Roman colonization

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The earliest colonies of Roman citizens were small groups of 300 families at Ostia, Antium (338 bc), and Tarracina (329). Others were added as the Roman territory expanded, through reluctance to maintain a permanent fleet. In 218 there were twelve such maritime colonies. Colonists retained Roman citizenship because the early colonies were within Roman territory, and were too small to form an independent state. Citizen colonies are distinct from Latin, which, though largely manned by Romans, were autonomous states established outside Roman territory and with acknowledged strategic aims (see ius latii; latins). Maritime colonies seem normally to have been exempt from legionary service, though the exemption was revocable, and colonists were bound not to absent themselves by night from their colonies in time of war.

About 177 the system of citizen colonies was reorganized. They were assimilated to Latin colonies, and the use of the latter abandoned. Henceforth citizen colonies were large—2,000–5,000 men—and were employed for the same purpose as Latin colonies formerly. Not all the original Roman colonies remained small and static. Puteoli (194), though exceptional because of its position, was showing administrative complexity and magisterial jurisdiction in a public building contract of 105. The first deployment of large Roman colonies was in Cisalpina (see gaul (cisalpine)), where the strategic and cultural situation was different from that of 4th‐cent. Latium. Generous allotments of land were given to the new colonies and their internal organization was changed also. They remained citizen colonies but received extensive powers of local government for their annual magistrates and council. Not many of the new‐style colonies were founded till the Gracchan age, when a further change took place in their employment. Henceforth they were founded for social and political as much as for strategic reasons, either as emigration schemes for the landless or to provide for veteran soldiers. They could cause friction with the original inhabitants and give rise to unrest, notably the revolts of 78 and 63 bc.

The first foundation outside Italy was the Gracchan Junonia at Carthage (122). Its charter was revoked, but the colonists retained their allotments. In 118 Narbo was successful. In 103 and 100, Appuleius Saturninus and Marius proposed large‐scale colonization in certain provinces, and effected a few settlements in Africa, Corsica, and Provence. But extensive colonization outside Italy became regular only under Caesar and Octavian, when, reflecting the changed locus of political power, colonies began to adopt the names of their founders and benefactors as titles of honour (so Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, ad 50; see colonia agrippinensis). Some colonists were still being drawn from the civilian population, notably at the refounding of Carthage and Corinth (c.44). Augustus, discharging his veterans and avoiding Italy after 27, established numerous colonies not only in Narbonensis (see gaul (transalpine)), the Spanish provinces, Africa, and Mauretania, but also in the east. There had already been Caesarian foundations in Asia Minor. After Philippi, Octavian gave veterans Italian land, but the Perusine war showed that if not sent home (Res Gestae 16) they would have to be settled elsewhere, and the numbers of Antonian troops to be discharged indicated the east. (See Antonius, Marcus.) Augustan colonies were thickly scattered, mainly on the seaboard of Greece and NW Asia Minor. In Pisidia (25 bc) and at Berytus (c.15 bc) they provided a military presence when legions could not be afforded. In the east an existing polis could survive colonization; colonization may be seen as part of a movement in populations that included the individual settlement of Italian businessmen, soldiers, and others, as well as the creation of hybrids like Nicopolis: colonization was sometimes unofficial in both east and west. In the later republic, casual immigrants established the assembly of Roman citizens (see conventus 1) in native communities, thus forming the basis of a future municipium.


Subjects: Classical Studies.

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