CITIZENSHIP in ancient
Latin : civitas) was a privileged
political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect
to laws, property, and governance.
Roman Republic and later in the
Roman Empire , people residing
within the Roman state could roughly be divided into several classes:
* A male ROMAN CITIZEN enjoyed a wide range of privileges and
protections defined in detail by the Roman state. A citizen could,
under certain exceptional circumstances, be deprived of his
* ROMAN WOMEN had a limited form of citizenship. Though held in high
regard they were not allowed to vote or stand for civil or public
office. The rich might participate in public life by funding building
projects or sponsoring religious ceremonies and other events. Women
had the right to own property, to engage in business, and to obtain a
divorce, but their legal rights varied over time. Marriages were an
important form of political alliance during the Republic.
* CLIENT STATE citizens and ALLIES (SOCII) of
Rome could receive a
limited form of
Roman citizenship such as the
Latin Right . Such
citizens could not vote or be elected in
Roman elections .
* SLAVES were considered property and lacked legal personhood . Over
time, they acquired a few protections under Roman law. Some slaves
were freed by manumission for services rendered, or through a
testamentary provision when their master died. Once free, they faced
few barriers, beyond normal social snobbery, to participating in Roman
society. The principle that a person could become a citizen by law
rather than birth was enshrined in
Roman mythology ; when Romulus
Sabines in battle, he promised the war captives that were
Rome they could become citizens.
* FREEDMEN were former slaves who had gained their freedom. They
were not automatically given citizenship and lacked some privileges
such as running for executive magistracies . The children of freedmen
and women were born as free citizens; for example, the father of the
Horace was a freedman.
* 1 Rights
* 2 Classes of citizenship
* 2.1 Cives Romani
* 2.2 Latini
* 2.4 Provinciales
* 2.5 Peregrini
* 3 Citizenship as a tool of Romanization
* 4 The
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 External links
The rights available to individual citizens of
Rome varied over time,
according to their place of origin, and their service to the state.
They also varied under
Roman law according to the classification of
the individual within the state. Various legal classes were defined by
the various combinations of legal rights that each class enjoyed.
However, the possible rights available to citizens with whom Roman law
addressed were: The toga was the characteristic garment of the
Roman male citizen, and statues of emperors (here
Antoninus Pius )
frequently depict them togate (togatus).
* IUS SUFFRAGIORUM: The right to vote in the
Roman assemblies .
* IUS HONORUM: The right to stand for civil or public office.
* IUS COMMERCII: The right to make legal contracts and to hold
property as a Roman citizen.
* IUS GENTIUM : The legal recognition, developed in the 3rd century
BC, of the growing international scope of Roman affairs, and the need
Roman law to deal with situations between Roman citizens and
foreign persons. The ius gentium was therefore a Roman legal
codification of the widely accepted international law of the time, and
was based on the highly developed commercial law of the Greek
city-states and of other maritime powers. The rights afforded by the
ius gentium were considered to be held by all persons; it is thus a
concept of human rights rather than rights attached to citizenship.
* IUS CONUBII: The right to have a lawful marriage with a Roman
citizen according to Roman principles, to have the legal rights of
the paterfamilias over the family, and for the children of any such
marriage to be counted as Roman citizens.
* IUS MIGRATIONIS: The right to preserve one's level of citizenship
upon relocation to a polis of comparable status. For example, members
of the cives Romani (see below) maintained their full civitas when
they migrated to a
Roman colony with full rights under the law: a
colonia civium Romanorum.
Latins also had this right, and maintained
their ius Latii if they relocated to a different
Latin state or Latin
colony (Latina colonia). This right did not preserve one's level of
citizenship should one relocate to a colony of lesser legal status;
full Roman citizens relocating to a Latina colonia were reduced to the
level of the ius Latii, and such a migration and reduction in status
had to be a voluntary act.
* The right of immunity from some taxes and other legal obligations,
especially local rules and regulations.
* The right to sue in the courts and the right to be sued.
* The right to have a legal trial (to appear before a proper court
and to defend oneself).
* The right to appeal from the decisions of magistrates and to
appeal the lower court decisions.
* Following the early 2nd-century BC
Porcian Laws , a Roman citizen
could not be tortured or whipped and could commute sentences of death
to voluntary exile , unless he was found guilty of treason .
* If accused of treason, a Roman citizen had the right to be tried
in Rome, and even if sentenced to death, no Roman citizen could be
sentenced to die on the cross .
