Roman Value System

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Julius Caesar, to whom dignitas was so important
Picture from Forum Romanum Picture Index


The Romans had many different values, and their value system consisted of trying to achieve the things in the following list. The values were accumulated through the family, so if one of your ancestors achieved highly, this was passed on to you.



Closest thing in English is 'manliness'. It is hard to define. For noble families, it was winning pre-eminence and gloria. For example, for a noble to refuse to become a magistrate, it disgraced their family and ancestors.
The ability to get things done.

This was believed to be solely held by the senatorial class. It was basically respect, and it was important to have. Julius Caesar apparently told his troops that what had been happening to him politically by Pompey and the optimates (the nobles) was an affront to his dignitas, just before he started the civil war.
Often associated with fama (fame), although fama could be good or bad. Gloria could only be good.

Means "Good Faith". It had reciprocal benefits, and meant that you would do what you said you would do.

This wasn't a value as such. It was the basis of a magistrate's power to operate legally. It was given by the State in order to govern, but it lapsedonce you left your area of responsibility or entered the walls of Rome. If you were the proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul, for example, you couldn't go to Spain and expect to have the same powers.