The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



and the Campaims Ager, which all previous agra­rian laws had left untouched. The fertile tract of Capua (Campanus Ager) was distributed among 20,000 persons, who had the qualification that the law required, of three or more children. After this distribution of the Campanian land, and the abolition of the port duties and tolls (portoria), Cicero observes (ad Ait. ii. 16), "there was no revenue to be raised from Italy, except the five per cent, (vicesima) " from the sale and manu­mission of slaves.

The lands which the Roman people had acquired in the Italian peninsula by conquest were greatly reduced in amount by the laws of Gracchus and by sale. Confiscations in the civil wars, and conquests abroad, were, indeed, continually increasing the public lands ; but these lands were allotted to the soldiers and the numerous colonists to whom the state was continually giving lands. The system of colonisation which prevailed during the republic, was continued under the emperors, and considerable tracts of Italian land were disposed of in this man­ner by Augustus and his successors. Vespasian as­signed lands in Samnium to his soldiers, and grants of Italian lands are mentioned by subsequent em­perors, though we may infer that at the close of the second century of our acra, there was little public land left in the peninsula. Vespasian sold part of the public lands called subsedva. Domitian gave the remainder of such lands all through Italy to the possessors (Aggenus). The conquests be • yond the limits of Italy furnished the emperors with the means of rewarding the veterans by grants of land, and in this way the institutions of Rome

3 «/

were planted on a foreign soil. But, according to Gains, property in the land was not acquired by such grant ; the ownership was still in the state, and the provincial landholder had only the pos-sessio. If this be true, as against the Roman people or the Caesar, his interest in the land was one that might be resumed at any time, according to the strict rules of law, though it is easily con­ceived that such foreign possessions would daily acquire strength, and could not safely be dealt with as possessions had been in Italy by the various agrarian laws which had convulsed the Roman state. This assertion of the right of the populus Romanus and of the emperors, might be no wrong " inflicted on provincial landowners by the Roman jurisprudence,"* as Niebuhr affirms. The tax paid by the holders of ager privatus in the provinces was the only thing which dis­tinguished the beneficial interest in such land from Italic land, and might be, in legal effect, a recog­nition of the ownership according to Roman law. And this was Savigny's earlier opinion with re­spect to the tax paid by provincial lands ; he con­sidered such tax due to the Roman people as the sovereign or ultimate owner of the lands. His later opinion, as expressed in the Zeitschrift fur

* Niebuhr observes that Frontinus speaks of the " arva publica in the provinces, in contradis­tinction to the agri privati there ; " but this he certainly does not. This contradistinction is made rby his commentator Aggenus who, as he himself says, only conjectures the meaning of Frontinus ; and, perhaps, he has not discovered it. (Rei Agr. Script, pp. 38. 46, 47.) Savigny's explanation of this passage is contained in the Zeitschrift fur Gesch. Rechtsw. vol. xi. p. 24.


Geschichtliuhe Rechtsivissenscliaft (vol. v. p. 254), is, that under the Caesars a uniform system of direct taxation was established in the provinces, to which all provincial land was subject; but land in Italy was free from this tax, and a provincial town could only acquire the like freedom by receiving the privilege expressed by the term Jus Italicum. The complete solution of the question here under dis­cussion could only be effected by ascertaining the origin and real nature of this provincial land-tax ; and as it may be difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain such facts, we must endeavour to give a probable solution. Now it is consistent with Roman notions that all conquered land should be considered as the property of the Roman state ; and it is certain that such land, though assigned to individuals, did not by that circumstance alone become invested with all the characters of that Roman land which was private property. It had not the privilege of the Jus Italicum, and consequently could not be the object of Quiritarian ownership, with its incidents of mancipatio, &c. All land in the provinces, including even that of the liberae civitates, and the ager publicus properly so called, could only become an object of Quiritarian owner­ship by having conferred upon it the privilege of Italic land, by which it was also released from the payment of the tax. It is clear that there might be and was ager privatus, or private property, in provincial land ; but this land had not the privileges of Italic land, unless such privilege was expressly given to it, and accordingly it paid a tax. As the notions of landed property in all countries seem to suppose a complete ownership residing in some person, and as the provincial landowner, whose lands had not the privilege of the Jus Italicum, had not that kind of ownership which, according to the notions of Roman law, was com­plete ownership, it is difficult to conceive that the ultimate ownership of provincial lands (with the exception of those of the liberae civitates) could reside any where else than in the populus Romanus, and, after the establishment of the imperial power, in the populus Romanus or the Caesar. This question is, however, one of some difficulty, and well deserves further examination. It may be doubted, however, if Gaius means to say that there could be no Quiritarian ownership of private land in the provinces ; at least this would not be the case in those districts to which the Jus Italicum was extended. The case of the Recentoric lands, which is quoted by Niebuhr (Cic. c. Rullum, i. 4), may be explained. The land here spoken of was land in Sicily. One object of the measure of Rullus was to exact certain extraordinary pay­ments (vectigal} from the public lands, that is, from the possessors of them ; but he excepted the Recentoric lands from the operation of his measure. If this is private land, Cicero argues, the exception is unnecessary. The argument, of course, assumes that there was or might be private land in Sicily ; that is, there was or might be land which would not be affected by this part of the measure of Rullus. Now the opposition of public and private land in this passage certainly proves, what can easily be proved without it, that individuals in the provinces owned land as individuals did in Italy ; and such land might with propriety be called privatus., as contrasted with that called publicus in the provinces: in fact, it would not be easy to have found another name for it. But we know

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of