Rome social pyramid


The social pyramid of Rome is the graphic representation that shows how society was structured during the period in which the Roman Empire ruled in Rome, based on the decision-making power of the different social classes.

The social pyramid of Rome, in other words, shows the different classes that make up a society in the mentioned period of history, as well as their classification based on the decision-making power of each social stratum.

This type of social pyramid was present from the birth of the Empire, in 27 BC, until its extinction, in 476 AD. Furthermore, in this phase of history, even though democracy exists, estate societies predominate.

In this sense, we are talking about estates that, in addition to classifying society, presented differences that made some superior to others.

Therefore, the pyramid classifies, depending on the power of each estate, the different strata in which it is classified, and that make up, a society during this historical period.

Example of a social pyramid in Rome

Here is an image showing a social pyramid in a society during the Roman Empire:

As can be seen, the upper part of the pyramid shows how power was concentrated in the emperor (Caesar), the senators and the administrators of the Empire (patricians). While the lower part concentrates all those citizens who, unlike those in the upper strata, have a "lower" social status.

Thus, making a distinction between free citizens (common people, free men, freedmen and women) and serfs (slaves).

Estates in the Roman Empire

The estates presented by the social pyramid during the Roman Empire were, mainly, 8 estates. All of them classified as follows:


  • Emperor (Caesar): He ran the Empire.
  • Senators and administrators of the empire (patricians): It consisted of the oldest families of the Roman Empire, at the same time that they formed an aristocracy of landowners. They had all the fiscal, judicial, political and cultural privileges. They were full citizens and made up the Roman Senate.
  • Commoners: They were all those citizens who were not patricians. At first they had no rights, but with the passage of time they were recognized rights similar to those that the patricians had. Among them, some fundamental rights such as being a Roman citizen and electing representatives. Among the commoners the following groups can be distinguished: nobles, knights and clients.
  • Free women: Women born in freedom in ancient Rome were considered Roman citizens, but they did not possess the rights and duties that men had.


  • Free men: They were citizens who, not being of Roman nationality, acquired that nationality.
  • Freedmen: They were those slaves freed by their master. They were inferior to free men.
  • Slaves: They had no rights. They were usually prisoners of war, of enemy troops. The number of slaves in Rome became very large with the expansion of the Empire.

Characteristics of the social pyramid of Rome

Among the characteristics of the social pyramid in the Roman Empire, we can highlight the following:

  • It presents the social structure of a population between the years 27 BC. and 476 AD
  • They were estate societies.
  • Social classes are classified in descending order. So the one with the most power is in the highest part of the pyramid and the one with the least power in the lowest part.
  • The systems were semi-closed. That is to say, you were born in the class where you died, but you could move up the social class.
  • The right to belong to a certain estate could only be acquired through birth, or as recognition for a specific reason.
  • Caesar was the highest ranking office in the Roman Empire.
  • The characteristics of this social structure were not the same during the entire period in which the Empire was active.

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