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leges Liciniae Sextiae

General Introduction

The leges Liciniae Sextiae are a small set of four Roman legislative acts introduced in 367 bce to regulate several matters1. They take their name from their proponents, tribunes of the plebeians C. Licinius Stolo and L. Sextius Lateranus.

One of these legislative acts states that in the place of the duumviri sacris faciundis [two magistrates created to perform sacrifices, of patrician status], decemviri were to be elected [and therefore a college of ten members], reserving five places to plebeians and five to patricians. Another, in reference to debt, stated that amounts already paid by way of interest had to be deducted from the capital, and the remaining sum was to be paid in three equal instalments over a three-year period. A third set a limit on lands, prohibiting anyone from holding more than 500 iugera (125 ha). The fourth placed an end to the election of tribuni militum consulari potestate [military tribunes with consular powers] and stated that one of the consuls always had to be a plebeian.

The year 367 bce falls within the historical period of the Struggle of the Orders for political equality between the plebeians and patricians in Rome; the four acts in question were welcomed as an essential step towards achieving this goal.

Scholars’ main source of information on this theme is the concluding section of book 6, Ab Urbe Condita by Livy (6.35–42). There are also some sources that refer in particular to two of the measures in question.

Modern scholarship is characterised by doubt regarding the nature of the four measures—whether they were laws, plebiscites, or neither one nor the other. One theory states that they couldn’t have been laws given that the proponents, C. Licinius and L. Sextius, were plebeians and therefore did not have the power to propose rogationes [projects of statutes] to the comitia, and also because there are no sources attesting to any approval by the people’s assembly; at the same time, they could not have been plebiscites, given the improbability that plebiscites were already binding on the entire population in the 4th century bce. Numerous modern scholars have therefore concluded that the measures in question would not have been legislative acts but rather political “agreements” or “compromises,” through which the patricians undertook to recognise several concessions to the plebeians2. Another group of scholars, on the other hand, maintains that the four legislative acts in question were actual plebiscites, claiming that the latter were in fact binding on the entire population in 367 bce, provided they were ratified by the senate3.

In order to critically analyse the issue, it is important to note that, while there are no sources confirming the approval of the leges Liciniae Sextiae by the concilium plebis [plebeian assembly], the latter is nonetheless cited in various passages by Livy, in reference to occasions on which, for various reasons, it was unable to vote on the proposal of the tribunes C. Licinius and L. Sextius (Livy 6.35.8, 6.39.1); moreover, Gellius refers to the third of the quoted measures as a plebiscite (Gell. 6.3.40). It would therefore seem feasible to infer that the measures in question were actual plebiscites, and that they were subsequently received by the patrician population further to approval by the senate, which is effectively attested to by Livy (6.42.12). Ancient sources referring to the four plebiscites as laws do so because they were considered of equivalent value. Taking these premises into account, and based on ancient sources, the term “laws” will be adopted also here.

With regard to the timespan over which the four laws were approved, Livy (6.37.12) states that the last to be proposed in 369 bce concerned the establishment of the decemviri sacris faciundis. However, according to the same author, this law was the first to be voted for, presumably at the start of 367 bce (Livy 6.42.2). The remaining three laws on the other hand were proposed in 376 bce (Livy 6.35.4), but voted for later on during the course of 367 bce (Livy 6.42.9), and therefore after the law establishing the decemvirate had already been approved. The political process involved in transforming the rogatio by the tribunes4 into an approved law, was therefore a long and troubled one.

A valid, yet dated argument5 suggests that the leges Liciniae Sextiae were not four distinct laws but rather a single law covering four different matters: it therefore speaks of a lex satura. However, ancient sources do not support this theory6.

Lex Licinia Sextia de decemviri sacris faciundis [Licinio-Sextian Law Providing for the Creation of Ten Magistrates to Perform Sacrifices]

By way of this law, attested to only by Livy (6.37.12, 6.42.2, 10.8.2–3), from 367 bce, the decemviri sacris faciundis, half of which was composed of plebeians (6.37.12), replaced the patrician college of the duumviri sacris faciundis7 (the college was subsequently expanded to include fifteen members in the Sullan era: quindecemviri8).

According to tradition, the origin of the duumviral college dates back to the era of Tarquinius Priscus. According to legend, the Cumaean Sibyl visited the king to offer him a collection of prophecies, which from that time onward were preserved in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and a committee of two members was nominated, responsible for consulting the prophecies in the interests of the state whenever the need arose9.

Supported by the ability to consult the prophetic literature, the senate did frequently consult the duumviri whenever it had to make important decisions, especially in relation to foreign policy. Thus, in conclusion, they were able to influence the senate, even on very important issues10.

This makes it easier to understand how for the plebeians, in the context of their contrast to the patricians, the possibility of being part of a religious college—subsequently opening up the possibility for them to better control various decision-making mechanisms at the foundation of senatorial policy—was highly desirable11.

Lex Licinia Sextia de aere alieno [Licinio-Sextian Law on Debt]

This law, also attested to only by Livy (6.35.4, 6.39.1–2, 6.42.9), stated that any interest already paid on private loans be deducted from the capital, and that the remainder be paid in equal instalments over a three-year period. It was a rule sought by the plebeians and certainly destined to have an impact on important aspects of their living conditions.

In relation to the period preceding 367 bce, Livy describes plebeian living conditions as impoverished by debt and oppressed by interest rates (6.14.3–10, 6.27.3, 6.31.2, 6.34.1–2, 6.36.12). It must also be noted that in that era, debt was acquired largely through the nexum institution, which, according to most modern scholars, immediately placed the debtor at the submission of the creditor until he had paid his debt. Moreover, insolvent debtors were reduced to slaves.

It would therefore appear logical that the leaders of plebeian groups had every interest in fighting for a policy allowing them to claim a debt reduction. The policy would have no doubt encouraged unity among the plebeian class at a time of critical conflict for the consulship, while also contributing to freeing the electoral forces of that class from subjugation to the families of patrician creditors.

