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Even though they declined and fell, the ancient Romans were remarkably well organized. Roman youth, like youth everywhere, tried to get ahead in the world, develop their abilities, acquire renown, work themselves into positions of power and control. In ancient Rome, politics and the army offered the greatest opportunities for fame and wealth, desiderata for which there is always great competition. Hence, Roman society—like society everywhere—had the function of promoting the competition and at the same time limiting the areas in which it could take place.
Among the Romans, both the military and political scenes had definite regulations which controlled the stages through which rise could occur. There were sharp class distinctions, with different pathways for different social levels. Young men of the highest rank—the families of senators who possessed adequate financial resources—had to serve first in certain minor offices; then, if at least 25 years of age, they could
CURSUS HONORUM, OR HOW TO GET AHEAD IN THE MEDICAL WORLD. JAMA. 1967;202(4):359. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130170159032