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 p315  The Roman section only (pp315‑320) of an article on pp313‑320 of

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

COLO′NIA, a colony.

[. . .]

2. Roman. The word colony contains the same element as the verb colere, "to cultivate," and as the word colonus, which probably originally signified a "tiller of the earth." The English word colony, which is derived from the Latin, perhaps expresses the notion contained in this word more nearly than is generally the case in such adopted terms.

A kind of colonisation seems to have existed among the oldest Italian nations, who, on certain occasions, sent out their superfluous male population, with arms in their hands (ἱερὰ νεότης), to seek for a new home (Dionys. Antiq. Rom. I.16). But these were apparently mere bands of adventurers, and such colonies rather resembled the old Greek colonies, than those by which Rome extended her dominion and her name.

Colonies were established by the Romans as far back as the annals or traditions of the city extend, and the practice was continued during the republic under the empire. Sigonius (De Antiquo Jure Italiae, p215, &c.) enumerates six main causes or reasons which, from time to time, induced the Romans to send out colonies; and these causes are connected with many memorable events in Roman history. Colonies were intended to keep in check a conquered people, and also to repress hostile incursions, as in the case of the colony of Narnia (Liv. X.10), which was founded to check the Umbri; and Minturnae and Sinuessa (X.21), Cremona and Placentia (XXVII.46), which were founded for similar purposes. Cicero (De Leg. Agr. II.27) calls the old Italian colonies the "propugnacula imperii;" and in another passage (Pro Font. c1) he calls Narbo Martius (Narbonne), which was in the provincia Gallia, "Colonia nostrorum civium, specula populi Romani et propugnaculum." Another object was to increase the power of Rome by increasing the population (Liv. XXVII.9). Sometimes the immediate object of a colony was to carry off a number of turbulent and discontented persons. Colonies were also established for the purpose of providing for veteran soldiers, a practice which was begun under the emperors: these coloniae were called militares.

It is remarked by Strabo (p216, ed. Casaub.), when speaking of the Roman colonies in the north of Italy, that the ancient names of the places were retained, and that though the people in his time were all Roman, they were called by the names of the previous occupiers of the soil. This fact is in accordance with the character of the old Roman colonies, which were in the nature of garrisons planted in conquered towns, and the colonists had a portion of the conquered territory (usually a third part) assigned to them. The inhabitants retained the rest of their lands, and lived together with the new settlers, who alone composed the proper colony (Dionys. Antiq. Rom. II.53). The conquered people must at first have been quite a distinct class from, and inferior to, the colonists. The definition of a colonia by Gellius (XVI.13) will appear, from what has been said, to be sufficiently exact:— "Ex civitate quasi propagatae — populi Romani quasi effigies parvae simulacraque."

No colonia was established without a lex, plebiscitum, or senatusconsultum; a fact which shows that a Roman colony was never a mere body of adventurers, but had a regular organisation by the parent state. According to an ancient definition quoted by Niebuhr (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. I.12), a colony is a body of citizens, or socii, sent out to possess a commonwealth, with the approbation of their own state, or by a public act of that people to whom they belong; and it is added, those are colonies which are founded by public act, not by any secession. Many of the laws which relate to the establishment of coloniae were leges agrariae, or laws for the division and assignment of public lands, of which Sigonius has given a list in his work already referred to.

When a law was passed for founding a colony, persons were appointed to superintend its formation (coloniam deducere). These persons varied in number, but three was a common number (triumviri ad colonos deducendos, Liv. XXXVII.46, VI.21). We also read of duumviri, quinqueviri, vigintiviri for the same purpose. The law fixed the quantity of land that was to be distributed, and how much was to be assigned to each person. No Roman could be sent out as a colonist without his free consent, and when the colony was not an inviting one, it was difficult to fill up the number of volunteers (Liv. VI.21, X.21).

