Optimates and Populares


Optimates and Populares
Ideological positions in ancient Rome that became defined in the early 1st century BC.

Both groups came from the wealthier classes. The Optimates (Latin: "Best Ones," "Aristocrats") promoted the dominance of the Senate and the proper balance of the constitution. The Populares ("Demagogues," "Populists") used and defended the powers of the popular assemblies and the office of tribune and advocated such measures as land distribution, debt cancellation, and subsidized grain allowances. Their polarization led to civil wars
notably those between Julius Caesar and Pompey and between Octavian (Augustus) and Mark Antony
and the fall of the republic with Augustus's accession.

* * *

▪ Roman politics
      (Latin: respectively, “Best Ones,” or “Aristocrats”, and “Demagogues,” or “Populists”), two principal patrician political groups during the later Roman Republic (ancient Rome) from about 133 to 27 BC. The members of both groups belonged to the wealthier classes.

      The Optimates were the dominant group in the Senate. They blocked the wishes of the others, who were thus forced to seek tribunician support for their measures in the tribal assembly and hence were labeled Populares, “demagogues,” by their opponents. The two groups differed, therefore, chiefly in their methods: the Optimates tried to uphold the oligarchy; the Populares sought popular support against the dominant oligarchy, either in the interests of the people themselves or in furtherance of their own personal ambitions. Finally, it is well to remember that the Senate's authority was based on custom and consent rather than upon law. It had no legal control over the people or magistrates: it gave, but could not enforce, advice. Until 133 BC any challenge to its authority was little more than a pinprick, but thereafter more deadly blows were struck, first by such Populares as Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, then by Gaius Marius, and finally by the army commanders from the provinces.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Optimates — This article is about the ancient Roman political faction. For the Byzantine military corps, see Optimatoi. The optimates ( Best Men , singular optimas; also known as boni, Good Men ) were the traditionalist majority of the late Roman Republic.… …   Wikipedia

  • Populares — ( favoring the people , singular popularis ) were aristocratic leaders in the late Roman Republic who tended to use the people s assemblies and tribunate in an effort to break the stranglehold of the Senate on political power. They were opposed… …   Wikipedia

  • Timeline of Portuguese history (Lusitania and Gallaecia) — This is a historical timeline of Portugal.=Roman Lusitania and Gallaecia=3rd century BC*237 BC The Carthaginian General Hamilcar Barca enters Iberia with his armies through Gadir. *228 BC Hamilcar Barca dies in battle. He is succeeded in command… …   Wikipedia

  • Ancient Rome and wine — Expansion of the Roman Empire Ancient Rome played a pivotal role in the history of wine. The earliest influences of viticulture on the Italian peninsula can be traced to Ancient Greeks and Etruscans. The rise of the Roman Empire saw an increase… …   Wikipedia

  • Cato, Marcus Porcius — known as Cato the Censor or Cato the Elder born 234, Tusculum, Latium died 149 BC Roman statesman and orator, the first important Latin prose writer. Born of plebeian stock, he fought in the Second Punic War. His oratorical skills paved the way… …   Universalium

  • Optimat — Optimaten (lat. optimus, dt.: die Besten, Singular: optimas; seltener boni, die Guten, genannt) waren die Parteigänger des konservativen Adels und des Senats in der Römischen Republik. Die Optimaten waren aber keine Partei im modernen Sinne. Der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cicero, Marcus Tullius — born 106 BC, Arpinum, Latium died Dec. 7, 43 BC, Formiae Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and writer. Born to a wealthy family, he quickly established a brilliant career in law and plunged into politics, then rife with factionalism and… …   Universalium

  • Pompey the Great — in full Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus born Sept. 29, 106, Rome died Sept. 28, 48 BC, Pelusium, Egypt Statesman and general of the Roman republic. His early military career was illustrious. He fought effectively for Sulla against Marius in the Social War …   Universalium

  • Optimaten — (lat. optimates, dt.: die Besten, Singular: optimus; seltener boni, die Guten, genannt) waren die Vertreter des konservativen Adels und die Verfechter der Vorherrschaft des Senats in der späten Römischen Republik. Die Optimaten waren aber keine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ancient Rome — ▪ ancient state, Europe, Africa, and Asia Introduction       the state centred on the city of Rome. This article discusses the period from the founding of the city and the regal period, which began in 753 BC, through the events leading to the… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.