READING HALL "THIRD MILLENNIUM LIBRARY"

 

 

ROME AND THE MEDITERRANEAN. 218-133 BC

CHAPTER XI

ITALY

I

THE SUBJUGATION OF CISALPINE GAUL

 

THE battle of Pydna marked for the time being the end of Rome’s startling advance into the old world of the Aegean. Meanwhile Roman armies had again penetrated the Po valley to the natural boundaries of Italy, a work that was far less spectacular but for the future of Rome far more essential. It will be remembered that just before the Second Punic War Rome had compelled the Gauls of the Po valley to acknowledge Rome’s suzerainty up to the Alps. The approach of Hannibal had set the Insubres and Boii in revolt and the loyalty of some of the Cenomani was shaken during the long war. Hannibal not only enlisted large bands of mercenaries in that region but his recruiting officers stirred the tribes to such a state of revolt that Rome constantly had to keep a strong northern guard stationed at Ariminum and Pisa. Hannibal’s diplomatic agent, Hamilcar, was still among the Gauls when Carthage surrendered; and by reminding them that their day of reckoning was near at hand, he was able to induce the Insubres to organize a concerted attack as soon as it was learned that the Romans were about to send their armies to Greece. This was in the year 200. The first blow fell on the old Latin colony of Placentia (Piacenza), which was captured and razed before the praetor Furius could come up from Ariminum. Furius succeeded, however, in relieving Cremona, which was next attacked, and in defeating the Insubrian army. For this he was apparently accorded a triumph in the year 200 although he was only a praetor.

Rome had no intention of leaving matters at a loose end in the north, but the war in Greece lagged, and the northern commanders had to content themselves with watchful waiting. The Insubres were not in fact a strong tribe. They possessed only about 1800 square miles of arable land, and it is doubtful whether they numbered over a hundred thousand souls at this time. Their strength in days past had lain in their dominance over their neighbours and in their ability to hire forces of mercenaries (Gaesati) from beyond the Alps. Now they would have to fight their own battles. In 197 bc, when the success of Flamininus in Greece relieved the Senate of undue anxiety, the Romans were ready to settle scores with the barbarians. And the time was ripe, for Hamilcar was organizing a Gallic raid on Rome in the old manner. Cornelius Cethegus marched from Ariminum into the country of the Cenomani and recalled them to their old allegiance; he then met the forces of the Insubres on the Mincio not far from Mantua and defeated them decisively. In the following year M. Claudius Marcellus, the son of the famous hero of Clastidium, completed the work by winning a final battle near Lake Como. The Insubres, those who were left, signed a treaty, one clause of which stipulated that no Insubrian should ever be admitted to Roman citizenship. It was not long before Italians began to settle in the neighbourhood of Mediolanium (Milan), and in a century the Insubrian lowlands revealed hardly any traces of Celtic civilization.

The Boii who lived south of the Po, between Placentia and Ariminum, were still in rebellion though by no means dangerous, since they were now hemmed in by Roman alliances. They caused some anxiety in 196 by attacking Claudius on his return from the north, but Rome was then too busy to take decisive action. We hear also of minor engagements in 194, 193 and 192. Finally, in 191 Scipio Nasica, a cousin of Scipio Africanus, invaded in force and won a battle which cost the barbarians heavy losses. What followed is not quite clear. Livy says that Rome deprived the Boii of Bononia (Bologna), their chief town, and of half their land—presumably a half of what remained after the extensive confiscations of 222 bc. Strabo says that the Boii were completely driven out and retired to Bohemia. In view of the fact that Rome established colonies and/or throughout the region and even assigned individual plots of land without formal colonization, it is likely that most of the Boii left the region in time, even if not compelled to go at once. Brixillum near the Po—where the land must have been subject to floods— is later found to have a different tribus from the rest of the Cispadane towns. Here, if anywhere, we may assume that a group of the Boii remained until citizenship was granted in 89 BC.

The Celtic portion of the Po valley was now subdued, but the dangerous passes of the Carnic and Julian Alps to the rear of the friendly Veneti were not yet secure and here the mountaineers were constantly coming down in search of arable land. The garrisons established here long before had had to be abandoned during the Hannibalic War, and the warnings repeatedly sent to the mountaineers usually arrived too late. Finally, Rome determined to place a permanent barrier across the raiding path, and in 181 Aquileia was founded as a Latin colony. Retired soldiers were chosen for the post and unusually large allotments given: 50 iugera to ordinary citizens, 100 to centurions and 140 to knights. Apparently it was intended that the colonists should be well-to-do farmers who could afford to work their land with hired or slave labour and enjoy leisure for administrative and guard duty if need be. Needless to say, the Istri were angered at the erection of this barrier and began a series of annoying raids. In 178 Rome sent a strong punitive expedition against them. Manlius Vulso led the army into Istria, but was surprised by the enemy near Trieste and lost most of one legion. He rallied his forces, however, and routed the enemy. During the next year he and his successor C. Claudius again defeated the Istrian king in battle and claimed the Istrian peninsula as far as Pola for Rome. The poet Ennius, who had accompanied Manlius on this expedition, included an account of it in his annals, from which Livy’s picturesque record derives. It is perhaps more significant of factional politics at Rome than of military accomplishment that Claudius and not Manlius was accorded the triumph by the Senate. By this war the north-eastern frontier of Italy was secured. The whole of the Po valley east of the Ticinus river was now at last under Roman control.

 

I

THE LIGURIANS

 

Meanwhile Roman generals were also slowly subduing the Ligurians. These barbaric tribes inhabited the Apennines all the way from the Arno to Savoy. The strongest tribes were the Apuani, who lived in the hills above Pisa and Luna (near Spezia), and the Ingauni who lived north and west of Genoa. Before the Hannibalic War Rome had come to terms with most of these people so that the ports of Genoa and Luna were then both at the disposal of the State. Indeed, Scipio had landed at Genoa in 218 and was able to march through the Apennines from there in order to meet Hannibal on his descent into Italy, but during the war that followed the Carthaginians got possession of the harbour. Luna seems to have remained an open port for the Romans (Cato embarked for Spain at that point in 195), but later the Apuani overran the territory of Luna and the northern township of Pisa. Now that the Po valley was subjugated, the military roads from Genoa to Milan, from Luna to Piacenza and from Florence to Bologna must be made safe. Furthermore, a coast road must be opened from Pisa through Luna to Genoa; and this coast road must, if possible, be extended westward to Spain so that armies might be moved to the new province by land in the winter when navigation was closed.

Skirmishes in the Ligurian region occurred in 197, when a Roman army attempted to march into the Insubrian country from the south-west. Four years later the Apuani were reported raiding the lands of Pisa in the neighbourhood of Luca. Q. Minucius Thermus was then sent to bring the tribesmen to terms, but though he laboured for three years and claimed a triumph he accomplished little against the mountaineers, who had preferred guerilla warfare to open battle. In the Senate Cato derided Thermus—a political enemy—claiming that the general exaggerated the importance of his battles and that he had put several natives to death without sufficient cause.

In 186 bc, while the Roman army was engaged in building the coast road from Pisa towards Genoa, the consul Marcius Philippus penetrated into the mountains, was caught in a dangerous pass and routed with a heavy loss of men. This led to a more determined attack on the part of Rome, but the mountaineers succeeded in avoiding disastrous battles for several years. Aemilius Paullus, who later won the battle of Pydna, compelled the Ingauni, west of Genoa, to sign a treaty in 181. The Apuani were more obdurate, but in 181/0 bc the two consuls, Cornelius and Baebius, rounded up 40,000 of them and removed them far from home, settling them on some public lands in Samnium, north of Beneventum. Nearly three centuries later we have a record of Trajan’s commission of public charities making provision for the support of the children of these Ligures Corneliani et Baebiani. The forcible removal of these Ligurians released some land which fell to Pisa, and Pisa gave it to Rome for the establishment of a Latin colony. In 180 Luca was accordingly founded; we are not told how many settlers it received—probably not over 2000 or 3000. Three years later 2000 Roman citizens were settled at Luna to act as a safeguard for that very important harbour. This town seems to have been placed not at the point in the bay where Spezia is now, but nearer to the Macra river a few miles farther south where there was more arable land to distribute; thirty-five acres were given to each colonist. The mouth of the Macra river probably provided an adequate harbour for ordinary shipping, and the magnificent bay of Spezia was near enough to provide protection and anchorage for a large fleet.