Roman citizens who were willing to go out as members of a colony gave in their names at Rome (nomina dederunt, Liv. I.11, the first time that he has occasion to use the expression). Cicero (Pro Dom. c30) says that Roman citizens who chose to become members of a Latin colony must go voluntarily (auctores facti), for this was a capitis deminutio; and in another passage (Pro Caecin. 33) he alleges the fact of Roman citizens going out in Latin colonies as a proof that loss of civitas must be a voluntary act. It is true that a member of a Roman colony would sustain no capitis deminutio, but in this case also there seems no reason  p316 for supposing that he ever joined such a colony, without his consent.

The colonia proceeded to its place of destination in the form of an army (sub vexillo), which is indicated on the coins of some coloniae. An urbs, if one did not already exist, was a necessary part of a new colony, and its limits were marked out by a plough, which is also indicated on ancient coins. The colonia had also a territory, which, whether marked out by the plough or not (Cic. Phil. II.40), was at least marked out by metes and bounds. Thus the urbs and territory of the colonia respectively corresponded to the urbs Roma and its territory. Religious ceremonies always accompanied the foundation of the colony, and the anniversary was afterwards observed (Plutarch, C. Gracchus, 11; Servius, ad Aen. V.755; Cic. ad Attic. IV.1). It is stated that a colony could not be sent out to the same place to which a colony had already been sent in due form (auspicato deducta). This merely means that so long as the colony maintained its existence, there could be no new colony in the same place; a doctrine that would hardly need proof, for a new colony implied a new assignment of lands; but new settlers (novi adscripti) might be sent to occupy colonial lands not already assigned (Liv. VI.30; Cic. Phil. II.40). Indeed it was not unusual for a colony to receive a supplementum, as in the case of Venusia (Liv. XXXI.49), and in other cases (Tacit. Ann. XIV.27, Puteoli; and the note in Oberlin's Tacitus).

The commissioners appointed to conduct the colony had apparently a profitable office, and the establishment of a new settlement gave employment to numerous functionaries, among whom Cicero enumerates — apparitores, scribae, librarii, praecones, architecti. The foundation of a colony might then, in many cases, not only be a mere party measure, but it would give those in power an opportunity of providing places for many of their friends.

colonia was a part of the Roman state, and it had a res publica; but its relation to the parent state might vary. In Livy (Liv. XXXIX.55) the question was whether Aquileia should be a colonia civium Romanorum, or a Latina colonia; a question that had no reference to the persons who should form the colony, but to their political rights with respect to Rome as members of the colony. The members of a Roman colony (colonia civium Romanorum) must, as the term itself implies, have always had the same rights, which, as citizens, they would have at Rome. [Civitas.] They were, as Niebuhr remarks, in the old Roman colonies, "the populus; the old inhabitants, the commonalty." These two bodies may, in course of time, have frequently formed one; but there could be no political union between them till the old inhabitants obtained the commercium and connubium, in other words, the civitas; and it is probable that among the various causes which weakened the old colonies, and rendered new supplies of colonists necessary, we should enumerate the want of Roman women; for the children of a Roman were not Roman citizens unless his wife was a Roman, or unless she belonged to a people with which there was connubium.

It is important to form a precise notion of the relation of an ancient Roman colonia to Rome. That the colonists, as already observed, had all the rights of Roman citizens, is a fact capable of perfect demonstration; though most writers, following Sigonius, have supposed that Roman citizens, by becoming members of a Roman colony, lost the suffragium and honores, and did not obtain them till after the passing of the Julia lex. Such an opinion is inconsistent with the very principle of Roman polity apparent in the establishment of Roman colonies. Further, the loss of the suffragium and honores would have been a species of capitis deminutio, and it is clear, from what Cicero says of the consequences of a Roman voluntarily joining a Latin colony, that no such consequence resulted from becoming a member of a Roman colony. If a Roman ever became a member of a Roman colony without his consent, it must have been in the early ages of the state, when the colonies still retained their garrison character, and to join a colony was a kind of military service; but such a duty to protect the state, instead of implying any loss of privilege, justifies quite a different conclusion.

