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The End of the Roman Republic Res publica amissa by Christian Meier Review by: E. W.

Gray The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Dec., 1969), pp. 325-330 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/707749 . Accessed: 11/03/2013 18:48
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THE CLASSICAL REVIEW

325

classici,who would have comprised both actual patricians and a much larger body of non-patrician well-to-do. In the senate these latter two groups were separately recognized as patresand conscripti, non-patricians enrolled as senators. The traditional struggle of the orders is thus an anachronism. Momigliano's account neatly explains many things, such as the presenceof apparently plebeian names in the early Fasti: they would in fact be the names of nonwho patrician conscripti, had reached the highest magistracy.But, although this does not refute or invalidate his thesis, he accepts too readily the linguistic The analysis of the term patresconscripti. formation of the phrase and its comwho have parable analogues suggeststhat it must be interpretedas 'thosepatres been conscripti' not 'patres and and conscripti'. Historians will need however to apply Momigliano's thesis to the whole history of the period to see whether it does make convincing sense of the evidence. The longest, and in many ways, the most substantial, paper is Wieacker's discussion of the Twelve Tables. It is one of a number of studies which he has written recently on the subject and needs to be read in conjunction with his contribution to Studiin onore E. Volterra di and his earlier article in R.LD.A. xxxiii (1956), I5 ff. After demonstrating the fundamental authenticity of the Tables despite their having been 'edited' about 200 B.c., he shows, on internal grounds, how their provisions,especially on funerary and sumptuarymatters, can precisely be ascribed only to the mid fifth century (especially pp. 309-1o). There can be no question of direct imitation of Solonian Laws at Athens, but the detail of the three recinia (Cic. Leg. i. 64) may be proof of indirect influence. Doubtless many different sources in Magna Graecia were used in their compilation. The importance of the legislation as a stage in the political history of Rome is seen as an assertion by an ideologically Greek-orientatedplebs (as Momigliano also suggests) of its right to equality before the law (laovolda). For the first time civil, as opposed to religious, conduct is ordered for the whole population. One point is questionable. Wieacker is among those who date the adoption of the hoplite phalanx to the middle of the century, after Cremera (p. 336). This, on archaeological and historical grounds, must be too late. The mid sixth century is a truer date. Although the adoption of hoplite armour need not have led overnight to the adoption of hoplite tactics, Cremera should not be used as evidence that such tactics were not in standard use until after 480 B.C. The story of Cremera itself is such a cocoon of Greek tales that it is difficult to be confident about any of the military details, but even if the tradition of the Fabii and their dependents acting as a self-contained (and, therefore, nonphalanx) army is true, it must be remembered that it was a special mission whose purpose was to patrol and garrison the frontier. For such a mission the Fabii may well have preferredirregular formations.
BalliolCollege, Oxford R. M. OGILVIE

THE END OF THE ROMAN


CHRISTIAN MEIER:

REPUBLIC
Wiesbaden:

Geschichte

der spliten r6mischen

Res publica amissa. Eine Studie zu Verfassung und


Republik. Pp. viii+332.

Steiner, 1966. Cloth, DM. 58. THISis a thought-provokingand stimulating book, written on a generous scale. It offers a fresh diagnosis of the sicknessof the Roman state in the last century

