Key to Umbria
 

Prafecturae



In a subsequent passage in which Livy recorded the causes of the Aequan War in 304 BC (discussed on my page on the the period between the second and third Samnite wars), he noted that the recalcitrant Aequi had accused the Romans of:

  1. “... trying to intimidate them into becoming Roman citizens under threats of war.  [The Aequi asserted that the experience of the Hernici in 306 BC had demonstrated] the undesirability of such a thing:

  2. those who had been permitted to do so [i.e. Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum] had [chosen instead] to retain their own laws ... ; while

  3. those who had been given no option [i.e., for example, Anagnia] had had  citizenship thrust upon them as a punishment”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 45: 8-9). 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 593) observed that:

  1. “This passage is good evidence for the fundamentally aggressive nature of the civitas sine suffragio.”

Prefecture Constituted at this Point ?

There is no indication from Livy that the Hernici suffered further land confiscation at this time.  However, Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at pp 307-8, entry 15 and note 44) pointed out that scholars generally assume that they:

  1. “... lost the land around Anagnia  ... on the basis of the fact that Festus (‘De verborum significatione’, 262 Lindsay) mentions a praefectura Anagnia.”

This indicates that, from an unknown date, Anagnia hosted a Roman prefect who had jurisdiction over citizens who were settled in its vicinity.  When Anagnia itself was eventually enfranchised (probably after the Social War), it was assigned to the Poblilia, as were Aletrium, Verulae and Ferentium.  In other words, it seems likely that the Pobilia voting district was:

  1. established in the upper Sacco valley on land that had been confiscated from the Hernicii in 358 BC;

  2. extended southwards along the valley to take in citizens who were settled on land confiscated from Anagnia in 306 BC; and

  3. extended again after the Social War to include (inter alia) Anagnia, Aletrium, Verulae and Ferentium.

From some time after 306 BC until the Social War, Anagnia would have been the seat of a Roman prefect whose jurisdiction extended across this extended voting district.

As we shall see, Anagnia led a revolt of the Hernici against Rome in 306-5 BC, after which its people were forced to accept Roman citizenship without voting rights (while Aletrium, Velitrae and Ferentinum, which had remained loyal to Rome, retained their independence).  Again, there is no indication from Livy that Anagnia suffered land confiscation at this time.  However, Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at pp 307-8, entry 15 and note 44) pointed out that scholars generally assume that:

  1. “The Hernici lost the land around Anagnia [at this point] ... on the basis of the fact that Festus (262 L) mentions a praefectura Anagnia.”

Anagnia itself was assigned to the Pobilia when it was eventually enfranchised (probably after the Social War), as did Aletrium, Velitrae and Ferentinum.  In other words, it seems likely that the Pobilia voting district was:

  1. established in the upper Sacco valley on land that had been confiscated from the Hernicii in 358 BC;

  2. extended southwards along the valley to take in citizens who were settled on land confiscated from Anagnia in 306 BC (at which point Anagnia became the seat of a Roman prefect whose jurisdiction extended across this extended voting district); and

  3. extended again after the Social War to include (inter alia) Anagnia, Aletrium, Velitrae and Ferentinum.





Roman Prefectures (318 - 303 BC)

As discussed above, the first Roman prefect mentioned by Livy (other than in a military context) was sent to Capua in 318 BC.


At some point, the sending of Roman prefects to outlying areas under Roman jurisdiction became a regular event.  Thus, according to Festus:

  1. “It was common to designate as praefecturae those towns in which justice was administered and markets held; they also possessed a kind of public administration (res publica), but they did not have their own magistrates.  According to the law, prefects were sent yearly to these (towns) in order to administer justice”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 262 Lindsay). 

As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at  p. 553) pointed out:

  1. “[Festus’] statement that that a praefectura could not have its own magistrates is clearly wrong: although it receives some support from the (doubtlessly temporary) status of Anagnia [see below], it ... is refuted by plentiful testimony for the continuation of local magistracies.”


Festus’ account (above) continued as follows:

  1. Two different kinds of praefecturae existed:

  2. One kind usually received four prefects [selected] from the the vigintisexviri [body of 26 magistrates] who had been elected by the vote of the [Roman] people.  [These were towns] such as: Capua*; Cumae*; Casilinum; Volturnum; Liternum; Puteoli; Acerra*; Suessula*; Atella; and Calatia.

  3. The other kind received (prefects) whom the praetor urbanus had sent annually according to the law.  [These were towns] such as: Fundi*; Formiae*; Caere; Venafrum; Allifae; Privernum*; Anagnia; Frusino; Reate; Saturnia; Nursia; Arpinum; and many others”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 262 Lindsay). 

