Navigation – Plan du site

Concordia and the Failure of the Rogatio Servilia Agraria

Mark A. Temelini

Entrées d’index

Index de mots-clés :

Cicéron, concordia, droit, politique, agriculture
Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 This sentence is attributed to Cicero as well as Sallust Cat. 6, 2 and is cited by Augustine Ep. 13 (...)

1 According to Cicero, the importance of concordia ciuitatis is acknowledged as the foundation of the Roman res publica (Rep. I, 40) : breui multitudo dispersa atque uaga concordia ciuitas facta erat, « in a short time a scattered and wandering multitude had become a community of citizens by mutual agreement »1. From this there is a balanced and stable form of government which facilitates liberty and harmony (Rep. I, 49) :

concordi populo et omnia referente ad incolumitatem et ad libertatem suam nihil esse inmutabilius, nihil firmius; facillimam autem in ea re publica esse concordiam, in qua idem conducat omnibus ; ex utilitatis uarietatibus, cum aliis aliud expediat, nasci discordias :

« when a sovereign people is pervaded by a spirit of harmony and tests every measure by the standard of their own safety and liberty, no form of government is less subject to change or more stable ; and they insist that harmony is very easily obtainable in a republic where the interests of all are the same ; for discord arises from conflicting interests, where different measures are advantageous to different citizens ».

2A lesson in music-theory provides the example as to how harmony must be achieved in the state in order for the ideal statesman to have the proper environment to teach and inform his fellow citizens (Rep. II, 69) : et quae harmonia a musicis dicitur in cantu, ea est in ciuitate concordia, artissimum atque optimum omni in re publica uinculum incolumitatis, eaque sine iustitia nullo pacto esse potest : « and what musicians call harmony in song is concord in a state, the strongest and best bond of safety in the entire republic, and this can never be brought about without the aid of justice ». Cicero amplifies his commitment to harmony by recognizing that concordia ciuitatis can only succeed with the participation of citizens from all status-groups. Consequently, Cicero’s laws for his ideal state point out (Leg. III, 28) :

si senatus dominus sit publici consilii, quodque is creuerit, defendant omnes, et si ordines reliqui principis ordinis consilio rem publicam gubernari uelint, possit ex temperatione iuris, cum potestas in populo, auctoritas in senatu sit, teneri ille moderatus et concors ciuitatis status :

« if the senate is recognized as the leader of public policy, and all the other orders defend its decrees, and are willing to allow the highest order to conduct the government by its wisdom, then this compromise, by which supreme power is granted to the people and actual authority to the senate, will make possible the maintenance of that balanced and harmonious constitution ».

3 The idea of concordia ciuitatis was not just a governing principle of Cicero’s politics but also fundamental in his definition of the state in which justice and partnership for the common good constituted unifying elements for an enduring res publica (Rep. I, 39) : est igitur, res publica res populi, populus autem non omnis hominum coetus quoquo modo congregatus, sed coetus multitudinis iuris consensu et utilitatis communione sociatus, « Then, a republic is the property of a people. But a people is not any collection of human beings brought together in any sort of way, but an assemblage of people in large numbers associated in an agreement with respect to justice and partnership for the common good ».

  • 2 Cicero, Off. I, 85 ; III, 22.
  • 3 Cicero, De Or. III, 19.

4 Cicero’s view of civil government demands that those who govern should not make decisions for a select group but for the benefit of all the governed, which fulfills an indispensable condition of concordia within the totum corpus rei publicae2. He appreciated the importance of unity among a variety of multiple elements3. In this way, concordia becomes the principle by which the republic must continue to exist (Har. Resp. 61) : hunc statum, qui nunc est, qualiscumque est, nulla alia re nisi concordia retinere possumus : « it is by unity of will alone that we can maintain the present condition of the state, such as it is ».

  • 4 Cicero, Off. I, 151 : omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid acquiritur, nihil est agri cultura meli (...)
  • 5 Cicero, Off. II, 73 and 78 ; Rep. I, 43.
  • 6 E. S. Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1 (...)
  • 7 The senate did approve a lex Plotia agraria in 70 of which very little detailed information is know (...)