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THE CLASSICAL REVIEW 326 of the Republic. The earlier sections of it do not make easy reading. Meicer is concerned there not so much with the details of flesh-and-blood politics as with political concepts, that is, the framework of concepts and semantic interpretation laid over Roman political history by systematizing scholars. The language is often abstract to the point of opacity. Also, the general plan of the work involves him in an unnecessarily large amount of repetition. Meier examines the paradox of the continued existence and vitality of the prisca forma rei publicae. Why was the apparently obsolete community-state machinery left unreformed in spite of its increasing inadequacy in an expanding world empire ? Even in the late Republic it must have satisfied the fundamental needs and demands of the whole citizen body (rather, one should say, of those elements in the state which enjoyed some degree of political initiative). How, then, did the old constitution really function during those critical decades? Why was no alternative considered possible, no attempt made at a basic revision ? So Meier undertakes an historical study of the actual working, of the of der Grundbedingungen Verfassungswirklichkeit, the late Republican constitution. and amicitiae, the tools of First, a useful analysis of the 'system' of necessitudines the politician and the basis of his political activity, and a demonstration of their paramount importance in public life, neutralizing any tendency to division along the lines of partium sensus until the final crisis of the Republic. Meier stresses the exceptional nature of the comitia of 50 B.C. (Cic. Fam. viii. 14. I). The tangled web of amicitia and other obligations continually produced situations in which the electorate of all classes must have it both ways, vote for Caesar and Bibulus simultaneously. Private and public relationships are interlocked. Meier goes over this ground again in ch. iv, 'Zur politischen Grammatik in der spaiten Republik', a title which sufficiently illustrates his approach to Roman politics (Caesar, it must be said, merely remarked that Sulla was an infant in politics when he voluntarily surrendered his power). In the later chapter Meier claims to have demolished the 'faction thesis' of Syme, Scullard, Badian, and L. R. Taylor. This is a sweeping and partly misdirected claim. The argument against use of the analogy from English i8th-century politics (pp. 187 f.) has relevance particularly to Scullard's Introduction to his Roman Politics, 220-150 B.C. Attacks on abuses of the prosopographical method'prosopography gives only connections, not a theoretical basis'-are reasonable enough and weighty attacks have been made in recent years. Some scholars have given to 'Gracchan' and 'Marian' factions, for instance, more durability and range and significance than the evidence warrants. For all that, the list of Marians outlawed in 88 B.C. (App. B.C. i. 6o), for example, merits exploitation by the prosopographer (cf. Syme, J.R.S. xxxiv. 107). Again, it is possible to attach too much importance, for example, to the background of faction out of which the Gracchi emerged and too little to their actual programmes and to the diverse social classes and groups which they were to appeal to and rouse to future political activity; cf. the remarks of La Penna (Athen. 1966, 369 f.) on this and on the danger of adhering too closely to the formulations of Sallust and others of his contemporaries, who oversimplified Roman politics when they saw it largely as a conflict between Populares and Optimates. For Meier himself, indeed, the senate ended up by becoming a mere party (p. I74). Surely a more misleading simplification than the Populares/Optimates dichotomy. The senate that voted 370-22 for the dis-

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banding of armies by both the dynasts in 50 B.c. was not behaving as a party. The Optimates the other hand were 'a faction or gang', but 'solid only to on outward show and at intervals' (Syme, R.R. 22). Thus, in the Civil War, the nobles were evenly divided as between Caesar and Pompey, only the consulares showing a decided preference for the cause of Pompey (cf. Shackleton Bailey, C.Q. I960, 253 if.). Meier's specimen analyses of alleged factions (pp. 182 ff.) are not altogether conclusive. 'Factio' is a smear word in Roman politics, but cliques did exist and Meier tends to dismiss attested cases of factions at work as exceptions that in and sensus each case prove his 'rule', that necessitudines partium invariably crisscross until the very end (pp. 181, 186). Has Meier proved that Sulla was not after his return to Italy (pp. 18I f.) ? supportedby a faction of interrelatednobiles The consulshipsof 80 and the following years went to 'the core of the Sullan faction' (Syme, R.R. 20). Meier contends that Sulla took no notice of these consuls and that they even made a stand against him. Is this correct? They went off to the military provinceswhere most danger lay for the state. Sulla had gone to the heart of things by securing Rome and Italy. But there were provinces still to be recovered or defended. Metellus set off for Spain, Servilius and Appius for Asia Minor and Macedonia. Catulus, earmarked for the prior consulship of 78, if we accept the anecdote in Plutarch, and M. Aemilius Lepidus (surely Sulla's choice; cf. Syme, Sallust, 185) complete the list of nobles scheduled for consular office after Sulla and Metellus launched the new regime in 80. It was not so much against Sulla himself that such men supported Sex. Roscius in 80. They were in a position of strength as Sulla's allies when they challenged Chrysogonus. Cicero's boldness was firmly grounded on the secure position of Metellus, colleague of Sulla in that year. It was Pompey who first made a mockery of Sulla's new order when in 77 he secured, by the threat of armed force, the military command in Spain (Plut. Pomp. I7), staking all his resources on the venture, if Sallust is to be believed. Cicero's rhetoric and In Philippus' jest have obscured the truth about that ddmarche. both passages where Cicero refers to it he is engaged in special pleading. Pompey was not a dutiful son of the Republic, lined up placidly with Metellus on his return from Spain (pace Sherwin-White, J.R.S. 1956, 5 f.). He did not disband his army until he had secured his election to the consulship.Thereafterhe resorted to the popularis technique of using a tribune and the assembly to get the extraordinary commands he wanted. In general one can say that the politics of the Optimates changed in the direction of hostility to Pompey when he asserted himself so dangerously at the expense of the Sullan order, just as they had in general taken a new direction when it became clear that Sulla was irresistiblein ceased to be opportunistand Italy. This did not mean that individual Optimates did not take sides on occasion with or against Pompey, in whichever direction ceased to they considered their immediate interest lay; still less that necessitudo play a dominant role in the election politics of such families as the Metelli and their connections, securing them consulships and the plums of provincial government that the 'system' automatically brought them. But a faction of nobiles worked steadily against Pompey's real or suspected aim of dominatio the sixties, for example, in 67, timidly in 66, more boldly in in 65 (the line-up against Cornelius) and most conspicuously from 61I onwards, when Cato, reacting against Pompey's renewed attempt to use a tribune for his own political ends, rejected Pompey's overtures. The sustained opposition