There is uncertainty regarding the interest rate to which Livy alludes in his description of the law. The only partially indicative datum provided in another passage of his work (7.16.1) states that in 357 bce a plebiscite of the plebeian tribunes M. Duilius and L. Menenius limited the maximum interest rate to the fenus unciarium, that is, an interest rate equal to one-twelfth—uncia—of the capital (8.33 percent). Whether the fenus unciarium was to be calculated on an annual basis (and therefore 8.33 percent annually) or monthly basis (taking the annual interest rate up to 100 percent), is an issue much debated by modern scholars12; ancient sources do not provide any reliable data, although the second hypothesis may appear to be disproportional within the context of an already monetary economy. The information provided by Livy nonetheless fails to resolve the question regarding the interest rate prior to 357 bce, which (in his opinion) may not have been regulated. According to Tacitus on the other hand13, the Twelve Tables (451–450 bce) had already introduced the maximum limit of the fenus unciarium and the lex Duilia Menenia simply restored the old limit, which was by then no longer in use. As can be seen, the two historians offer conflicting points of view, and given the absence of any entirely reliable sources able to confirm either one version or the other, it seems impossible to resolve the subsequent doubts with any certainty. The matter has also been left open by the most recent scholarship covering the issue14.

Lex Licinia Sextia de modo agrorum [Licinio-Sextian Law Limiting the Amount of Land One Person Could Possess]

There are numerous sources that discuss this law. In addition to Livy, Varro, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Valerius Maximus, Velleius Paterculus, Columella, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, Gellius, and finally the author of De viris illustribus15 all have commented on it. More uncertain is whether the data provided by Cato the Elder and Appian16 refer to this law or to a subsequent one.

Putting aside for the moment the last two cited authors, the other sources, which surely refer to this law, state that it limited the possession of ager publicus [public land] to a maximum of 500 iugera (125 ha) per person17.

The law sought to establish a means of regulating the exploitation of the land seized by Rome from defeated enemy populations. In principle, these lands were occupied without any payment by those with the means to exploit them: this was known as ager occupatorius [occupiable land]18. Although theoretically revocable, assignment of possession was in fact permanent, and the occupants acquired legal possession transferable by both an inter vivos and mortis causa act. Only the rich, who at the beginning of the 4th century bce were also the exponents of the patriciate19, could in fact benefit from this possibility. It would appear that in purely exceptional circumstances, after the capture of Veii in 396 bce, several plebeians that had moved to the conquered lands received seven iugera of ager publicus per head20. The scope of the 367 bce law would therefore have been to increase the availability of land for distribution among the plebeian class.

Livy, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plutarch, Valerius Maximus, Columella, Pliny the Elder, and the author of De viris illustribus21 recount how C. Licinius sought to defraud the law that he himself had wanted, taking possession of 1,000 iugera of land and transferring half to his son, who on said occasion was emancipated: in 357 bce he was indicted by the aediles plebis M. Popilius Laenas and was the first to be convicted based on his own law. He was issued a fine for ten thousand asses. This datum indicates that, according to classifications collected by modern scholars, the law was minus quam perfecta [less than perfect] insofar as the sanction for breaches was not dispossession (of which is there is no evidence in historical sources), but rather a fine. Livy (10.13.14) adds that other proceedings for breaches of the law were promised by the aediles plebis in 298 bce and took place before the concilium plebis, as also confirmed by Dionysius of Halicarnassus22. It would seem plausible to state that the penalty was determined by the concilium plebis, and that perhaps it was commensurate with the quantity of land possessed above and beyond the regulatory provision.

With regard to the law in question, there is a divide between modern scholars who deny its historical accuracy23 and those who support its authenticity24, thus rejecting only the information according to which the limit for agrarian possession was set at 500 iugera, a limit considered anachronistic for the 4th century bce25. Concord among the numerous available ancient sources makes it difficult to doubt the existence of the law itself. In regards to the limit of 500 iugera, given the vast amount of land available for occupation after the capture of Veii, there is no reason to doubt the limit referred to by consolidated ancient tradition.

In regards to Cato the Elder and Appian, both these authors make reference to a lex de modo agrorum, without connecting it to two specific proponents and thus without nominating C. Licinius and L. Sextius (Appian only confirms that the proponents were two tribunes). According to these two quoted authors, this law, in addition to establishing a limit of 500 iugera for ager occupatorius possession, also included a provision according to which all persons were forbidden to graze more than a certain number of animals, which Cato the Elder doesn’t specify, and which Appian does specify as one hundred large cattle and five hundred smaller beasts. Moreover, according to both authors, the law also provided for offenders to be issued with a fine. Finally, according to Appian alone, it apparently obliged land possessors and cattle owners to use a certain number of free men to control happenings in the fields. Appian adds that the provision for five hundred iugera was not respected, and that the few who appeared to be intimidated in reality found a way around the law, dividing the land up among their family members.

While many modern scholars maintain that the law in question was the lex Licinia Sextia de modo agrorum, others have expressed various doubts in this regard, doubts which appear well founded.

It was in fact correctly noted that the provision obliging the use of a certain number of free workers in the fields, would appear to indicate26 the already advanced development of a slave culture, which certainly did not exist in 367 bce27.

In regards to the cattle limitation, on the other hand, it was convincingly claimed that this limit would make no sense if in reference to individual possession, in which case it would have been sufficient to indicate the maximum limit expressed in iugera. Therefore, the provision in question must have been in reference to livestock brought to graze on public, non-arable land intended for common grazing (ager scripturarius), and not in lands personally possessed. In any case, it was calculated that to graze one hundred large cattle and five hundred smaller animals, no less than 1,800 iugera28 would be needed: given that in 367 bce, grazing lands did not yet exist in Rome large enough to allow the co-existence of multiple herds of hundreds of cattle, it would make sense to assume that the law cannot realistically date back to the said year29.