Puteoli, Salernum, Buxentum were colonia civium Romanorum (Liv. XXXIV.45); the Ferentinates made a claim, that Latini who should give in their names as willing to join a colonia civium Romanorum, should thereby become cives Romani. Some Latini who had given in their names for the coloniae of Puteoli, Salernum, and Buxentum, thereupon assumed to act as cives Romani, but the senate would not allow their claim. This shows, if it requires showing, that the cives of Romanae coloniae continued to be cives Romani (Liv. XXXIV.42).

It is somewhat more difficult to state what was the condition of those conquered people among whom the Romans sent their colonists. They were not Roman citizens, nor yet were they socii; still they were in a sense a part of the Roman state, and in a sense they were cives, though certainly they had not the suffragium, and perhaps originally not the connubium. It is probable that they had the commercium, but even this is not certain. They might be a part of the Roman civitas without being cives, and the difficulty of ascertaining their precise condition is increased by the circumstance of the word civitas being used loosely by the Roman writers. If they were cives in a sense, this word imported no privilege; for it is certain that, by being incorporated in the Roman state as a conquered people, they lost all power of administering their own affairs, and obtained no share in the administration of the Roman state; they had not the honourable rank of socii, and they were subject to military service and taxation. They lost all jurisdictio, and it is probable that they were brought entirely within the rules and procedure of the Roman law, so far as that was practicable. Even the commercium and connubium with the people of their own stock, were sometimes taken from them (Liv. IX.43, VIII.14), and thus they were disunited from their own nation and made a part of the Roman state, without having the full civitas. So far, then, was the civitas (without  p317 the suffragium) from being always a desirable condition, as some writers have supposed, that it was in fact the badge of servitude; and some states even preferred their former relation to Rome, to being incorporated with it as complete citizens. It appears that, in some cases at least, a praefectus juri dicundo was sent from Rome to administer justice among the conquered people, and between them and the coloni. It appears also to be clearly proved by numerous instances, that the condition of the conquered people among whom a colony was sent, was not originally always the same; something depended on the resistance of the people, and the temper of the Romans, at the time of the conquest or surrender. Thus the conquered Italian towns might originally have the civitas in different degrees, until they all finally obtained the complete civitas by receiving the suffragium; some of them obtained it before the social war, and others by the Julia lex.

The nature of a Latin colony will appear sufficiently from what is said here, and in the articles Civitas and Latinitas.

Besides these coloniae, there were coloniae Italici juris, as some writers term them; but which in fact were not colonies. Sigonius, and most subsequent writers, have considered the Jus Italicum as a personal right, like the Civitas and Latinitas; but Savigny has shown it to be quite a different thing. The jus Italicum was granted to favoured provincial cities; it was a grant to the community, not to the individuals composing it. This right consisted in quiritarian owner­ship of the soil (commercium), and its appurtenant capacity of mancipatio, usucapion, and vindicatio, together with freedom from taxes; and also in a municipal constitution, after the fashion of the Italian towns, with duumviri, quinquennales, aediles, and a jurisdictio. Many provincial towns which possessed the jus Italicum, have on their coins the figure of a standing Silenus, with the hand raised, which was the peculiar symbol of municipal liberty (Obeundus Marsya, Horat. Sat. I.6.120). Pliny (III.3 and 21) has mentioned several towns that had the jus Italicum; and Lugdunum, Vienna (in Dauphiné), and colonia Agrippinensis had this privilege. It follows from the nature of this privilege, that towns which had the Latinitas or the Civitas, which was a personal privilege, might not have the jus Italicum; but the towns which had the jus Italicum could hardly be any other than those which had the civitas or Latinitas, and we cannot conceive that it was ever given to a town of Peregrini.

[image ALT: A Roman coin of Philip the Arab. The reverse shows a naked man standing with a bag over one shoulder, and raising his arm in a salute: it is a depiction of Silenus, and symbolizes the jus Italicum of the city of Coelos in the Thracian Chersonesus.]
Philip, A.D. 243‑249
Coela or Coelos (Plin. IV.11, 12)
in the Thracian Chersonesus.

