Friday, September 30, 2011
We know of about fifty patrician clans in the fifth century B.C., but by the time of Caesar, in the later first century B.C., only fourteen of these had survived. The decay continued in imperial times. We know of the families of nearly four hundred Roman senators in A.D. sixty-five, but, just one generation later, all trace of half of these families had vanished.
By Augustus's reign (27 BC-AD 14) only about 15 patrician families were left, and by Trajan's (AD 98-117) just six. In Constantine I's time (AD 307-337) the title ‘patrician' had come to mean anyone who held high office in the imperial court.
Why they vanished? (1) Inbreeding. They had few children and many of them were defective. Like the Hapsburg dynasty. Pic.: Sulla. He suffered from severe pains in the legs. (2) Like today, educated classes frequently didnt marry and had children. In Imperial Rome, only the proletarians had two or three children.