[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

Hospitium

p620 The Roman section only
of an article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D, F.R.S.E, Rector of the High School of Edinburgh,
on pp620‑621 of

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

HOSPI′TIUM (ξενία, προξενία). The hospitality of the Romans was, p621as in Greece, either hospitium privatum, or publicum. Private hospitality with the Romans, however, seems to have been more accurately and legally defined than in Greece. The character of a hospes, i.e., a person connected with a Roman by ties of hospitality, was deemed even more sacred, and to have greater claims upon the host, than that of a person connected by blood or affinity. The relation of a hospes to his Roman friend was next in importance to that of a cliens (Gellius, V.13). According to Massurius Sabinus (ap. Gellium, l.c.), a hospes had even higher claims than a cliens. The obligations which the connection of hospitality with a foreigner imposed upon a Roman were to receive in his house his hospes when travelling (Liv. XLII.1), and to protect, and, in case of need, to represent him as his patron in the courts of justice (Cic. in Q. Caecil. Divin. c20). Private hospitality thus gave to the hospes the claims upon his host which the client had on his patron, but without any degree of the dependence implied in the clientela. Private hospitality was established between individuals by mutual presents, or by the mediation of a third person (Serv. ad Aen. IX.360), and hallowed by religion; for Jupiter hospitalis was thought to watch over the jus hospitii, as Zeus xenios did with the Greeks (Cic. c. Verr. IV.22, ad Quint. frat. II.12, pro Deiotar. 6), and the violation of it was as great a crime and impiety at Rome as in Greece. When hospitality was formed, the two friends used to divide between themselves a tessera hospitalis (Plaut. Poen. V.2.87, &c.), by which, afterwards, they themselves or their descendants — the connection was hereditary as in Greece — might recognise one another. From an expression in Plautus (deum hospitalem ac tesseram mecum fero, Poen. V.1.25) it has been concluded that this tessera bore the image of Jupiter hospitalis. Hospitality, when thus once established, could not be dissolved except by a formal declaration (renuntiatio, Liv. XXV.18; Cic. in Verr. II.36), and in this case the tessera hospitalis was broken to pieces (Plaut. Cistell. II.1.27). Hospitality was at Rome never exercised in that indiscriminate manner as in the heroic age of Greece, but the custom of observing the laws of hospitality was probably common to all the nations of Italy (Aelian V.H. IV.1; Liv. I.1). In many cases it was exercised without any formal agreement between the parties, and it was deemed an honourable duty to receive distinguished guests into the house (Cic. de Off. II.18, pro Rosc. Am. 6).

Public hospitality seems likewise to have existed at a very early period among the nations of Italy, and the foedus hospitii mentioned in Livy (I.9) can scarcely be looked upon in any other light than that of hospitium publicum. But the first direct mention of public hospitality being established between Rome and another city, is after the Gauls had departed from Rome, when it was decreed that Caere should be rewarded for its good services by the establishment of public hospitality between the two cities (Liv. V.50). The public hospitality after the war with the Gauls gave to the Caerites the right of isopolity with Rome, that is, the civitas without the suffragium and the honores. [Civitas; Colonia.] In the later times of the republic we no longer find public hospitality established between Rome and a foreign state; but a relation which amounted to the same thing was introduced in its stead, that is, towns were raised to the rank of municipia (Liv. VIII.14), and thus obtained the civitas without the suffragium and the honores; and when a town was desirous of forming a similar relation with Rome, it entered into clientela to some distinguished Roman, who then acted as patron of the client-town. But the custom of granting the honour of hospes publicus to a distinguished foreigner by a decree of the senate, seems to have existed down to the end of the republic (Liv. I.45, V.28, XXXVII.54). Whether such a public hospes undertook the same duties towards Roman citizens, as the Greek proxenus, is uncertain; but his privileges were the same as those of a municeps, that is, he had the civitas, but not the suffragium nor the honores. Public hospitality was, like the hospitium privatum, hereditary in the family of the person to whom it had been granted (Diod. Sic. XIV.93). The honour of public hospes was sometimes also conferred upon a distinguished Roman by a foreign state. (Böckh, Corp. Inscrip. vol. I n1331; Cic. pro Balb. 18, c. Verr. IV.65. Compare Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. II p58; Walter, Gesch. des Röm. Rechts, p54, &c.; Göttling, Gesch. der Röm. Staatsv. p216, &c.).


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 9 Jun 10