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A legally defined unit of Roman society closest in meaning to and translated by English clan, but not identical to it. The gens was a collection of families whose members were related by birth, marriage or adoption. All the families were considered to have descended from a common clan ancestor although in cases where the time from the ancestor to the contemporary time was great the kinship was more remote than is meant by the English term "related." In such cases the legal definition still prevailed. --Wiktionary

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In ancient Rome, a gens (plural gentes, referred to a family, consisting of all those individuals who shared the same nomen and claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a stirps (plural stirpes). The gens was an important social structure at Rome and throughout Italy during the period of the Roman Republic. Much of an individual's social standing depended on the gens to which he belonged. Certain gentes were considered patrician, others plebeian, while some had both patrician and plebeian branches. The importance of membership in a gens declined considerably in imperial times.

See also

antiquity, sociocultural evolution

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gens" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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