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Nobility, both as a privilege and as a quality, was always held in the highest consideration with the Romans. Those were called Nobles who could shew a long series of ancestral portraits. For in the times when the Republic was free, the Jus imaginum or right of images was but another term to express the right of Nobility, and the one is often used for the other. Thus it was not the circumstance of birth which conferred nobility, but the public offices, which entitling their possessors to the right of images, consequently rendered them noble. At first none were accounted Nobles but the Patricians, they alone being invested with functions that gave nobility. Afterwards, however, the appellation of Nobles was extended to those, who without belonging to the mere ancient families of Rome, could point to their ancestors or themselves as having occupied the chair and fulfilled the office of a Curule Magistrate. -- Nobilitas is personified on medals of Commodus, Geta, Elagabalus, Philip the elder, and Tetricus the elder.
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