Significantly:

  1. As Daniel Gargola (referenced below, at p. 99) observed, none of the praefecturae in Festus’ two lists (and none known from other sources) is less than 50 km from Rome.  It seems to me that this was probably because the praetor urbanus exercised direct jurisdiction within this radius, which would have included all of the centres that Livy recorded as having been incorporated optimo iure in 338 BC.

  2. All of the praefecturae in Festus’ first category were located in Campania.  The significance of this is discussed further below.

  3. All of the centres that Livy had recorded as having been incorporated sine suffragio into the Roman state before the census of 318 BC (marked here by asterisks) appeared in one or other of Festus’ lists:

  4. Capua, Cumae, Suessula and Acerrae all appear in the first list; and

  5. Privernum, Fundi and Formiae all appear in the second one, together with two other centres that Livy subsequently recorded as having been incorporated sine suffragio soon after (as discussed on the following page:

  6. -Anagnia, which was incorporated in 306 BC and, as Oakley observed above, was also temporarily deprived of its magistrates; and

  7. -Arpinum, which was incorporated in 303 BC.

It is surely significant that:

  1. all of the seven civitates sine suffragio that had been so-constituted by 318 BC, together with

  2. two others (Anagnia and Arpinum, both discussed below) that were so-constituted before the century ended;

appeared in a list of Roman praefecturae that Festus compiled in the Augustan period.  I return to this general subject in the following page: for the moment, I simply note that Festus split these praefecturae into two categories, and that:

  1. Capua, Cumae, Suessula and Acerrae all appeared in the list of nine centres in Campania (all underlined in green on the map above) that received the annual attention of four Roman magistrates who were later recorded as praefecti Capuam  Cumas.  According to Stephen Oakley )referenced below, 1998, at p. 553) argued that these arrangements related to:

  2. “... the administration of Campania after the Second Punic War [during which some Campanian cities had defected to Hannibal]”.

  3. He added (at p. 555) that:

  4. “... praefecti Capuam  Cumas ... began to be appointed from 211 BC [when the whole of Campania returned to Roman control]”.

  5. In short, this part of Festus’ list of praefecturae is not directly relevant to the present discussion: we do not know how many (if any) of these nine civitates sine suffragio received Roman prefects on a regular basis in the period 318 - 211 BC.

  6. Privernum, Fundi, Formiae, Anagnia and Arpinum all appeared in the other (longer and geographically-unspecific) list of centres that received prefects whom the praetor urbanus sent on an annual basis.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 553) observed that the fact these prefects were sent:

  7. “... by the praefectus urbanus suggests that their their main purpose was to dispense advice on the interpretation of Roman law.

  8. There is no hard evidence for the date at which the practice of  sending these prefects began.   However, Stephen Oakley (as above) argued that, since this second list:

  9. “... features many of the non-Campanian towns known fro Livy ... to have been incorporated sine suffragio, it must refer to the towns incorporated before the First Punic War [264 BC].”

Against this background, we might reasonably look again at whether Livy’s claim that prefects ‘began to be appointed for Capua’ in 318 BC referred to a practice that operated continuously, or at least intermittently, there there until 211 BC:

  1. Adrian Sherwin-White (referenced below, at p. 43) assumed that the sole and specific function of the first Roman prefects sent to Capua was to arbitrate legal disputes that were leading to internal discord, and reasonably pointed out that:

  2. “Livy does not say that the office of these praefecti was renewed annually.”

  3. Robert Knapp (referenced below, at p. 25) suggested that, after things had settled down at Capua soon after 318 BC:

  4. “There may have been some subsequent interference from time to time by a Roman prefect, but there is no evidence for this.”

  5. As noted above Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at pp. 555-6) assumed that the first prefect sent to Capua was specifically and solely charged with applying the leges datae, and that we simply do not know:

  6. “How often prefects went to Capua after 318 BC ..."

However, if the praefectus urbanus sent prefects each year to all of Privernum, Fundi, Formiae, Anagnia and Arpinum from some time before 264 BC, then this would surely have been the case (at least until 211 BC) for the Campanian civitates sine suffragio: Capua; Capua, Cumae, Suessula and Acerrae

Roman Prefects in Campania

As noted above, the first Roman prefect mentioned by Livy (other than in a military context) was sent to Capua in 318 BC:

  1. “.. praefecti (prefects) began to be appointed and sent out to Capua after the praetor Lucius Furius had imposed laws on the Campani.  The Campani themselves had asked for both [the appointment of a prefect and the imposition of Roman laws], as a remedy for the distress occasioned by internal discord”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 20: 5-6).

Livy recorded that, after the suppression of this revolt in 211 BC, the men responsible for it were executed, and:

  1. “... the remaining Campanian citizens were sold.   ....  The multitude of resident aliens, freedmen, petty tradesmen and artisans were allowed to remain, but the whole territory and the buildings became public property of the Roman people.  It was decided that Capua, as a nominal city, should merely be a  ...centre of population, but should have no political body, no senate, no council of the plebs and no magistrates.  ...  the Romans would send out every year a prefect to administer justice”, (‘History of Rome’, 26: 16: 6-10).

