Roman civitas and Municipal Law of the Republican Epoch

Kofanov Leonid L.

Ancient authors used to define civitas as a community of citizens united under the same laws. In some contexts the civitas is practically equivalent to «law» or, taken in a wider sense, to «state, social order, political structure». According to the Romans, the basis of Roman civitas was constituted by the XII tables (D. 1. 2. 2. 4). Among other things, the XII tables fixed equal rights with Roman allies, first of all with the Latins. From the 2nd half of the 4th century BC on the Latins and other peoples of Italy begin to take over Roman law on their own accord (Liv. IX. 20. 5). The author points out that the expression civitatem dare applied by Livy in his first ten books to the allies of Rome does not mean that the whole cities received the rights of Roman citizenship, but that the allies adopted Roman laws and Roman state system (Liv. IX. 43. 22-23; 45. 7-8) while retaining their own state institutions: magistrates, senate and popular assembly. At the same time, civitatem sine suffragio dare implied, according to Livy, that the Romans deprived the civil community of the right to have its own institutions of power (IX. 43. 24). The author compares the expressions civitas data and lex data and stresses the fact that in the 4th-2nd cc. BC the Romans were connected with most other cities of Italy not only by alliance treaties, but by the law they had taken over from the Romans and thus shared with them. The Roman alliance of the 4th-2nd cc. BC was a confederation of formally independent city-states, not an integer state. It was not until 90 BC that the Latins and other Italian allies received Roman citizenship according to lex lulia. Analysing ancient definitions of municipium, the author comes to the conclusion that republican municipia were civil communities allied to Rome and sharing its military munera, but having their own independent state system and citizenship (Fest. P. 177 L.). They would use Roman laws, but only those accepted by their senates and people. The situation changed in the 1st century BC, when Roman citizenship was extended over Italy; but, as a result, legislature passed from popular assembly to the senate (D. 1.2.2. 9) and the state system shifted from republic to principate.