Ager publicus

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Roman denarius, 113/112 BC To the lex agraria from 111 BC. BC ( Albert 1075)

The ager publicus ( Latin , literally public field ) was the land owned by the state in the Roman Republic , initially the common land of the city of Rome , and the originally common form of land ownership .


The measurement and distribution of the ager publicus fell into the remit of the Decemviri Agris Dandis Adsignandis . The repeatedly tried and sometimes successful privatization of the ager publicus into individual property ( ager privatus ) was a central domestic political question in Roman history. From the 2nd century BC This point of contention led time and again to violent disputes, for example with the Gracchian reforms .

The ager publicus also included the approximately 250 hectare Marsfeld (today the Roman district of Campo Marzio ), a level west of the Via Lata (today's Via del Corso ) to the Tiber loop . It initially served as a pasture for horses and sheep, as a training ground for the Roman military, as a place where foreign rulers and their ambassadors were received who were not allowed to enter the city, and as an area where foreign cults were allowed to build their temples. The piece-by-piece development of Campus Martius, even without a permit, is a vivid example of how public land was dealt with in the late period of the Roman Republic .

The ager publicus , which was shrinking as a result of being sold to private individuals, was repeatedly topped up by land gains from wars. Following a collective approach, the land newly conquered by the Romans remained jointly owned as ager publicus. For example the land in the city of Veii , which was built after the city was conquered and destroyed in 396 BC. BC to. Ager publicus was declared. Until the early imperial era, however, the entire ager publicus was divided up within Italy and thus became private property. The ager publicus in the provinces could also be owned by private individuals, but remained the property of the people or the emperor.

The importance of this question can also be seen in the large number of agricultural laws ( leges agrariae ) that have been passed in the republic. The initiative for them almost always came from the ranks of the tribunes and their "party", the populars . One reason for this is believed to be that with these advances they wanted to increase their power and secure their re-election.

The opponents of such agricultural distribution laws usually came from among the ranks of the optimates . Cicero fought in 63 BC. For example, in De lege agraria, the application lex agraria of the tribune Publius Servilius Rullus to legalize land acquired at the time of Sulla's dictatorship and to distribute ager publicus in Italy to landless farmers was successful .

Forms of the ager publicus

The Romans made a number of differences in the ager publicus :

  • ager captivus was the conquered land that was added to public land (example Veji);
  • ager colonicus was the public land given for the purpose of establishing colonies ;
  • ager compascuus was the public land that was not used for arable farming, i.e. forests, pastures (example: Campus Martius), quarries;
  • ager occupatorius was reclaimed public land that was free of taxes and released for use without transfer of ownership;
  • ager provincialis was the public land in the provinces owned by the people or the emperor, which could not be transferred to private property;
  • ager stipendiarius was the public land in the provinces (later only in the senatorial provinces ), which was revocably and taxable given to local farmers;
  • ager tributarius was the public land in the provinces (later only in the imperial provinces ), which was revocably and taxable given to local farmers;
  • ager vectigalis was the public land that the censor leased to private individuals;

Opposite the ager publicus were the other forms of property, especially private land:

  • ager desertus was private land that had been abandoned by its owners - a phenomenon that spread throughout the Roman Empire from the 2nd century onwards;
  • ager privatus was tax-free land owned by Roman citizens;
  • ager privatus vectigalisque was formerly public land that was given to Roman citizens as taxable property in return for a payment to the state;
  • ager quaestorius was the conquered public land which was sold by quaestors and thereby became private, inheritable, transferable and taxable property;
  • ager peregrinus was land that belonged to a community (state, city) with which Rome had contractual relations.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Tiziana J. Chiusi: The comprehensive dimension of Roman private law, system-theoretical remarks on a legal system that knows no fundamental rights. In: Jörg Neuner (Ed.): Basic rights and private law from a comparative law perspective. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2007, p. 10 f.
  2. For the difference between ager publicus and ager compascuus, see Max Weber : The Roman Agricultural History in Its Significance for State and Private Law , Chapter III, The public and scatterable land and the assets of minor law , Habilitation from 1891, Schippers, 1962, page 119 ff.