Roman citizenship was required in order to enlist in the Roman
legions, but this was sometimes ignored. Citizen soldiers could be
beaten by the centurions and senior officers for reasons related to
discipline. Non-citizens joined the
Auxilia and gained citizenship
CLASSES OF CITIZENSHIP
The legal classes varied over time, however the following classes of
legal status existed at various times within the Roman state: The
Orator , c. 100 BC, an Etrusco -Roman bronze sculpture depicting Aule
Metele (Latin: Aulus Metellus), an Etruscan man wearing a Roman toga
while engaged in rhetoric ; the statue features an inscription in the
The Cives Romani were full Roman citizens, who enjoyed full legal
protection under Roman law. Cives Romani were sub-divided into two
* The non optimo iure who held the ius commercii and ius conubii
(rights of property and marriage)
* The optimo iure, who also held these rights as well as the ius
suffragiorum and ius honorum (the additional rights to vote and to
Latin League and
The Latini were a class of citizens who held the
Latin Rights (ius
Latii), or the rights of ius commercii and ius migrationis, but NOT
the ius connubii. The term Latini originally referred to the
citizens of the
Latin League who came under Roman control at the close
Latin War , but eventually became a legal description rather
than a national or ethnic one.
Freedmen slaves, those of the Cives
Romani convicted of crimes, or citizens settling
Latin colonies could
be given this status under the law.
Social War (91–88 BC)
Social War (91–88 BC) ,
Foederati were citizens of states which had treaty
obligations with Rome, under which typically certain legal rights of
the state's citizens under
Roman law were exchanged for agreed levels
of military service, i.e. the Roman magistrates had the right to levy
soldiers for the Roman legions from those states. However, Foederati
states that had at one time been conquered by
Rome were exempt from
payment of tribute to
Rome due to their treaty status.
Growing dissatisfaction with the rights afforded to the Socii, and
with the growing manpower demands of the legions (due to the
Jugurthine War and the
Cimbrian War ) led eventually to the
Social War of 91–88 BC in which the Italian allies revolted against
Lex Julia (in full the Lex Iulia de Civitate Latinis Danda),
passed in 90 BC, granted the rights of the cives Romani to all Latini
and socii states that had not participated in the Social War, or who
were willing to cease hostilities immediately. This was extended to
all the Italian socii states when the war ended (except for Gallia
Cisalpina ), effectively eliminating socii and Latini as legal and
Provinciales were those people who fell under Roman influence, or
control, but who lacked even the rights of the Foederati, essentially
having only the rights of the ius gentium.
A Peregrinus (plural Peregrini) was originally any person who was not
a full Roman citizen, that is someone who was not a member of the
Cives Romani. With the expansion of
Roman law to include more
gradations of legal status, this term became less used, but the term
peregrini included those of the latini, socii, and provinciales, as
well as those subjects of foreign states.
CITIZENSHIP AS A TOOL OF ROMANIZATION
A young woman sits while a servant fixes her hair with the help
of a cupid , who holds up a mirror to offer a reflection, detail of a
fresco from the
Villa of the Mysteries ,
Pompeii , c. 50 BC
Roman citizenship was also used as a tool of foreign policy and
control. Colonies and political allies would be granted a "minor" form
of Roman citizenship, there being several graduated levels of
citizenship and legal rights (the
Latin Right was one of them). The
promise of improved status within the Roman "sphere of influence", and
the rivalry with one's neighbours for status, kept the focus of many
of Rome's neighbours and allies centered on the status quo of Roman
culture, rather than trying to subvert or overthrow Rome's influence.
The granting of citizenship to allies and the conquered was a vital
step in the process of Romanization . This step was one of the most
effective political tools and (at that point in history) original
political ideas (perhaps one of the most important reasons for the
success of Rome).
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great had tried to "mingle" his Greeks with
the Persians, Egyptians, Syrians, etc. in order to assimilate the
people of the conquered
Persian Empire , but after his death this
policy was largely ignored by his successors . The idea was to not
assimilate , but to turn a defeated and potentially rebellious enemy
(or their sons) into Roman citizens. Instead of having to wait for the
unavoidable revolt of a conquered people (a tribe or a city-state)
Sparta and the conquered
Rome tried to make those under
its rule feel that they had a stake in the system.
THE EDICT OF CARACALLA
Caracalla (officially the Constitutio Antoniniana
(Latin: "Constitution of Antoninus") was an edict issued in AD 212 by
the Roman Emperor