These considerations lead to the conclusion that the two latter provisions were part of a law enacted after the 4th century bce30 and that they have been incorrectly dated to 367 bce by the quoted ancient sources. The more recent law has to date back to before 167 bce, the year of the Pro Rhodiensibus [For the Rhodians] oration, from which Cato the Elder’s passage is extracted.

Lex Licinia Sextia de consule plebeio [Licinio-Sextian Law on the Plebeian Consul]

The law on the admission of plebeians to the consulship is that which Livy dedicates most of his work to, highlighting it as a provision clearly aimed at the full equality of the two patrician and plebeian orders (6.35.5, 6.42.9–11). The law is also documented by other sources, which nonetheless appear to be less relevant31.

After the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the republic (509 bce)32, until halfway through the 5th century bce, plebeians had vainly attempted to claim their right to participate in the supreme magistracy of State, which according to the Livian account (1.60.4) was that of the two consuls. These were called “praetors” during the early republic according to some different sources33, insofar as they ruled the army34.

One part of modern scholarship, based on the fact that Livy 7.3.5 makes a quick reference to an ancient and no better defined magistracy of the “praetor maximus” [highest praetor], supports the theory that during the early republic the supreme magistrates were several praetors, of which one was higher ranked than the others35. This hypothesis conflicts with data reported in the Roman annalistic tradition36 and with the overall account of Livy, which speak of only two supreme magistrates until the legislative decemvirate (451–450 bce). All in all, this theory appears less convincing, although it cannot be entirely excluded. In any case, the existence of an archaic praetor maximus may no doubt lead one to conclude that the supreme magistrates of the early republic (whether two or more) were not all of equal ranking37.

In the early republic, only the patricians were considered entitled to the auspices, and they alone could interpret the wishes of the gods. It was impossible to admit the plebeians to the supreme magistracies, because religion prevented them from establishing the necessary ties with divinity. Over time, that religious terror protecting the privileges of the patrician caste began to subside, and the plebeians were slowly appointed to the highest political roles. This happened in several stages.

Some plebeians were admitted to the second legislative decemvirate in 450 bce. Then, with the fall of the decemvirate, from 444 bce, the plebeians managed to secure a process whereby in the place of the supreme magistracy of the praetors-consuls—which had been re-established—over several years38 military tribunes with consular powers were elected39. From 400 bce, several plebeians were even elected into said college40. In any case, this was not sufficient: the military tribunes, albeit equipped with imperium [supreme military power]41, were lower-ranked magistrates with respect to the praetors-consuls, as demonstrated by the fact that they could neither take the auspices nor nominate the dictator.

The plebeian claim to the right to access the praetors-consuls magistracy, combined with the economic demands of that same social class on the issue of debt and possession of land discussed earlier, eventually led to a decade-long political conflict which ended in the approval of the corpus of the leges Liciniae Sextiae. So, according to Livy (6.35.5), the law on the plebeian consul established that the military tribunes were abolished and that every year one of the two elected supreme magistrates (the praetors-consuls) had to be a plebeian: said magistrates were thereafter definitively referred to as consuls42 and were of equal ranking. Those who maintain that up until 367 bce the supreme magistrates were represented by more than two praetors, are naturally of the opinion that the consular pair was a magistracy introduced ex novo in said year43.

According to the Livian account (6.42.9–14.), in 367 bce, it was L. Sextius himself to be elected as the first plebeian consul for the following year. Initially, the patricians had no intention of recognising the validity of the elections; however, given that the plebeians were threatening a secession (after those of 494 and 450/449 bce [Livy 2.32–33, 3.50–54]), in the end a new agreement was stipulated, restoring concord among the community of citizens: in accordance with the newly approved law, the patricians allowed for one of the consuls to be plebeian, and in return the plebeians allowed the creation of a new magistrate in 366 bce based on the patrician order, in turn called a praetor, to which responsibility for managing justice in the city would be assigned44.

Based on this evidence, it can be inferred that around 367 bce, a new structure was established for the Roman constitution. Moreover, once the ability of the plebeians to access the supreme magistracy had been established, the same principle was then established for all the others45. And so, the plebeians were admitted to the dictatorship and to the role of magister equitum (master of horse) in 356 bce (Livy 7.17.6), to censure in 351 bce (Livy 7.22.7–10), and to the role of praetor in 337 bce (Livy 8.15.9). The religious colleges would soon also be open to the plebeians. Again, in 367 bce, the decemviri sacris faciundis were established, with the admission of the plebeians. In 300 bce, the plebiscite Ogulnium46, strongly opposed by the patricians, established that the number of pontiffs rise from four to eight, and the number of augurs be increased from four to nine so as to make room for the plebeians (10.6.6, 10.9.2.). In 254 bce, the first plebeian Pontifex Maximus was elected (Livy, Per. 18).

The historical accuracy of the constitutional context thus far described, along with the determining facts, all in all appear to be acceptable, except for the uncertainties regarding the nature of the original republican magistracy of the praetors-consuls.

However, one additional fact deserves further attention. While the 367 bce agreement regarding the plebeian consul was properly respected in 366 bce and until 356 bce, in the years 355–351, 349, 345 and 343 bce, during an upsurge in the patrician-plebeian conflict, only patrician consuls were elected47. The new constitutional law was subsequently breached again in 334, in 323, and in 321 bce. Then, from 320 bce, it was continuously respected until the era of Julius Caesar48. Livy, in relation to the election of patrician consuls for 355 bce49 claims that the conflict regarding the application of the law was founded on the interpretation of the Twelve Tables XII.550, according to which the last people’s resolutions were to be considered valid (ut, quodcumque postremum populus iussisset, id ius ratumque esset [whatever recently was ordered by the people, let it be ratified and applied as law]): the patricians claimed that the election of the consuls was also a people’s resolution and therefore had to be respected, despite the prohibition by the Licinia Sextia law. The theoretical argument Livy recalls is no doubt interesting; however, the repeated violation of the lex Licinia Sextia de consule plebeio in years following close on its approval demonstrates that its respect or otherwise mainly depended on the political relationship between the parties, and conservative approaches still managed to get the upper hand in the years after 367 bce51.