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THE CLASSICAL REVIEW 328 of the core of the Optimates to Pompey throughout the following decade is blurred over by Cicero's rhetoric and wishful thinking. Pompey's alliance with Caesar in 60/59 may have looked like a mere ephemeral election alliance to contemporaries; it was the persistent enmity of the Optimatesto Pompey that kept the alliance in being for nearly a decade. The core of this opposition consisted of a small group of interrelated nobiles of whom Cato was the most pertinacious and intransigent. Meier contends that it was a rare chance that these men were linked together by family connections, that it was exceptional that in their case partium sensus and necessitudo coincided for a long term. We may agree that Cato's personality gave a measure of consistency and extra firmness to the opposition to Pompey, and later to Caesar, without accepting his attempt to explain away the Catonian group and its politics as an exception that proves his 'Regel'. Its consistency in politics over a long period of time can be better understood, not in terms of the personality and authority of four of its members (p. 186), but by reference to the nature of the potentia exercised by its opponents, Pompey and Caesar (see below). Meier's most valuable and longest chapter, 'Die iibermassige Extensivierung der Res Publica' (pp. 64-161), follows his discussion of the earlier phases of the as development of Das Bindungswesen a feature of the aristocratically dominated state, the expansion of the clientela of the new nobility step by step with the expansion of the empire. The main cause of the long-continued absence of a fundamental disharmony in the community had been found in that expansion. The solidarity of nobility and populace had its roots in a shared interest in the unfolding power of the state. Now Meier discusses the developing role of the Equester Ordo, the rural and urban plebs and the new armies in the expanded state. After the isolated attempt of C. Gracchus to broaden the basis of the governing class the knights came to terms with the senate, concerned themselves merely with the defence of their own vested interests, and became thereby a disruptive force in political life, loosening the structure of the Staatsordnung, making the necessity of reform more urgent but taking no initiative themselves in the direction of amelioration. The other social groups mentioned above never possessed sufficient political initiative to change the order of the day and remained passive centres of smouldering discontent, to be made use of by the survivors in the last round of the struggle for power, the leaders of the Caesarian party. Meier sums up his main conclusions in the brief chapter v, 'Krise ohne Alternativ' (pp. 201-5). It was the expansion of the empire that was the reason for the absence of any change in the constitutional structure. Energies were directed away from the urge to make changes into wider fields of opportunity. Expansion led to an intensification of the control by the aristocratic senate. New clientela relationships were exploited. The new nobility took on the responsibilities of government. There was an extension of personal controls as a substitute for new machinery of government. As a result the new influential bourgeoisie remained indifferent to politics, leaving rule to the nobles. Attempts to solve or circumvent new problems of government by reform merely led to the destruction of equilibrium in a state where it was to everyone's interest, popularis leaders included, to maintain the existing system. A new egotism developed amongst the new nobility. As the old machine ticked over without actually working, no alternative solution was or could be envisaged. One cannot summarize here the lengthy concluding historical narrative of