The colonial system of Rome, which originated in the earliest ages, was well adapted to strengthen and extend her power — "By the colonies the empire was consolidated, the decay of population checked, the unity of the nation and of the language diffused" (Machiavelli, quoted by Niebuhr). The countries which the Romans conquered within the limits of Italy, were inhabited by nations that cultivated the soil and had cities. To destroy such a population was not possible nor politic; not it was a wise policy to take part of their lands, and to plant bodies of Roman citizens, and also Latinae coloniae, among the conquered people. The power of Rome over her colonies was derived, as Niebuhr has well remarked, "From the supremacy of the parent state, to which the colonies of Rome, like sons in a Roman family, even after they had grown to maturity, continued unalterably subject." In fact, the notion of the patria potestas will be found to lie at the foundation of the institutions of Rome.

The principles of the system of colonisation were fully established in the early ages of Rome; but the colonies had a more purely military character, that is, were composed of soldiers, in the latter part of the republic, and under the earlier emperors. The first colony established beyond the limits of Italy was Carthago (Vell. II.15); Narbo Martius was the next. Nemausus (Nîmes) was made a colony by Augustus, an event which is commemorated by medals (Rasche, Lexicon Rei Numariae), and an extant inscription at Nîmes.

[image ALT: A Roman coin of Nemausus (modern Nîmes) showing a crocodile chained to a palm tree, the emblem of that city.]

In addition to the evidence from written books of the numerous colonies established by the Romans in Italy, and subsequently in all parts of the empire, we have the testimony of medals and inscriptions, in which COL., the abbreviation of colonia, indicates this fact, or, as in the case of Sinope, the Greek inscription ΚΟΛΩΝΕΙΑ. Septimius Severus made Tyre a colonia Veteranorum (Rasche, Lexicon Rei Numariae, Tyrus). The prodigious activity of Rome in settling colonies in Italy is apparent from the list given by Frontinus or the pseudo-Frontinus (De Coloniis), most of which appear to have been old towns, which were either walled when the colony was founded, or strengthened by new defences.

Colonies were sometimes established under the late republic and the empire with circumstances of great oppression, and lands were assigned to the veterans without regard to existing rights.

Under the emperors, all legislative authority being then virtually in them, the foundation of a colony was an act of imperial grace, and often merely a title of honour conferred on some favoured spot. Thus M. Aurelius raised to the rank of colonia the small town (vicus) of Halale, at the foot of Taurus, where his wife Faustina died (Jul. Capitol. M. Ant. Philos. c26). The old military colonies were composed of whole legions, with their tribunes and centurions, who being united by mutual affection, composed a political body (respublica); but it was a complaint in the time of Nero, that soldiers, who were  p318 strangers to one another, without any head, without any bond of union, were suddenly brought together on one spot, "numerus magis quam colonia" (Tacit. Ann. XIV.27). And on the occasion of the mutiny of the legions in Pannonia, upon the accession of Tiberius, it was one ground of complaint, that the soldiers, after serving thirty or forty years, were separated, and dispersed in remote parts; where they received, under the name of a grant of lands (per nomen agrorum), swampy tracts and barren mountains (Tacit. Ann. I.17).

It remains briefly to state what was the internal constitution of a colonia.

In the later times of the republic, the Roman state consisted of two distinct organised parts, Italy and the Provinces. "Italy consisted of a great number of republics (in the Roman sense of the term), whose citizens, after the Italian war, became members of the sovereign people. The communities of these citizens were subjects of the Roman people, yet the internal administration of the communities belonged to themselves. This free municipal constitution was the fundamental characteristic of Italy; and the same remark will apply to both principal classes of such constitutions, municipia, and coloniae. That distinction which made a place into a praefectura, is mentioned afterwards; and fora, conciliabula, castella, are merely smaller communities, with an incomplete organisation" (Savigny). As in Rome, so in the colonies, the popular assembly had originally the sovereign power; they chose the magistrates, and could even make laws (Cic. De Leg. III.16). When the popular assemblies became a mere form in Rome, and the elections were transferred by Tiberius to the senate, the same thing happened in the colonies, whose senates then acquired whatever power had once belonged to the community.