5 Agriculture was considered an important and respectable occupation in Italy4. Following Ti. Gracchus’ major land distribution reforms of 133 BC the motives for leges agrariae were always the relief of urban overpopulation and compensation for returning army veterans. Many free-born citizens of the urban plebs who were forced by civil war to migrate to Rome aspired to return to the countryside. The grain dole was not sufficient for a free male citizen to support his family. Likewise, without any other source of income most unemployed or retired soldiers had no other choice but to return to their traditional rural livelihood. Having been forced to settle in colonies they worked the land, earning a living as farmers. Some were not successful, but sold their land and resided in the city searching for other means of employment. As a result Rome’s population continually increased. Private property rights were strict5, so the government was reluctant to purchase land and distribute it to its citizens. The aristocracy was especially unwilling to remove and relocate tenants who were settled under Sulla’s dictatorship, for fear of violent retaliation. Land allotments were needed to repopulate the countryside and reestablish vibrant farming communities after the civil and servile wars of the 70s BC. There was also concern in the enhanced prestige and loyal following gained by returning generals if beneficia of land were given to their soldiers6. But the economic turmoil of the sixties proved too great and relief was needed. The Rullan bill thus became the first insightful and detailed agrarian measure for land distribution after Sulla’s dictatorship7.

6 On December 10, 64 BC, when the new tribunes took office, P. Servilius Rullus proposed a comprehensive agrarian bill which had profound implications and was scheduled to be brought before the senate at the beginning of 63 BC. Known as the rogatio Seruilia agraria, its particulars can only be ascertained from Cicero’s three speeches in opposition, entitled De Lege Agraria contra Rullum. Rullus proposed that needy Roman citizens throughout Italy should be settled in colonies set up on public land of the ager Campanus and the campus Stellas. This measure would resolve the overpopulation in Rome and would make land immediately available for Pompey’s troops returning from the Mithridatic Wars.

  • 8 For a complete and detailed analysis of the bill and the speech, see P. Mackendrick, The Speeches o (...)
  • 9 Cicero, Leg. Agr. III, 4.
  • 10 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 33.
  • 11 For a description of the election procedures, see LegAgr. II, 16-17 ; 20-21 ; 24 : 26 ; 28-30. On (...)

7 The bill was set within an intelligent framework8. About forty clauses perceptively outlined the supervision, purchase, and distribution of the land allotments9. Procedural regulations were designed to be impartial and many were already set on precedent. An authoritative body of ten elected members were to hold office for five years to oversee and administer the project. This commission would have the help of a full support staff which included architects, clerks, scribes, and surveyors in order to regulate all the necessary supplies10. The election process was well thought-out. A chief presiding officer would select by lot seventeen of the thirty-five tribes in the popular assemblies whose members would elect the ten man commission. Candidates had to be present at Rome. A position as decemvir could be combined with a magisterial office of the cursus honorum. Proceedings would be ratified by a lex curiata in which tribunician vetoes would be banned11.

  • 12 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 20 ; II.76-86.

8 The scope of the bill was original, yet, at the same time, problematic in the eyes of senatorial officials. It was the traditional duty of Roman government to distribute public land. A vast fertile area in Campania immediately south of the via Appia surrounding the rivers Volturnus and Clanius just north of Roman Neapolis was the main area for the project of land distribution. This rich agricultural zone of the ager Campanus and campus Stellas had still remained ager publicus, that is public land controlled by the Roman government. Both territories provided a continuous source of revenue to the state treasury from numerous rented properties. Rullus’ proposal would deny that guaranteed steady income to the treasury. Five thousand private citizens would have the chance to buy public lots of ten to twelve Roman acres (iugera) within those territories12.

  • 13 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 68-70 ; III, 3 ; 6-14.
  • 14 E. S. Gruen, op. cit., p. 389-391.

9 In another measure, if landowners throughout Italy were looking to sell their property but were unwilling to locate or could not find adequate individual purchasers through negotiatores, then the state would be obligated to purchase the property then sell it to any private citizen in need of the land. Thus, the bill gave the seller the state as its customer. The state would give full compensation to anyone, even the Sullan colonists who wished to dispose of their holdings13. Under the new law, the recipients would be those who had been ousted from their farms during the Sullan period. They would recover their land at state expense. Skilled farmers would replace frustrated veteran soldiers and their efforts would allow the agricultural economy of Italy to increase. With ready money veteran soldiers could invest in other ventures, thus involving another segment of Roman society, namely financiers and bankers. The idea was to create a stronger privately based agricultural economy. And if the individual land owner faced difficulties he could rely on the government to bail him out by purchasing the land. It must be agreed that Rullus’ proposal was perceptive14.

  • 15 This was not a new idea, just the enforcement of a senatorial decree passed during the time of Sull (...)
  • 16 For public land in Roman provinces, see Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 5-6 ; II, 47-58 ; III, 15 ; on vectiga (...)

