Of course, however, in practice they made a division of functions between them, and of course also they were bound in every particular department of their duties by the enactments existing in regard to it; the jurisdiction, for instance, over Roman citizens had in every case to be left to the praetor, and in the Latin and other autonomous communities the existing treaties had to be respected. The four quaestors who had been since 487 distributed throughout Italy did not, formally at least, restrict the consular authority, for in Italy, just as in Rome, they were regarded simply as auxiliary magistrates dependent on the consuls. This mode of administration appears to have been at first extended also to the territories taken from Carthage, and Sicily and Sardinia to have been governed for some years by quaestors under the superintendence of the consuls; but the Romans must very soon have become practically convinced that it was indispensable to have superior magistrates specially appointed for the transmarine regions. As they had been obliged to abandon the concentration of the Roman jurisdiction in the person of the praetor as the community became enlarged, and to send to the more remote districts deputy judges,(4) so now (527) the concentration of administrative and military power in the person of the consuls had to be abandoned. For each of the new transmarine regions--viz. Sicily, and Sardinia with Corsica annexed to it--there was appointed a special auxiliary consul, who was in rank and title inferior to the consul and equal to the praetor, but otherwise was--like the consul in earlier times before the praetorship was instituted--in his own sphere of action at once commander-in-chief, chief magistrate, and supreme judge. The direct administration of finance alone was withheld from these new chief magistrates, as from the first it had been withheld from the consuls;(5) one or more quaestors were assigned to them, who were in every way indeed subordinate to them, and were their assistants in the administration of justice and in command, but yet had specially to manage the finances and to render account of their administration to the senate after having laid down their office.

Organization Of The Provinces -Commercium- Property Autonomy

This difference in the supreme administrative power was the essential distinction between the transmarine and continental possessions. The principles on which Rome had organized the dependent lands in Italy, were in great part transferred also to the extra-Italian possessions. As a matter of course, these communities without exception lost independence in their external relations. As to internal intercourse, no provincial could thenceforth acquire valid property in the province out of the bounds of his own community, or perhaps even conclude a valid marriage. On the other hand the Roman government allowed, at least to the Sicilian towns which they had not to fear, a certain federative organization, and probably even general Siceliot diets with a harmless right of petition and complaint.(6) In monetary arrangements it was not indeed practicable at once to declare the Roman currency to be the only valid tender in the islands; but it seems from the first to have obtained legal circulation, and in like manner, at least as a rule, the right of coining in precious metals seems to have been withdrawn from the cities in Roman Sicily.(7) On the other hand not only was the landed property in all Sicily left untouched--the principle, that the land out of Italy fell by right of war to the Romans as private property, was still unknown to this century--but all the Sicilian and Sardinian communities retained self- administration and some sort of autonomy, which indeed was not assured to them in a way legally binding, but was provisionally allowed. If the democratic constitutions of the communities were everywhere set aside, and in every city the power was transferred to the hands of a council representing the civic aristocracy; and if moreover the Sicilian communities, at least, were required to institute a general valuation corresponding to the Roman census every fifth year; both these measures were only the necessary sequel of subordination to the Roman senate, which in reality could not govern with Greek --ecclesiae--, or without a view of the financial and military resources of each dependent community; in the various districts of Italy also the same course was in both respects pursued.

Tenths And Customs Communities Exempted

But, side by side with this essential equality of rights, there was established a distinction, very important in its effects, between the Italian communities on the one hand and the transmarine communities on the other. While the treaties concluded with the Italian towns imposed on them a fixed contingent for the army or the fleet of the Romans, such a contingent was not imposed on the transmarine communities, with which no binding paction was entered into at all, but they lost the right of arms,(8) with the single exception that they might be employed on the summons of the Roman praetor for the defence of their own homes. The Roman government regularly sent Italian troops, of the strength which it had fixed, to the islands; in return for this, a tenth of the field-produce of Sicily, and a toll of 5 per cent on the value of all articles of commerce exported from or imported into the Sicilian harbours, were paid to Rome. To the islanders these taxes were nothing new. The imposts levied by the Persian great-king and the Carthaginian republic were substantially of the same character with that tenth; and in Greece also such a taxation had for long been, after Oriental precedent, associated with the -tyrannis- and often also with a hegemony. The Sicilians had in this way long paid their tenth either to Syracuse or to Carthage, and had been wont to levy customs-dues no longer on their own account. "We received," says Cicero, "the Sicilian communities into our clientship and protection in such a way that they continued under the same law under which they had lived before, and obeyed the Roman community under relations similar to those in which they had obeyed their own rulers." It is fair that this should not be forgotten; but to continue an injustice is to commit injustice.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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