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Rome in Late AntiquityEveryday Life and Urban Change, AD 312-609$
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Bertrand Lancon

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780748612390

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748612390.001.0001

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The nobility, ‘élite of the human race’

The nobility, ‘élite of the human race’

(p.59) Chapter 5 The nobility, ‘élite of the human race’
Rome in Late Antiquity

Menno Fenger

Paul Henman

Edinburgh University Press

The existence of a rich and powerful nobility in Rome was nothing new – it went back to the earliest times of the republic and lasted throughout the imperial era. Generations succeeded one another, wealth and magistracies accumulated, simultaneously building the power and prestige of these great gentes (clans). These families, whose political expression was the Senate, embodied the values of their milieu. The most sacred order of the amplissimi, or most distinguished, was nothing other than the élite of mankind. Roman nobles saw in their midst the rapid growth of a process that had started long before: the rise of Christianity – which, if sometimes at odds with the mos maiorum, nevertheless failed to weaken the cohesion of this very powerful social group. Proof of this lies in the fact that they endured, without great mishap, through the periodic sacks of their city and, in the sixth century, the domination of the Ostrogoths.

Keywords:   nobility, Rome, gentes, Senate, amplissimi, élite, mankind, Christianity, mos maiorum, Ostrogoths

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