10 A plan for new or increased sources of revenue for financing the project was also part of the bill. Public sites in Rome and other public properties throughout Italy would be marketable commodities15. In addition, the sale of certain portions of ager publicus in rich agricultural areas of Asia Minor, Cyprus, Egypt, and other Roman provinces would provide the government with ready cash ; not to mention the booty and spoils that were stockpiling throughout Rome’s temples and coffers. These gains in revenue were to allow the government to purchase and allocate land to colonists throughout Italy16. If the bill had become law, the land distribution project would ultimately have increased the amount of taxable citizens, which would have become a boon to the state.

  • 17 Pompey was honoured in the bill and was exempt from relinquishing his spoils, Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, (...)
  • 18 These inferences are suggested by E. S. Gruen, op. cit., p. 394 and n. 144.

11 All these well-drawn-up measures point to the fact that this bill focused on the need to improve the life, welfare, and relations of citizens in Roman society. Since Pompey and his troops were still on their voyage back from the eastern campaigns, the initial five thousand settlers would have been the unemployed or underemployed plebs urbana first and foremost. Ready cash was needed for these immediate settlements. Pompey’s veterans would be compensated once they returned17. In the end, insufficient gratia, lack of auctoritas, and inferior oratorical prowess doomed Rullus’ bill18. Overall it was a novel, harmonious, well-planned, and far-sighted piece of legislation which, nonetheless, Cicero strenuously opposed.

  • 19 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 20-21.
  • 20 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 11 ; 16 ; 22 ; II, 20 ; 23 ; 46 ; 63 ; 98. Modern conjectures point to Crassus (...)
  • 21 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 21 ; II, 80 ; 84 ; III, 15.
  • 22 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 1-2 ; II, 38-46 ; see E. G. Hardy, op. cit., p. 74-77.
  • 23 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 10.
  • 24 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 102-103.
  • 25 Throughout his consulship Cicero pursued the aims described in the agrarian speeches to promote con (...)

12 Now in the ranks of the nobilitas, Cicero’s first order of business as consul in 63 BC was to speak against this agrarian proposal presented by Rullus. Having ascribed self-seeking motives to the tribune, Cicero criticized Rullus’ role as rogator, presiding officer, and candidate on the commission19. He alluded to the influential political support from powerful individuals who were against Pompey20. And the safeguard and protection of the public treasury which gained considerable profit from the rental properties of the ager publicus was a cause of serious concern for Cicero. If passed, the law would take away a part of the state’s source of income and cause a break with long established tradition21. Cicero was convinced that the decemvirs would auction off whole provinces in order to finance this venture22. He is not against agrarian reform23, yet such a law presented before him would exhaust the state’s treasury, increase taxation, cause public land to disappear, and threaten to put excessive power in the hands of the decemvirs. This economic turn-around would unbalance the state of concordia. In his opposition to the bill, Cicero equated himself with the values of the centuries-old republic and devoted himself to the harmony, well-being, and survival of the state24. Concordia signified a state of existence that needed to be preserved and this meant a campaign against any proposal that disrupted this condition. Personal necessity and political conviction demanded that he continue to work for harmony in the state and between the orders that offered him electoral support25. Thus, the consul-orator does not limit his discussions to the confines of the senate house but contrives to have the best of both worlds by persuading both senate and people that he is working for their interests with his concern to repel the proposal by the popularis tribune Rullus.

  • 26 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 22-27 ; II, 5-6.
  • 27 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 6. By asserting the sovereign power of the assemblies Cicero links his electi (...)
  • 28 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 23 ; II, 6 ; 9 ; III, 4; cf. Rab. Perd. 11.
  • 29 There is evidence that Cicero opposed other popular measures introduced by tribunes early in 63 BC (...)

13 The debate around Rullus’ bill coincided with the beginning of Cicero’s term as consul. In his first month, Cicero took care to define his political aims and lay out his political program for carrying out his duties in office26. As a result of being elected uniuersi populi Romani iudicio27, he declared to both the senate and people that he was a consul popularis working for the preservation of concordia and otium28. His plan would be to manage affairs in a way which he thought was beneficial for the people rather than support measures by popular tribunes that indicated what the people wanted done29. He states (Leg. Agr. III, 4) : hunc statum rei publicae magno opere defendendum putem qui otii et concordiae patronum me in hunc annum populo Romano professus sim : « I believe the present constitution must be vigorously defended because I have declared myself to the Roman people to be the defender of otium and concordia for the present year ». Such a pledge was in fact a commitment to defend the established legislation and traditional values of Roman government set forth by its constitution.

