Italian Manpower, 225 B.C.-A.D. 14

By P. A. Brunt | Go to book overview

XIX
LAND ALLOTMENTS IN ITALY IN THE
FIRST CENTURY B.C.

(i) The Problem

J. KROMAYER argued that by giving allotments to veterans the generals of the first century did more to revive the peasant class than the Gracchi.1 If this contention is correct, these allotments might have counteracted any adverse demographic effects which the previous decline of the peasantry had caused, Rostovtzeff indeed thought that many of the settlers were rentiers;2 if that were true, though their settlement did not amount to an increase in the number of farmers who cultivated their lands with their own labour and that of their family, it would still have tended to raise the birthrate in a middle class. By contrast, Frank held that though Sulla, the triumvirs, and Augustus broke up large estates, the small allotments they made did not long remain intact or do more than temporarily check the tendency to the concentration of property.31 propose to estimate the number of men settled on the land between 80 B.C. and A.D. 14 and the extent to which their settlement did in fact represent an increase in the number of small holdings, immediate or long-lasting. Here, as usual, we cannot hope for statistics nor go further than sharpening our impressions of what occurred.


(ii) Modes of Settlement

Land allotments for veterans took various forms. Tacitus looked back to the time when whole legions were settled together with their tribunes and centurions and colonies were united by esprit de corps, and Hyginus too recalls how legions were settled with their standards, eagle, chief centurions, and tribunes, each soldier receiving a portion of land appropriate in size to his rank.4 Inscriptions suggest that this was the practice of the triumvirs and of Augustus;3 very probably it was also that of Sulla.

1Neue Jahrb. f. klass. Altertum xvii, 1914, 145 ff.

2Soc. and Ec. Hist, of Raman Empire, i2. 32 f.

3ESAR i. 221, 321 f.; v. 169. More recently, M. A. Maschkin, Zwischen Rep. u.
Kaiserreichy
1954, 451 f., has held that the effect of veteran settlements was to increase small
and middling properties for a time.

4Annals xiv. 27. 3; Hyg. 176. 11. (I quote the Gromatici throughout by Lachmann's
pagination, all from Hyginus, unless otherwise stated. No references are given for matters
discussed fully in the following sections.)

5 ILS 887, 2235 with note; cf. sections (vi) and (vii). However, the fact that a colony is
described in its title as composed of a certain legion, e.g. Baeterrae Septimanorum, does

-294-

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