The Ancient Library

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On this page: Agela – Ageladas – Agema – Agenor – Ager Publicus




named because in it all implements were made of brass.. The men, furnished with gigantic limbs and irresistible physical strength, destroyed each other by deeds of violence, and perished at their death.

(4) The iron age succeeded. This was the generation of work and laborious agri­culture. Care and toil fill up the day and night; truth and modesty are departed; mis­chief alone survives, and there is nothing to arrest the progress of decay.

Agela. In Crete, an association of youths for joint training; Agelatffs, the captain of an agela. (See education, 1.)

AgSladas. A Greek artist of the first half of the 5th century b.c., famed for his images of gods and Olympian victors, wrought in metal. His reputation was much enhanced by the fact that Phidias, Myron, and Poly-clltus were his pupils.

Agema. The guard in the Macedonian army; in which the cavalry were a troop (lie) formed of noblemen's sons who had grown up as pages in the royal service, while the infantry consisted of the hypaspistce (q.v.~), to whom the argyrnspldcs (q.v.), were added later as heavy infantry.

Agenor. (1) Son of Poseidon and Libya, king of Phoenicia, brother to Belus, and father of Cadmus and Europa (q.v.).

(2) Son of Antenor by Theano, a priestess of Athena, and one of the bravest heroes of Troy. In Homer he leads the Trojans in storming the Greek entrenchments, rescues Hector when thrown down by Ajax, and even enters the lists with Achilles, but is saved from imminent danger by Apollo. In the post-Homeric legend he dies by the hand of Neoptolemus.

Ager Publicus ( = common land). The Latin name for the State domains, formed of territory taken from conquered states. The Romans made a practice, upon every new acquisition of land, of adding a part of it, usually a third, to the domain. So far as this land was under culture, por­tions of it were sometimes assigned to single citizens or newly-founded colonies in fee simple, sometimes sold by the quaestors on the condition that, though the purchaser might bequeath and alienate it, it still re­mained State property. In token of this it paid a substantial or merely nominal rent (vectigal), and was called ager privatus vectigOlisque or qucestOrius. The greater part was left to the old occupiers, yet not as free property, but as rent-paying land, and was called ager publicus stipendiarius datus assignatus ; the rest remained under

State management, and was let by the censors. Of uncultivated districts, the State, by public proclamation, gave a pro­visional right of seisin, occupatio, with a view to cultivation, in consideration of a tithe of the corn raised and a fifth of the fruit, and reserving its right of resumption. Such seisin was called possessio. It could be bequeathed or otherwise alienated, yet never became private property, but re­mained a rent-paying and resumable pro­perty of the State. Though the Plebeians had as good a right to occupy lands won by their aid as the Patricians, yet in the early times of the Republic this right was exercised by the latter alone, partly because they had the greater command of means and men, and partly because by the right of the stronger they excluded the Plebeians from benefiting by the Ager Pnblicus. Against this usurpation the Plebeians waged a bitter and unbroken warfare, claiming not only a share in newly conquered lands, but a wholesale redistri­bution of existing possessiones, while the Patricians strained every nerve to maintain their vested interests, and managed to thwart the execution of all the enactments passed from time to time in favour of the Plebeians. Even the law of the tribune Gaius Licinius Stolo (B.C. 377), limiting possessions to 500 iug&ra (acres) per man, and ordering the distribution of the re­mainder, were from the first eluded by the possessores, who now included both Patri­cians and well-to-do Plebeians. All possible means were employed, as pretended deeds of gift and other similar devices. The threatened extinction of the Italian pea­santry by the great wars, and the rapid growth of huge estates (latifundia) worked by slaves, occasioned the law of Tiberius Gracchus (b.c. 133), retaining the Licinian limit of 500 acres, but allowing another 250 for each son, and granting compensation for lands resumed by the State. The land thus set free, and all the Ager Publicus that had been leased, except a few domains indis­pensable to the State, were to be divided among poor citizens, but on the condition that each allotment paid a quit-rent, and was not to be alienated. But again, the the resistance of the nobility practically reduced this law to a dead letter ; and the upshot of the whole agrarian movement stirred up by Tiberius and his brother Gaius Gracchus was, that the wealthy Romans were not only left undisturbed in their possessiones, but were released

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