  • 30 During the Roman republic the temples and altars dedicated to Concordia belonged to the senatorial (...)
  • 31 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 23 ; II, 7-9 : impune in otio esse (9) ; Mur. 78 ; Red. Quir. 20 ; Dom. 15 ; P (...)

14 Concordia indicated a quality of life, a result and condition as symbolized and made permanent by its eponymous temple in the Roman forum30. It therefore meant agreement, a strong bond of unity among three classes of citizens in Roman society (senators, leading citizens, masses) who had similar interests and recognized the working institutions of Rome’s political system. These citizens were classified as boni, men of principle or les gens de bien, whose voices were heard in the senate, magistracy, and popular assemblies. This harmony was solidified by the traditions of the mos maiorum and brought about with the aid of justice enforced by law. Citizens were satisfied that their interests, safety, and liberty were protected by the uninterrupted and harmonious activities of the forum, organization of the law courts, and active legislation so that they could live free from anxiety and fear. The result of concordia was otium (often linked with tranquillitas and pax) which qualified the condition of harmony. Otium indicated the particular state of tranquility and calm in the republic when there was no civil disorder (seditio, tumultus). This condition allowed all citizens to enjoy peace safely without danger31.

  • 32 The values of the optimate tradition are listed as : religiones, auspicia, potestas magistratum, se (...)
  • 33 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 10.
  • 34 For the view that a popularis shows interest in the salus of the people, see Cicero, Verr. II, 1, 1 (...)
  • 35 Observe the fine distinction between a conventional and a true popularis : consul ueritate, non ost (...)
  • 36 For an account of political catchwords, see R. Syme, The Roman Revolution, Oxford, Oxford Universit (...)
  • 37 Such an action was not without its forerunners in Roman politics : Valerius Potitus and Horatius Ba (...)
  • 38 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 24.
  • 39 See N. Wood, Cicero’s Social and Political Thought, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 19 (...)

15 In the agrarian speeches, the word popularis is redefined with the use of optimate values so that Cicero may claim to be the true popularis, not his opponent. The values listed in the Pro Sestio32 as constituents of the optimate ideal for concordia and otium were those attacked by Rullus and his colleagues in 63 BC33. In his effort to be accepted by both groups, Cicero wanted to be seen as a consul popularis among the optimates. In the first speech to the senate opposing Rullus’ bill, Cicero declared (Leg. Agr. I, 21) : de periculo salutis ac libertatis loquor, thus appropriating two main themes belonging to the popularis tradition, salus and libertas34 and challenged Rullus to defy his power as consul and promoter of peace (Leg. Agr. I, 23) : etenim, ut circumspiciamus omnia, quae populo grata atque iucunda sunt, nihil tam populare quam pacem, quam concordiam, quam otium reperiemus : « for, as we examine everything which is pleasant and agreeable to the people, we shall find nothing so popular as peace, harmony, and calmness »35. Cicero equates populare with the things that are « pleasing and agreeable to the people ». But then he offers a series of optimate slogans : pax, concordia, otium and passes these words off as « popular » catchwords when in fact they were always those of the conservative faction which aimed to maintain law and order, and continue business as usual36. He guaranteed to the senate that he would continue the propaganda of these slogans which were the foundation of senatorial authority. The senators were well aware of the bold expedient of declaring an optimate policy in the interests of the people37. Political aims for the year were affirmed at the end of the speech where Cicero promises to repel dangers, such as this fraudulent popular proposal38, and protect tranquillitas, pax and otium for the benefit of maintaining dignitas39 – the political domination of the aristocratic landholding minority in Rome’s hierarchical social system (Leg. Agr. I, 27) :

Quodsi uos uestrum mihi studium, patres conscripti, ad communem dignitatem defendendam profitemini, perficiam perfecto, id quod maxime res publica desiderat, ut huius ordinis auctoritas, quae apud maiores nostros fuit, eadem nunc longo interuallo rei publicae restituta esse uideatur :

« But if, conscript fathers, you promise me your eagerness to defend the common dignity, I will certainly accomplish what the republic precisely desires, that the authority of this order which existed in the time of our ancestors, may now, after a long interval, be seen to be restored to the republic ».