It is once again Livy (7.42.2) who states, relying on a tradition that he himself describes as uncertain, that in 342 bce a plebiscite proposed by L. Genucius the tribune was approved, stating that both consuls could be plebeians. Interpreted as such, the content of the law appears to have had scarce credibility, because there were no provisions preventing a pair of plebeian consuls. One part of the scholarship has therefore maintained that the plebiscite had introduced the requirement that both consuls always “had to be” plebeian52. However, said plebiscite, if it did actually exist, was not applied and was perhaps never anything more than an episode in which, during the political battle that followed 367 bce, the “progressive” party relaunched its attack. Only in 172 bce were there the first two plebeian consuls53.

Primary Texts

Livy, Ab Urbe Condita.


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(1.) Essential general works for an initial overview of the laws include Giovanni Rotondi, Leges publicae populi romani. Elenco cronologico con una introduzione sull’attivita legislativa dei comizi romani (Milan: Società editrice italiana, 1912), 216–220; Dieter Flach, in Zusammenarbeit mit Stefan von der Lahr, Die Gesetze der frühen römischen Republik. Text und Kommentar (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1994), 280–297; Stephen P. Oakley, A Commentary on Livy. Books VI–X, I, Introduction and Book VI (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), 647–661.

(2.) Gaetano Scherillo, and Aldo Dell’Oro, Manuale di storia del diritto romano (Milan: Cisalpino Istituto editoriale universitario, 1987), 137; Cássola Filippo and Luigi Labruna, in Lineamenti di storia del diritto romano, ed. M. Talamanca (Milan: Giuffrè, 1989), 123.

(3.) Theodor Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht, III.1 (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1888), 156–157; Feliciano Serrao, Diritto privato, economia e società nella storia di Roma, I, Dalla società gentilizia alle origini dell’economia schiavistica (Naples: Jovene, 2006), 99. For more detailed bibliographic references, see Lex Hortensia.

(4.) Livy 6.34 also quotes an anecdote indicating the involvement of some patricians in the political design by the two plebeian tribunes. According to said anecdote, M. Fabius Ambustus, patrician father-in-law of C. Licinius, supported the tribunes’ initiative. See Pierpaolo Zamorani, Plebe, genti, esercito. Una ipotesi sulla storia di Roma, 509–339 a.C. Lezioni (Milan: A. Giuffrè, 1987), 39–40; Robert Ross Holloway, “A Cover-up in Early Roman History: Fabia Minor and the Sextian-Licinian Reforms,” Classical Journal 109 (2013–2014): 139–146.

(5.) Rotondi, Leges publicae, 1: 216–217.

(6.) Oakley, A Commentary on Livy, 1: 648, 650; Annamaria Manzo, La Lex Licinia Sextia de modo agrorum. Lotte e leggi agrarie tra il V e il IV secolo a.C (Naples: E. Jovene, 2001), 138.

(7.) See Aline Abaecherli-Boyce, “The Development of the decemviri sacris faciundis,” Transactions of the American Philological Association (1938): 161–187; Claudia Santi, I libri sibyllini e i decemviri sacris faciundis (Rome: Il Bagatto, 1985), 5–19; Lorenzo Gagliardi, Decemviri e centumviri. Origini e competenze (Milan: Giuffrè, 2002), 20, 26.

(8.) Serv., Commentarius in Vergilii operam, in Aeneidem, 6.73.

(9.) Val. Max. 1.1.13, 8.15.12; Zonar. 7.11.1; Dion. Hal., Ant. Rom., 4.62.4; Hermann Diels, Sibyllinische Blätter (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1890), 25–108; John Scheid, “Les livres sibyllins et les archives des quindécemvirs,” in La mémoire perdue. Recherches sur l’administration romaine, ed. C. Moatti (Rome: École française de Rome, 1998), 11–26; Gauthier Liberman, “Les documents sacerdotaux du collège sacris faciundis,” in La mémoire perdue, 65–74.

(10.) See Claudia Santi, “I viri sacris faciundis tra concordia ordinum e pax deorum,” in Gli operatori cultuali. Atti del II Incontro di studio organizzato dal “Gruppo di contatto per lo studio delle religioni mediterranee Roma,” 10–11 maggio 2005, ed. M. Rocchi, P. Xella, and J. Á. Zamora (Verona: Essedue edizioni, 2006), 171–184; Susan Satterfield, “The viri sacris faciundis and the Consulship,” Classical World 107 (2013–2014): 217–235.

(11.) David E. Hahm, “Roman Nobility and the Three Major Priesthoods, 218–167 B.C.,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 94 (1963): 73–85; Claudia Santi, “Divinazione e civitas,” in The Notion of Religion in Comparative Research. Selected Proceedings of the XVI Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions. Rome, 3–8 September, 1990, ed. U. Bianchi, with the cooperation of F. Mora and L. Bianchi (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1994), 327–334; Tadeusz Mazurek, “The decemviri sacris faciundis: Supplication and Prediction,” in Augusto augurio. Rerum humanarum et divinarum commentationes in honorem Jerzy Linderski, ed.Christoph F. Konrad, (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2004), 151–168.

