slaves would be born into slavery. Children of slaves would be known as vernae and would be raised with the other children of the house. People could also sell their children into slavery, if suffering from financial difficulty.

When slaves were common, certain types of slave would be valued over others and these slaves would receive better treatment from their masters. These types included beautiful, or unusual slaves, which were valued for their looks: Greek or Asian slaves who were usually better educated and could be trained to keep books; male salves, who would be able to stength-based tasks; and slaves with special skills or talents such as cooking which made them useful for entertainment.

Most people in Rome had a positive attitude towards slaves and would treat them with respect. Cicero said, in "On Duties" "salves must do their work, but they must also be given their due". Slaves could receive rewards of extra food or a small amount of money known as a peculium. Often, city slaves could form a bond with their master that might lead to their freedom, through a process known as manumission.
Manumission was an agreement made by the master to let the slave become a freedman, or Libertus. This could occur during the master's life, or might be a clause in his will. When slaves were released from slavery, they would have their patronage of their exmasters and might do well in the outside world. If the slave was not released by their master, they might save their peculium and buy their own freedom, as described by Seneca in his letters. "In exchange for their freedom they pay out their savings which they have scraped together by cheating their own stomachs." Slaves would have to save the amount that was used to buy them, meaning this was usually unattainable.

Some people had a negative attitude and feared slaves thinking of them as animals who had the ability to turn on you without warning. In his Annals, Tacitus explains this attitude: "the only way to control this rabble is to make them fear you." It was up to the paterfamilias, or father, of the house to punish the slaves. They might be beaten, or threatened, and until the empire, it remained legal to murder or abandon your slaves without consequences. It was feared that, because of the vast number of slaves, they might rebel against enslavement. They did not have identifying clothing because it was thought that if they knew of their numbers, they might begin a rebellion.

Public and estate slaves received the worst treatment. Estate slaves would be employed to farm vast estates, and would rarely see their rich masters. Public slaves did most building work in Rome, they might also work in mines. Public and estate slaves were common and easily replaced, so rarely thought of as people. They rarely gained manumission and would usually die while working. These slaves were strong and feared by their masters, so would be chained up at night, as described by Tacitus:"Let the fields of Tuscany right with the sound of countless chains."

Slaves who were employed by large households in the city received better treatment. They would perform household duties and there would be specific types of slaves such as personal slaves, who attended to a specific member of the family, as well as slaves who were suited to certain types of jobs, such as cooking, entertaining, or assisting in their master's employment. These slaves would have much more contact with their masters and would sometimes become known as part of the family, forming close personal bonds and that would lead to good treatment or freedom.

Slavery was a positive thing for most households in ancient Rome as slavery allowed them to spend more time on their professions, studies and relationships. It meant that rich citizens could maintain larger properties, or multiple properties, including large estates or latifundia with ease. Slaves meant that rich Romans could entertain guests with the help of cooks, or slaves with entertaining talents. To Rome, slavery meant that more building work could be done, increasing the prospects of the city. Slavery meant that there were less labour-based jobs for citizens, which meant more people pursued businesses or other professions.

In the modern world, we see slavery as a very negative thing, because most people believe that humans should be treated equally, have free will and access to human rights. While slavery had benefits for the masters, the simple fact is that slaves were thought of as lesser people and were treated unfairly by most owners even if they were respected.