The Ligurians were by no means pacified as yet. Aemilius Lepidus and Mucius Scaevola were voted triumphs for battles fought in this region in 175. The Fasti record other triumphs in 166, 158 and 155. These may not all have been deserved. The barbarians were not inclined to give up what the Romans chose to call brigandage, and the Roman generals, incensed at the irregular warfare of the elusive tribes and all too eager for the glory of a triumph, seem to have resorted at times to cruelty and dishonesty. In 172 Popillius Laenas for instance was compelled by the Senate to release the captives whom he took during his campaign against the Statielli. The watchful Cato repeatedly attacked generals in the Senate—especially if they were his political opponents—for triumph-hunting among the Ligurians, and in Cicero’s day a ‘Ligurian triumph’ was a proverbial joke. In point of fact the removal of the Apuani in 180 marked the end of serious warfare in this region.

After that date the only campaign of real importance was beyond the confines of what was later considered to be Italy. In 154 Massilia asked for aid against the Oxybian Ligures who lived in the Alps on the common border of the Massiliote and Roman spheres of activity. These Ligurians were disturbing the Massiliote trading ports at Nice and Antibes (Antipolis). The Roman envoys who were sent at the request of Massilia to remonstrate were attacked and driven off. The consul Opimius, accordingly, marched into the mountains from Placentia and in two engagements subdued the enemy. He took much of their land, giving it to Massilia, and compelled the tribesmen to send hostages to that city at stated times. It seems to have been on this occasion that the natives of the French riviera signed a treaty not to raise wine, a measure presumably inserted at the request of Massilia, and certainly to her advantage.

While the Romans were engaged in subduing the Ligurians, several tribes of Sardinia and Corsica also revolted, possibly through sympathy with their friends on the mainland. Cato, who had been governor of Sardinia in 198, had won the esteem of the islanders by reducing Roman exactions and banishing the money­ lenders—presumably Punic traders, remaining from the former regime. Thereafter there had been peace on the islands for nearly two decades. But in 181, when Aemilius Paullus was engaged in a vigorous campaign against the Ligurians, some tribes of the islands attacked the pacified coast-towns. The praetor, Pinarius, speedily repelled the Corsicans but proved too weak for the revolting Sardinians. His successor, T. Aebutius Parus, also failed. Hence in 177 the consul, T. Sempronius Gracchus, the father of the reformers, was sent with a full consular army to complete the work. In 177—176 he won a series of victories, and, if we may believe the fulsome statement which he inscribed in the temple of Mater Matuta over a painted description of his victory, the slain and captured Sardinians numbered 80,000. That his work was thoroughly done we may conclude from the fact that, though he imposed a double tribute, the Sardinians did not revolt thereafter. During the next few years we hear time and again of desultory fighting in Corsica, but this island also was finally pacified—in 163, by Juventius Thalna and by Sempronius, who was now consul for the second time.

 

III

COLONIES AND ROADS IN THE NORTH

 

The organization of the new areas of Northern Italy required far more time than the conquest. Numerous military roads were needed and vacated areas had to be settled at a time when there were relatively few land-seekers. The havoc wrought by the Hannibalic War in Central and Southern Italy had diminished the population of Italy and left large areas without inhabitants. Besides, the southern ports needed colonial garrisons fully as much as Cisalpine Gaul, especially when an invasion by Antiochus was expected. In the devastated areas of Lucania and Calabria it was possible for the State to restore production to some extent by permitting Roman landlords to rent large tracts for grazing and for plantations to be exploited by slave labour. But the deserted areas of the Boian country needed trustworthy farmers who might take an active part in the defence of the country in case of future Gallic raids. The most pressing need was the resettlement of Placentia and Cremona, the two great frontier colonies. In 190, accordingly, 6000 settlers—Latins as well as Romans—were somehow found for these places. If Polybius and Livy are correct in their description of the battle of Trebia in 218 the original colony of Placentia had stood west of the Trebia river. It is not impossible that the new walls of the city were built on a fresh site, the present site east of the river. More good land had now been acquired from the Boii, and since no effort was to be made for the present to conquer the country west of Clastidium the new farmers may have preferred a safer location. In 189, 3000 settlers, again taken from Latins as well as Romans, were sent to Bologna and given large plots—fifty iugera to the commons, seventy to knights—and two years later Flaminius brought the highway over the mountains from Arretium to this new colony. In the same year his colleague Aemilius Lepidus built the great Via Aemilia from Ariminum through Bologna to Placentia, a distance of over 150 miles. When these roads had been built the land became more attractive, though much of the plain near the Po was still very marshy and needed draining before it could be cultivated. In 183 Parma and Mutina, on the Aemilian Way, were settled by citizens—2000 in each—and these men were given the small old-time allotments of five to eight iugera. Settlers were probably less in demand now, since with these two colonies Rome inaugurated a selfish new system of giving inland agrarian assignments only to citizens.

These (besides the colonies of Aquileia, Luca and Luna mentioned above) were the only colonies organized for this region during the early period. But the migration northward did not thereby come to an end. The existence of several fora—official market places—along the Aemilian Way would seem to indicate that individual settlers were encouraged to buy and settle plots in this district. And what is more, we have a remark in Livy that in 173 a commission was sent out to allot the unoccupied lands of the region to individual applicants in small lots. Ten iugera were to be given away to citizen applicants and three to applicants of allied status. It is not unlikely that by the year 173 Italy had so far recovered that the commission received an adequate number of applications. And from this time on we may assume that even the marshy fields were gradually reclaimed by men who were willing to drain them in return for a title to the land.

North of the Po, except for Cremona and Aquileia, we do not hear of colonies during the second century, but the rapid romanization of Transpadane Gaul as well as the slow growth of census statistics in Central Italy would indicate that the migration northward did not stop at the Po. The Romans and Italians were good farmers and could make more of their plots than the Celts. There can be little doubt that they gradually bought most of the richer lands from such Insubres, Cenomani and Veneti as were still there. It has been suggested that Polybius exaggerated when he said that the Celts had disappeared from the valley and were to be found only in the foot-hills, but his statement is not unplausible. In our collections of religious inscriptions of the region—which unfortunately are almost all from the Empire—there are exceedingly few traces of Celtic or Celto-Roman cults south of the Alpine foot-hills.

That the process of romanization was not simply a cultural conversion of the natives is indicated by the Veleian tablet found in the mountain region south of Placentia. Here the Ligurian mountaineers had never been disturbed by the Roman State: indeed they were granted Latin rights in 89 bc. But, even in the rough mountain-country, Roman settlers had bought up the lands to such an extent that most of the plots (which apparently received their names in an Augustan survey) bear Roman names. The Romans and Italians of the Republic were good colonizers of land within reach of home. The same processes went on in the western Po region which was not at first subdued. A few official settlements in colonies and fora are recorded during the century south of the Po, but the Taurini and Salassi remained undisturbed where they were and met the unofficial Italian immigration as best they could.

