Rome and the Western Greeks, 350 BC-AD 200: Conquest and Acculturation in Southern Italy

By Kathryn Lomas | Go to book overview

9

Administrative Structures and the Transformation of Political Life

If the religious institutions are conservative and reflect long-term development, the administrative and political structures of a city are much more responsive to changes in internal or external circumstances. In the period of Greek independence, the cities of Magna Graecia frequently underwent adjustments to their constitutions in response to internal and external conditions. Under Roman rule, there was an obvious need for change to conform to Roman norms. Prior to the Social War, there was indirect pressure to promote the interests of the pro-Roman factions in each city, often oligarchic in nature, which led in some cases to structural changes in the mechanisms of government. 1 After 90 BC, or even before it in the cases of the cities which became Roman colonies, Roman legal and administrative structures were imposed as a condition of the extension of Roman citizenship. 2 Clearly this is a simplified version of events. Cities do not fit into a neat pattern of having local constitutions before the Social War and Roman ones immediately afterwards. In all areas of Italy there was a period of transition during which municipal charters were drawn up and the existing machinery of government was adapted to the new circumstances, frequently leaving some intriguing problems.

There is still considerable room for debate on the subject of municipalisation. The traditional view that colonies were governed by duoviri and municipia by quattuorviri is now recognised as inadequate, but there is little consensus on how to account for the manifest anomalies in the administration of some cities. 3 Sartori makes a case for the continuation or re-emergence of local structures within the framework of the Romanised constitution. In Campania, for instance, the executive power in many cities rested with the praetor rather than the more usual college of duoviri or quattuorviri. It seems likely that beneath the Latin title of praetor lies the traditional Oscan magistrate, the Meddix. 4 Other

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