Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-75dct Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-26T09:05:40.652Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

5 - Rome in the fifth century II: the citizen community

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

F. W. Walbank
University of Liverpool
Get access



(a) The ancient account

The literary sources present a broadly uniform picture of the constitutional developments of the early Republic. In c. 509 B.C. the forcible seduction of Lucretia (wife of L. Tarquinius Collatinus) by Tarquinius Superbus’ son Sextus and her subsequent suicide prompted a revolution, led by L. Iunius Brutus. Superbus was driven from Rome and an already well-established hereditary aristocracy, the patriciate, assumed control of the state, monopolizing political office. From the first the secular powers of the kings were vested in two magistrates, later known as consuls but at first as praetors, who were elected by the people and held office for one year. They did not, however, inherit the king's sacral powers, although they had the right and duty on prescribed occasions to ascertain the will of the gods by ‘taking the auspices’. Some of the king's sacrificial duties were committed to a newly established rex sacrorum, a priest holding office for life, but control of religious practices is, later at least, found in the hands of the pontifex maximus.

The consuls commanded Rome's armies and exercised civil (and potentially at least criminal) jurisdiction. They also presided over the senate and assemblies and in general acted as the chief executives of the state. Originally they took the census but this function was transferred in 443 B.C. to two censors elected at intervals, who also at some stage acquired from the consuls the duty of compiling the list of senators. If both consuls were absent from Rome they would appoint a prefect of the city to see to its protection and any necessary domestic administration. They were also assisted by two junior magistrates called quaestors (raised to four in 421 B.C.) who were charged chiefly with financial duties.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1990

