The -mancipatio- and the -census- thus arose out of the Servian military organization.

Political Effects Of The Servian Military Organization

It is evident at a glance that this whole institution was from the outset of a military nature. In the whole detailed scheme we do not encounter a single feature suggestive of any destination of the centuries to other than purely military purposes; and this alone must, with every one accustomed to consider such matters, form a sufficient reason for pronouncing its application to political objects a later innovation. If, as is probable, in the earliest period every one who had passed his sixtieth year was excluded from the centuries, this has no meaning, so far as they were intended from the first to form a representation of the burgess-community similar to and parallel with the curies. Although, however, the organization of the centuries was introduced merely to enlarge the military resources of the burgesses by the inclusion of the --metoeci-- and, in so far, there is no greater error than to exhibit the Servian organization as the introduction of a timocracy in Rome--yet the new obligation imposed upon the inhabitants to bear arms exercised in its consequences a material influence on their political position. He who is obliged to become a soldier must also, so long as the state is not rotten, have it in his power to become an officer; beyond question plebeians also could now be nominated in Rome as centurions and as military tribunes. Although, moreover, the institution of the centuries was not intended to curtail the political privileges exclusively possessed by the burgesses as hitherto represented in the curies, yet it was inevitable that those rights, which the burgesses hitherto had exercised not as the assembly of curies, but as the burgess-levy, should pass over to the new centuries of burgesses and --metoeci--. Henceforward, accordingly, it was the centuries whose consent the king had to ask before beginning an aggressive war.(11) It is important, on account of the subsequent course of development, to note these first steps towards the centuries taking part in public affairs; but the centuries came to acquire such rights at first more in the way of natural sequence than of direct design, and subsequently to the Servian reform, as before, the assembly of the curies was regarded as the proper burgess-community, whose homage bound the whole people in allegiance to the king. By the side of these new landowning full-burgesses stood the domiciled foreigners from the allied Latium, as participating in the public burdens, tribute and task-works (hence -municipes-); while the burgesses not domiciled, who were beyond the pale of the tribes, and had not the right to serve in war and vote, came into view only as "owing tribute" (-aerarii-).

In this way, while hitherto there had been distinguished only two classes of members of the community, burgesses and clients, there were now established those three political classes, which exercised a dominant influence over the constitutional law of Rome for many centuries.

Time And Occasion Of The Reform

When and how this new military organization of the Roman community came into existence, can only be conjectured. It presupposes the existence of the four regions; in other words, the Servian wall must have been erected before the reform took place. But the territory of the city must also have considerably exceeded its original limits, when it could furnish 8000 holders of full hides and as many who held lesser portions, or sons of such holders. We are not acquainted with the superficial extent of the normal Roman farm; but it is not possible to estimate it as under twenty -jugera-.(12) If we reckon as a minimum 10,000 full hides, this would imply a superficies of 190 square miles of arable land; and on this calculation, if we make a very moderate allowance for pasture, the space occupied by houses, and ground not capable of culture, the territory, at the period when this reform was carried out, must have had at least an extent of 420 square miles, probably an extent still more considerable. If we follow tradition, we must assume a number of 84,000 burgesses who were freeholders and capable of bearing arms; for such, we are told, were the numbers ascertained by Servius at the first census. A glance at the map, however, shows that this number must be fabulous; it is not even a genuine tradition, but a conjectural calculation, by which the 16,800 capable of bearing arms who constituted the normal strength of the infantry appeared to yield, on an average of five persons to each family, the number of 84,000 burgesses, and this number was confounded with that of those capable of bearing arms. But even according to the more moderate estimates laid down above, with a territory of some 16,000 hides containing a population of nearly 20,000 capable of bearing arms and at least three times that number of women, children, and old men, persons who had no land, and slaves, it is necessary to assume not merely that the region between the Tiber and Anio had been acquired, but that the Alban territory had also been conquered, before the Servian constitution was established; a result with which tradition agrees. What were the numerical proportions of patricians and plebeians originally in the army, cannot be ascertained.

Upon the whole it is plain that this Servian institution did not originate in a conflict between the orders. On the contrary, it bears the stamp of a reforming legislator like the constitutions of Lycurgus, Solon, and Zaleucus; and it has evidently been produced under Greek influence. Particular analogies may be deceptive, such as the coincidence noticed by the ancients that in Corinth also widows and orphans were charged with the provision of horses for the cavalry; but the adoption of the armour and arrangements of the Greek hoplite system was certainly no accidental coincidence. Now if we consider the fact that it was in the second century of the city that the Greek states in Lower Italy advanced from the pure clan-constitution to a modified one, which placed the preponderance in the hands of the landholders, we shall recognize in that movement the impulse which called forth in Rome the Servian reform--a change of constitution resting in the main on the same fundamental idea, and only directed into a somewhat different course by the strictly monarchical form of the Roman state.(13)

Notes For Book I Chapter VI


The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy Page 42

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