Road building continued of course throughout Cisalpine Gaul. We have mentioned the Aemilian Way of 187, and the Flaminian which was brought from Arretium to Bologna in the same year. Soon after the foundation of Aquileia that colony was connected with Bologna for military purposes by a branch of the Aemilian Way which ran through Hostilia and Padua. This road is usually credited to the second consulship of Aemilius Lepidus (175 bc). In 148 Verona was connected with Aquileia and Cremona, an indication that Roman investors were then interested in the Transpadane. This road, the Via Postumia, then ran on to Placentia and crossed the Apennines to Genoa. Presently Popillius built a road from Ariminum northward along the coast past Ravenna to Hadria and Padua. Some of these roads served also as embankments against flood in the lower valleys and were flanked with ditches so as to aid in the drainage of the marshy ground.

 

IV

THE DEVASTATED AREAS OF THE SOUTH

 

The Hannibalic War had utterly changed Italy, indeed it has been argued that parts of Italy are still suffering from the consequences of that war. Most of the Greek and Oscan cities of the south were in ruins. The Romans and Carthaginians had driven each other over the region year after year, pursuer and pursued devastating with equal determination. As the war continued the vengeful spirit of both increased and toward the end cities that fell after a protracted siege met with little mercy from either side. In the sacking of captured towns the inhabitants that escaped the sword were often sold into slavery. Many refugees had crossed the seas to Greece and the Hellenistic empires in order to escape slavery. The country districts had fared no better. The farmers had been compelled to serve in the armies and their fields were laid waste by the foragers of the conquerors or by the rearguard of retreating armies determined to diminish the food supplies of the opponent. In 210 Rome had punished Capua by confiscating all the land except that of the surviving loyalists. In this case the former owners, except along the coast, were left on their lands as tenants of the ground, which was now ager publicus, and in time they were again restored to the census rolls in Campania; therefore the change in population was not very great. But in the south the results were far worse. When Tarentum fell in 209 the Roman soldiers sacked the lower town without mercy, 30,000 prisoners were sold into slavery, and much of the land confiscated by the State. The city remained autonomous and in the hands of the loyalists, but it was now a very different city. When finally Hannibal departed from Italy, in order to damage his enemy as much as possible he emptied several cities which he had to evacuate, took many of the inhabitants with him, and finally slew some 20,000 who refused to go.

When peace was signed Rhegium was practically the only city intact south of Campania. Locri, Thurii, and Tarentum existed as allies of Rome with favourable treaties but they were much reduced in size. In Rome’s war with Perseus in 171 these three were the only cities of South Italy which provided triremes. Vast areas now fell to the government. Much of this was confiscated explicitly by way of punishment for defection. The instances of Tarentum and Capua have been mentioned. At the former the land was finally used for a Gracchan colony; at the latter most of the land remained in the hands of the original owners but as public leaseholds, while some portions on the coast were used for the maritime colonies of Puteoli, Volturnum and Liternum. Other towns, like Thurii and Petelia, which had been stripped of most of their inhabitants by Hannibal, were apparently taken over for recolonization. The Bruttii were severely punished for their allegiance to Hannibal, and Rome occupied at least enough land to found the citizen colonies of Tempsa and Croton, the Latin colony of Vibo Valentia at Hipponium, and later the Gracchan colony of Scylacium.

When Rome confiscated land during the war it was quite out of the question to lay down a permanent policy of resettlement. If old custom were to be followed, the land would presumably be divided, the allies receiving a share by participation in Latin colonies, and citizens a share by viritane assignments. The treasury would benefit to some extent by receiving rental according to the terms of the Licinian-Sextian laws on such lands as were not at once assigned. Such at least was the theory still in vogue. A practical application of that theory, however, was for the present very difficult because of the great scarcity of men. Small Latin colonies were soon settled at Thurii (Copia) and Hipponium (Vibo), but the strategic needs of the Gallic frontier were greater and had to receive the first assignments. Tradition held that citizen-colonies should be reserved for the guarding of seaports and it was difficult to find enough citizens to assign 300 men to each of the places where guards were needed. To be sure, Flaminius had long ago set the example of granting individual farms to citizens in the Ager Gallicus, and Tiberius Gracchus later revived this tradition for the settlement of public lands in the south. But the Senate could hardly have proposed that method in 200 bc when it would have found but few land-seekers. Land was then to be had in great abundance near home at low prices. In the south the market towns had been burned down, the harbours were in ruins, the country deserted, and the climate not favourable to the crops to which Romans were accustomed, and finally the region lay so far from home that settlement there would preclude participation in the privileges of citizenship. Colonial allotments in the south were not desired. Buxentum for instance, which was settled in 194, was quickly deserted. Even in the days of the Gracchi, when the demand for land was strong, the grants in the south proved disappointing and many of the settlers soon demanded the right to sell their lots.

What the Senate did was at the time the only practical course for a State which was too poor to embark on very expensive reclamation projects. It simply permitted the censors to rent out lots on the terms of the old laws to anyone who had the courage, the necessary capital, and the imagination to see the possibilities of the region, and permission to rent was granted not only to citizens but to Latins and allies as well. Tarentine wool had long been famous, and there were Romans who saw that sheep grazing in the south might prove profitable again. Cattle could be driven to market over distances too great for the carriage of grain. Horses, too, were in greater demand for cavalry, for private use and for the games. The combination of summer pasturage in the high mountains with winter grazing in the Apulian plain was already well established. The region was fairly well known to many Romans who, as young officers of the army, had campaigned there. Numerous leases of 500 iugera were soon given out by the censors, especially to Romans, who had suffered less from the war than the natives, and stock and slaves were bought for ranches. The new investments must have been successful, for within a few years we have reports that the aediles were busy imposing fines on the ranchers for taking more than the lawful areas of public land, and by 185 the slave population on the ranches of Apulia was so numerous that there was fear of a slave revolt. The country regions of the south were therefore not permitted to lie waste. And the towns also recovered somewhat. Tarentum became known again for its wool market, and before long its citizens are found engaged in the wine and oil trade. Several of the other towns also recovered partially, and we find their merchants in the Aegean trade during the next hundred years. But great cities they could never again be so long as the land behind was given over to herds and slave herders; and as the forests on the mountains gave way to the grazers the arable lands of the region began to suffer from want of subsoil moisture. Plans to reforest these mountains are at last being made by the present government of Italy.

 

V

THE SPREAD OF LARGE PLANTATIONS

 

It was not only in the devastated and confiscated areas that the long war changed the economic order. Throughout rural Italy the second century is a period of gradual transformation. When the State hesitated to pay the second instalment on the loan made during the war because funds were needed for the Macedonian War, the creditors pressed for payment and claimed that there was much good land to be had at a low price near Rome. Apparently the depletion of population was felt everywhere. Many landowners had of course fallen on the battlefields, and many had served so long in the army that they had mortgaged and lost their neglected farms. Tenants and farm labourers had also diminished, for in that war conscription was by no means limited to property-holders.

In short, much land was on the market, free labour was scarce, there were few small farmers about with means to buy plots for themselves, and war captives were abundant on the market. It was inevitable that men who could command credit should buy the land and go into capitalistic farming with the use of slave labour. There had been some large plantations before, especially in Etruria, where Etruscan landlords had long exploited serf labour. Through the second century the plantations gradually spread over the more fertile parts of Italy. The senatorial families who, partly by law, partly by rigid social custom, were kept from investing in commerce, industry and money-lending, usually invested their surplus in land, and others who were ambitious to found families and win a respectable social station now welcomed the opportunity to accumulate estates.

We have not the evidence by which we can trace in detail the changes in rural Italy, but we have the fragmentary brochure of Cato, de agricultura, which gives for the middle of the century some valuable information regarding the economics of the new capitalistic farming. To be sure, Cato usually mentions plots of from ioo to 240 iugera (60—160 acres) which in our day of machinery are considered of moderate size. The standard homestead in America which, except at harvest time, is usually cared for by two men is in fact 160 acres. But with hand tools a Roman farmer was supposed to have all he could do with from five to eight acres, and in Italy and France today a vineyard of four or five acres is normal. Farms that require from fifteen to twenty-five labourers may well rank as large.