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Altheim, F. Lex sacrata: die Anfänge der plebeischen Organisation (Albae Vigiliae 1). Amsterdam, 1940
Badian, E.Three non-trials in Cicero. Notes on the text, prosopography and chronology of Divinatio in Caecilium 63’, Klio 66 (1984)Google Scholar
Behrends, O.Das nexum im Manzipationsrecht oder die Ungeschichtlichkeit des Libraldarlehens’, Revue Internationale des Droits de l'Antiquité ser. 3.21 (1974)Google Scholar
Behrends, O. Der Zwölftafelprozess. Zur Geschichte des römischen Obligationenrechts (Göttinger rechtswiss. Stud. 92). Göttingen, 1974
Beloch, K. J. Römische Geschichte bis zum Beginn der punischen Kriege. Berlin, 1926
Bernardi, A.Patrizi e plebei nella costituzione della primitiva repubblica romana’, Rendiconti dell Istituto Lombardo, Classe di Lettere, Scienze morali e storiche 79 (19451946)Google Scholar
Bleicken, J.Zum Begriff der römischen Amtsgewalt: auspicium-potestas-imperium’, Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen I. Phil.-hist. Klasse 1981 n. 9Google Scholar
Bloch, R.Rome de 509 à 475 environ avant J.C.’, Revue des Études Latines 37 (1959)Google Scholar
Botsford, G. W.Some problems connected with the Roman gens ’, Political Science Quarterly 22 (1907)Google Scholar
Brown, F. E.La protostoria della Regia’, Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia di Archeologia 47 (19741975)Google Scholar
Colonna, G.Un aspetto oscuro del Lazio antico: le tombe del VI-V secolo a.C.’, Parola del Passato 32 (1977)Google Scholar
Cornell, T. J.The failure of the plebs’, in Tria corda: scritti in onore di Arnaldo Momigliano 10120. Como, 1983 Google Scholar
Cosentini, C. Studi sui liberti: contributo allo studio della condizione giuridica dei liberti cittadini (Università di Catania. Pubblicazioni della Facoltà di Giurisprudenza 11 & 14). 2 vols. Catania, 1948 and 1950
Daube, D.Texts and interpretation in Roman and Jewish law’, Jewish Journal of Sociology 3 (1961)Google Scholar
Drerup, H.Zur Zeitstellung des Kapitolstempels in Rom’, Marburger Winckelmann-Programm 1973 [1974]Google Scholar
Drummond, A.Consular tribunes in Livy and Diodorus’, Athenaeum N.S. 58 (1980)Google Scholar
Fraccaro, P.Ancora sull'età dell'ordinamento centuriato’, Athenaeum N.S. 12 (1934) = id. Opuscula II.Google Scholar
Fraccaro, P.La storia dell'antichissimo esercito Romano e l'età dell'ordinamento centuriato’, in Atti del II congresso nazionale di studi romani III. 917. Rome, 1931 = id. Opuscula II.Google Scholar
Frederiksen, M. W. Campania. London, 1984
Gjerstad, E. Early Rome. 6 vols. Lund, 19531973
Gjerstad, E. Legends and Facts of Early Roman History (Scripta Minora Regiae Societatis Humanarum Litterarum Lundensis 1960/1961 n. 2). Lund, 1962
Guarino, A.Dal regnum alla respublica ’, Labeo 9 (1963) = id. Le origini quiritarie Google Scholar
Guarino, A.La formazione della respublica romana’, Revue Internationale des Droits de l'Antiquité ser. 1.1 (1948) = id. Le origini quiritarie Google Scholar
Hanell, K. Das altrömische eponyme Amt. Lund, 1946
Heurgon, J.Magistratures romaines et magistratures étrusques’, in Les origines de la république romaine (Entretiens sur l'antiquité classique, Fondation Hardt. Vandoeuvres-Geneva 13) 97127. Geneva, 1967 Google Scholar
Heurgon, J. Recherches sur l'histoire, la religion, et la civilisation de Capoue préromaine des origines à la deuxième guerre punique. Paris, 1942
Heuss, A.Gedanken und Vermutungen zur frühen römischen Regierungsgewalt’, Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Phil.-hist. Klasse 1982 n. 10.Google Scholar
Humbert, M. Municipium et civitas sine suffragio. L'organisation de la conquête jusqu'à la guerre sociale (Collection de l'École Francaise de Rome 36). Rome, 1978
Jahn, J. Interregnum und Wahldiktatur (Frankfurter Althistorische Studien 3). Kallmünz, 1970
Jones, A. H. M. The Criminal Courts of the Roman Republic and Principate. Oxford, 1972
Kahane, A. , Threipland, L. M. and Ward-Perkins, J. B.The Ager Veientanus North and East of Rome’, Papers of the British School at Rome 36 (1968)Google Scholar
Kelly, J. M. Roman Litigation. Oxford, 1966
Kelly, J. M. Studies in the Civil Judicature of the Roman Republic. Oxford, 1976
Kienast, D.Die politische Emanzipation der Plebs und die Entwicklung des Heerwesens im frühen Rom’, Bonner Jahrbücher 175 (1975)Google Scholar
Klotz, A.Zur Geschichte der römischen Zensur’, Rheinisches Museum N.F. 88 (1939)Google Scholar
Kunkel, W. Unter suchungen zur Entwicklung des römischen Kriminalverfahrens in vorsullanischer Zeit (Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Phil.-hist. Klasse, N.F. 56). Munich, 1962
Last, H. M.The Servian reforms’, Journal of Roman Studies 35 (1945)Google Scholar
Latte, K.Zwei Exkurse zum römischen Staatsrecht’, Nachrichten von der Königlicher Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Phil.-hist. Klasse Fachgruppe, N. F. I: Altertumswissenschaft 1 (19341936 (1936)) = id. Kleine Schriften Google Scholar
Leuze, O. Zur Geschichte der römischen Censur. Halle, 1912
Lintott, A. W. Provocatio. From the Struggle of the Orders to the Principate’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, ed. H. Temporini and W. Haase. Berlin–New York, 1972– 1.2 (1972)Google Scholar
Lintott, A. W.The traditions of violence in the annals of the early Roman republic’, Historia 19 (1970)Google Scholar
Magdelain, A. Auspicia ad patres redeunt ’, in Hommages J. Bayet (1964)Google Scholar
Mazzarino, S. Dalla monarchia allo stato repubblicano. Catania, 1945
Meyer, Ed.Der Ursprung des Tribunats und die Gemeinde der vier Tribus’, Hermes 30 (1895) = id. Kleine Schriften 1.33361. Ed. 2. Halle, 1924 Google Scholar