The common name of this senate was ordo decurionum; in later times, simply ordo and curia; the members of it were decuriones or curiales (Dig. 50 tit. 2 De Decurionibus, &c.). Thus, in the later ages, curia is opposed to senatus, the former being the senate of a colony, and the latter the senate of Rome. But the terms senatus and senator were also applied to the senate and members of the senate of a colony, both by historians, in inscriptions, and in public records; as, for instance, in the Heracleotic Tablet, which contained a Roman lex. After the decline of the popular assemblies, the senate had the whole internal administration of a city, conjointly with the magistratus; but only a decurio could be a magistratus, and the choice was made by the decuriones. Augustus seems to have laid down the foundation for this practical change in the constitution of the colonies in Italy. All the citizens had the right of voting at Rome; but such a privilege would be useless to most of the citizens on account of their distance from Rome. Augustus (Sueton. c46) devised a new method of voting; the decuriones sent the votes in writing, and under seal, to Rome; but the decuriones only voted. Though this was a matter of no importance after Tiberius had transferred the elections at Rome from the popular assemblies to the senate, this measure of Augustus would clearly prepare the way for the pre-eminence of the decuriones, and the decline of the popular power.​a

The highest magistratus of a colonia were the duumviri (Cic. Agr. Leg. II.34, ad Attic. II.6), or quattuorviri, so called, as the numbers might vary, whose functions may be compared with those of the consulate at Rome before the establishment of the praetor­ship. The name duumviri seems to have been the most common. Their principal duties were the administration of justice, and accordingly we find on inscriptions "Duumviri J. D." (juri dicundo), "Quattuorviri J. D.". They were styled magistratus pre-eminently, though the name magistratus was properly and originally the most general name for all persons who filled similar situations. The name consul also occurs in inscriptions to denote this chief magistracy; and even dictator and praetor occur under the empire and under the republic. The office of the duumviri lasted a year. Savigny shows that under the republic the jurisdictio of the duumviri in civil matters was unlimited, and that it was only under the empire that it was restricted in the manner which appears from the extant Roman law.

In some Italian towns there was a praefectus juri dicundo; he was in the place of, and not co-existent with, duumviri. The duumviri were, as we have seen, originally chosen by the people; but the praefectus was appointed annually in Rome (Liv. XXVI.16), and sent to the town called a praefectura, which might be either a municipium or a colonia, for it was only in the matter of the praefectus that a town called a praefectura differed from other Italian towns. Capua, which was taken by the Romans in the second Punic war, was made a praefectura (Vell. II.44, and the note of Reimarus on Dion Cassius, XXXVIII.7). Arpinum is called both a municipium and a praefectura (Cic. ad Fam. XIII.11; Festus, s.v. Praefectura); and Cicero, a native of this place, obtained the highest honours that Rome could confer.

The censor, curator, or quinquennalis, all which names denote the same functionary, was also a municipal magistrate, and corresponded to the censor at Rome, and in some cases, perhaps, to the quaestor also. Censors are mentioned in Livy (XXIX.15) as magistrates of the twelve Latin colonies. The quinquennales were sometimes duumviri, sometimes quattuorviri; but they are always carefully distinguished from the duumviri and quattuorviri J.D.; and their functions are clearly shown by Savigny to have been those of censors. They held their office for one year, and during the four intermediate years the functions were not exercised. The office of censor or quinquennalis was higher in rank than that of the duumviri J.D., and it could only be filled by those who had discharged the other offices of the municipality.

For a more complete account of the organisation of these municipalities, and of their fate under the empire, the reader is referred to an admirable chapter in Savigny (Geschichte des Röm. Rechts, &c. vol. I p16, &c.).

