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one of the privileged estates in ancient Athens (where they were called hippeis), ancient Rome, Thessaly, and other states of antiquity. In Athens, the equites as an estate group formed as a consequence of Solon’s reforms (594-593 B.C.). They constituted the second highest category of the population (after thepentacosiomedimni), with a property census requirement of 300 medimni (about 450 bushels of grain). The equites could hold all elective offices. For army service they had to appear on horses.
In ancient Rome, the equites from the earliest times were designated as a privileged group of military men who served in the cavalry. The reform of Servius Tullius (sixth century B.C.) divided the equites into 18 centuries, forming part of the highest census category of Roman citizens (the property requirement was 100,000 asses). The Roman equites were a military group until the end of the fourth century B.C. After the third century, with the development of usury and commerce, usurers and owners of large workshops began to enter the ranks of the equites (according to the property census). Toward the close of the decade ending in 120 B.C. the equites were converted into a separate estate of Roman society whose material base was the ownership of large monetary means and movable property. From the end of the first century B.C. (the time of Augustus), the status of the equites became hereditary and the property census was fixed at 400,000 sesterces. From the first century A.D., army commanders were recruited from the equites, who also held a number of offices in provincial administration (such as the prefecture of Egypt, procurator posts, and so on). As an estate, the equites in Rome existed until the fourth century.
REFERENCESNemirovskii, A. I. “Vsadnicheskoe soslovie v politicheskoi bor’be 90-80-kh gg. 1 v. do n. e.,” Uch. zap. Penzenskogo pedagogicheskogo in-ta, 1953, issue 1, pp. 125-59.
Martin, A. Les Cavaliers athéniens. Paris, 1887.
Nicolet, C. L’Ordre équestre a l’epoque républicaine (312-43 av. J.C.). Paris, 1956. New edition: Paris, 1966. (The bibliography of this work, reviewed by A. I. Nemirovskii from the 1956 edition, appeared in Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1969, no. 2).
A. G. BOKSHCHANIN