The Second Century and the Economy of <i>Ager Publicus</i>

Saskia T. Roselaar

in Public Land in the Roman Republic

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577231
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723414 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Roman Society & Law

The Second Century and the Economy of Ager Publicus

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This chapter discusses the economic developments of the second century BC. The traditional picture of this period is one of increasing occupation of ager publicus by the rich commercial elite, who established large slave‐staffed estates on public land. This chapter argues that this picture cannot hold because the location of ager publicus, as established in Chapter 2, is not the same as the location of the main development of such commercial estates. It argues that the pressure on the land was indeed high in some areas of Italy, especially around Rome, partially as a result of growing demand for land among commercial producers, and partly as a result of population growth. The land in this area was mainly private, which may have led small farmers to sell their land and move to the cities, but at the end of the second century BC possibilities for wage labour declined, which led to an increase of poverty among the rural and urban poor.

Keywords: economic developments; demography; villa agriculture; slavery; privatization; urbanization; wage labour

Chapter.  35365 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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