In other words, the entire territory of Capua, and presumably also that of the other erstwhile rebel centres of Campania, became Roman ager publicus that was available for citizen settlement.

There is nothing in the surviving sources to indicate that the prefects mentioned by Livy, who were sent to Capua from 318 BC, had any jurisdiction in ager Falernus.  Nevertheless, it is possible that the legal affairs of the settlers in the ager Falernus were administered by a Roman prefect who had his seat at Capua.  If so, then this arrangement presumably ended with the revolt of 216 BC.

The title of these prefects was probably ‘praefectus Capuam Cumaes’, as indicated by a single inscription (CIL XI 3717) from the colony of Alsium (on the coast of Etruria): this funerary inscription commemorated: 

M(arcus) Herennius M(arci) f(ilius)/ Mae(cia) Rufus

praef(ectus) Cap(uam) Cum(as), q(uaestor)

Annarosa Gallo (referenced below, at p. 349 and note 10) dated it to the period 30 BC - 20 AD.  She noted (at p. 350) that, since:

  1. Julius Caesar had founded a colony at Capua in 59 BC and conferred jurisdictional autonomy on it (as discussed below); and

  2. Herennius had held the post of praefectus Capuam Cumaes before that of quaestor, and was thus probably still a young man at the time;

by this time, the office of praefectus Capuam Cumaes must have been purely honorific .  We know from Cassius Dio that it was abolished before 13 BC:

  1. “... while Augustus was still absent from the city [in 13 BC], a decree had been passed that the vigintiviri ... should be appointed from the equites ... [This college of 20 magistrates was] what is left of the vigintisexviri ..., since the two [magistrates of the latter college] who were once entrusted with the roads outside the walls [of Rome] and the four who used to be sent to Campania had been abolished”, (‘History of Rome’, 54: 26: 5-7).

Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2010, at p. 176 and note 20) observed that the college of the praefecti Capuam Cumaes was not mentioned in the Lex Acilia Repetundarum of 123 BC, and had therefore perhaps been formed thereafter.  However, I wonder whether it was not included because, even by this time, it had no particular legal significance.

The composition of Festus’ list of Campanian prefectures throws some light on the period to which it relates.  As we shall see: 

  1. Capua suffered the confiscation of the ager Falernus in 340 BC and its land was subject to viriatane settlers, for whom the Falerna tribe was established in 318 BC.  It is possible that a Roman prefect administered the legal affairs of these settlers, and that he had his seat at Capua.

  2. However, we have no record for further land confiscation in Campania until after its revolt against Rome in 216 BC, during the Hannibalic War.  Livy recorded that, after the suppression of this revolt in 211 BC:

  3. “... [although] some [Romans] thought that a city that was so powerful, near, and unfriendly should be destroyed, [wiser counsel] prevailed: since its territory was well known to be [among the most fertile] in Italy ... , the city was preserved, so that [presumably Roman] farmers of the land might have some abode”, (‘History of Rome’, 26: 16: 7).

  4. In other words, the entire territory of Capua, and presumably also that of the other erstwhile rebel centres of Campania, became Roman ager publicus that was available for citizen settlement. 

It therefore seems to me that the Campanian centres in Festus’ list were probably constituted as prefectures in ca. 211 BC, with three possible exceptions: Volturnum, Liternum and Puteoli might not have been so-constituted until 194 BC, when citizen colonies were founded in each of these locations.



Read more:

S. Roselaar, “Public Land in the Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History of Ager Publicus in Italy, 396 - 89 BC”, (2010) Oxford

S. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume IV: Book X”, (2007) Oxford

T. Cornell, “The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (ca. 1000-264 BC)”, (1995) London and New York poi

E. Salmon, “Samnium and the Samnites’, (1967) Cambridge

L. Ross Taylor, “The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic: The 35 Urban and Rural Tribes”, (1960) Rome

K. J. Beloch, “La Conquista Romana della Regione Sabina”, Rivista di Storia Antka e Science Affini, 9 (1904) 269-77 


  1. Roman Conquest: Conquest of Veii - Renewal of Latin Peace (406 - 358 BC)

Renewed Latin Peace to 1st Samnite War (358 - 341 BC)

Between 1st and 2nd Samnite War (341 - 328 BC)    

Second Samnite War I: 328 - 312 BC     Second Samnite War II: 311  - 304 BC

Etruscan War  (311 - 308 BC)      Between 2nd and 3rd Samnite Wars (304 -298 BC)

Third Samnite War      End Game (290-241 BC)


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