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date: 16 October 2019

Summary and Keywords

The lex Agraria dating from 111 bce is an epigraphic law dealing with the distribution and privatisation of public land (ager publicus) in Italy and the provinces. In its first part, concerning public land in Italy, the law first describes five different categories of land declared to be private, before identifying other kinds of land that were and should remain public. In the second part, relating to land in Africa and Greece, the law establishes rules mainly regarding pasture land and the public sale of land, which then had to be declared private; nonetheless, this land was subject to the payment of the vectigal. Therefore, the lex Agraria can be considered as a law that consolidated some of the achievements of the Gracchan reforms that took a significant step towards the privatisation of ager publicus. However, the question remains open as to whether the lex Agraria could be associated with one of the three post-Gracchan laws cited by Appian (B Civ. 1.27) and, if so, which one. A long-standing scholarly debate has arisen from these questions, and various theories have been advanced over the decades.

Keywords: lex Agraria, ager publicus, privatisation of land, tabula Bembina, post-Gracchan legislation, dominium ex iure Quiritium, vectigal

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