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On this page: Gentiles – Gentilitas – Geomori



presentatives of the Luceres, the third and inferior tribe ; and they were called Patres Minorum gen­tium (Liv. i. 35)* See the curious letter of Cicero to Paetus (ad Fam. ix. 21).

If the gentes were such subdivisions of a curia, as already stated, it may be asked what is meant by new gentes being introduced among the curiae, for this undoubtedly took place. Tullus Hostilius incorporated the Julii, Servilii, and others, among the Patricii, and consequently among the curiae. The Claudii were a Sabine gens, who, it was said (Liv. iv. 3), were received among the patricii after the banishment of the kings. A recent writer (Goettling) attempts to remove this difficulty by assuming, according to his interpretation of Diony-sius (ii. 7), a division of the curiae into ten decuriae, and by the further assumption of an indefinite number of gentes in each decuria. Consistently with this, he assumes a kinship among the mem­bers of the same gens, according to which hypo­thesis the several patres-familiae of such gens must have descended, or claimed descent, from a common ancestor. Thus the gentes would be nothing more than aggregates of kindred families, and it must have been contrived in making the division into decuriae, that all the members of a gens (thus understood) must have been included in the same decuria. But to assume this, is nothing more than to say that the political system was formed by be­ginning with aggregations of families ; for if the ultimate political division, the decuriae, was to consist of aggregates of gentes (thus understood), such arrangement could only be effected by making aggregation of families the basis of the political system, and then ascending from them to decuriae, from decuriae to curiae, and from curiae to tribes ; a proceeding which is inconsistent with saying that the curiae were subdivided into decuriae, for this mode of expression implies that the curiae were formed before the decuriae. But the introduction of new gentes is conceivable even on the hypo­thesis of the gens being a mere political division. If the number was originally limited, it is perfectly consistent with what we know of the Roman con­stitution, which was always in a state of progres­sive change, to suppose that the strict rule of limi­tation was soon neglected. Now if a new gens was introduced, it must have been assimilated to the old gentes by having a distinctive name ; and if a number of foreigners were admitted as a gens, it is conceivable that they would take the name of some distinguished person among them, who might be the head of a family consisting of many branches, each with a numerous body of retainers. And this is the better tradition as to the patrician Claudii, who came to Rome with Atta Claudius, their head (gentis princeps\ after the expulsion of the kings, and were co-optated (cooptati) by the patres among the patricii; which is the same thing as saying that this immigrating body was recognised as a Roman gens. (Sueton. Tib. I ; Liv. ii. 16.) According to the tradition, Atta Claudius received a tract of land for his clients on the .A mo, and a piece of burying-ground, under the Capitol, was given to him by the state (publice). According to the original con­stitution of a gens, the possession of a common bmying-place, and the gentile right to interment therein, were a part of the gentile sacra. (Cic. Leg. ii.2'2 ; Veil. Pat. ii. 119 ; Festus, s. v. Cincia ; Liv. iv. 3, vi. 40 • Virgil, Aen. vii. 706. As to the Gens Oetiivia, see Suetonius, Aug. 2.)


It is probable that even in the time of Cicero the proper notion of a gens and its rights were ill understood ; and still later, owing to the great changes in the constitution, and the extinction of so many ancient gentes, the traces of the jus gen-tilitium were nearly effaced. Thus we find that the words gens and familia are used indifferently by later writers, though Livy carefully distin­guishes them. The " elder Pliny speaks of the sacra Serviliae familiae ; Macrobius of the sacra familiae Claudiae, Aemiliae, Juliae, Corneliae ; and an ancient inscription mentions an Aedituus and a Sacerdos Sergiae familiae, though those were all well known ancient gentes, and these sacra, in the more correct language of the older writers, would certainly have been called sacra gentilitia." (Sa-vigny, Zeitschrift, &o. vol. ii. p. 385.)

In the time of Gaius (the age of the Antonines), the jus gentilitium had entirely fallen into disuse. (Gaius, iii. 17.) Thus an ancient institution, which formed an integral part of the old constitu­tion, and was long held together by the con­servative power of religious rights, gradually lost its primitive character in the changes which circum­stances impressed on the form of the Roman state, and was finally extinguished.

The word Gens has recently been rendered in English by the word House, a term which has here been purposely not used, as it is not necessar}^ and can only lead to misconception.

The subject of the gens is discussed with great acuteness both by Niebuhr (Rom. Hist. vol. i.) and by Maiden (Hist, of Rome, published by the So­ciety for the Diftusion of Useful Knowledge).

The views of Goettling are contained in his Geschichte der Rom. Staatsverfassung, Halle, 1840, and those of Becker in his Handbuch der Romischen Alterthumer 2ter Theil, Iste Abth. See also Sa-vigny, Zeitschrift, &c. vol. ii. p. 380, &c., and Un-terholzner, Zeitschrift, &c. vol. v. p. 119. [G. L.j

GENTILES. [gens.]


GEOMORI (jeca^opoL; Doric, yd^opoi) is the name of the second of the three classes into which Theseus is said to have divided the inhabitants of Attica. (Plut. Thes. 25 ; Pollux, viii. 111.) This class was, together with the third, the S^tou/ryot, excluded from the great civil and priestly offices which belonged exclusively to the eupatrids, so that there was a great distinction between the first and the two inferior classes. We possess, how­ever, no means to ascertain any particulars respect­ing the relation in which the jeca/jiopoi stood to the two other classes. The name may either signify independent land-owners, or peasants who culti­vated the lands of others as tenants. The yeca^opot have, accordingly, by some writers been thought to be free land-owners, while others have conceived them to have been a class of tenants. It seems, however, inconsistent with the state of affairs in Attica, as well as with the manner in which the name yeaytdpoi was used in other Greek states, to suppose that the whole class consisted of the latter only ; there were undoubtedly among them a con­siderable number of freemen who cultivated their own lands (Timaeus, Glossar. s. v. Feco/^pot ; Valckenaer ad Herod, v. 77), but had by their birth no claims to the rights and privileges of the nobles. We do not hear of any political distinc­tions between the yeco/j-opot and the 87]fjLiovpyoi; and it may either be that there existed none at all,,

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