I. A Mediterranean Empire (pages 5-19).
A. Setting (5-8).
1. Does Rome's location explain her rise to power? Some ancient writers believed this.
2. Strabo thought the Western or European Mediterranean was geographically superior.
3. But he ignored urbanization; Italy produced insufficient grain to feed its cities.
a. 30% of Italian population lived in cities.
4. Augustus "pacified" Spain, and north to the Danube.
a. But his dreams of conquering the far East were largely unfulfilled.
b. Economic motives: Spain had mineral resources, Britain (they thought) had none.
c. So Britain escaped Roman attention for a while (annexed, 43 AD).
5. Middle Eastern frontier saw continual fighting.
a. Trajan (AD 96-117) conquered the Dacians and pushed east.
b. Lucius Verus (161-169) and Septimius Severus (193-211) also had eastern conquests.
B. Rome, Italy, & the Political Elite (8-12).
1. Roman Population: from @ 200,000 grows to @ 1,000,000 by Augustus' time.
2. Rome was a "parasite" city, supported by taxes and public land in theprovinces.
3. Provincials slowly infiltrated the Senate, Equites, even the Principate.
a. Claudius (41-54 AD) was progressive, wanted some Gauls to be senators.
b. But few or no Gauls actually made it into the Senate under the Julians (31 BC to 69 AD).
c. Gauls could become equites (knights) or commanders of auxiliary troops (but not of legions).
4. Little progress in this area is known from 69-161 AD.
5. Known cases of provincial senators under Marcus Aurelius (161-180) are exceptional, not the rule.
6. Septimius Severus increased role of equites in military command at expense of senators.
a. But basically Romans and Italians were in charge of the empire.
b. Most provincials sought political power at the local, not the imperial level.
C. Civilization and its limits (12-19).
1. Augustus worked to improve relations between Rome and Greece.
2. See the new attitude in Greek writers, especially Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Strabo.
a. Strabo contrasts "civilized" Greeks and Romans, as cultivators, to wild provincial mountain-men.
b. Celts (mainly Gauls and Britons) were also seen as crazed drunkards.
3. Imposition of Roman civilization was viewed as a means, but not the purpose, of conquest.
4. In the mid-2nd century AD, Aelius Aristides (a Greek from the Black Sea region) praised the spread of Roman civilization, especially in so far as it allowed Greek culture to flourish.
a. Roman vs. non-Roman is assimilated to the old Greek vs. barbarian dichotomy.
5. But few provincials were (full) Roman citizens before Caracalla's citizenship decree of 212 AD.
6. Danubian provinces increase in importance through 3rd cent. AD, esp. as source of military power.
a. This culminates in Maximinus, first of the Balkan emperors (after 235 AD).
b. Hence 235 AD is the cut-off point for this book.
7. Dio Cassius, another Greek from the Black Sea, was governor of Pannonia (i.e. the Danubians):
a. The Danubian rise to power at Rome eventually drove him back to his native province.
b. He characterizes them as uncivilized barbarians.
8. Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law Agricola, governor of Britain 78-84 AD, shows familiar themes:
a. Power of local tribes is broken through the attractions of Roman civilization, urbanization.
9. Were Britain and Gaul truly assimilated to and integrated with Roman society?
a. Only insofar as this was necessary for domination to succeed.
b. Only southern Gaul was truly integrated with Italy; the rest of Gaul & Britain were not fully urbanized.
10. Conclusion: throughout the Imperial period to 235 AD, the alterity or "otherness" of provincials persisted.
II. Government without Bureaucracy (pages 20-40).
A. Introduction (20-21).
1. Rome had no professional class of imperial administrators.
2. There was no overall tax system; local tax structures were retained in the provinces.
B. Central and Provincial Administration (21-26).
1. Most provinces were governed by a proconsul and a quaestor.
2. Augustus governed provinces by virtue of his own proconsular imperium.
a. Often, he did so through his legates.
3. Smaller provinces and Egypt were governed by equestrians (prefects) under Augustus.
4. Judges in the provinces were called juridici.
a. These are found in Italy in late 2nd AD.
b. This shows Italy becoming just another imperial province.
5. Equestrian officials were also called procurators; there were three types:
a. Procurators replacing prefects in pacified provinces, mid 1st AD on.
b. Procurators as financial agents ("prefects of Augustus").
c. Procurators as tax and customs officials.
6. Equestrian political careers usually began with military offices, esp. with cavalry.
7. Equestrian prefectures at Rome:
a. The Fire Brigade.
b. The Grain Supply.
c. The Praetorian Guard (bodyguards of the emperor - usually 2 prefects).
8. The central treasury at Rome: was public property divisible from the emperor's property?
a. Most control was in the hands of his freedmen and equites.
b. The princeps could draw on the treasury to administer his provinces.
c. So practically the division was uncomfortably slight.