(12.) For 8.33 percent annually, see Robert P. Maloney, “Usury in Greek, Roman, and Rabbinic Thought,” Traditio 27 (1971): 79–109, esp. 89; Francesco De Martino, “Riforme del IV secolo a.C.,” Bullettino dell’Istituto di Diritto Romano 78 (1975): 29–70, esp. 64; Serrao, Diritto privato, 3: 345; Anna Pikulska, “Fenus unciarium,” Revue internationale des droits de l’antiquité 3e sér. 49 (2002): 165–183; Riccardo Cardilli, “Plebiscita et leges antiusura. Leges fenebres, ius civile ed ‘indebitamento’ della plebe: a proposito di Tac. Ann. VI, 16, 1–2,” Diritto@Storia. Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Giuridiche e Tradizione Romana 7 (2008). For 100 percent annually, see Charles Appleton, “Contributions à l’histoire du prêt à intérêt à Rome. Le taux du fenus unciarium,” Nouvelle Revue historique du droit français et étranger 43 (1919): 463–543; Vittorio Scialoja, “Unciarium fenus,” Bullettino dell’Istituto di Diritto Romano 33 (1922): 240–241; Hubert H. Zehnacker, “Unciarium fenus. (Tacite. Annales, VI, 16),” in Mélanges de littérature et d’épigraphie latines, d’histoire ancienne et d’archéologie. Hommage à la mémoire de Pierre Wuilleumier, ed. H. le Bonniec and G. Vallet (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1980), 353–362; Giuliano Cervenca, “Usura (diritto romano),” in Enciclopedia del diritto, XLV (Milan: Giuffrè, 1992), 1124–1135, esp. 1126; Oakley, A Commentary on Livy, 1: 660; J.-P. Coriat, “La dette, le failli et le créancier. Le droit romain face à l’endettement,” in L’apurement de dettes. Solution au surendettement, ed. Y. Chaput (Paris: Litec, 1998), 27–43; Laura Solidoro, “Tassi usurari e giurisdizione,” Diritto@Storia. Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Giuridiche e Tradizione Romana 7 (2008). Piera Capone, Unciaria Lex (Naples: Satura, 2012), 39–43; Arrigo D. Manfredini, Rimetti a noi i nostri debiti. Forme della remissione del debito dall’antichità all’esperienza europea contemporanea (Bologna: Il mulino, 2013), 43.

(13.) Tac., Ann., 6.16.1–2.

(14.) Aurelio Arnese, Usura e modus. Il problema del sovraindebitamento dal mondo antico all’attualità (Bari: Cacucci, 2013), 48. More credibility is afforded to Tacitus by Reinhard Zimmermann, The Law of Obligations (Cape Town: Juta, 1990), 166; Flach, Die Gesetze, 1: 180; Wolfgang Kunkel and Roland Wittmann, Staatsordnung und Staatspraxis der römischen Republik, II (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1995), 608, n. 169; Serrao, Diritto privato, 3: 345, 347–349; Stanisław Mrozek,Faenus. Studien zu Zinsproblemen zur Zeit des Prinzipats (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2001), 29–30; Cardilli, “Plebiscita,” 23; Solidoro, “Tassi usurari,” 23; Capone, Unciaria Lex, 23: 34; Manfredini, Rimetti a noi i nostri debiti, 23: 43. More credibility is afforded to Livy, by Mathieu Nicolau, “Le problème du fenus unciarium,” in Mélanges offerts à M. Nicolas Iorga par ses amis de France et des Pays de langue française (Paris: Libr. Universitaire J. Gamber, 1933), 925–948; De Martino, “Riforme,” 23, esp. 53; Cervenca, “Usura,” 23: 1124–1135; Liisa Savunen, “Debt Legislation in the Fourth Century B.C.,” in Senatus Populusque Romanus. Studies in Roman Republican Legislation, ed. U. Paananen, K. Heikkilä, K. Sandberg, L. Savunen, and J. Vaahtera (Rome: Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, 1994), 143–159, esp. 148; Oakley, A Commentary on Livy, 1: 661; Aleksandr V. Koptev, “Principles of the Nexum and Debt Law in the Twelve Tables,” in Principios Generales del Derecho. Antecedentes históricos y horizonte actual, ed. Fernando Reinoso Barbero (Madrid: Thomson Reuters, 2014), 227–246, esp. 245.

(15.) Livy 6.35.4–5, 6.36.11, 6.42.9, 7.16.9, 10.13.14, 34.4.9; Varro, Rust., 1.2.9; Dion. Hal., Ant. Rom., 14.12.1–2; Val. Max. 8.6.3; Vell. Pat. 2.6.3; Columella, Rust., 1.3.11–12; Plin., HN, 18.4.17; Plut., Vit. Cam., 39.5–6; Gell. 6.3.39–40, 6.3.45–46, 20.1.23; De vir. ill., 20.3–4.

(16.) Cato ed. Jordan, p. 24, fr. 5 (= Gell. 6.3.37); App., B Civ., 1.7–8.

(17.) According to Dominic W. Rathbone, “The Control and Exploitation of ager publicus in Italy under the Roman Republic,” in Tâches publiques et enterprise privée dans le monde romain, ed. J.-J. Aubert (Geneva: University of Neuchâtel, 2003), 135–178, esp. 145–146, the law limited private ownership. Contra, convincingly, Saskia T. Roselaar, Public Land in the Roman Republic. A Social and Economic History of ager publicus in Italy, 396–89 BC (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 104–110. According to John W. Rich, “Lex Licinia, Lex Sempronia. B. G. Niebuhr and the Limitation of Landholding in the Roman Republic,” in People, Land, and Politics. Demographic Developments and the Transformation of Roman Italy 300 BC–AD 14, ed. L. de Ligt and S. J. Northwood (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008), 519–572, the law limited public and private ownership. However, there appears to be no reliable references confirming this opinion. On this debate, see Ronald T. Ridley, “Leges agrariae. Myths Ancient and Modern,” Classical Philology 95 (2000): 459–467.

(18.) This principle is broadly discussed and reviewed by Dario Mantovani, “L’occupazione dell’ager publicus e le sue regole prima del 367 a.C.,” Athenaeum 85 (1997): 575–598.