In speaking of the profitable rural occupations Cato apparently held that grazing promised the best returns. He probably did not mean that good arable land should be turned into continuous grazing. If we had the complete passage we should doubtless find that he referred to opportunities still offered on the public lands. The quotation seems to imply that the demand for wool was increasing, that many Romans were getting more accustomed to a diet of mutton and beef in place of the standard cereals, and that horses were in demand. In another passage where Cato is speaking of agriculture without reference to grazing he lists the crops he would choose as most profitable, provided he could in each case select the plot, soil, and climate suited to the crop.

Here vineyards come first. In this passage he is chiefly interested in land near Casinum, which was in good wine and olive country and too rough for grain, and he also has in mind the fact that in proportion to its value the cost of transportation to a distant market is less for wine than for grain. We may assume that if viticulture was very profitable at Casinum, there was probably a growing market for wine at Rome. Perhaps less wine was being imported from Greece, which was through this century declining economically, the vineyards between Capua and Rome must also have profited from the devastation in Lucania and Apulia; and doubtless the city of Rome, growing in size and wealth, was making use of much more wine than in the days before the war.

The next two items mentioned by Cato, the irrigated vegetable garden and the willow rows raised for osiers, need not concern us, because these two crops were necessarily confined to relatively small areas. Gardens may be very profitable when they are near enough to thriving cities, so that quick delivery to market may be depended upon. Since irrigation was not feasible near Rome, Cato apparently had in mind the gardens that supplied the growing industrial towns of Campania. The osiers were used for basket weaving, and the demand for them is an indication that orchard and garden crops were increasing.

The next product—the second of those involving large acreages—is the olive. To this item Cato gives such explicit directions that we may assume a widespread interest in its cultivation. Cato wrote at a time when Greek agriculture and horticulture were on the wane, when the devastated olive groves of Magna Graecia had not yet been brought back to normal production, and when the Romans were using more oil than heretofore both for their new diversified diet and for the lighting of their larger houses. It would seem that the farmers of Campania and Latium would in the future have to supply a large part of Italy’s growing needs. Indeed they did not for a long time quite overtake those needs, for Pliny remarks that Italian oil was not exported till Cicero’s day. Even then Italy produced but little for the foreign market, for Spain and Africa captured this and throughout the Empire even supplied large quantities to Rome itself.

The economy of Cato’s olive farm reveals some primitive elements not found later. For 160 acres of trees already mature he requires a regular staff of thirteen slaves; the foreman and his wife, five common drudges, three men to plough in the orchard and three herdsmen. This apparently does not account for the olive picking and the oil making. He assumes that the standing crop may be sold to a contractor, or that fruit-pickers may be hired from the neighbourhood. In that event the children of the adjacent villages apparently were hired for the work, or contractors made up gangs of pickers, slave or free, from the neighbourhood. Since olives require relatively little labour except at harvest time, this system of economizing in the staff may well have been customary. Cato sometimes assumes that the oil might be pressed on the plantation, for he gives directions for the construction of a press and also gives the price of one at Suessa—reckoned partly in money, partly in oil. But it is apparent that the farm-press was still not considered essential. It was not till the screw-press was invented, somewhat later, that it proved economical to complete the processes of production at home. On the whole, Cato’s account indicates that olive plantations were on the increase, that olive growers were apt to be capitalists using much slave labour, but also that they were still dependent upon the use of some free labour and that in his day the plantation was not always fully equipped.

Continuing his account of profitable crops, Cato next re­commends the irrigation of meadow lands. With the growth of cities fodder for saddle horses, draft mules, and dairy animals was an increasing necessity.

Only in the sixth place does Cato mention cereal culture. This position cannot mean that cereals were unimportant or that the importation of wheat was seriously encroaching upon the home­grown supply. A population of at least 5,000,000 inhabitants within Italy south of the Rubicon must have required about 60,000,000 bushels of cereals, and the Sicilian tithe provided only about 1,000,000 bushels or less than 2 per cent, of the requirement. How to account for Cato’s low rating of this product we are not told. If his list gives precedence to the most profitable products in the region that supplies the neighbourhood of Rome we may perhaps comprehend it. Land in Latium had long been overcropped in cereals and had for some time been inviting new crops; a part of the Sicilian tithe—what was left after feeding the army of about four legions and 20,000 allied troops—was usually marketed cheaply at Rome. The residue, about half a million bushels, would probably not cover more than a fifth of the city’s needs. Furthermore, the new lands of the Po were supplying wheat at very low prices, some of which could be transhipped to Rome, and the aediles often spoilt the market by distributing grain free at the games. Finally, the gradual change of diet must have to some extent reduced the demand for cereals. However, these considerations apply chiefly to the immediate vicinity of Rome and must not be applied too generally to the rest of Italy. The agrarian population was certainly still engaged primarily in cereal culture. The large number of small farmers—a group for which Cato was not writing—could not afford to engage in raising the crops that attracted the great landlord, nor did they need instructions from a senator regarding wheat-growing. We have, therefore, no reason to repeat the conjecture that Cato’s book justifies the inference that throughout Italy cereal culture was on the wane during the second century. At most we may only infer that a circumscribed area near Rome produced less wheat than before. It is quite likely that before Cato’s day vineyards covered the slopes of the Alban hills, olive orchards the lower Sabine hills and that in many places in the Latin plain sheep were already grazing through the winter months, exchanging this pasture for the hills during the dry months. We hear of farms in the Campagna belonging to old heroes like Regulus and Fabius, and later we hear of princely pleasure villas there, but none of these date from the Catonian period. The old senatorial families were at that time transferring their manors to more lucrative regions farther away.

The methods of farming on the great estates, the latifundia did not materially differ from the old. Much of Italy is too rough for the use of agricultural machines, and slave labour was too cheap to invite the invention of labour-saving methods. Besides, olive and vine-raising are essentially hand-work. Hence the extensive plantations simply applied intensive culture over wider areas. The tools were the hoe, spade, mattock and hand-rake, and, where the nature of the ground allowed, an ox-drawn plough, which, however, did not completely turn a furrow. Barnyard manure and wood ashes were the standard fertilizers, and never quite sufficed for the needs of the land. If cereals were grown, leguminous plants were now and then put in to relieve and enrich the soil: indeed the green crop was sometimes ploughed in. Occasionally also the ground stood fallow for a year when the sheep were let in to graze. Much useful knowledge had been accumulated about the various plants and fruits, and especially what kind of soil and climate each preferred. The Romans had farmed Italy for many centuries and they were as expert in this, their favourite occupation, as any people of ancient times. It would be misunder­standing conditions to assume that Cato’s wisdom had come from Mago’s Carthaginian books. They were translated into Latin, but only after Cato’s death, and then doubtless to aid colonists in Africa to comprehend African climatic requirements, hardly for the instruction of Italian farmers. Indeed, methods applicable to Carthaginian lands which required some knowledge of ‘dry farming’ would prove quite useless in Italy. Even the employment of chained labour by Cato need not be explained by reference to African customs. To be sure, the Romans of old had not chained their slaves, but new problems bring new solutions. The bands of war captives that came on the market from Africa, Spain, Sardinia, Gaul and Macedonia in the early part of the century were probably intractable unless chained.

 

VI.

