I'm looking for some clarification on how patrician families were determined considering their outsized influence on Roman history. I read some sources state that a patrician family is a family that could trace its lineage to one of the original 100 founding families when Romulus established Rome, but I'm unsure because other families from rival Italian neighbors also joined.

Some notable examples would be the Julia gens (Caesar's origins) who emigrated from Alba Longa before Tullus Hostilius destroyed it and the Furia gens (Marcus Camillus' origins) who came from Tusculum.

I find it strange how these rich families were inserted not only into Roman society, but granted special status whereas, to my knowledge, no Etruscan family integrated (e.g. Under Camillus, Rome obliterated their chief Etruscan rival, Veii). Why didn't Romans allow Etruscan noble families to join? They allowed families from other rival city-states but not them. I can maybe understand why they didn't bother integrating a noble Volscian or Aequian family (correct me if I'm wrong and a patrician family did come from one of those tribes) because these tribes were nomadic herdsman.

The whole selection criteria is ambiguous and I'm looking for clarification even though I understand details on Roman history can be murky dating before the 389 BC Sack of Rome.

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    Hi, you have predicated your question on a lot of assumptions, not all of which might hold up. Please cite some of the sources you based them on.
    – Spencer
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 14:58
  • Wasn't this the job of the censors? Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 16:29
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    By the time we know about them, their origins were already lost to "real" history, with only tradition and legends remaining.
    – antlersoft
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 19:58
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    This is actually very complicated and even historians dont fully agree. They seem to be the original powerful families, and families from some of the earliest conquests (alba longa, sabines, etc..) There were other Marsii and Etruscan patrician families (well atleast Patrician families with names that would suggest they came from there) Then you have families like the Claudii that came very late and was probably made patrician because of his enormous amount of clients dependent on the gens. Good question though, im interested in the responses.
    – ed.hank
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 20:59


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