  • 40 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 7-8. Promoters of a new legislation such as this were themselves defined as i (...)
  • 41 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 10.
  • 42 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II,15. L. Perelli, op. cit., p. 80.
  • 43 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 102, Clu. 146 and 155, Rab. Perd. 10.
  • 44 C. Antonius campaigned with Catiline during the consular elections ; and both were attacked by Cice (...)
  • 45 Cicero, Leg. Agr. III, 4.
  • 46 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 26-27 ; II, 7-9 ; 101-103 ; Rab. Perd. 34 ; Fam. I, 9, 12 ; Sest. 51 ; cfRep(...)

16 When Cicero addressed the people his approach was slightly different. His specific aim was to pursue a popular policy but not in the manner of Rullus and his colleagues who had betrayed the commoda and salus of the people on the pretext of « popularity », which threatened the lives of the boni and aroused hopes in the improbi40. Instead, Cicero would commit himself to the true commoda of a popular policy : pax, libertas, otium41. He continues the propaganda of optimate slogans but makes a slight alteration by substituting the term concordia for the new slogan libertas from the popularis tradition and again passes them off as « popular » catchwords. Cicero’s intention is to contrast the despotic will of the tribunes proposing the agrarian law who aim « to set up kings in the republic » with the original function of the tribuneship42. The tribune and the decemvirs, the committee members who would have been put in charge of the application of the law, would take advantage of their influential position and introduce a real tyranny, a regnum which would threaten the libertas of the Roman people. Of course, this would not appear favorable to the many citizens in the audience who elected the tribunes for their obligation to libertas, a value which, for Cicero, consisted in respecting the existing laws of the constitution43. At the end of the speech, Cicero reiterates his program with yet another slight variation (Leg. Agr. II, 102) : nihil esse tam populare quam id, quod ego uobis in hunc annum consul popularis adfero, pacem, tranquillitatem, otium : « there is nothing so desired by the people as that which I, a consul who is a true friend of the people, offer you for this year : peace, calm, quietness ». Considering his colleague’s past alliances, Cicero reassures his audience that a bond of concordia does indeed exist between them (Leg. Agr. II, 103) : ex concordia, quam mihi constitui cum collega44, and by checking sedition he promises the people in the forum that concordia and otium will be preserved during his consular tenure45. Cicero addresses his audience as the boni, the people whose political influence depended on elections, whose rights depended on the courts and on the propriety of officials, and whose economic prosperity depended on the preservation of pax, concordia and otium, the true popularis goals. All of which were the political and economic principles set out by traditional republicanism46. The bill was withdrawn and Rullus was not heard from again.

  • 47 The boni can also be described as the uerus populus from whom Cicero, the uere popularis, sought su (...)
  • 48 To the man who is popularis corresponds improbus (Sest. 197) and leuitas, political fickleness or i (...)
  • 49 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 25 ; II, 43. For more evidence on Cicero’s derivation of popularis from populu (...)
  • 50 Cicero, Leg. III, 8 ; Phil. XI, 28.
  • 51 Cicero, Off. I, 15 ; 20 sq. ; II, 73 ; Rep. III, 24.

17 It is significant that in these speeches Cicero views the senatorial governing body and Roman citizens as a single entity. In the three versions of his political program, concordia, libertas and tranquillitas are central qualifiers of pax and otium. These aims are binding on all citizens, a combination of values and phrases adopted from the popularis and optimate traditions. Once again there is the suggestion as to which groups are committed to maintaining the principles of republican government and which groups pose a threat to it. The optimates and their supporters, who make up the entire nation, are distinguished as the boni47. In opposition to them were the improbi, politically fickle and unprincipled, who inclined towards the populares48. These tribunes who called themselves populares and claimed to be concerned with populares’ causes were, in Cicero’s view, really working against the people’s interests, so they could not be populares. Setting out these proposals allowed Cicero to achieve a great deal. He claimed the title popularis, which meant much since it derived from populus49, and appropriated it for himself and the cause of the optimates. Thus it could be said that he designated himself as consul popularis on the uia optimas since he reformulated the traditional political vocabulary for the preservation of concordia. Cicero believed in the process of protecting the safety of the Roman people. This was affirmed in the precept salus populi suprema lex esto50. It was Cicero’s political aim to defend the government and public order from the economic innovations proposed by Rullus and his improbi supporters since, in his view, the government’s primary function was to maintain property rights51 and property owners were not to be stripped of their possessions by force. This desire to moderate or to participate in two camps also reflects his efforts to bring senators and equites together in a common cause to frustrate an attempted putsch by extremists. Having risen from the ranks of the equestrian order, Cicero entered the consulship intent on defending the new noble status he had achieved for his gens.

