A collective term for the Roman citizen body. The Roman People (populus Rōmānus) comprised the entire community of adult male citizens, but excluded women and children, as well as slaves and foreigners. In the later republic and during the early centuries of the empire populus Romanus was the technical designation of the Roman state: the Romans had no concept of ‘the State’ as an impersonal entity independent of the individuals who composed it. By means of its formal procedures in the comitia, the populus Romanus elected magistrates, passed laws, declared war and ratified treaties; and it was the populus Romanus that had dealings with the gods in public religious ceremonies. The rēs pūblica was the affair (or property) of the people, as Cicero observed, noting the formal equivalence ‘res publica res populī’.
Subjects: Classical Studies.