(19.) The exclusion of the plebeians was in fact not of a legal nature. Contra Gianfranco Tibiletti, “Il possesso dell’ager publicus e le norme de modo agrorum sino ai Gracchi,” Athenaeum 26 (1948): 173–236, esp. 238, and Athenaeum 27 (1949): 3–42, esp. 28; Chiara Carsana, “Riflessioni sulle Leges Iuliae agrariae del 59 bce. Giuramento collettivo e principio di inabrogabilità nel II libro delle Guerre civili di Appiano,” Atti della Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Classe di Scienze Morali, Storiche e Filologiche. Rendiconti Ser. 9, 12 (2001): 259–274, esp. 271.

(20.) Livy 5.30.8; Plut., Vit. Cam., 7.2.

(21.) Livy 7.16.9; Dion. Hal., Ant. Rom., 14.12.1; Plut., Vit. Cam., 39.5–6; Val. Max. 8.6.3; Columella, Rust., 1.3.12; Plin., HN, 18.4.17; De vir. ill., 20.3–4.

(22.) Dion. Hal., Ant. Rom., 14.12.2.

(23.) Benedictus Niese, “Das sogenannte Licinisch-Sextische Ackergesetz,” Hermes 23 (1888): 410–423; Richard Maschke, Zur Theorie und Geschichte der romischen Agrargesetze (Tubingen: Mohr, 1906), 52–68; Francesca Bozza, La possessio dell’ager publicus [Parte prima] (Naples: Tipomeccanica, 1938), 167–169; Luigi Clerici, Economia e finanza dei Romani, I, Dalle origini alla fine delle guerre sannitiche (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1943), 290–304.

(24.) Camille Trapenard, L’ager scripturarius. Contribution a l’histoire de la propriété collective (Paris: Larose and Forcel, 1908), 120; Giuseppe Cardinali, Studi graccani (Genova: E. Oliveri, 1912), 134; Ettore Pais, Storia critica di Roma durante i primi cinque secoli, III, L’invasione gallica e il trionfo della plebe, la supremazia romana nel Lazio e nella Campania (Rome: P. Maglione and C. Strini, 1918), 95; Alberto Burdese, Studi sull’ager publicus (Turin: Giappichelli, 1952), 52–58; Claude Sterckx, “Appien, Plutarque et les premiers règlements de modo agrorum,” Revue internationale des droits de l’antiquité 16 (1969): 309–335; Francesco de Martino, Storia della costituzione romana, I (Naples: E. Jovene, 1972), 396–405; de Martino, “Riforme,” 23: 29–70; de Martino, Storia economica di Roma antica (Florence: La nuova Italia, 1979), 28–30; Alberto Burdese, “Le vicende delle forme di appartenenza e sfruttamento della terra nelle loro implicazioni politiche tra IV e II secolo a.C.,” Bullettino dell’Istituto di Diritto Romano 88 (1985): 39–72; Luigi Labruna, Tutela del possesso fondiario e ideologia repressiva della violenza nella Roma repubblicana. Materiali per un corso di istituzioni di diritto romano (Naples: Jovene, 1980), 104; Luigi Capogrossi Colognesi, “Alcuni problemi di storia romana arcaica. Ager publicus, gentes e clienti,” Bullettino dell’Istituto di Diritto Romano 83 (1980): 29–65; Jaroslav Neumann, “Quelques opinions sur la loi Licinia de modo agrorum dans la littérature historique moderne,” Acta Universitatis Carolinae. Graecolatina Pragensia 11 (1988): 63–76; Luigi Capogrossi Colognesi, Proprietà e signoria in Roma antica, I (Rome: La sapienza, 1994); Ethella Hermon, “Les lois Licinia-Sextia. Un nouvel examen,” Ktèma 19 (1994): 119–142; Ella Hermon, “Problèmes de l’occupation du sol au IVᵉ siècle avant J.-C. à Rome,” in Structures rurales et sociétés antiques. Actes du colloque de Corfou (14–16 mai 1992), ed. P. N. Doukellis and L. G. Mendoni (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1994), 265–271; Oakley, A Commentary on Livy, 1: 656; Manzo, La Lex Licinia Sextia, 12: 99–128; Serrao, Diritto privato, 3: 122–131; Roselaar, Public Land, 28: 95–112.

(25.) Tibiletti, “Il possesso,” 30, Athenaeum 26 (1948): 238, and Athenaeum 27 (1949): 3–42; Emilio Gabba, Appiano e la storia delle guerre civili (Florence: La nuova Italia, 1956), 20; Yaroslav Y. Zaborovskij, “Закон Лициния‎—Секстия‎ de modo agrorum (Попытка интерпретации‎)” [“The Licinian-Sextian law de modo agrorum (an attempt at interpretation)”], Вестник древней истории‎ [Vestnik Drejnev Istorii] 3 (1978): 10–19; Klaus Bringmann, Die Agrarreform des Tiberius Gracchus. Legende und Wirklichkeit (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1985), 11–28; Klaus Bringmann, “Das Licinisch-Sextische Ackergesetz und die gracchische Agrarreform,” in Symposion fur Alfred Heuss, ed. J. Bleicken, J (Kallmünz: Lassleben, 1986), 51–66; Forsén, Björn Forsén, Lex Licinia Sextia de modo agrorum: fiction or reality? (Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1991), 80; Lintott, Andrew Lintott, Judicial Reform and Land Reform in the Roman Republic. A New Edition, with Translation and Commentary, of the Laws from Urbino (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 37; Flach, Die Gesetze, 1: 288; Rathbone, “The Control,” 28: 148–149.

(26.) See App., B Civ., 1.7.

(27.) Serrao, Diritto privato, 3: 126.

(28.) Tibiletti, “Il possesso,” 30, Athenaeum 27 (1949): 6.

(29.) Serrao, Diritto privato, 3: 126–127.