9. The role of the council of the emperor's advisers was central.
a. Some members were senators, which was acceptable to all.
b. Some emperors relied mainly on freedmen, slaves, and women, which aroused anger. Examples: Claudius, Nero, Commodus.
10. Gradually a hierarchy for imperial offices developed.
11. Did these hierarchies mean the emperor did not have discretion on appointments?
a. No. The emperor did decide who got ahead.
12. Conclusion: the Roman empire was more bureaucratic under the Principate.
a. But the bureaucracy was small and amateurish.
b. Officials were responsible directly to the emperor.
C. Cities (26-28)
1. Why did the Romans encourage urbanization of the provinces?
a. Because cities were easiest to administer at the local level.
2. Two types of city: colony (colonia) and municipality (municipium).
3. Colonies were originally just that - composed of Roman citizens.
a. Later this became an honorary title.
4. Municipia had more independence than colonies - their own gov't structures.
a. In provincial municipia, only local elites had Roman citizenship.
5. "Italian rights" (ius italicum) means a city is exempt from land tax.
6. Not all cities of the Empire were colonies or municipalities:
a. Greek poleis could keep their own constitutions mostly intact for local affairs.
b. Cives foederatae (federated cities) had treaties with Rome.
c. Cives immunes (tax-exempt cities) had exemption from taxes.
d. Cives liberae (free cities) were mostly autonomous - but these were rare.
D. Cities and Villages (28-32).
1. What distinguished a city from a village?
a. Villages were dependents of the nearest city, and subject to exactions.
b. Villages had little or no local government, public buildings.
c. Evidence: petitions by villages for city status.
2. Rome would force local populations to move into urban centers.
3. Some cities did not function as such, and slipped back to village status.
4. Others retained city status on the basis of long past power and population.
a. Example: Thebes in Boeotia, a decrepit town with city status in the Imperial period.
5. Egypt was a special case. It had urban centers, but no cities until early 3rd AD.
a. The administrative & tax structures of the Ptolemies were retained.
6. Similarly in Africa (the province), where much land belonged to the emperor.
a. Both Africa and Egypt were major grain producers.
7. Promotion to city status could be for several reasons.
a. Hadrian promoted Carthaginian towns as a favor to local nobles.
b. Promotion (e.g. Tyre) or demotion (e.g. Antioch) could result from taking sides in a conflict.
E. Functions of Cities (32-34).
1. Assisting Roman officials or armies when necessary.
2. Local public buildings, aqueducts, police work.
3. "Liturgies" were expenditures/services performed by wealthy citizens.
a. Many local burdens depended upon liturgists.
b. This kept local gov't weak, and the rich in control.
c. Liturgies are not the same as taxes; they confer prestige and power.
F. Emperor, governor, cities (34-40).
1. How much did Rome interfere in the financial affairs of the provincial cities?
a. City "curators" reported to Rome, but are mostly a mystery.
b. Control was not primarily by more bureaucracy, but by stricter oversight.
2. In the Republic, provincial governors could command armies.
a. This ended with Augustus (he takes credit for his generals' victories).
3. How much judicial power did provincial governors have?
a. This is disputed, but it definitely was in decline after the Republic.
b. Appeal to Roman courts was possible for certain privileged groups.
c. Sometimes the emperor issued direct orders (mandata) to the governor.
d. But most governors were less closely supervised than Pliny was by Trajan.
4. Decline of governor's power is consequence of more monarchical principate.
a. The Senate became a bunch of cooperative, undistinguished toadies.
5. Provincial governors routinely inspected the accounts of local gov'ts.
a. But Pliny did so unusually thoroughly for Bithynia.
6. New local taxes and new public building projects required the emperor's approval.
7. How much did provincial governors or the emperor interfere in local administration?
a. In ensuring that pledges for public projects were made good.
b. In regulating the liturgical system and eligibility for liturgies.
8. But these cases are at the request of the local elites.
a. In general, interference is surprisingly slight.
b. Even so, "real civic independence was unattainable within the Roman Empire."
9. In Greece, various constitutions were left in place.
a. But public assemblies, e.g. the Athenian ekklesia, were banned.
10. Tax collectors were perhaps the most intrusive imperial element.
VI. The Social Hierarchy (107-125).
A. Traditional social categories were disturbed with the civil wars of the 1st BC.
1. But the Augustan principate restored rigid social distinctions.
B. Sources on social structures in the imperial period:
1. Literary sources are of many genres, but all written by elites.
2. Inscriptions, of which there are many, are often uninformative.
C. Class analysis (109-112).
1. A Marxist analysis may impose anachronistic social categories on antiquity.
2. But this book will use Marxist modes to some extent.
3. Focus is on how social inequalities arise and are perpetuated.
4. Ruling elites controlled property, legislation, and the division of labor.
5. Most wealth was in land, which tended to stay in the family.
a. The nouveau riches were mostly former slaves, not free entrepreneurs.
6. Also, veterans could enter local propertied class after their service.
a. Veterans were often settled on confiscated lands.
