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p542 Foederatae Civitates

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp542‑543 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

FOEDERATAE CIVITATES, FOEDERATI, SOCII. In the seventh century of Rome these names expressed those Italian states which were connected with Rome by a treaty (foedus). These names did not include Roman colonies, or any place which had obtained the Roman civitas. Among the foederati were the Latini, who were the most nearly related to the Romans, and were designated by this distinctive name; the rest of the foederati were comprised under the name of Socii or Foederati. They were independent states, yet under a general liability to furnish a contingent to the Roman army. Thus they contributed to increase the power of Rome, but they had not the privileges of Roman citizens. The relations of any particular federate state to Rome might have some peculiarities, but the general relation was that the expressed above; a kind of condition, inconsistent with the sovereignty of the federates, and the first stage towards unconditional submission. The discontent among the foederati, and their claims to be admitted to the privileges of Roman citizens, led to the Social War. The Julia Lex (B.C. 90) gave the civitas to the Socii and the Latini; and a lex of the following year contained, among other provisions, one for the admission to the Roman civitas of those peregrini who were entered on the lists of the citizens of federate states, and who complied with the provisions of the lex. [Civitas.] It appears, however, that the Lex Julia, and probably also the Lex of the following year, contained a condition that the federate state should consent to accept what the Leges offered, or, as it was technically expressed, "populus fundus fieret" (Cic., pro Balbo, c8). Those who did not become fundi populi did not obtain the civitas. Balbus, the client of Cicero, was a citizen of Gades, a federate town in Spain. Cn. Pompeius Magnus had conferred the Roman civitas on Balbus, by virtue of certain powers given to him by a lex. It was objected to Balbus that he could not have the civitas, unless the state to which he belonged "fundus factus esset;" which was a complete misapprehension, for the term fundus, in this sense, applied to a whole state or community, whether federate or other free state, which accepted what was offered, and not to an individual of such state or community, for he might accept the Roman civitas without asking the consent of his fellow citizens at home, or without all of them receiving p543the same privilege that was offered to himself. The people of a state which had accepted the Roman civitas (fundus factus est), were called, in reference to their condition after such acceptance, "fondani." This word only occurs in the Latin inscription (the Lex Romana) of the tablet of Heraclea, l. 35; and proves that the inscription is posterior to the Lex Julia de Civitate. It has indeed been supposed that the word may refer to the acceptance by the state of Heraclea of this lex which is on the tablet; but there is no doubt that it refers to the prior lex which gave the civitas.

It must be observed that the acceptance of the two Leges above mentioned could only refer to the federate states, and the few old Latin states. The Latinae coloniae also received the civitas by the Julia Lex; but as they were under the sovereignty of Rome, their consent to the provisions of this lex was not required.

Before the passing of the Julia Lex, it was not unusual for the Socii and Latini to adopt Roman leges into their own system, as examples of which Cicero mentions the Lex Furia de Testamentis, and the Lex Voconia de Mulierum Hereditatis; and he adds that there were other instances (Pro Balbo, c8). In such cases, the state which adopted a Roman lex was said 'in eam legem fundus fieri." It hardly needs remark that the state which adopted a Roman lex, did not thereby obtain for its citizens any privileges with respect to the Roman state: the federate state merely adopted the provisions of the Roman lex as being applicable to its own circumstances.

An apparent difficulty is caused by the undoubted fact, that the provisions of the Lex Julia required that the states which wished to avail themselves of its benefits, should consent to accept them. As the federate states commenced the war in order to obtain the civitas, it may be asked why was it given to them on the condition of becoming "fundus?" In addition to the reasons for such condition, which are suggested by Savigny, it may be observed that the lex only expressed in terms what would necessarily have been implied, if it had not been expressed: a federate state must of necessity declare by a public act its consent to accept such a proposal as was contained in the Lex Julia. It appears from the cases of Heraclea and Naples, that the citizens of a federate state were not in all cases unanimous in changing their former alliance with Rome into an incorporation with the Roman state. [Civitas.]

There were federate cities beyond the limits of Italy, as shown by the example of Gades: Saguntum and Massilia also are enumerated among such cities (Savigny, Volksschluss der Tafel Von Heraclea, Zeitschrift, &c. vol. IX; Mazochi, Tab. Herac. p465).


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