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ARISTOCRACY,                                        33
be regarded as a part of the same general attempt to take
away monopolies from the patrician order. Had they re-
tained within their order the knowledge of law, of the calen-
dar, of religious festivals, of the sacred rites and books, their'
influence must have continued great, if not unassailable.
The Licinian laws broke their power* The next sixty years
complete the system of political equality in all important
The victories which thus brought the two orders to an
equality of rights, were waged principally for the benefit of
the wealthy plebeians. Henceforth, until the fall of the re-
public, the possession of wealth and honors, which, to a great
extent, the optimatcs contrived to keep in their hands, con-
stituted an oligarchic party with no superior rights but of
vast influence. The few new men, like Cicero, who won their
way to honors and a place in the senate, were generally of
this faction. Many of the old patrician names disappear from
the fasti in process of time, the families being either extinct
or reduced. Thus it is only the earlier annals that give us
patrician consuls bearing the names >Ebut5us, Aternius, Curi-
atius, Foslius, Geganius, Genucius, Hermimtts, lloratius,
Lartius, Menenius, Nuuttus, Numicius, Romilius, Tullius,
Virginius, and others. The Fusil CanulH disappear with the
grandson of the great Camillas, to reappear four centuries
afterwards in 8 A. D, The Sergian fens is out of sight for
centuries until Catiline makes it notorious. On the other
hand, the Licinii, Domitii, Cascilii (MeteUi)* Marcii Philippi,
Porcii, Octavii, to which the emperor Augustus belonged,
Aurclii and others, were plebeian, The patrician gentes
would have died out, probably to a greater extent still, if in-
termarriage between the orders had not been allowed, and the
narrowness of a privileged clique would have undermined the
respect the Romans felt for an ancient line. Thus the meas-
ures by which the exclusive patrician possession of office was
taken from this order contributed to its preservation. The
rich members of the plebs really helped the order which it
stripped of its birthright
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