Meyer, Ed. Geschichte des Altertums. 3 vols. Ed. 2. Stuttgart, 19071937 (vol. 1, Ed. 3. Stuttgart, 1913)
Momigliano, A. IPraetor maximus e questioni affini’, in Studi in onore di G. Grosso I. Turin, 1968 = id. Quarto Contributo Google Scholar
Momigliano, A.An interim report on the origins of Rome’, Journal of Roman Studies 53 (1963) = id. Terzo Contributo Google Scholar
Momigliano, A.Il rex sacrorum e l'origine della repubblica’, in Studi in onore di E. Volterra 1.357–64. Milan, 1971 = id. Quarto Contributo Google Scholar
Momigliano, A.Ricerche sulle magistrature romane: I. Il dictator clavi figendi causa. II. Imperator. III. L'origine del tribunato della plebe. IV. L'origine della edilità plebea. v. Tribù umbro-sabelle e tribù romane’, Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale in Roma 58 (1930) , ; 59 (1931) ; 60 (1932) , = id. Quarto Contributo Google Scholar
Momigliano, A.The origins of the Roman republic’, in Interpretation: Theory and Practice, ed. Singleton, C. S. , 134. Baltimore, 1969. = id. Quinto Contributo Google Scholar
Mommsen, Th. Die römische Chronologie bis auf Cäsar. Ed. 2. Berlin, 1859
Mommsen, Th. Römische Staatsrecht. 3 vols. Ed. 3. Leipzig, 18871888
Münzer, F.Hermodorus’, Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft 8 (1913)Google Scholar
Nestle, W.Die Fabel des Menenius Agrippa’, Klio 21 (1927)Google Scholar
Norden, E. Aus altrömischen Priesterbüchern (Skrifter utgivna av. Kungl. Humanistika Vetenskapssamfundet i Lund 29). Lund, 1939
Ogilvie, R. M. A Commentary on Livy Books 1–5. Oxford, 1965
Ogilvie, R. M. Review of Gjerstad, E. , Legends and Facts of Early Roman History (Lund, 1962) in Classical Review N.S. 14 (1964)
Palmer, R. E. A. The Archaic Community of the Romans. Cambridge, 1970
Peppe, L. Studi sull'esecuzione personale I: Debiti e debitori nei primi due secoli della repubblica romana (Università di Roma: Pubblicazioni dell'Istituto di Diritto Romano e dei Diritti dell'Oriente Mediterraneo 60). Milan, 1981
Perl, G. Kritische Untersuchungen zu Diodors römischer Jahrzählung (Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Schriften der Sektion für Altertumswissenschaft 9). Berlin, 1957
Pieri, G. L'histoire du cens jusqu’ à la fin de la république romaine (Publications de l'Institut de Droit Romain de l'Université de Paris 25). Paris, 1968
Pinsent, J.Antiquarianism, fiction and history in the first decade of Livy’, The Classical Journal 55 (1959)Google Scholar
Pinsent, J. Military Tribunes and Plebeian Consuls. The Fasti from 444V to 342V (Historia Einzelschriften 24). Wiesbaden, 1975
Ranouil, P. C. Recherches sur le patriciat. Paris, 1975
Jhering, R.Reich und Arm im altrömischen Civilprozess’, in id. Scherz und Ernst in der Jurisprudenz . Ed. 10. Leipzig, 1909 Google Scholar
Richard, J.-C. Les origines de la plèbe romain. Essai sur la formation du dualisme patricio-plébéien (Bibliothèque des Écoles Françaises d'Athènes et de Rome 232). Paris, 1978
Saulnier, C. L'armée et la guerre dans le monde étrusco-romain. Paris, 1980
Schaefer, A.Zur Geschichte des römischen Consulats’, Jahrbücher für classische Philologie 113 (1876)Google Scholar
Schulze, W.Beiträge zur Wort- und Sittengeschichte 11’, Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1918, = id. Kleine Schriften . Berlin, 1934 Google Scholar
Sealey, R.Consular tribunes once more’, Latomus 18 (1959)Google Scholar
Sherwin-White, A. N. The Roman Citizenship. Ed. 2. Oxford, 1973
Skutsch, O.Readings and interpretations in the Annals ’, in Ennius (Entretiens sur l'antiquité classique, Fondation Hardt. Vandoeuvres-Geneva 17) 329. Geneva, 1971 Google Scholar
Skutsch, O. The Annals of Q. Ennius. Oxford, 1985
Staveley, E. S. Provocatio during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C .‘, Historia 3 (19541955)Google Scholar
Staveley, E. S.Forschungsbericht. The constitution of the Roman republic 1940–1954’, Historia 5 (1956)Google Scholar
Staveley, E. S.The conduct of elections during an interregnum ’, Historia 3 (19541955)Google Scholar
Staveley, E. S.Tribal legislation before the lex Hortensia ’, Athenaeum N.S. 33 (1955)Google Scholar
Sanctis, G. Storia dei Romani. 4 vols. Turin, 19071964
Stuart Jones, H.The primitive institutions of Rome’, Cambridge Ancient History VII. Ed. 1. Cambridge, 1928 Google Scholar
Stuart Jones, H. and Last, H.The early republic’, Cambridge Ancient History VII. 43684. Ed. 1. Cambridge, 1928 Google Scholar
Sumner, G. V.The legion and the centuriate organisation’, Journal of Roman Studies 60 (1970)Google Scholar
Taylor, L. R. The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic (Papers and Monographs of the American Academy in Rome 20). Rome, 1960
Thomsen, R. King Servius Tullius: a Historical Synthesis. Copenhagen, 1980
Tibiletti, G.Evoluzione di magistrato e popolo nello stato Romano’, Studia Ghisleriana 2.1 (1950)Google Scholar
Treggiari, S. Roman Freedmen during the Late Republic. Oxford, 1969
Urban, R.Zur Entstehung des Volkstribunats’, Historia 22 (1973)Google Scholar
Versnel, H. S. Triumphus. An Enquiry into the Origin, Development and Meaning of the Roman Triumph. Leiden, 1970
Walbank, F. W. A Historical Commentary on Polybius. 3 vols. Oxford, 19571979
Weinstock, S. Divus Iulius. Oxford, 1971
Werner, R. Der Beginn der römischen Republik. Munich–Vienna, 1963
Wieacker, F.Die XII Tafeln in ihrem Jahrhundert’, in Les origines de la république romaine (Entretiens sur l'antiquité classique, Fondation Hardt. Vandoeuvres-Geneva 13) . Geneva, 1967 Google Scholar
Wieacker, F.Solon und die XII Tafeln’, in Studi in onore di E. Volterra III. Milan, 1971 Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats