Brill’s New Pauly

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(1,435 words)

[German version]

I. Meaning of the word

The word plebs initially simply meant 'multitude' (from the root ple; cf. plenus, 'full' and Greek πλῆθος/plȇthos, 'multitude'). As a collective term for all Roman citizens, excluding the Patricians ( patricii ), it can be conceived (disparagingly) only by the latter and in both its meaning and its historical development can be understood only as a correlate of the concept of patriciate. When this had been transformed by the elevation of leading plebeian families to the nobility ( n…

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von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle), “Plebs”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 26 October 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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