(30.) Tibiletti, “Il possesso,” 30, Athenaeum 26 (1948): 231; Burdese, Studi sull’ager publicus, 36: 53; Serrao, Diritto privato, 3: 122–131. According to Roselaar, Public Land, 28: 111, “the maximum limit on animals may have been an addition to the lex Licinia introduced shortly after the Samnite Wars”.

(31.) Diod. Sic. 12.25.2 (which incorrectly dates the provision back to 449 bce); Plut., Vit. Cam., 39.1, 42.7; Flor. 1.17 (1.26.1–4); Ampelius, Liber memorialis, 25.4; Scholia in orationes Ciceronis Ambrosiana, 275.10–11, by Stangl; De vir. ill., 20.1; Pomponius, Dig.,; Zonar. 7.24.4.

(32.) It must nonetheless be taken into account that the traditional idea of a sudden passage from the monarchy to the republic was the subject of much scholarly debate. The original republican magistrates were the king’s officials, according to Aurelio Bernardi, “Dagli ausiliari del rex ai magistrati della respublica,” Athenaeum 30 (1952): 3–58; Adalberto Giovannini, “Les origines des magistratures romaines,” Museum Helveticum 41 (1984): 15–30; Adalberto Giovannini, “Il passaggio dalle istituzioni monarchiche alle istituzioni repubblicane,” in Convegno sul tema Bilancio critico su Roma arcaica fra monarchia e repubblica: in memoria di Ferdinando Castagnoli (Roma, 3–4 giugno 1991) (Rome: Accademia nazionale dei Lincei, 1993), 75–96; Adalberto Giovannini, Les institutions de la République romaine des origines à la mort d’Auguste (Basel: Schwabe Basel, 2015), 111–120.

(33.) Livy 3.55.12, 7.3.5; Cic., Leg., 3.3.8; Festus, p. 249 Lindsay; Plin., HN, 18.18; Gell. 11.18.8.

(34.) Varro, Ling., 5.14.80, 5.16.87.

(35.) See Krister Hanell, Das altrömische eponyme Amt (Lund: Gleerup, 1946), 95; Stuart E. Staveley, “The Conduct of Elections during an interregnum,” Historia 3 (1954): 193–211; De Martino, Storia, 36: 380–387; Gaetano De Sanctis, Storia dei Romani, I, La conquista del primato in Italia (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1956), 404–406; Francesco de Martino, “Intorno all’origine della repubblica romana e delle magistrature,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt. Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung. Joseph Vogt zu seinem 75. Geburtstag gewidmet, I, Von den Anfängen Roms bis zum Ausgang der Republik, ed. H. Temporini (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1972), 217–249: Giuseppe Valditara, Studi sul magister populi. Dagli ausiliari militari del rex ai primi magistrati repubblicani (Milan: Giuffrè, 1989), 318–365 (according to whom praetor maximus was the magister populi [master of the people]); Robert Bunse, Das römische Oberamt in der frühen Republik und das Problem der Konsulartribunen (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verl., 1998), 44–61; James H. Richardson, “Ancient Historical Thought and the Development of the Consulship,” Latomus 67 (2008): 328–341; Christopher Smith, “The Magistrates of the Early Roman Republic,” in Consuls and Res Publica. Holding High Office in the Roman Republic, ed. H. Beck, A. Duplá, M. Jehne, and F. Pina Polo (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 19–40, esp. 33–34.

(36.) Fasti consulares Capitolini ad ann. 13 p. Chr.: Degrassi, Attilio. “Fasti Consulares et Triumphales,” in Inscriptiones Italiae, XIII.1, (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1947), 25–63. See T. Broughton, and S. Robert,with the collaboration of Marcia L. Patterson, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, I, 509 B.C.–100 B.C. (New York: American Philological Association, 1951), 1–113. Doubts on this tradition are expressed by Fabio Mora, Fasti e schemi cronologici. La riorganizzazione annalistica del passato remoto romano (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1999); Fabio Mora, “Falsification of Fasti consulares” and Early Roman Republic,” Polifemo 8 (2008): 157–189; Denis C. Feeney, Caesar’s Calendar. Ancient Time and the Beginnings of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007); Smith, “The Magistrates,” 49: 19–40.

(37.) According to Karl Julius Beloch, Römische Geschichte bis zum Beginn der Punischen Kriege (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1926), 235–236, they were a dictator and his magister equitum (master of horse).

(38.) In the fifty-five years between 444 and 390 bce, there were twenty-nine consulships and twenty-six tribuneships, while from 390 bce onwards, there were only tribuneships. Fasti consulares Capitolini ad ann. 13 p. Chr.: Degrassi, “Fasti,” 50: 25–63. See Broughton, The Magistrates, I, 50: 52–96.

(39.) Pomponius, Dig., The military tribunes varied in number over the years (probably differing between two and six or a maximum of nine). See Theodor Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht, II.1 (Lipsiae: Hirzel, 1887), 74–76; Beloch, Römische Geschichte, 51: 231, 247.

(40.) Jean-Claude Richard, “Réflexions sur le tribunat consulaire,” Mélanges de l’École française de Rome 102 (1990): 767–799.

(41.) According to Livy 4.7.2, the military tribunes were established due to the very need to multiply supreme military control in certain years, given that two consuls alone were insufficient. See Giambattista Cairo, “Rileggendo Livio VIII, 8, 3–14. Una nuova ipotesi sulla legione,” Rivista storica dell’Antichità 40 (2010): 85–101.