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the phases of disintegration from 95 to 50 B.c. or list points of disagreement in detail. Meier has much of value and interest to say about the politics and programmes of the period. There is room for disagreement on questions of interpretation and emphasis, e.g. his treatment of the period of Cinna's dominance and of Sulla's, to quote two instances. Is Meier's diagnosis completely satisfying ? Does it take into account all the phenomena ? Are the mechanics of consular elections what matters most in this period? Was the republican constitution a piece of machinery that remained in essence unchanged throughout, and because of, the process of material expansion of the empire? Or would it be better to say that the old constitution was itself continually adapted and stretched to meet the expanding needs of empire until it burst. This has been said before, but the fact still remains a phenomenon that should be taken into account. Meier's work reflects the new interest in studies of societies as complex wholes and displays great virtuosity in the use of new techniques of interpretation in the fields of political semantics and sociology. The expansion of the clientelaeof the nobility and the splintering (Individualisierung) interests in the community of are certainly important extra-constitutional features of the developing republic. No less significant is the development of the imperiumto the point where the primitive, built-in safeguards of the oligarchic constitution, the principles of magisterial collegiality and annual limitation of tenure, were turned upside down and replaced by the antithetical principles of hierarchy of command and indefinite tenure of imperiumextra ordinem. After Sulla holders of long-term imperia, Pompey and Caesar in turn or simultaneously, were in a position to undermine the resistance of the nobility by means of the power and patronage at their disposal. One could argue that it was to a considerable extent the flexibility and adaptability of the constitution that had deferred for so long a time the moment when an impasse was reached. The protective devices of the old republic were stretched until their colouring changed slowly from blue to red; the dynasts with their long-term imperiaand armies and massive clientelae could see to it that the only consular elections that had any long-term significance for the state were those that, at long intervals, were crucial for themselves, for the consolidation of their long-term commands. These commands gave Pompey and Caesar a position of power and authority which they could exploit at leisure, over a quinquennium or longer. The significant elections in this period are those for the consulships of 70, 59, and 55 and they were seen to be so at the time. In 70 the consuls restored the tribunes' initiative and made possible for Pompey his great commands in 67 and 66 (for the reaction of the nobles to this cf. Cic. Pro Cornel. ap. Ascon. p. 76 C.). In 59 Caesar dealt a crushing blow to the auctoritasof the senate ('made a decisive change in the political Grammatik',as Meier puts it) and laid the foundations of his future potentia. One need not dwell on the significance of the elections for 55. The rhythm in the development of the potentialities of the transcendent imperia extra ordinemwas more leisurely than the rhythm of annual consular elections. The vital interests of the dynasts were not necessarily deeply involved in the latter. Power was being organized outside Rome. And this power gave the dynasts opportunities of patronage which, applied to members of the nobility itself, subordinated their clientela networks to something more comprehensive and compelling. More and more of the nobilesswung gradually into position as satellites of the major dynasts.

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THE CLASSICAL REVIEW 330 To use the not altogether satisfying analogy of the Roman state as a developing organism, Meier discusses the development of the musculature and nervous system but allows for none in the skeleton. His view of the Roman constitution remains that of a Polybius, a Greek picture of the equilibrium (cdpCLovia) of a well-organized piece of clockwork, which some Roman Solon or Cleisthenes might be expected to overhaul when the cogs begin to grind instead of catching smoothly (p. 203). Why was there no cry for, or support for a reformer ? So he attributes little significance or continuity to efforts at 'reform' in the period after I22 and devotes much attention to four attempts by supporters of the old regime (in 95, 91, 88, and 82 B.c.) to get round the problems presented by the claims of the Equester Ordo and the Italians. These problems were not to be solved within the narrow circle of domestic politics in Rome. When Pompey pacified Spain and organized peace and security in the East for the immediate benefit of the knights and of the Italici spread over Asia Minor and the ('Pwlao-) Levant, when Caesar recruited the Transpadani into his legions and fulfilled his promises to them, those dynasts were going to the heart of the matter in a different way (more effectively in the long term) from Sulla's concentration on the metropolis and Italy in 83/2 B.C. Sulla launched his new order side by side with Metellus and a faction of the Optimates,installed at what he saw as the centre of power. 'Rome could be conquered, but not won over, with the legions alone' (p. 205). Cicero was to witness the indifference of the Equestrian Order and the Italian communities to the fate of the armies of Pompey and the Republicans. It was the support of the new social groups aroused to political consciousness in different ways by the Gracchi, Saturninus, Pompey, and Caesar, that eventually determined the triumph of Caesarism and the building of a new order in which some at least of their aspirations were satisfied. E. W. GRAY Christ Church, Oxford

THE ROMAN
227. Princeton, N.J.: University

CALENDAR
Press (London: Oxford University

AGNES KIRSOPP The Calendar theRoman MICHELS: of Republic.Pp. xvi + Press), 1967. Cloth, 7Is. 6d. net.
are CALENDARS notoriously confusing, none more so than the Roman Calendar. So it is all the more gratifying to find a short, clear account of what the Roman Calendar contained and how it worked, together with an original and disturbing investigation of its origin. In the first part of her book Mrs. Michels discusses the meaning of the different symbols, with special reference to the fragments of Fasti Antiates Maiores, the only pre-Julian calendar to survive. In the second part she works back from the first century B.C. to the creation of the distinctive lunisolar calendar which survived for so long at Rome. She approaches her subject from a refreshingly practical standpoint, trying to explain the phenomena in terms of the needs of the people (cf. especially pp. 50 ff. and p. 6), although she would admit that business and religion are not divorced and that predominantly religious motives should not be ruled out. Briefly her theory is that the Romans used a truly lunar calendar, with the Kalends being announced each month, until 451/0 B.C., when the Decem-

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