Plebeians – Plebs

This from Wikipedia

In ancient Rome, the plebeians (also called plebs) were the general body of free Roman citizens who were not patricians, as determined by the census, or in other words “commoners”. Both classes were hereditary.


The precise origins of the group and the term are unclear, but may be related to the Greek, plēthos, meaning masses. The term then became more widely applied throughout the Conflict of the Orders, a struggle for political rights between the plebeians and patricians. By 287 BC, plebeians had eliminated their political disadvantages in relation to the patricians. In the later republic, the term referred instead to citizens of lower socioeconomic status and, by the early empire, referred to non-aristocrats (not senators or equestrians).

In Latin, the word plebs is a singular collective noun, and its genitive is plebis. Plebeians were not a monolithic social class. Those who resided in the city and were part of the 4 urban tribes are sometimes called the plebs urbana, while those who lived in the country and were part of the 31 smaller rural tribes are sometimes differentiated by using the label plebs rustica.

Childhood and education

The average plebeian did not come into a wealthy family; the politically active nobiles as a whole comprised a very small portion of the whole population. The average plebeian child was expected to enter the workforce at a young age. Plebeians typically belonged to a lower socio-economic class than their patrician counterparts, but there also were poor patricians and rich plebeians by the late republic.

Education was limited to what their parent would teach them, which consisted of only learning the very basics of writing, reading and mathematics. Wealthier plebeians were able to send their children to schools or hire a private tutor.


*I am the grandson of a docker and a miner…So technically I could well be considered a plebeian, a pleb.