(336 words)

[German version]

The Latin word proletarii, derived from proles ('descendant'), describes people without property, who mattered only for their progeny (Cic. Rep. 2,40), i.e. were liable neither to military service nor to taxation. Cato [1] Censorius says clearly: expedito pauperem plebeium atque proletarium (fr. 152 Orf). The contrast between proletarius and adsiduus is encountered as early as in the Twelve Tables (Gell. NA 16,10,5); the word proletarii is still attested in some 2nd-cent. BC authors and finally in Varro (De vita Populi Romani, fr.9), and was t…

Cite this page
von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle), “Proletarii”, 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 16 October 2018 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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