Homo novus

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Homo novus ( Latin new person ) means, if translated, upstart , also newcomer ( climber ). In ancient Rome, especially during the time of the Roman Republic , it meant a man who was the first of his family to hold the consulate or to assume a higher office, which was usually limited in age. This was specifically aimed at people from the knighthood of the republic (which must not be confused with medieval knighthood).

The term itself is to be understood derogatory and thus also corresponds to the balance of power in Rome : the senatorial families saw themselves as a closed community. That is why it was not welcomed when someone who came from an unknown plebeian family suddenly held public office. Since the exercise of these offices was a condition for later admission to the Senate , these families felt threatened in their de facto monopoly on the public office and the senatorial chairs connected with it. Those senatorial families who belonged to the tiny group of nobility ( nobilitas ), which provided virtually all consuls and censors during the republic , were particularly negative .

The phenomenon of homo novus was therefore rare, especially during the heyday of the republic . The only exceptions in the list of consuls are therefore relatively well known: Gaius Flaminius , consul in 223 BC. BC, and Marcus Porcius Cato , consul 195 BC. Chr.

During the crisis of the republic in the 1st century BC There are again two known exceptions. This is Gaius Marius , first consul in 107 BC. And then from 104 BC. Until 100 BC And for the last time 86 BC Consul, and Marcus Tullius Cicero , consul in 63 BC. Chr.

In the late period of the republic and during the imperial era , the number of these social climbers increased significantly. The knighthood had also shrunk more and more over the centuries due to the extinction of many families.