"Like Cicero, they were often ‘new men’"

Most Roman senators and magistrates could trace their ancestry back through a long line of men who had also held political power in Rome. A ‘new man’ in Roman politics was a man who was the first of his family to achieve political success. A ‘new man’ typically entered the ranks of the senate and worked his way up the cursus honorum (the political career ladder) using only his own personal resources and skill, without the backing or prestige of an important family. ‘New men’ tended to come from plebeian, not patrician, families. They were often looked down on by the older families and more traditional members of the senate, and had a harder time proving themselves than their more privileged colleagues.