The Republican Aventine and Rome’s Social Order

Lisa Marie Mignone


 The Aventine—one of Rome’s canonical seven hills—has long been identified as the city’s plebeian district, which housed the lower orders of society and served as the political headquarters, religious citadel, and social bastion of those seeking radical reform of the Republican constitution. Lisa Marie Mignone challenges the plebeian-Aventine paradigm through a multidisciplinary review of the ancient evidence, demonstrating that this construct proves to be a modern creation. Mignone uses ancient literary accounts, material evidence, and legal and semantic developments to reconstruct and reexamine the history of the Aventine Hill. Through comparative studies of premodern urban planning and development, combined with an assessment of gang violence and ancient neighborhood practices in the latter half of the first century BCE, she argues that there was no concentration of the disadvantaged in a “plebeian ghetto.” Thus residency patterns everywhere in the caput mundi, including the Aventine Hill, likely incorporated the full spectrum of Roman society.

The myth of the “plebeian Aventine” became embedded not only in classical scholarship, but also in modern political and cultural consciousness; it has even been used by modern figures to support their political agenda. Yet The Republican Aventine and Rome’s Social Order makes bold new claims regarding the urban design and social history of ancient Rome and raises a significant question about ancient urbanism and social stability more generally: Did social integration reduce violence in premodern cities and promote urban concord?

“Mignone has adopted the best traditions of classical studies in combining literature, epigraphy, law, and archaeology to reconstruct life in the ancient city. The Republican Aventine will provide an integrated view of life in ancient Rome that benefits from a 360-degree perspective on one neighborhood, giving a kind of deep description that is often hard to come by for the ancient world because of the nature of the sources.”
—Cynthia Bannon, Indiana University

“It is amply evident that Mignone has done her homework and knows the relevant scholarship inside and out.”
—Karl Galinsky, University of Texas

Lisa Marie Mignone is Assistant Professor of Classics at Brown University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Well written and well-argued..."
    --Bryn Mawr Classical Review
  • “The book is well written and displays the author’s considerable erudition and breadth of knowledge…”
    – Classical World
  • "A classicist with broad interests in urban history, Mignone (Brown Univ.) deftly traces the relationships among people, the landscapes they inhabit, and the narratives connecting the two...Highly Recommended"
    --Choice Reviews
  • "In this scholarly and stimulating book, Mignone has successfully deconstructed the notion of the Aventine as a ‘plebeian hill’, in terms of both its residents and its political symbolism."
    --Acta Classica
  • "The plebeian Aventine is a modern scholarly fiction, and Mignone’s superb demolition job puts us on notice: how many of our other treasured dogmas are equally unfounded?"
    --The Classical Review
  • "Mignone's book is admirable from start to finish; it is in many ways a model academic publication."
  • "The book is exceptionally well written ... It is anticipated that this work will facilitate the old paradigm to dwindle soon."

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Product Details

  • 264 pages.
  • 12 figures, 2 tables.
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  • Ebook
  • 2016
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12193-9

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  • Rome, Plebeian, Plebs, Patrician, Classics, Urbanism, Aventine, Republic,