7. Where no earlier legal system existed, Roman law was imposed.
a. This benefited the local aristocracy.
8. Most of the poor were farm workers; but many slaves were also used in agriculture.
a. There were various forms of debt-slavery in the imperial period.
b. This is true, although one type (nexus) had been abolished in early Rome.
9. Even free tenant farmers had a hard time of it.
a. Their debt to the owner led to exploitation.
b. The imperial government sometimes enforced their cooperation.
10. Some peasants who owned land managed to flourish despite difficulties.
D. Orders (or formal social classifications; 112-118).
1. The senatorial order was a small circle of several hundred families.
a. Augustus decreased number of senators from c. 1,200 to c. 600.
b. He also raised the property qualification to one million sesterces.
c. Augustus emphasized the hereditary aspect of the senatorial order.
2. The equestrian order (the equites, or knights) was second in rank.
a. It had two requirements: first, property of 400,000 sesterces.
b. Second, two generations of free birth (since 19 AD, Tiberius' law).
3. In the imperial period, equestrians become more important and more diverse.
a. A subset were imperial administrators, and very influential.
b. Others, the majority, were just local notables.
c. Status-conscious Romans developed titles to distinguish among these types.
4. A third order was the decurions, or town councillors.
a. They had the right to participate in local gov't councils.
b. The level of wealth required for membership in this class varied with location.
5. Decurions, like the other elites, were supposed to be morally upright, and not "in trade".
a. But exceptions were made by necessity.
b. They were guarantors of imperial taxes.
6. Free born versus freed: how important was the distinction?
a. Freedmen had less chance for upward social mobility.
b. But with time, a freedman ancestor became irrelevant.
7. How important was citizen vs. non-citizen?
a. More important at Rome itself, less so in the provinces.
b. In 212 AD, Caracalla made almost all free persons in the Empire citizens.
8. Honestes ("elites") vs humiliores ("humbler people") - a social distinction.
a. Honestiores are the three top social orders, plus the veterans.
b. Humiliores are the rest.
c. This replaces the increasingly irrelevant free/freedman and citizen/non citizen distinctions.
9. There was no such thing as a "middle class" - only mass and elites.
10. Slaves - legally, they are property and not persons.
a. They are subject to physical and sexual abuse, familial break-up.
b. Master's right of life and death persisted until Hadrian.
11. The badges of rank.
a. Clothing, e.g. the broad purple stripe of the senatorial class.
b. Seating in the theater.
12. Legal inequalities connected to rank.
a. Humiliores were liable to summary flogging, etc., by magistrates.
b. Their testimony was formally of lesser weight in court.
E. Status (118-123)
1. Status is not the same as rank.
a. Rank has legal definition; status is less tangible.
2. There were fine distinctions within the three upper orders.
3. But this section mainly concerns distinctions among the rest of the people.
4. Urban dwellers had higher status than rural.
5. Likewise, urban household slaves had more status than mill workers.
a. Slaves with more status could acquire property ( peculium "hoard").
b. Eventually, they could buy their freedom.
6. Freedmen could become very rich, but were always looked down upon.
a. Even those freedmen closest to the emperor were vilified by conservative elites.
7. Many Roman aristocrats believed that the "servile nature" lived on in freedmen.
8. A new rank was invented to honor distinguished freedmen: Augustalis.
a. It brought certain privileges analogous to those of the equestrians.
9. Conspicuous consumption was one way of asserting status.
a. Sumptuary laws never took hold.
10. Patrons and Clients.
a. The patron was a wealthy and powerful individual.
b. His clients sought his help in legal and financial matters.
c. In return, they supported his political agenda and enhanced his prestige.
11. The Salutatio ("greeting") of the patron by the clients was another display of status.
a. Clients lined up at his house according to their own importance.
b. His status was measured by their number.
12. When powerful freedmen began to have large numbers of clients, traditionalists were very upset.
F. Social mobility (123-125).
1. In general, there were surprisingly many opportunities for social mobility in imperial Rome.
a. But there were certain limitations as well.
2. Senatorial families died out quickly, for some reason.
a. As much as 70% disappear within a few generations.
b. This leaves many openings for provincial aristocrats.
c. They are c. 25% of senators by the late 1st AD, over 50% in the early 3rd AD.
3. It was relatively easy to get into the equestrian class, given the necessary wealth.
a. Getting positions of power in the Imperial administration was tougher, of course.
b. This could be a step towards entry into the senatorial class.
4. Army service was another route to increased social status and rank.
a. Service in the Roman army conferred automatic citizenship.
b. Veterans got discharge pay and could become landowners and local council members.
c. Officers got substantial benefits, and could rise to the equestrian class or (rarely) beyond.
5. Slaves and ex-slaves were the most numerous and best urban entrepreneurs.
a. A slave who earned a lot for his master could plan on manumission and perhaps a legacy.
6. Conclusion: controlled social mobility kept the Roman system of inequality