(42.) This is the traditional and prevailing opinion on the law in modern scholarship. See Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht, II.1, 53: 74–80; Endre Ferenczy, From the Patrician State to the Patricio-Plebeian State (Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1976), 47–72; Scherillo-Dell’Oro, Manuale, 2: 133–137; Andrew Lintott, The Constitution of the Roman Republic (Oxford: Clarendon, 1999), 36; Corey T. Brennan, The Praetorship in the Roman Republic, I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 49–54; Arnaldo Momigliano, “The Rise of the Plebs in the Archaic Age of Rome,” in Social Struggles in Archaic Rome. New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders, ed. K. A. Raaflaub (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005), 168–184; Kurt A. Raaflaub, “From Protection and Defense to Offense and Participation. Stages in the Conflict of the Orders,” Social Struggles in Archaic Rome, 185–222. Staveley, “The Conduct of Elections,” 49: 193–211, gives a different interpretation of the law. According to him, it could have been intended in the sense that consuls could both be patricians (and therefore the provision in the law was corrected in 342 bce, from the lex Genucia, which will be dealt with hereafter). Also Kurt von Fritz, “The Reorganisation of the Roman Government in 366 B.C. and the so-called Licinio-Sextian Laws,” Historia 1 (1950): 3–44, is diminishing the weight of the law. According to him, it was an agreement between plebeians and the senate (albeit inserted within the context of a greater administrative restructuring of the republic) to establish a precedent, that is, the candidature of a plebeian to the consulship. These interpretations do not appear to appreciate the general value of the constitutional reform of 367 bce. According to Gianpaolo Urso, Cassio Dione e i magistrati. Le origini della repubblica nei frammenti della Storia romana (Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 2005), 15–36; Gianpaolo Urso, “The Origin of the Consulship in Cassius Dio’s Roman History,” in Consuls and Res Publica. Holding High Office in the Roman Republic, ed. H. Beck, A. Duplá, M. Jehne, and F. Pina Polo (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 41–60, the supreme magistrates of Rome received the nomination of consuls already in 449 bce, the year in which they would have been established. According to Aleksandr V. Koptev, “Сведения Тита Ливия о развитии консулата в‎ IV в‎. до н.э‎” (“Livy’s Evidence for the Development of the Consulate in the Fourth Century BC”), Mnemon 15 (2015): 291–321, the law introduced a third praetor in addition to the two existing ones.

(43.) See n. 35.

(44.) Livy 6.42.12; Pomponius, Dig.,; Lydus, Mag., 1.38.25–29. See Franz Wieacker, Romische Rechtsgeschichte. Quellenkunde, Rechtsbildung, Jurisprudenz und Rechtsliteratur, 1, Einleitung, Quellenkunde Frühzeit und Republik (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1988), 429, for the traditional opinion, according to which jurisdiction was previously appointed to other magistrates (king, consuls). See Francesco de Martino, La giurisdizione nel diritto romano (Padova: Cedam, 1937), 50; Richard E. Mitchell, Patricians and Plebeians. The Origin of the Roman State (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), 170; Brennan, The Praetorship, 57: 130; Olga Tellegen-Couperus, “Pontiff, Praetor, and Iurisdictio in the Roman Republic,” Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 74 (2006): 31–44, for the opinion, according to which jurisdiction was previously exercised by pontiffs.

(45.) Robert Develin, “The Integration of Plebeians into the Political Order after 366 B.C.,” in Social Struggles in Archaic Rome, 293–311.

(46.) Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp, “Das Plebiscitum Ogulnium de sacerdotibus. Überlegungen zu Authentizität und Interpretation der livianischen Überlieferung,” Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 131 (1988): 51–67.

(47.) According to minority scholarship, plebeian consuls did not exist prior to 342 bce: John Pinsent, Military Tribunes and Plebeian Consuls. The Fasti from 444 V to 342 V (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1975), 62–69.

(48.) C. Iulius Caesar III and M. Aemilius Lepidus, 46 bce. Fasti consulares Capitolini ad ann. 13 p. Chr.: Degrassi, “Fasti,” 50: 25–63. See Broughton, The Magistrates, I, 50: 124–578 and II, 99 B.C.–31 B.C. (New York: American Philological Association, 1952), 1–293.

(49.) C. Sulpicius Peticus and M. Valerius Publicola: Livy 7.17.13.

(50.) XII Tabulae, XII, 5. Salvator Riccobono, ed., Fontes iuris Romani antejustiniani, I, Leges (Florence: Barbera, 1941), 73; Michael H. Crawford, with contributions by J. D. Cloud et al., eds., Roman statutes, II (London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1996), 721–722.

(51.) Andrea di Porto, “Il colpo di mano di Sutri e il plebiscitum de populo non sevocando (A proposito della lex Manlia de vicensima manumissionum),” in Legge e società nella repubblica romana, I, ed. F. Serrao,(Naples: Jovene, 1981), 307–384; Timothy J. Cornell, “The Failure of the plebs,” in Tria corda. Scritti in onore di Arnaldo Momigliano, ed. E. Gabba (Como: New Press, 1983), 101–120.

(52.) de Martino, Storia, 36: 387; Lorenzo Fascione, “La legislazione di Genucio,” in Legge e società nella repubblica romana, II, ed. F. Serrao, (Naples: Jovene, 2000), 179–209, esp. 190–196, affords credibility to the information transmitted by Livy. Others claim that the Genucius plebiscite rendered the election of a plebeian consul obligatory, which according to the lex Licinia Sextia was only optional: Hans Beck, Antonio Duplá, Martin Jehne, and Francisco Pina Polo, eds., The Republic and Its Highest Office: Some Introductory Remarks on the Roman Consulate, in Consuls and Res Publica. Holding High Office in the Roman Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 1–16, esp. 5. According to Jean-Claude Richard, “Sur le plébiscite ut liceret consules ambos plebeios creari (Tite-Live VII, 42.2),” Historia 28 (1979): 65–75, and Richard Billows, “Legal Fiction and Political Reform at Rome in the Early Second Century B.C.,” Phoenix 43 (1989): 112–133, the lex Genucia apparently introduced the obligation for a plebeian consul, for the first time.

(53.) Livy 42.9.8; Fasti consulares Capitolini ad ann. 13 p. Chr.: Degrassi, “Fasti,” 50: 50–51, 123, 458–459. See Broughton, The Magistrates, I, 50: 410–411.

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