Haut de page

Notes

1 This sentence is attributed to Cicero as well as Sallust Cat. 6, 2 and is cited by Augustine Ep. 138. Translations are based on those in the Loeb Classical Library volumes, with occasional very minor changes in orthography and diction to assist in focusing the discussion.

2 Cicero, Off. I, 85 ; III, 22.

3 Cicero, De Or. III, 19.

4 Cicero, Off. I, 151 : omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid acquiritur, nihil est agri cultura melius, nihil uberius, nihil dulcius, nihil homine libero dignius : « of all the occupations in which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a freeman ». For a discussion on this richly documented topic, see A. J. Toynbee, Hannibal’s Legacy : The Hannibalic War’s Effects on Roman Life, London, Oxford University Press, 1965 ; K. D. White, A Bibliography of Roman Agriculture, Reading, University of Reading, 1970, Roman Farming, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1970, and Farm Equipment of the Roman World, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1975 ; P. A. Brunt, Italian Manpower 225 BC-AD 14, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971 ; J. M. Frayn, Subsistence Farming in Roman Italy, London, Centaur Press, 1979 ; E. Gabba and M. Pasquinucci, Strutture agrarie e allevamento transumante nell’Italia romana (III-I a.C.), Pisa, Giardini, 1979 ; A. Cossarini, « Il prestigio dell’agricoltura in Sallustio e Cicerone », Atti dell’istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 138 (1979-1980), p. 355-364 ; J. Kolendo, L’agricoltura nell’Italia romana, Roma, Editori Riuniti (ECON I 142), 1980 ; P. W. de Neeve, Colonus : Private Farm-Tenancy in Roman Italy during the Republic and Early Principate, Amsterdam, J. C. Gieben, 1984 ; V. I. Kuziscin, La grande proprietà agraria nell’Italia romana, Roma, Editori Riuniti, 1984 ; K. Greene, The Archaeology of the Roman Economy, London, Batsford, 1986 ; M. S. Spurr, Arable Cultivation in Roman Italy, London, Journal of Roman Studies (Monograph 3), 1986 ; A. Tchernia, Le Vin de l’Italie romaine, Rome, École Française, 1986 ; A. W. Lintott, Judicial Reform and Land Reform in the Roman Republic, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

5 Cicero, Off. II, 73 and 78 ; Rep. I, 43.

6 E. S. Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1974, p. 387.

7 The senate did approve a lex Plotia agraria in 70 of which very little detailed information is known. It was originally intended only for the veterans of Pompey and Metellus after the civil and servile wars in the preceding years. But the law was delayed apparently due to political opposition against the powerful commanders and by further campaigns in the east in the sixties which meant Pompey needed his soldiers once again. For further discussions, see E. Gabba, « Lex Plotia agraria », La parola del passato, 13 (1950), p. 66-68 ; R. E. Smith, « The Lex Plotia Agraria and Pompey’s Spanish Veterans », Classical Quarterly, 7 (1957), p. 82-85. On earlier agrarian proposals, see G. Tibiletti, « Ricerche di storia agraria romana I : La politica agraria dalla guerra annibalica ai Gracchi », Athenaeum, 28 (1950), p. 183-266.

8 For a complete and detailed analysis of the bill and the speech, see P. Mackendrick, The Speeches of Cicero : Context, Law, Rhetoric, London, Duckworth, 1995, p. 24-57.

9 Cicero, Leg. Agr. III, 4.

10 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 33.

11 For a description of the election procedures, see LegAgr. II, 16-17 ; 20-21 ; 24 : 26 ; 28-30. On precedents for Rullus’ electoral clauses, see E. Gabba, « Nota sulla rogatio agraria di P. Servilio Rullo », Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire offerts à André Piganiol, R. Chevalier (éd.), Paris, S.E.V.P.E.N., 1966, p. 769-775. The use of seventeen tribes would reduce voter intimidation and bribery ; see E. G. Hardy, Some Problems in Roman History, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1924, p. 83.

12 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 20 ; II.76-86.

13 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 68-70 ; III, 3 ; 6-14.

14 E. S. Gruen, op. cit., p. 389-391.

15 This was not a new idea, just the enforcement of a senatorial decree passed during the time of Sulla in 81 ; see Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 3-4 ; II, 35-37.

