Plebeians, or Plebs, one of the two great classes into which the Roman people were divided, the other being the patricians. The Plebeians were the common people while the patricians were the aristocrats. The latter class held all the offices of the government and enjoyed the privilege of governing the affairs of the nation, while the plebians were not only denied these, but were forbidden to intermarry. Though the plebians bore the brunt of fighting, they were denied the right of using the spoils of war. The contest between the two classes for the enjoyment of equal civil rights constitutes a large part of the civil history of Rome. In 268 b.c. the Hortensian law was finally established, under which the two hostile classes were recognized as one general body of Roman citizens with equal rights. This law provided practical equality in the rights of property. With representation of these classes in the legislative branch of the government, the civil rights of both remained practically equal, and later all traces of former distinctions disappeared.

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