Orders (Ordo) are groups of citizens meant to ceremoniously honour those who made key contributions to the Roman Republic community. Censors determine eligibility into the various orders. There are three orders in the Roman Republic:
I. Ordo Patricius
The modern version of this order is composed of the founding families who had a member sign the founding Declaration of the Roman Republic or who were among the very first families to join the Roman Republic in its first months of existence. Many of these individuals were key figures in crafting the foundational aspects of the Roman Republic (initial coordination, funding etc.). The Ordo Patricius has the same rights of Ordo Plebeius, with the exception that they cannot serve as Plebeian Tribune or Plebeian Aedile or vote in the Concilium Plebis. There is no advantage to belonging to this order and it is purely ceremonial in the modern Roman Republic.
Those citizens who subscribe to the Cultus Deorum often recognize Iupiter and Iuno as the patron deities of this order.
Historical Ordo Patricius
The patricians were originally a group of 100 men appointed by Romulus to serve as the first Senators of Rome. The descendants of these first 100 formed the original ruling class of families in ancient Rome. The distinction was highly significant in the Roman Kingdom, and the early Republic, but its relevance waned after the Conflict of the Orders (494 BCE to 287 BCE), and by the time of the late Republic and Empire, membership in the patriciate was of only nominal significance.
II. Ordo Equester
The modern version of this order is composed of the largest contributors to the Roman Republic who are not founders (Ordo Patricius). Eligibility is based upon financial donation (history of a Class I donation) or by obtaining a denarii balance of over 1400 by participating in the Roman Republic.
To make a contribution to join the Ordo Equester login and make a class I donation here.
The members of the ordo equester are granted special privileges. For example they may obtain the most significant voting centuries in the Comitia Centuriata and are eligible to join the Senate of the Roman Republic.
Those citizens who subscribe to the Cultus Deorum often recognize Castor and Pollux as the patron deities of this order.
Historical Ordo Equester
Around 400 BCE, 12 centuriae of cavalry were established and these included non-patricians (plebeians). Around 300 BCE the Samnite Wars obliged Rome to double the normal annual military levy from two to four legions, doubling the cavalry levy from 600 to 1,200 horses. Legionary cavalry started to recruit wealthier citizens extensively. These new recruits came from the first class of plebeians in the Centuriate Assembly organization. This formed a new social order of equestrians, ranked above plebeians and below patricians.
From 200–88 BCE equites served in the cavalry less but formed the bulk of the army’s senior officers; as the number of legions proliferated fewer were available for ordinary cavalry service. After 88 BCE, equites were no longer drafted into the legionary cavalry, although they remained technically liable to such service throughout the principate era. They continued to supply the senior officers of the army throughout the principate.
The equites were originally defined by a property threshold and were not strictly hereditary. A member of the order who at the regular census no longer met the property requirement were removed from the order’s rolls. In the late republic, the property threshold stood at 50,000 denarii.
III. Ordo Plebeius
In the modern Roman Republic, this is the default order for all new citizens. The vast majority of citizens belong to this order. They may occupy every position in the modern Roman Republic, including Plebeian Tribune and Plebeian Aedile, and vote in every assembly, including the Concilium Plebis.
Those citizens who subscribe to the Cultus Deorum often recognize Ceres, Liber and Liberia as the patron deities of this order.
Historical Ordo Plebeius
At the outset of the Roman Republic, the patricians had a near-monopoly on political and social institutions. Plebeians were excluded from magistracies and religious colleges, and they were not permitted to know the laws by which they were governed. Plebeians served in the army, but rarely became military leaders.
Dissatisfaction with the status quo occasionally mounted to the point that the plebeians engaged in a sort of general strike, leaving the patricians to themselves. From 494 to 287 BCE, five such actions during the so-called “Conflict of the Orders” resulted in the establishment of plebeian offices (the tribunes and plebeian aediles), the publication of the laws (the Law of the Twelve Tables), the establishment of the right of plebeian–patrician intermarriage, the opening of the highest offices of government and some state priesthoods to the plebeians and passage of legislation that made resolutions passed by the assembly of plebeians, the concilium plebis, binding on all citizens.
By the late Republic, the Plebeians held enormous power and controlled the bulk of the institutions of political and social significance.