Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.04.08

David Kremer, Ius latinum. Le concept de droit latin sous la République et l'Empire. Romanité et modernité du droit.   Paris:  De Boccard, 2006.  Pp. xii, 272.  ISBN 978-2-7018-0218-3.  €30.00 (pb).  



Reviewed by Christopher Smith, University of St Andrews (cjs6@st-and.ac.uk)
Word count: 664 words

Kremer's careful study of Latin rights is divided into two parts. The first considers the position from the foundation at the time of the Foedus Cassianum to the Social War; the second considers the transformation from the Social war until the Constitutio Antoniniana, with the emphasis on Gaul, and contains a chapter on the nature of the Latin municipium, based on the evidence of the Lex Irnitana, and the diffusion of the phenomenon in the western provinces.

The book offers a useful overview of the evidence and is clearly written. It is useful to have a single account of this important instrument of Roman organization. For K., the Latin right is a mechanism of integration, first used within Italy and then spread through the west through a variety of constructed communities. The Junian Latins are not considered in any detail.

K. takes the view that the original Latin right, as constructed through the foedus Cassianum, contained three key components, commercium, conubium and ius migrandi. Very little if anything is said about the situation before the foedus Cassianum, and indeed very little is said about the historical problems of that treaty. This is a rigorously legal account, and there is nothing to indicate the context within which the resolution after the battle of Lake Regillus arose, so previous aristocratic mobility and interaction are not addressed. Commercium is understood within the context of reciprocal respect for private law; similarly intermarriage and the rights of migration are developed with a view to the inter-relationships between the communities of Latium, whereas an alternative approach might see this as at most a regularisation, if not simply a reinforcement, of prior arrangements arising from the mobility of the central Italian elite.

The Latin revolt and resettlement in 338 BC involved a rethinking of the mechanisms of control. The gradual increase in the Latins' ability to vote is part of the landscape, but colonization is rather more significant. K. takes the view that a substantial number of so-called Latin colonists were in fact lower ranking Romans who chose to renounce their citizenship for the land which came with a new colony, and uses the archaeological evidence for fora and comitia to make the case for the similarity between colonial and Roman practices. Although this colonization ceases after Aquileia in 181, the Latin right remains a subtle solution to problems of integration in the period after the Social War.

K. argues in the second part that the development of Latin status in Gaul and beyond was a grant to whole communities, variously constructed as fictive colonies (Gallia Cisalpina), oppida Latina (Spain and Gallia Narbonensis), Latin civitates (Gallia Comata) and what he calls gentes adtributae from the Alpine region. Latin rights involved the development of particular forms of Roman and urban administration, as evident from the epigraphic record, which is helpfully summarized in an appendix.

There are some gaps; it is surprising not to see more in this account about the concept of exilium. In his account of the ius civitatis per magistratum adipiscendae, arguing that it arose in the second century BC to replace the ius migrandi but did not attain its full development until the first century BC, there is no reference to Mouritsen's suggestion that the right could not have preceded the Social War (Italian Unification: A Study in Ancient and Modern Historiography London 1998, 106-8).

All in all this is a useful short book on an important juridical concept, but by staying within these fairly limited bounds, it does not give the more rounded and more contextualized accounts which have been developed for the spread of Latinitas in Gaul, for instance by Woolf (Becoming Roman: The Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul, Cambridge 1998) or for the development of notions of citizenship and municipalization by Dench (Romulus' Asylum: Roman Identities from the Age of Alexander to the Age of Hadrian, Oxford 2005) and Bispham (From Ausculum to Actium: the Municipalization of Italy from the Social War to Augustus, Oxford 2007).

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