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Roman society was set up as a system of patron and clients.
In this system, a patronus gave help and protection to others less powerful/rich.
In return, these clientes performed various services for him in return.
Duties of a patron: provide for his clients financially defend his clients legally represent their political interests invite his clients to dinner
Duties of a client support his patron politically serve militarily under his patron accompany his patron when walking in town
In many instances, patrons would take on artists and writers as clients.
The patron would financially support the artistic pursuits of his client, while the patron would gain celebrity fame by association.
Though a patron would have many clients, a client was only allowed to have one patron.
A patron/client relationship was a legal contract, which extended to his entire family.
If a patron died, his heir was bound to support his father’s clients.
If a client died, a patron was legally bound to take on the client’s heir as a new client.
With the fall of the Republic and dissolution of popular elections, the patron/client system declined.
Patrons no longer had any use for clients politically.
When Augustus became Emperor, he declared himself the patron of all of Roman citizens.
Patrons soon began to look to become clients of the Empire in order to gain favors from the Emperor.
Benefits of patron/client System: created stability in Rome families remained loyal to their patrons for centuries kept the social order of Rome intact
Downfalls kept families “locked in” to a system from which they could not escape created a welfare system in a state which did not have the means to support the poor
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