ROMAN LIFE AND CULTURE
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
AGRICULTURE was the primary industry of the Roman people. The peasant-farmer was the backbone of the state and Rome's conquest of Italy, which was won by the sword, was consolidated by the plough. Later Romans identified the ideal citizen of early days with a Cincinnatus who was called from the plough to the dictatorship or a Manius Curius whom Samnite envoys found cooking his own meal of herbs. The early festivals of Rome, the predominance of the later rustic tribes over the urban tribes, and many personal names as Fabius (Beanman) and Lentulus (Lentilman), all testify to the pre-eminence of agricultural interests. Whether the earliest settlers on the Palatine were primarily given to pasturage or agriculture, it was the latter manner of livelihood that prevailed in historical times and was doubtless encouraged under the Etruscan domination. It is unlikely that many farmers in Latium sank to a condition of serfdom or that the overthrow of the Etruscans seriously affected agricultural conditions. But even if the economic distress of the fifth century was not caused by an attempt of serfs to become free peasants and members of the plebeian class, the early political history of Rome was dominated by the land question.1 The need to create a military organization to preserve the state forced the nobles to make political and economic concessions to the lower classes. The farmer-soldier extended the frontiers of his city and landhunger was satisfied by founding new 'tribes' and fortress-colonies which spread the Roman system of peasant husbandry throughout Italy.
In early days agriculture was not regarded as a means by which the state could exploit the natural resources of Italy: it was a domestic matter under the direction of the paterfamilias who was responsible for the support of his family. The farmer____________________