When the Peasants Went On Strike: Ancient Rome’s Secessions Of The Plebs

Plebeian farmers interacting with Roman Patricians. From Hutchinson's History of the Nations, published 1915. Source: (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In ancient Rome, there was a strict class structure. The upper classes of society—the senators, patricians, and the equestrian classes—were the wealthy elite who could afford to live lives of leisure and prosperity. Below them—far below—were the plebs. In the absence of a middle class, there were stark contrasts between the upper elite and the lowly plebs. The plebian class, however, greatly outnumbered the elite, and a few times in Roman history, they banded together to use the power of their numbers. Occasionally, they even went on strike, leaving the spoiled wealthy elite to fend for themselves. These events became known as the Secessions of the Plebs.