ECONOMICS, POPULATION, PROPERTY VALUES

 

If we may hazard a picture of agrarian conditions in Italy at the time when Cato wrote his book it would be something like this. In Apulia, Lucania, and Bruttium there was much ranching on the public lands, agriculture was slowly recovering, here and there vineyards and orchards were being planted. In Campania, from the Liris to Salerno, vineyards, orchards and gardens seem to have been prosperous. In the central Apennines the native population, thinned by the Hannibalic War, recovered sufficiently to provide very strong armies before 90 bc. Here in the valleys and on the mountain slopes the old small-farm system must have continued in vogue since the free population grew without the rise of large cities. In Latium cereal culture was on the decline and winter pasturage on the increase. In Etruria, as we learn from Tiberius Gracchus, Etruscan and Roman landlords had extended lattfundia with slave labour over most of the region. The favourite crop was probably wheat, while pigs were kept in the oak-forests of the coast lands. In the Po valley, mos't of the land south of the river was held by Roman and Italian colonists in small plots, whereas immigrant farmers were buying up the land in the Celtic region north of the river. From the Alps to the northern slopes of the Apennines farmers were prospering. A century later Padua had more knights on the census than any Italian city except Rome. In the foot-hills sheep- and pig-farming prospered. The chief product of the plain was apparently wheat, which because of poor communications glutted the market here and there.

The extension of slavery on the public lands of the south and on the private latifundia in Etruria, Latium and Campania was gradually creating a large class of poor free folk who were drifting to the towns in search of work. But the cities were employing more and more slaves to the exclusion of freemen, partly, we are told, because slave labour was not disturbed by the military levies, partly because the offspring of slaves brought added profit to the owner. Before Cato’s death it was becoming difficult to make up the army levies of allies as well as of citizens who had property enough to qualify. As early as 187 the Latin towns asked Rome to send the Latins back home because emigration to Rome made it difficult to fill the quotas. The shortage of soldiers was particularly apparent in the middle of the century when armies had to be furnished for Spain, Africa, and Greece. The tribunes actually interfered in 151, 140 and 138 because conscription was pressing hardly on the poor.

When we refer to the growth of large plantations we must remember that the adjective has reference to previous conditions, not to later ones. The economic system of this time seemed ex­ceedingly simple to men of Cicero’s day. If we attempt a practical calculation of what profits the model estate of Cato would produce, we shall soon bring our fancies down from the clouds. It is usual to accept Columella’s reckoning of about 1000 sesterces per iugerum as the price of unimproved land. For Cato’s olive orchard of 2,40 iugera the land on this basis would cost £2400. The thirteen slaves at £40 each would come to £520. The farm house and implements mentioned in Cato (de agri cult. 1 o, 20—22,44) could hardly be placed at less than £800. This amounts to £3720, which, at 6 per cent., is £223 a year. What are the returns? An olive farm of 240 iugera would contain about 2400 trees, each of which would yield about 100 lb. of olives or about 25 lb. of olive oil, i.e. 70,000 Roman lb. of oil in all. Cato’s selling-price is 25 sestertii for 50 lb. or 2 asses per lb., which would give £280 for the crop. Even assuming that the olives would bear a fair crop every year (which they do not), that the slaves found their food by gardening, that the cost of the place during the ten first years of immature trees was covered by cereal and vegetable growing, we have but £57 with which to meet the cost of wear and tear and of replacement of aged slaves. And there are no profits left to the owner except the interest on his investment. This calculation is of course based upon very meagre data, but it proves at least that when historians speak of the profitable establishments of the nobility of this period they have forgotten to make use of very simple mathematics. It is likely that land values were less than we have assumed above, but in any case the returns were so low that we can comprehend why the senators were ready to support laws proscribing meals which cost more than five pence.

The rise and fall of the population during the century seems to be connected to some extent with the agrarian conditions discussed above. The census statistics of Rome took account only of male citizens of seventeen years or over (including the propertyless and the freedmen). For Rome they are as follows for the period which concerns us.

234—270,7132

225—291,200

209—137,108

204—214,000

194—143,704

189—258,318

179—258,794

174—269,015

169—312,805

164—337,451

159328,316

154—3 24,000

147—322,000

142—327,442

136—317,933

131—318,823

125—394,736    

(after much colonization)

Before we discuss the general trend of these items a remark is in place regarding the very low figures for 209 and 194. The decrease of one-half during the Punic War is probably not all due to the war casualties (over 50,000) and the loss of the Capuan citizens (about 50,000), but also to the fact that the legionaries when serving abroad were at times not enrolled, and in 209 many were serving in Sicily, Spain and Cisalpine Gaul. The item for 204 is probably correct because in that year the censors sent agents to take a complete roll of all soldiers . The number for 194 is probably to be explained by the failure to enrol the troops stationed in Greece, in Spain, and in Gaul. On the other hand the increase of 189 over 204 is largely due to the renewed enrolment of the Capuans who had been struck off the list in 210. There were probably at this time about 40,000 of these. To get a fair estimate of the citizen population through the second century one ought to add this item of about 40,000—which was later enrolled—to the census of 204, which would make the Romans and Campanians number about 254,000 in that year.

Since there were no important wars in 179 and most of the soldiers were in that year within reach of the censors, and since the tributum was then still levied we may suppose that the census for that year was accurately taken. We then have an increase of about one and a half per cent, in the twenty-five years from 204 to 179, which is of course abnormally low, since Italy today expects such an increase annually. This was the very period in which war-captives came in largest numbers from Africa, Sardinia, Spain, Gaul and the East, the period also in which the public lands were being taken up in large leaseholds to be worked by slaves. From 179 to 163, a period of sixteen years, there was a good increase of 5000 per year or nearly two per cent, per year. Through most of these years—up to the return of Paullus in 167—few prisoners were brought in. It is likely that with the death of the earlier war-captives there set in a season of more normal conditions for the poorer citizens. We may also suppose that the more liberal registration of freedmen in the rural tribes raised the numbers somewhat and that when the tributum was dis­continued in 167 the immediate effect was a more willing enrolment of citizens. But from 163 onwards there was a steady decline for the next thirty years. The fall from 337,000 in 163 to 317,000 in 135 is 20,000, whereas we should expect an increase of over 90,000 citizens by a normal birthrate and not a few by manumission. This decrease is difficult to explain. It is possible that the unpopular wars of the period resulted in an increased evasion of service, but the most plausible explanation is that since the plantations were increasing through Italy, the younger generation of the rural population was drifting off in large numbers to the Transpadane region to acquire new homes among the Celts. We have in the rapid romanization of that region only indirect evidence of this migration, but the hypothesis would explain the census figures in that such migrants would be likely to avoid enrolling in order to escape army service. Be that as it may, the statistics are a clear indication of unhealthy conditions in Italy when in the century after 234—the century in which Rome conquered Spain, Africa, Cisalpine Gaul, Macedonia, and Asia, and doubled her arable acreage in Italy—her citizens increased less than sixteen per cent, in a hundred years, while during the last thirty years of the period there was a decided decrease.

Population statistics for the non-citizen portions of Italy are unfortunately not available. Only a very rough estimate can be attempted. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who had access to the Augustan census, adopted the method of multiplying the number of civium capita by four to reach the total population, including women, children and slaves. Since the proportion of slaves was lower in the second century than in the Augustan period, we may perhaps estimate the free citizen population of the whole city­state at somewhat over 1,000,000 (a fourth or a third of whom may well have lived at Rome). Before the Punic War Italy contained about three times as many non-Romans as Romans. If this ratio still held during the second century (which is doubtful) Italy south of the Rubicon would have had a free population of about 4,000,000 people in the middle of the second century and a population of slaves that could hardly have reached 1,000,000. The region between the Alps and the Rubicon now supports a population equal to that south of the Rubicon (including Sicily and Sardinia), but that area had then only just begun to be developed and possessed as yet no cities of any consequence. An estimate of its population is not feasible.

A satisfactory estimate of property values cannot be made. However, there is an interesting item which, if reliable, seems to give some indication of taxable values. In 187 Manlius brought back booty in the form of money and precious metals which De Sanctis has estimated as equivalent to about 22,000,000 denarii (or nearly 1,000,000 pounds sterling in gold values). Now this booty was used for the repayment of twenty-five and one-half assessments of the tributum that had been collected from citizens and not yet repaid. Accordingly we may estimate that the annual tributum simplex during the Punic war was about 880,000 denarii. This sum in fact—considering that the price of the daily rations was deducted from the soldiers’ pay—would ordinarily support four regular legions for six months. Now since the tributum simplex was a levy on property, this sum would indicate that near the beginning of the second century the citizens’ property was valued on the censors’ books at nearly 1,000,000,000 denarii with, of course, a purchasing power of several times as much as that sum would yield today. This would mean a property distribution of only £40 per free person or £160 per citizen of the military roll. If, as is supposed from Livy, the census of the five classes used in military service was now (1) 1,000,000, (2) 300,000, (3) 100,000, (4) 50,000, (5) 6400 asses, the average property of citizens subject to military service was slightly above that of the minimum census of the fourth class. This estimate, of course, gives property values for taxation during war times when values were at their lowest because of distress and fear. If we estimate citizen­property at three times this amount in 150 bc, that is, c. £120,000,000, we shall hardly be exaggerating. Since the ager Romanus then comprised about 14,000,000 acres, about 9,000,000 of which were arable, it does not seem unreasonable to assign about three-fourths of this sum, or £90,000,000, to rural property. Urban property in Rome must in that period have been far from high-priced when Cato could estimate the personal property of a normal household at 1500 denarii, and could impose a luxury tax tenfold the normal on any property exceeding that amount. All of these estimates are hypothetical, but when we view them all together—the amount of the tributum simplex, the consequent amount of taxable values, the very small amount of personal property that escaped supertaxes, and the low property-qualifications of the five classes of voters—and when we also consider the other items of daily economy—the returns yielded by Cato’s model farm, the petty bonuses distributed to soldiers, the prices of food and wages of labour—then the estimates given above, which certainly point to an undeveloped economic system, seem to be fairly within reason. These figures, however, apply only to the part of Italy which constituted the Roman city-state, that is, to about a third of Italy. For the rest it is impossible to hazard any conjectures.

 

VII.

THE INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE OF SOUTH ITALY

 

There was one region in Italy which was fairly prosperous because of its diversified production, that is, the Campanian cities and gardens between Cales and Nola. The Greeks of Campania had preserved an un-Roman respect for industry and commerce and had not only kept their work in their own hands with relatively little use of slaves but had instilled a spirit of industry into the Oscan population of the vicinity. Cato’s list of market towns and their staple products makes little mention of Rome. He buys his iron ware—sickles, hoes, axes and ploughshares— in Minturnae, Cales and Suessa; he buys his olive mills of lava in Pompeii and Suessa, his copper and bronze ware—bronze buckets for oil, water and wine, and other bronze utensils—in Capua and Nola. We learn from Diodorus that the iron ore mined at Elba was now no longer smelted in Etruria, but was shipped to Puteoli. Apparently the towns of the neighbourhood, especially Cales and Minturnae, had forges for making the farm implements so extensively used on the Campanian lands. Since there was an abundance of timber close at hand for the forges, and an excellent harbour at Puteoli, the neighbouring towns developed an industry in iron ware which in time produced enough for export as well as for the domestic trade. Capua’s bronze ware eventually became well known everywhere, and Cato’s note indicates that the reputation of the place was already established. Its fame as a producer of ointments and perfumes was known even to Plautus. These ointments were made from the olive oil of the region and the essences of roses and herbs grown in the Campanian gardens. There were other products, especially jewellery, silver ware and furniture, which of course did not interest Cato enough to elicit mention, but which come to our notice from later sources. They may safely be assumed for the second century as well. The Campanian region, in fact, was the chief centre of industry in Italy at this period. It is not unlikely that the indus­trial towns of Campania made use of some of the free labour that was displaced elsewhere by the spread of slave-worked plantations.

The remarkable increase of splendid houses at Pompeii during the second century also indicates a rapid increase in prosperity in Campania. The earlier houses were constructed with a simple atrium and a few small rooms about it, but the so-called houses of the ‘Faun’ and of ‘Pansa,’ which were built during the second century, cover a whole block and contain splendid peristyles. The former indeed has given us the Alexander mosaic which surpasses in beauty any mosaic work that pagan Rome has yielded. It is hardly probable that any of the Scipios or Aemilii of Rome lived in palaces as large and elaborate as either of these houses. Whence the wealth came which supported the owners we cannot say. It may have come in part from vineyards, gardens, and olive orchards lying below Vesuvius, but it is more likely that shipping, money-lending, and industry yielded the greater part of it. These rich Pompeians were at any rate not Romans. They were Oscans who profited by the extension of trade and industry which Roman conquest and Roman peace-treaties secured for Rome’s allies.

How the Greek and Oscan merchants of South Italy had reaped the harvest of trade that followed Rome’s conquests eastward has now become quite clear. The Greeks of Southern Italy as far up as Naples and Cumae had for hundreds of years participated in the active trade of the Aegean, and many Campanians, Lucanians and Apulians had been drawn into this commerce, as well as the Brundisian Latins and allies. Several of the southern cities were now too weak to continue this trade, but Brundisium, Tarentum, Rhegium, Naples and the Campanian towns still shared in it and found their field of operations extending with the advance of the pax Romana.

The Roman treaties which have come down to us unfortunately give little light on the subject because the Senate was so immersed in political diplomacy that commercial rights were seldom mentioned in them. The Carthaginian treaty of 201, and the treaties made with the Macedonians in 196 and with Antiochus in 189 do not seem to have stipulated for any commercial rights for Rome. The treaty of 189 with Ambracia required free trade for Romans and Italians, which, in view of the scarcity of Romans on the seas, meant that Rome was then ready to aid the trade of South Italy. Perhaps that clause thereafter went into several treaties, since Italici from this time on appear in increasing number in eastern ports. Yet Rome was not as yet ready to exert herself with vigour to protect anyone’s commerce. The treaties made with Nabis in 197 and with the Cretans in 189 who engaged in piracy prove that the Senate was more concerned with political than with economic matters. When in Cato’s day the Istrian pirates attacked the shipping that passed between Italy and Greece it was the merchants of Tarentum and Brundisium, not of Rome, who asked the Senate for protection. And when c. 183/2 Eumenes closed the Hellespont the protest came from the Rhodians, not from the Romans. Later when Delos was handed over to Athens it was made a free port to all comers. The Roman allies benefited as we may see from Delian inscriptions, but we must add that the Alexandrians and Orientals benefited even more. When Carthage was destroyed in 146 and Africa was made a Roman province, the Senate provided no Roman harbour. Probably Utica was asked to admit Romans and Italians free, but we do not yet know this. The evidence from these documents is slight enough. All it proves is that the Senate was still apt to neglect the needs of commerce, but that, when reminded, it was ready to require open ports for all Italian traders entering the harbours of treaty-powers in the Aegean. We may assume, however, that even without specific commercial clauses, the growing prestige of the Roman name secured advantages for Italians who were known to be Rome’s allies.

When we turn to the inscriptions of the Greek world we find an occasional mention of Italians, rarely of Romans, who seem to be engaged in foreign commerce. Thus at Delphi between 188 and 178 bc we find mentioned three Greeks from Velia, one from Rhegium, one from Ancona, one from Tarentum, several from Sicily, Apulians from Canusium and Arpi, a member of the colony of Brundisium, and two men whose places of residence are not given. An Italian had a contract of some sort with the city of Thisbe in 167, and in 183 the Achaeans protested to the Roman Senate that Italians were carrying grain to the revolting Messenians. On this occasion the Senate after some hesitation forbade the contraband trade. Finally, an important banker of Syracuse lent money at Tenos and Delos. Some of these men may have been travellers or visitors consulting oracles, but the larger number— and of course our record gives but a small fraction—seem to have been money-lenders and traders.