The terms municipium and municipes require explanation in connection with the present subject, and the explanation of them will render the nature of a praefectura still clearer. One kind of municipium was a body of persons who were not (Festus, s.v. Municipium) Roman citizens, but possessed all the rights of Roman citizens except the suffragium and the honores. But the communities enumerated as examples of this kind of municipium are the Fundani, Formiani, Cumani, Acerrani, Lanuvini,  p319 and Tusculani, which were conquered states (Liv. VIII.14), and received the civitas without the suffragium; and all these places received the complete civitas before the social war, or, as Festus expresses it, "Post aliquot annos cives Romani effecti sunt." It is singular that another ancient definition of this class of municipia says, that the persons who had the rights of Roman citizens, except the honores, were cives; and among such communities are enumerated the Cumani, Acerrani, and Atellani. This discrepancy merely shows that the later Roman writers used the word civis in a very loose sense, which we cannot be surprised at, as they wrote at a time when these distinctions had ceased. Another kind of municipium was, when a civitas was completely incorporated within the Roman state; as in the case of the Anagnini (Liv. IX.23), Caerites, and Aricini, who completely lost all internal administration of their cities; while the Tusculani and Lanuvini retained their internal constitution, and their magistrate called a dictator. A third class of municipia was those whose inhabitants possessed the full privileges of Roman citizens, and also the internal administration of their own cities, as the Tiburtes, Praenestini, Pisani, Urbinates, Nolani, Bononienses, Placentini, Nepesini, Sutrini, and Lucrenses (Lucenses?). The first five of these were civitates sociorum; and the second five, coloniae Latinae: they all became municipia, but only by the effect of the Julia LexB.C. 90.

It has also been already said that a praefectura was so called from the circumstance of a praefectus J.D. being sent there from Rome. Those towns in Italy were called praefecturae, says Festus, "In quibus et jus dicebatur et nundinae agebantur, et erat quaedam earum respublica, neque tamen magistratus suos habebant; in quas legibus praefecti mittebantur quotannis, qui jus dicerent." Thus a praefectura had a respublica, but no magistratus. Festus then makes two divisions of praefecturae. To the first division were sent four praefecti chosen at Rome (populi suffragio); and he enumerates ten places in Campania to which these quattuorviri were sent, and among them Cumae and Acerra, which were municipia; and Volturnum, Liternum, and Puteoli, which were Roman colonies established after the second Punic war. The second division of praefecturae comprised those places to which the praetor urbanus sent a praefectus every year, namely, Fundi, Formiae, Caere, Venafrum, Allifae, Privernum, Anagnia, Frusino, Reate, Saturnia, Nursia, Arpinum, aliaque complura. Only one of them, Saturnia, was a colony of Roman citizens (Liv. XXXIX.55); the rest are municipia. It is the conclusion of Zumpt that all the municipia of the older period, that is, up to the time when the complete civitas was given to the Latini and the socii, were praefecturae, and that some of the colonies of Roman citizens were also praefecturae. Now as the praefectus was appointed for the purpose of administering justice (juri dicundo), and was annually sent from Rome, it appears that this was one among the many admirable parts of the Roman polity for maintaining harmony in the whole political system by a uniformity of law and procedure. The name praefectura continued after the year B.C. 90; but it seems that, in some places at least, this functionary ceased to be sent from Rome, and various praefecturae acquired the privilege of having magistratus of their own choosing, as in the case of Puteoli, B.C. 63 (Cic. De Leg. Agr. II.31). The first class or kind of praefecti, the quattuorviri, who were sent into Campania, were abolished by Augustus, in conformity with the general tenor of his policy, B.C. 13. After the passing of the Julia Lex de Civitate, the cities of the socii which received the Roman civitas, still retained their internal constitution; but, with respect to Rome, were all included under the name of municipia: thus Tibur and Praeneste, which were Latinae civitates, then became Roman municipia. On the other hand, Bononia and Luca which were originally Latinae coloniae, also became Roman municipia in consequence of receiving the Roman civitas, though they retained their old colonial constitution and the name of colonia. Thus Cicero (in Pis. c23) could with propriety call Placentia a municipium, though in its origin it was a Latin colonia; and in the oration Pro Sext. (c14) he enumerates municipia, coloniae, and praefecturae, as the three kinds of towns or communities under which were comprehended all the towns of Italy. The testimony of the Heracleotic tablet is to the like effect; for it speaks of municipia, coloniae, praefecturae as the three kinds of places which had a magistratus of some kind, to which enumeration it adds fora and conciliabula, as comprehending all the kinds of places in which bodies of Roman citizens dwelt.

