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

And to which appointments were made by the curia


until late republican times no restrictions had been placed upon the forming of such collegiate associations, but in 64 B. C. all such unions in Rome had been abolished because of the disorders occasioned by political clubs. In 58 B. C. complete freedom of association was restored, only to be revoked again by Julius Caesar who permitted only the old and reputable professional and religious colleges to remain in existence. Under Augustus a law was passed which regulated for the future the character, organization and activities of these associations. New colleges could only be established in Italy or the provinces if sanctioned by a decree of the Senate or edict of the princeps, and membership in an unauthorized college was a treasonable offence. Trajan authorized the unrestricted formation of funerary colleges (_collegia tenuiorum_) in Rome, and Septimius Severus extended this privilege to Italy and the provinces. Under Marcus Aurelius the colleges were recognized as juristic persons, with power to manumit slaves and receive legacies. Not only persons of free birth but also freedmen and slaves, and in many cases women as well as men, were freely admitted to membership in the colleges.

*The decline of the municipalities.* The prosperity of the empire depended upon the prosperity of the municipalities and it is in the latter that the first symptoms of internal decay are noticeable. These symptoms were economic decline and the consequent loss of

local autonomy. The reasons for the economic decline are hard to trace. Among them we may perhaps place the ruin of many of the wealthier families by the requirements of office-holding, the withdrawal of others who were eligible for the imperial service with its salaried offices; overtaxation, bad management of local finances, and the disappearance of a free peasantry in the surrounding rural districts who had furnished a market for the manufacturers and merchants of the towns. The devastating wars of the third century with the resultant general paralysis of trade and commerce, plus the depopulation caused by plague and barbarian invasions, struck the municipalities a crushing blow from which they never recovered.

As early as the time of Trajan the imperial government found it necessary to appoint officials called curators to reorganize the financial conditions in one or more municipalities, sometimes those of a whole province. At first these were irregular officials, senators or equestrians, but by the third century they had become a fixture in municipal administration and were chosen from among the local _decuriones_. Another evidence of the same conditions is the change which took place in the position of the local magistracies. In the second century these offices were still an honor for which candidates voluntarily presented themselves, although there were unmistakable signs that in some districts they were coming to be regarded as a burden. In the third century the magistracies had become an obligation resting upon the local senatorial order, and to which appointments were made by the _curia_. The _decurionate_ also had become a burden which all who possessed a definite census rating must assume. To assure itself of its revenues in view of the declining prosperity of the communities the imperial government had hit upon the expedient of making the local decurions responsible for collecting the taxes, and consequently had been forced to make the decurionate an obligatory status. The _curia_ and municipal magistracies had ended by becoming unwilling cogs in the imperial financial administration.

This loss of municipal independence was accompanied

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