© Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes 2007, originally published by Oxford University Press 2007.Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes Oxford University Press
Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
equites (ĕk´wĬtēz) [Lat.,=horsemen], the original cavalry of the Roman army, chosen, according to legend, by Romulus from the three ancient Roman tribes; the equites were selected from the senatorial class on the basis of wealth. During the late republic they numbered 1,800, but during the empire their number more than doubled. A law passed by Caius Sempronius Gracchus in 123 BC transferred judicial functions from the senate to the body of equites, who, though later deprived of these powers by Sulla, attained much influence in the state. In the 1st cent. BC the equites were a distinct class allowed to engage in business and they allied themselves alternately with the popular and the senatorial parties. During the reign of Augustus, the equites lost their political power.