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Patronage in ancient Rome
Patronage (clientela) was the distinctive relationship in ancient Roman society between the patronus (plural patroni, "patron") and his cliens (plural clientes, "client"). The relationship was hierarchical, but obligations were mutual. The patronus was the protector, sponsor, and benefactor of the client; the technical term for this protection was patrocinium. Although typically the client was of inferior social class, a patron and client might even hold the same social rank, but the former would possess greater wealth, power, or prestige that enabled him to help or do favors for the client. From the emperor at the top to the local municipal man at the bottom, the bonds between these groups found formal expression in legal definition of patrons' responsibilities to clients.

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JM Latin English Dictionary

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protection| defence patronage| legal defence

Latin - English Inflected

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patrocinium, patrocini,
n. n. protection, defense patronage, legal defense; 

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