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A History of Rome to 565 A. D. by Boak

These municipalities were of two general types


principate's greatest service to the provinces was the gift of two and a half centuries of orderly government, which led in many quarters to a material development unequalled in these regions before or since. It is in these centuries that the history of Rome becomes the history of the provinces. At the opening of the period the Italians occupied a privileged position within the empire, at its close they and their one-time subjects were on the same level. The army and the senatorial and equestrian orders had been thoroughly provincialized, and the emperors had come to be as a rule of provincial birth. Rome was still the seat of the administration, but this and the corn dole to the city proletariat were the only things that distinguished it from a provincial city.

The imperial government of Rome had crushed out all vestiges of national loyalty among the peoples it had absorbed, and had failed to create any political institutions which would have permitted the provincials, as such, to have participated in the government of the empire. With the gradual decline of municipal autonomy the great mass of the provincials were deprived of the last traces of an independent political life. The provincial councils established for the maintenance of the imperial cult did indeed occasionally voice the complaints of the provincials but never acquired active political powers. And that the Roman administration proved a heavy burden is attested by the numerous complaints

against the weight of taxation and the necessity which many emperors felt of remitting the arrears of tribute.


The Roman empire was at bottom an aggregate of locally self-governing communities, which served as units for conscription, taxation and jurisdiction. They were held together by the army and the civil service, and were united by the bonds of a common Graeco-Roman civilization. These municipalities were of two general types, the Hellenic in the East and the Latin in the West.

The Hellenic municipalities were developments from the _poleis_, or city-states, which existed prior to the Roman conquest in Greece and the Hellenized areas of Asia and Africa. Municipal towns organized in these areas subsequent to the Roman occupation were of the same type. Their language of government, as well as of general intercourse, was Greek. The characteristic political institutions of the Hellenic municipalities were a popular assembly, a council or _boule_ and annual magistrates. The assembly had the power to initiate legislation; the council and magistrates were elected by it or were chosen by lot. But even under the Roman republic these democratic institutions were considerably modified in the interests of the wealthier classes. Timocratic constitutions were established with required property qualifications for citizenship and for the council and offices. The principate saw a further development along the same lines. The assemblies lost their right to initiate legislation, a power which passed to the magistrates, while the council tended to become a body of ex-magistrates who held their seats for life. However, in spite of this approximation to the Latin type, the Greek official terminology remained unchanged throughout the first three centuries A. D.

The Latin type of municipality was that which developed on Italian soil with the extension of Roman domination over the peninsula, and which was given uniformity by the legislation of Julius Caesar. With the Romanization of the western part of the empire it spread to Africa, Spain, Gaul, Britain, Germany and the Danubian provinces. In spite of the distinctions in status between Roman and Latin colonies and _municipia_, all these classes of municipalities were of the same general type which is revealed to us in the Julian Municipal Law (45 B. C.), the charter of the Roman _Colonia Genetiva Julia_ (44 B. C.), and those of the Latin municipalities of Malaca and Salpensa (81-84 A. D.).

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