Roman History Lecture 4
Week 2 Lecture 2
Lex hortencia: Laws passed by Council of the plebs are binding to all citizens.
Legislative body: tribal assembly – merged two previous bodies; became the prime legislative
body in Rome. Could be called by a magistrate with imperium (consul or praetor) to elect
quastors or curule aediles (1). It could also be used by plebs to elect tribune and pleb aediles, but
only plebs could visit (2).
1) Comitia Tributa
-convened by magistrate with imperium (consul, praetor)
-elects quaestors and curule aediles
2) concilium plebs
-convened by tribune
-elects tribunes and plebeian aedile
The concilium plebis was a new, novel way to circumvent patrician authority, gives new power
Elective body: centuriate assembly/ comitia centuriata. All citizens belonged. (still prime elective
body for senior magistrates (consuls, praetors, censors). Convened by magistrate.
By 287 bc, roman politics then had a double head of power.
1) conservative element (magistrates and senate)
2) democratic element (tribunes, concilium plebis).
In form, now democracy. But patricians still had majority of upper magistries, so still oligarchy.
Oligarchy would get increasingly fractioned, causing the fall of republic eventually.
Passing legislation: consuls/praetors or tribune of plebs tribal assembly.
3 classes of roman citizens:
-ordo senatorius -> min wealth req of 1mill sestertii -ordo equester -> min wealth of 400,000 sestertii
-plebians lowest classes
By imperial period, 4 class began to be recognized: ordo lubertinorum, or freedmen.
Distinct careers for each class. Senatorial – held annually elected magistries, religious
priesthoods, chief military positions.
Equestrian – civil and military career in service of the republic and later the empire.
Plebs – could serve in junior ranks of army.
Though distinct opportunities, very successful plebs could entertain the hope of bettering
themselves by climbing the political ladder of the corsus honorum, ultimately leading to
TODAY’S LECTURE: roman expansion and eventual supremacy in Italy.
At beginning of republic, 509, Rome was surrounded by Etruscans to the north (in Etruria), and
Italian tribes to the east and south (over mountains, and in Compania and Sabinium). In south of
Italy, also Greek city states (established in 8 century on as colonies from Greece. Commercial
outposts for trade). So many Greek states, that the area came to be called “magna Graecia” by
The Greek city states were not a big Roman threat; major threat from Etruscans to the north and
native Italian hill tribes in the south.
can see very good maps in book (page 24 for upper part, page 47)
Rome was founded on banks of Tiber, in Latium region (where the word “Latin” comes from).
All inhabitants traced their ancestry to Trojan princes and his descendants. All spoke variants of
the Latin language. Came together ever year to celebrate the Latin festival held to honour Jupiter.
Shared in other religious cults and sanctuaries. So there was a bond between these towns.
3 other important factors unified Latin cities: the Ius Latii, the right belonging to latium
-all Latins possess the right of conubium, the right of marriage. Could not make legal marriage of
any other Latin city.
-all latiins have right of commercium – right of commerce. Can own land in any Latin city,
conduct business and make contract with their citizens. Right of trade.
-all Latins have the right of migration – may take up citizenship in any other Latin city simply by
establishing residence there.
With these shared rights (intermarriage, trade dealings, mutually exchangeable citizenship) added to similar ethnic, linguistic and cultural traditions, only natural for Latins to unite
militarily against the Etruscans. The alliance became consolidated into the Latin League.
*496 – Battle of Lake Regillus
Romans fought against joining the Latin League. The Romans claimed victory. Fought outside
Tuscullum (?), just south of Rome. Were eventually forced to join though to fend off Etruscans.
Signed treaty: Foedus Cassianum.
*493 BC – Foedus Cassianum -> Romans and collective Latin federation agreed to unite to
provide mutual assistance in times of hostile attack. Romans contributed half the forces, Latin
league the rest: spoils to be divided equally among the parties. Rome was therefore the dominant
city in the Latin league, equal to the other cities combined. Achieved supremecy in Latium,
could focus on expanding power within Italy as a whole.
On NE, E, and S, Romans were confronted bythtalian tribes: Sabines, Aequi, and Volsci.
Gradually, all 3 threats repelled in the 5 century BC. Diplomacy to win against sabines by
forming agreement with chief Clauses. Formed new clan/gens, the Claudii -> where Claudius
To lessen threat from Aequi and Volsci, formed alliance with tribe between the two, the Hermici.
Deterred the A and V from uniting to take Rome the divide and conqouer strategy.
The A had trapped Roman garrison in mountains, the hero Cincinnatus defeated them in 458 BC.
In next century, A and H completely subdued.
Volsci – Coriolanus (from Shakespeare) after exile from Rome, traitor, led Volsci against Rome,
but listened to his mother and wife, so failed. By 4 century, Romans had defeated Volsci; treaty
was signed after Volsci’s chief city of Antium fell (338 BC). Territory settled with Roman
colonies. Big threat that remains is Etruscans to the North.
The romans waged intermittent war with Etruscan city of Veii for >50 years. Situated across the
Tiber, about 10 miles north of Rome. Rome waged war over control of town of Fideni. Veii
posted garrison because of strategic position on Tiber. The Romans entered on war of aggression
to capture Veii itself. First step in Romes goal of world conquest – turning point of military.
In 396 BC, Camillus lead siege of Veii, lasted 10 years. Fell in 396. Romans destroyed Veii,
confiscated territory, settled Roman citizens upon it, enslaved or expelled the Etruscans
(annexation was the first great expansion of Roman territory). Rome acquired a fertile region
(basically doubled area), got lots of booty and slave manpower.
Capture signified that Rome had become an expansionist power in Italy. By 351, Etruscans as a
whole abandoned attacks and begged for peace. By 3 century, .,,,, In 390, sudden disastrous defeat. Gauls sacked Rome. From (France), moved in on Po Valley.
Became known as Cisalpine Gaul (Gaul on this side of the alps). Very fertile region.
“Battle of the Allia,” (Gauls from tribe of Senones, crossed the Apenines and marched south into
central Italy.) in 390 city, Roman army matched out to meet Gauls – army routed. Residents
evacuated, took refuge in nearby towns. Rome sacked, all except well fortified Alpenine Hill
(saved by the cackling of Juno’s geese). Camillus was appointed dictator, again emerged a hero.
The gauls failed to ever storm the roman citadel. After a siege of 7 months, accepted a ransom
and departed home to the north. Gauls continued to occasionally invade peninsular Italy. In 349
Bc, met Romans, were driven off. Rome became champion of Italian people, protector from
invaders from the North.
In 339, Senones signed peace treaty with romans, temporarily removed threat of invasion from
After gaulic sack, romans resolved never to allow such a humiliating defeat to happen again.
City rebuilt with huge protective wall encircling and encorporating the 7 hills of Rome. These
massive defensive walls extended 7 miles in circuit, enclosed ~1000 acres. Walls built in 4 th
century; but were always attributed to 6 century King, Servius Tulius. In early 3 century,
Romans invaded Senones territory, drove them out of Italian peninsula, annexing their land.
In addition to the physical protection of new walls, Rome began to practice Defensive
Imperialism towards its neighbours. Defneding neighbours but also taking over – justifying
because they could then offer protection from barbarian invaders.
In 351, the Etruscans totally cessed attacks, sued for peace. Volsci and Aqui also peaceful by