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7 - Rome and Italy in the second century B.C.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

E. Gabba
Affiliation:
University of Pavia
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Summary

THE EXTENSION OF THE AGER PUBLICUS

The end of hostilities in the Hannibalic War was accompanied by a series of severe punitive measures against the allied communities which had defected to Hannibal. In 211/10 B.C. punishment had already been meted out to Capua: the aristocratic ruling class had been practically annihilated, the city had lost every trace of autonomy and even its citizenship, all public and private real property had been confiscated and the entire ager Campanus, with the sole exception of lands belonging to those who had remained loyal to Rome, thus became ‘public land of the Roman people’, ager publicus populi romani. It had also been decided to deport the entire population; this decision does not seem to have been carried out, although some measures to limit the right of abode must have been taken.

The turn of Tarentum had come in 208; the city had been sacked at the time of its capture, but as a whole it was punished only by the confiscation of part of its territory. The treaty that bound the Tarentines to Rome may have been made rather more onerous.

The confiscation of territory also represented the main punitive measure against all the other allied communities which had forsaken Rome. In 203 the dictator Sulpicius Galba with his magister equitum M. Servilius Pulex spent part of his magistracy conducting investigations in the various Italian cities that had rebelled. The enquiries were presumably followed by decrees of confiscation and by amendment of the individual foedera, the treaties with the cities. It is not easy to determine the extent of the territories that became Roman ager publicus. The ager Campanus must have been the only territory to become Roman ager publicus in its entirety, complete with buildings, although it is thought by some that Telesia also had all of its territory confiscated.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1989

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