16 For public land in Roman provinces, see Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 5-6 ; II, 47-58 ; III, 15 ; on vectigal payments, Leg. Agr. I, 10 ; II, 56-57 and 62 ; on war booty, Leg. Agr. I, 12-13 ; II, 59 ; on buying and selling of real estate in Italy, Leg. Agr. I, 16-17 ; II, 31 ; 33-34 ; 73 ; 75.

17 Pompey was honoured in the bill and was exempt from relinquishing his spoils, Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 13, II, 60 ; landed benefits were expected by his troops, Leg. Agr. II, 54 ; the immediate availability for ready cash is clear from Leg. Agr. I, 2 : nunc praesens certa pecunia numerata quaeritur ; see G. V. Sumner, « Cicero, Pompeius, and Rullus », Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 97 (1966), p. 569-582. The plebs urbana were the rural tribesmen (former country dwellers and dispossessed farmers) who had moved to the city, Leg. Agr. II, 65 ; 71 ; 79.

18 These inferences are suggested by E. S. Gruen, op. cit., p. 394 and n. 144.

19 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 20-21.

20 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 11 ; 16 ; 22 ; II, 20 ; 23 ; 46 ; 63 ; 98. Modern conjectures point to Crassus and Caesar : E. G. Hardy, op. cit, p. 68-98 ; M. Gelzer, Caesar : Politician and Statesman, trans. P. Needham, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1968, p. 42-45 ; E. J. Jonkers, Social and Economic Commentary on Cicero’s De Lege Agraria Orationes Tres, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1963, p. 7-8 ; doubts are raised by G. V. Sumner, op. cit., p. 572-573 and E. S. Gruen, op. cit., p. 389.

21 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 21 ; II, 80 ; 84 ; III, 15.

22 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 1-2 ; II, 38-46 ; see E. G. Hardy, op. cit., p. 74-77.

23 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 10.

24 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 102-103.

25 Throughout his consulship Cicero pursued the aims described in the agrarian speeches to promote concordia and defeat the improbi who threatened the republic. Specific cases or events in which Cicero defended the institutions of the republic for the preservation of concordia in 63 BC include : (1) defining the role of the equestian order to the people (Cicero, Att. II, 1, 3 and De Imp. Cn. Pomp. 17-20 ; Plutarch, Cic. 13 ; Pliny, N. H. VII, 116) ; (2) supporting Sulla’s citizenship laws (Cicero, Att. II, 1, 3, Pis. 4, Leg. Agr. II, 10, Verr. II, 5, 12, Sull. 63 ; Quintilian, Inst. XI, 1, 85 ; Pliny, N. H. VII, 117 ; Cassius Dio, XXXVII, 25, 3 ; Plutarch, Cic. 12.1) ; (3) defending senatorial authority (Cicero, Rab. Perd. 2-4, 34 ; sources in T. R. S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, I, New York, American Philological Association, 1951, p. 576) ; (4) saving the government and public order by obtaining the cooperation of senators and equites against the economic innovations proposed by Catiline and his faction of conspirators (Cicero, Cat. II, 19 ; III, 25 ; IV, 14-24, Att. I, 19, 6) ; (5) protecting the rights of the novus homo Murena (Cicero, Mur.1 ; 4 ; 15-53 ; 78 ; 79 ; 84 ; 86).

26 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 22-27 ; II, 5-6.

27 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 6. By asserting the sovereign power of the assemblies Cicero links his election to a popularis technique ; see R. Seager, « Cicero and the Word Popularis », Classical Quarterly, 22 (1972), p. 331 and 333.

28 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 23 ; II, 6 ; 9 ; III, 4; cf. Rab. Perd. 11.

29 There is evidence that Cicero opposed other popular measures introduced by tribunes early in 63 BC (Cassius Dio, XXXVII, 25 ; Plutarch, Cic. 12) ; see the discussion in E. G. Hardy, The Catilinarian Conspiracy in its Context : a re-study of the Evidence, Oxford, Blackwell, 1924, p. 33-34.

30 During the Roman republic the temples and altars dedicated to Concordia belonged to the senatorial tradition. There were none dedicated to otium, tranquillitas, dignitas, or pax. The people, represented by the tribunes, dedicated their temples to Libertas ; for a description of these various monument, see L. Richardson jr., A New Topogra-phical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

31 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 23 ; II, 7-9 : impune in otio esse (9) ; Mur. 78 ; Red. Quir. 20 ; Dom. 15 ; Pis. 73 ; Rep. I, 49 ; 69, II, 69 ; Phil. V, 41.