After the middle of the century eastern trade began to concentrate at Delos which was now a free port. The destruction of the trading city of Corinth gave new opportunities to the merchants of Alexandria, Syria, Asia and Southern Italy. The island became a commercial centre where wine, oil, grain, slaves, jewellery and especially oriental wares were bought and sold. The market-place must have resembled the great souks of Constanti­nople. Many of the Italians who resorted there were money­lenders, who profited by the high rates of interest on mercantile loans, but we also find some of them dealing in wine and oil, doubtless bringing the costlier Greek brands to the Roman markets, and possibly some Campanian brands eastward. The Italian firms seem to have had agents in offices at the port, usually freedmen, who could execute the orders to buy, sell and ship. A market-place of their own the Italians required only after the Gracchan period and in this they showed less enterprise than the Syrians and Egyptians, but the inscriptions are proof that they were numerous before that time. For the Campanians and the South Italians in general the period of commercial and financial prosperity was the second half of the second century, the period represented by the splendid houses of the ‘Faun’ and of ‘Pansa’ at Pompeii. Later, when the Gracchi had opened Asia to Roman tax-farmers, and had accorded a powerful organization to the Roman knights, the tax-gathering associations entered the eastern field at an advantage over the allies. At first they must have employed the experienced South Italians in large numbers (the 80,000 slain in Asia in 88 were chiefly non-Romans), but in time they built up their own organization at Rome. And this seems to be the chief reason why the Campanian and Greek cities which enjoyed temporary prosperity after Cato’s death could not retain their gains later. The Roman success was also only temporary. When at last tax-farming on an extensive scale was abolished by Caesar the Romans also lost their advantage, and the Orientals regained their dominant position on the seas.

 

VIII.

ROME’S GOVERNMENT OF ITALY

 

The Hannibalic War had reduced the members of the old Roman federation to virtual dependence upon Rome. The allied cities could hardly consider themselves Rome’s equals after they had for eighteen years obeyed the consuls’ demands for full levies under pain of such punishment as Capua, Tarentum, and Syracuse had suffered, nor could the Latins well consider themselves brothers after the treatment of those who begged in vain for relief from war-service in 209. It cannot be said that Rome had been unnecessarily harsh, except towards Capua, nor had the allies complained unduly. They knew that the war con­cerned their safety as well as Rome’s. Rome had done what any efficient and responsible leader must do; the least inclination to temporize with rebellion would have been disastrous. And the fact that the legions always bore the brunt of the attack in every battle kept the respect of the allies for their leader. Nevertheless, a feeling of equality could not possibly last when commands came in quick succession and obedience must be prompt. The imposition of a double levy and an annual tax on the twelve recusant Latin colonies was a notice to the whole league that the Senate was at critical times ready to assume the rdle of inquisitor, judge and executioner throughout the federation. A sense of common responsibility could have been preserved only if a court provided by the whole league had tried such cases, and no such court existed.

After the war we find in Italy relatively few instances of Roman tyranny, but these are significant and reveal the fact that the word societas had gradually acquired connotations not originally intended. The socii are distinctly subjects, so much so that when the senators wished to designate allies who had signed treaties aequo foedere outside of Italy, they found it necessary to employ a more agreeable term and speak of them as socii et amici. Rome usually avoided any interference in the internal affairs of Italian cities, and probably did not intervene in local concerns unless requested to do so, or unless—as in one or two instances—the Senate thought, or pretended to think, that Rome’s welfare was endangered. The most definite instance of undue interference is in connection with the suppression of what seemed a vicious religious cult, the Bacchic worship, and in this instance the repressive measures were at first taken in Rome and in Roman territory and extended to the allied districts only when it became evident that these measures at home would be ineffective unless the cults were followed to the sources which lay beyond Roman territory.

The circumstances seem to have been as follows. In the last years of the Hannibalic War very many prisoners were taken in the Greek towns of South Italy, where the mystical cults of Dionysus and of Proserpina had long had a great vogue. We are told of 30,000 such captives from Tarentum, and captives as well as refugees had also come from towns like Locri. These slaves were later found in Rome, on the growing plantations of Etruria and Campania and on the new ranches of Apulia, and these are the places where Livy reports that police repression was most vigorously exercised in the years 186-181 bc. The devotees were organized, as at home, in secret societies, and performed mystical rites which the Romans could not comprehend, rites somewhat like those that are symbolically represented on the walls of the Villa Item at Pompeii. Some of these slaves were afterwards liberated and mingled freely with the populace, probably making converts in the lower strata of society. Secret associations were of course prohibited by Roman law, and clubs of slaves and freedmen would, if discovered, be considered particularly obnoxious, since bands of Punic slaves and hostages had, only a few years before, raised a rebellion both in the hill-towns of southern Latium and in Etruria. But in this instance a question of morals seems also to have been raised. We need not believe all that Livy relates—drawn ultimately, it would seem, from a speech of Cato about this coniuratio—connecting the cult with murders, thefts, and an ugly promiscuity among the worshippers. Nevertheless it would not be incredible if even respectable Tarentines, who had lived in oppressive slavery for twenty years, far removed from the restraining influences of their familiar society and of their own priests, had taken to the less elevated aspects of the orgiastic Bacchic cult. At any rate, charges were made in the Senate that serious crimes were being committed, that the laws of association had been broken, and that a ‘conspiracy’ detrimental to Rome existed.

The Senate authorized an investigation and, discovering that the devotees were to be found in allied cities as well as on Roman soil, instructed the magistrates to root out the evil wherever it might be found in Italy. Of course, the Senate did not dare take the stand that a worshipper could be kept from paying the vows that he had solemnly made to a god, but worship in groups was forbidden and even for individual .worship permission from the Senate after difficult formalities was prescribed. The penalty for infraction was death. This decree, a copy of which has survived on a bronze tablet, was issued in 186 by the Senate and addressed explicitly to Rome’s allies, imposing upon them the same regulations and penalties that were laid down at Rome.

This is a drastic example of interference in the internal concerns of allies. But the conditions were not quite normal and the decree should not be taken as signifying more than it does. What drove the Senate to adopt severe measures at this moment was a strong reaction among the conservatives, led by Cato, and probably by Aemilius Lepidus and Valerius Flaccus, against the Scipionic group which was mainly responsible for Rome’s Eastern policy and the consequent introduction of Greek and Asiatic ways in Rome. This reactionary party gained dominance in the Senate after the armies of Fulvius and Manlius had returned in triumph. The orgies associated with the Bacchic cult had not come directly from the East, but in the eyes of the Romans they represented the Aegean cults. We also need to remember that the ‘allied cities’ obliged by this decree to submit to the police inquisition were in point of fact towns like Tarentum and Locri that had been in Hannibal’s hands and had already been chastised as rebels. They would hardly protest against infractions of treaty rights. Rome’s behaviour in this instance does not prove that the Senate would have interfered with the cults of the Marsian or Umbrian allies, for example. And finally it is likely that the Senate excused its extension of authority to Latins and allies by an equivocation of terms, that is, by calling the societies ‘conspiracies’. The most serious effect of the incident proved in time to concern the home government since the Senate in this instance tacitly assumed and delegated judicial powers in cases involving citizens, and also, by its instructions to praetors, assumed and delegated executive powers. These were vital extensions of senatorial powers which the Gracchi later declared to be unconstitutional.

