IV. THE RISE OF THE COMMONS.

The first of the six general classes thus established comprised the Horsemen, Equites, Knights, or Cavalry, consisting of six patrician centuries of Equites established by Romulus, and twelve new ones formed from the principal plebeian families. Next in rank to them were eighty centuries composed of persons owning property (not deducting debts) to the amount of one hundred thousand ases (æs, copper, brass, bronze), and two centuries of persons not possessed of wealth, but simply Fabrûm, or workmen who manufactured things out of hard material, so important to the state were such considered at the time. One would not think it very difficult to get admission to this high class, when it is remembered that an as (originally a pound of copper in weight) [Footnote: The English word ace gets its meaning, "one," from the fact that in Latin as signified the unit either of weight or measure. Two and a half ases were equal to a sestertius, and ten ases (or four sesterces) equalled one denarius, worth about sixteen cents.] was worth but about a cent and a half, and that a hundred thousand such coins would amount to only about fifteen hundred dollars; though, of course, we should have to make allowance for the price of commodities if we wished to arrive at the exact value in the money of our time. The second, third, and fourth centuries were arranged on a descending grade of property qualification, and the fifth comprised those persons whose property was not worth less than twelve thousand five hundred ases, or about two hundred dollars. The sixth class included all whose possessions did not amount to even so little as this. These were calledProletarii or Capite Censorum; caput, the Latin for head, being used in reference to these unimportant citizens for "person," as farmers use it nowadays when they enumerate animals as so many "head."

Though the new arrangement of Servius Tullius gave the plebeians power, it did not give them so much as might be supposed, because it was contrived that the richest class should have the greatest number of votes, and they with the Equites had so many that they were able to carry any measure upon which they agreed. The older men, too, had an advantage, for every class was divided into Seniors and Juniors, each of which had an equal number of votes, though it is apparent that the seniors must have been always in the minority. Servius did not dare to abolish the old Comitia Curiata, and he felt obliged to enact that the votes of the new Comitia should be valid only after having received the sanction of the more ancient body. Thus it will be seen that there were three assemblies, with sovereignty well defined.

The armor of the different classes was also accurately ordered by the law. The first class was authorized to wear, for the defence of the body, brazen helmets, shields, and coats of mail, and to bear spears and swords, excepting the mechanics, who were to carry the necessary military engines and to serve without arms. The members of the second class, excepting that they had bucklers instead of shields and wore no coats of mail, were permitted to bear the same armor, and to carry the sword and spear. The third class had the same armor as the second, excepting that they could not wear greaves for the protection of their legs. The fourth had no arms excepting a spear and a long javelin. The fifth merely carried slings and stones for use in them. To this class belonged the trumpeters and horn-blowers.

These reforms were very important, and very reasonable, too, but though they gained for the king many friends, it was rather among the plebeians than among the more wealthy patricians, and from time to time hints were thrown out that the consent of the people had not been asked when Servius took his seat upon the throne, and that without it his right to the power he wielded was not complete. There was a very solemn and striking ceremony on the Campus Martius after the census had been finished. It was called the Lustration or Suovetaurilia. The first name originated from the fact that the ceremony was a purification of the people by water, and the second because the sacrifice on the occasion consisted of a pig, a sheep, and an ox, the Latin names of which were sus, ovis, and taurus, these being run together in a single manufactured word. Words are not easily made to order, and this one shows how awkward they are when they do not grow naturally.