32 The values of the optimate tradition are listed as : religiones, auspicia, potestas magistratum, senatus auctoritas, leges, mos maiorum, iudicia, iuris dictio, fides, provinciae, socii, imperii, laus, res militaris, aerarium (Sest. 98).

33 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 10.

34 For the view that a popularis shows interest in the salus of the people, see Cicero, Verr. II, 1, 153 ; Leg. Agr. II, 7 ; Red. Sen. 20 ; Sest. 107 ; De Or. III, 138 ; Phil. VII, 4 ; for libertas as a popularis theme, see Verr. II, 1, 163 ; Leg. Agr. II, 16 ; Rab. Perd. 12 ; 16 ; Dom. 77 ; 80.

35 Observe the fine distinction between a conventional and a true popularis : consul ueritate, non ostentatione popularis (Leg. Agr. I, 23).

36 For an account of political catchwords, see R. Syme, The Roman Revolution, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1952 (1939), p. 149-161 ; C. Nicolet, L’Ordre équestre à l’époque républicaine (312-43 av. J.-C.), vol. I, Paris, Éditions E. de Boccard, 1966, p. 663 and 666 ; P. Mackendrick, op. cit., p. 56 ; T. N. Mitchell, Cicero : The Ascending Years, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1979, p. 202-203 ; L. Perelli, Il pensiero politico di Cicerone, Firenze, La Nuova Italia, 1990, p. 87-88.

37 Such an action was not without its forerunners in Roman politics : Valerius Potitus and Horatius Barbatus were hominum concordiae causa sapienter popularium (Cicero, Rep. II, 54).

38 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 24.

39 See N. Wood, Cicero’s Social and Political Thought, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1988, p. 194-195.

40 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 7-8. Promoters of a new legislation such as this were themselves defined as improbi and impotentes (Rab. Perd. 22 ; Mur. 24).

41 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 10.

42 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II,15. L. Perelli, op. cit., p. 80.

43 Cicero, Leg. Agr. II, 102, Clu. 146 and 155, Rab. Perd. 10.

44 C. Antonius campaigned with Catiline during the consular elections ; and both were attacked by Cicero in 64 BC in the speech In Senatu in Toga Candida. Antonius was also believed to have supported two previous defeated tribunician bills. The importance of consular harmony was noted in the De Republica (II, 54) in reference to Lucius Valerius Potitus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus, consuls in 449 BC, who both favoured measures to preserve the concordia of the republic. In 80 BC a similar type of consular concordia was echoed by Sulla who was so obviously content with his new constitution that he proudly claimed to be sitting in harmony with his fellow consul Metellus (Plutarch, Sull. 6, 5 : ὀς γε καὶ τῆς πρὸς Μέτελλον ὁμονοίας εὐτυχίαν αἰτιᾶται). In contrast, when consuls such as Cinna and Octavius were unwilling to establish harmony with each other in 87 BC the result was civil war : Cinna si concordiam cum Octauio confirmare uoluisset, in re publica sanitas remanere potuisset (Cicero, Phil. XIII, 2).

45 Cicero, Leg. Agr. III, 4.

46 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 26-27 ; II, 7-9 ; 101-103 ; Rab. Perd. 34 ; Fam. I, 9, 12 ; Sest. 51 ; cfRep. I, 69.

47 The boni can also be described as the uerus populus from whom Cicero, the uere popularis, sought support ; R. Seager, op. cit., p. 334.

48 To the man who is popularis corresponds improbus (Sest. 197) and leuitas, political fickleness or irresponsibility (Sest. 139 ; Phil. VII, 4) ; for a further account, see R. Seager, op. cit., p. 336.

49 Cicero, Leg. Agr. I, 25 ; II, 43. For more evidence on Cicero’s derivation of popularis from populus, see Verr. II, 3, 48 ; Har. Resp. 42 ; Dom. 77.

50 Cicero, Leg. III, 8 ; Phil. XI, 28.

51 Cicero, Off. I, 15 ; 20 sq. ; II, 73 ; Rep. III, 24.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Mark A. Temelini, « Concordia and the Failure of the Rogatio Servilia Agraria », Cahiers des études anciennes [En ligne], XLIII | 2006, mis en ligne le 19 septembre 2013, consulté le 23 mai 2017. URL : http://etudesanciennes.revues.org/622

Haut de page

Auteur

Mark A. Temelini

Concordia University, Montréal

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus des Cahiers des études anciennes sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Institut d’études anciennes
  • Logo Université Laval
  • Logo Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Revues.org