The plebiscite of Sempronius, passed at the request of the Senate in 193, is another instance of interference that grew out of Roman conditions. Since Rome’s laws on usury were strict, it had become customary for some money-lenders to employ as agents citizens of allied states who were not compelled to adhere to the rates prescribed by Roman law. To stop this practice the plebiscite declared that the Roman laws of usury should in future be applicable to all transactions of this sort in which a Roman citizen was involved. This is the beginning of the extension of Roman law through the federation. It was, of course, at one point a reversal of the liberal practice that had created the tribunal inter cives et peregrinos in the forum, but one can hardly question the necessity or justice of the law. It would restrict a liberal practice that had been abused and it could cause no injustice, since for the future money-lenders were adequately warned on what terms they could do business of this kind with Romans. It does, however, disclose a tendency on the part of the Senate to disregard the provisions of old treaties without asking for a revision of them.

The subordinate position of the Italians is also revealed in a number of minor acts. In the distribution of booty to soldiers at the triumph—small sums, to be sure, amounting usually to from five to twenty-five denarii—the allied soldiers had formerly received the same bonus as the legionaries; but beginning with the year 177 the shares of the allies were reduced by one-half. Again, in colonizing land taken by the united armies it had been customary (except at the sea-port settlements) to establish Latin colonies in which all shared. During the first two decades of the century this custom was generally observed: indeed citizens were so scarce that Latins had been accepted in the citizen colonies. However, as we have seen, inland colonies of citizens were placed at Mutina and Parma in 183, and Aquileia and Luca (181-180) proved to be the last of the Latin colonies. In 173, when the unsettled remnants of the Boian lands were given out writing the citizens were assigned larger lots than the applicants that came from allied towns. These things were significant and began to arouse the hostility which in two generations led to a demand for citizenship under threats of a war of independence.

Concomitant with such acts we find that Roman magistrates and military officials were beginning to make invidious distinctions that aroused anger among the allies. In their journeys through allied towns Roman magistrates were supposed to impose no burdens upon the people they visited. Tents and supplies were provided by the home treasury unless personal friends in the various cities, by way of exchanging courtesies, chose to lodge the travellers. In a few cases of emergency the Senate had requested towns to supply a post-horse for a day. Postumius, the consul of 173, introduced a new and dangerous custom when he sent a personal letter to Praeneste demanding entertainment on his journey through the city. Livy holds that this was the first instance of the kind and that it was done because of a personal spite. At any rate, it set a precedent which led to many of the grievances later cited by the Gracchi. In the armies also the time had come when officers began to distinguish between citizen and allied troops, for while new laws were being made at Rome to protect citizen soldiers in the armies from summary punishment by their officers, no such concern was shown for the soldiers enrolled in the allied contingents. We have very little evidence that the auxiliaries were unjustly treated, but since citizens were being given unusual consideration it is apparent that here too invidious distinctions were arising that were cited in the days of rebellion.

As will be seen, the Senate seems to have been more liberal in the government of Italy during the years when the Scipionic group was still popular than afterwards. In 188 b.c. three old municipalities, Arpinum, Formiae and Fundi, that had long possessed the civitas sine suffragio, were given the full citizenship by a plebiscite. This was a reversion to the best traditions of the third century and seemed for the moment to indicate that the Romans still believed in a progressive incorporation of Italians. To our surprise, the deed was done by means of a plebiscite without a preliminary senatus consultum, but it could hardly have occurred unless the leading men of the State had approved and indeed sponsored the motion. In the preceding year a senatus consultum had decreed that the Capuans, who had been deprived of citizenship in 210 bc, should be enrolled by the censors— presumably as without voting rights—and in this year they were permitted the right of intermarriage with Romans. Thus they also were placed on probation for full citizenship, despite the interdict of 210.

Many discussions arose with the cities called Latin. These were numerous, comprising several old cities like Praeneste and Tibur, the thirty colonies that existed during the Punic War and added since. The Latins in fact were probably as numerous now as the Romans. According to an old law, the date of which is not known, Latins had acquired the right to register as Roman citizens upon taking up their residence at Rome, provided they left children behind them in the Latin towns from which they came. It seems that many of the Latin towns were now depleted, and, as we have seen, delegates came from them to Rome stating that their towns had difficulty in filling their military quotas because of the migration to Rome. They informed the Senate that many of the emigrants had evaded the specific requirements of the law, that in fact they had either deceived the censors by a false oath or had hastily adopted some one to leave behind as ‘children.’ In some cases these adopted ‘sons’ were in fact merely liberated slaves. The delegates asked that the censors should be more careful in scrutinizing the Latin applicants for citizenship, and that those falsely enrolled should be re-inscribed on the registers of their native towns. The first recorded instance of such complaints belongs to the year 187 bc, but it is probable that protests had come in even before, since in 194 the consuls of the year summoned the levy of allied troops, not according to the old formula sociorum, the list of fixed quotas, but according to the proportion of juniores fit for service found in each town. It would seem that this change of custom had been introduced in order to lighten the burden of cities that had lost in population during the war or by emigration, and perhaps also to relieve the twelve recusant Latin towns of the double levy that had been imposed in 204.

In response to the protests made in 187 the Senate delegated a praetor, Q. Terentius Culleo, to examine the evidence of unlawful registration and to order those found guilty to return to their respective towns. Twelve thousand were struck off the citizen register and ordered to enrol in their native colonies. This act has frequently been cited as the first instance of a narrow interpretation of citizen privileges on the part of the Senate. A century later, when Mucius Scaevola passed a law completely forbidding Latins to acquire citizenship by taking up residence in Rome, the accusation had point, for that later law cancelled old treaties against the will of the other signatory. But this was not so in 187, when the Senate merely acceded to the request of the Latins themselves that the provisions of the law be enforced by the censors. It is hardly probable that the magistrates desired to lose good citizen soldiers, or that the business interests cared to have prospective purchasers of property excluded. The praetor, Terentius Culleo, who was entrusted with the execution of the order, was himself a liberal associated with the Scipionic group, and had two years before this carried a very generous plebiscite which authorized the enrolling of libertini in the rural tribes. In a word, the first ‘expulsion’ of Latins from Rome was made to the disadvantage of the Romans and at the urgent request of the Latins. Ten years later, when the Fulvian group, friendly to Scipionic policies, again succeeded to influential positions in the State, the Latins again appealed for a strict observance of the old laws—which apparently had been disregarded by the Catonian group—and this time a Lex Claudia, approved by a senatus consultum, acceded to their wishes. The censors of 173, Q. Fulvius and A. Postumius, carefully carried out the provisions of this act with the result that many Latins were again struck off the rolls.

In conclusion it must be said that the Roman government drifted without pronounced intentions into the habit of treating the Italian allies as subjects, largely because the allies had been so weakened by the Punic War that they no longer asked for serious consideration as equals. They had of necessity obeyed orders during the war, and when peace came the custom had been established. The Roman government assumed after a time that the ager publicus was wholly Rome’s, and the Gracchi were able to act on that assumption. When the tributum was dropped in 167 bc the Senate needed the annual rentals derived from these public lands, and it became a fixed dogma in the Senate that no more should be given away to colonies, Roman or Latin. This dogma crystallized all the more quickly because many senators were profiting from their leaseholds. Vested interests at Rome grew constantly more convinced that Rome was sovereign in Italy and was competent to direct the concerns of the federation. And in this view the Italians seem to have concurred to such an extent that we may doubt whether they would ever have raised the question of equality in a menacing way unless it had been raised in the Senate by the Gracchi. However, when all is said, the senators must on the whole be credited with no little moderation in the treatment of Italy. This was a period when kings like Prusias and Eumenes were visiting Rome and addressing the senators as ‘Divinities’ and ‘Saviours’, when senators spoke to the deified kings of Syria as to messenger boys. Roman officials were receiving a dangerous course of training in such diplomatic encounters. That they forgot the true status of their old Italian allies until reconciliation became impossible is not surprising.

 

 

CHAPTER XII

ROME