an exclusive circle of patrician and distinguished plebeian families that arose in the Roman Republic toward the beginning of the third century B.C. Traditionally, the highest state offices were filled by members of the nobilitas, and their monopoly of the highest government posts made it almost impossible for a “new man” to hold the office of consul. The nobilitas preserved the political traditions of the aristocratic republic, but opposition politicians also came from this milieu. With rare exceptions, the leaders of the Roman “democrats” also belonged to the nobilitas. During the empire, the influence of the nobilitas declined. Ancient writers also used the term “nobilitas” in a broader sense to designate the aristocracy, as opposed to the “people” or the “mob.”
REFERENCESGelzer, M. Die Nobilität der Römischen Republik. Leipzig-Berlin, 1912.
Münzer, F. Römische Adelsparteien und Adelsfamilien. Stuttgart, 1920.