Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Plebeians

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PLEBEIANS, or PLEBS, in ancient Rome, one of the great orders of the Roman people, at first excluded from nearly all the rights of citizenship. The whole government of the state, with the enjoyment of all its offices, belonged exclusively to the patricians, with whom the plebeians could not even intermarry. The Lex Hortensia (286 B. C.) gave the plebiscīta, or enactments passed at the plebeian assemblies, the force of law. From this time the privileges of the two classes may be said to have been equal.