It thus appears that the name municipium, which originally had the meanings already given, acquired a narrower import after B.C. 90, and in this narrower import signified the civitates sociorum and coloniae Latinae, which then became complete members of the Roman state. Thus there was then really no difference between these municipia and the coloniae, except in their historical origin, and in their original internal constitution. The Roman law prevailed in both.

The following recapitulation may be useful:— The old Roman colonies (civium Romanorum) were placed in conquered towns; and the colonists continued to be Roman citizens. These colonies were near Rome (Liv. I.11, 27, 56, II.21, 39), and few in number. Probably some of the old Latinae coloniae were established by the Romans in conjunction with other Latin states (Antium). After the conquest of Latium, Latinae coloniae were established by the Romans in various parts of Italy. These colonies should be distinguished from the colonies civium Romanorum, inasmuch as they are sometimes called coloniae populi Romani, though they were not coloniae civium Romanorum (Liv. XXVII.9, XXIX.15). Roman citizens who chose to join such colonies, gave up their civic rights for the more solid advantage of a grant of land.

When Latin colonies began to be established, few Roman colonies were founded until after the close of the second Punic war (B.C. 201), and these few were chiefly maritime colonies (Anxur, &c.). These Latin colonies were subject to and part of the Roman state; but they had not the civitas: they had no political bond among themselves; but they had the administration of their internal affairs. The colonies of the Gracchi were Roman colonies; but their object, like that of subsequent Agrarian laws, was merely to provide for the poorer citizens: the old Roman and the Latin colonies had for their object the extension and conservation of the Roman empire in Italy. After  p320 the passing of the lex Julia, which gave the civitas to the socii and the Latin colonies, the object of establishing Roman and Latin colonies ceased; and military colonies were thenceforward settled in Italy, and, under the emperors, in the provinces (Plin. Nat. Hist. III.4). These military colonies had the civitas, such as it then was; but their internal organisation might be various.

The following references, in addition to those already given, will direct the reader to abundant sources of information:— (Sigonius, De Jure Antiquo, &c.; Niebuhr, Roman History; Savigny, Ueber das Jus Italicum, Zeitschr. vol. V; Tabulae Heracleenses. Mazochi, Neap. 1754; Savigny, Der Römische Volksschluss der Tafel von Heraclea; and Rudorff, Ueber die Lex Mamilia de Coloniis, Zeitschr. vol. IX; Rudorff, Das Ackergesetz von Sp. Thorius, and Puchta, Ueber den Inhalt der Lex Rubria de Gallia Cisalpina, Zeitschr. vol. X; Beaufort, Rep. Rom. V p278‑3078; Madvig, Opuscula, De Jure et Conditione Coloniarum Populi Romani, Hauniae, 1834; Zumpt, Ueber den Unterschied der Benennungen, Municipium, Colonia, Praefectura, Berlin, 1840).


For a much simpler summary of the Roman colony, see this good page at Livius.Org.

Thayer's Note:

a In the later empire, under the financial pressures of funding the welfare state and constant wars, the decurions were not so much preëminent as severely imposed upon by the central government: the honor to be aspired to became a burden to be escaped. Details are given by Bury (History of the Later Roman Empire, I.59‑60) and especially Hodgkin (Italy and Her Invaders, III.582‑596).

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