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PATRONUS, Roman civil law. This word is a modification of the, Latin word pater, father; a denomination applied by Romulus to the first, senators of Rome, and which they always afterwards bore. Romulus at first appointed a hundred of them. Seven years afterwards, in consequence of the association of Tatius to the Romans, a hundred more were appointed, chosen from the Sabines. Tarquinius Priscus increased the number to three hundred. Those appointed by Romulus and Tatius were called patres majorum gentium and the others were called patres minorum gentium. These and their descendants constituted, the nobility of Rome. The rest of the people were called lebeians, every one of whom was obliged to choose one of these fathers as his patron. The relation thus constituted involved important consequences. The plebeian, who was called (cliens) a client, was obliged to furnish the means of maintenance to his chosen patron; to furnish a portion for his patron's daughters; to ransom him and his sons, if captured by an enemy, and pay all sums recovered against him by judgment, of the 'courts. The patron, on the other hand, was, obliged to watch over the interests of his client, whether present or absent to protect his person and property, and especially to defend him in all, actions brought against him for any cause. Neither could accuse or bear testimony against the other, or give contrary votes, &c. The contract was of a sacred nature,; the violation of it was a sort of treason, and punishable as such. According to Cicero, (De Repub. II. 9,) this relation formed an integral part of the governmental system, Et habutit plebem in clientelas principum descriptum, which he affirms was eminently useful. Blackstone traces the system of vassalage to this. ancient relation of patron and client. It was, in fact, of the same nature as the feudal institutions of the middle ages, designed to maintain order in a rising state by a combination of the opposing interests of the aristocracy and of the common people, upon the principle of reciprocal bonds for mutual interests, Dumazeau, Barreau Romain, Sec. III. Ultimately, by force of radical changes in the institution, the word patronus came to signify nothing more than an advocate. Id. IV