See also: Tevinter Imperium

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To those outside of the Tevinter Imperium it is easy to imagine a society filled with mages and elven slaves and little else. In truth, there are three different Tevinters, each of them a world completely separated from the others. There are the mages, the land's nobility, completely obsessed with competing for supremacy with each other—almost to the exclusion of paying any heed to the nation's enemies, such as the Qunari. The well-bred altus sneer at the laetans, who in turn sneer at the praeteri. They vie for dominance in the Magisterium, where factions shift and flow on a daily basis with deadly consequences, requiring every family to put on a veneer of perfect citizenship or face scandal and censure.

Then there are the so-called soporati, the "sleepers." These are the non-magical citizens who vastly outnumber the mages, yet are beholden to their whims. Many are resentful of this status, plotting in secret, even as they secretly hope their children will possess magical talent—an enticing lure, since the talent could conceivably show up in anyone, even a slave. It would be easy to forget that Tevinter possesses a massive class of publicans, the civil servants and leaders of the Legionnaires. It has an enormous merchant class, enough teeming poor to drown any other nation in Thedas, and the shadowy thieves called "praesumptor" who are practically treated with respect.

And then there are the slaves. One would think they, at least, see each other as equals, but it is not so. The divide between the freed liberati, those who act as personal servants to magisters, those who work on farms and factories, and the "servus publicus" who do all the tasks proper citizens will not—it is all but insurmountable, but perhaps in emulation of those who own them, Imperial slaves will connive and scheme to try anyhow. Outsiders might see it as futile, but to Tevinter citizens, their nation's social classes are the most mutable and rewarding of merit in all of Thedas.

—From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of a Chantry Scholar by Brother Genitivi

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