Publius Servilius Rullus

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Publius Servilius Rullus was a politician in the late Roman Republic , seeking 63 BC. Chr. As a tribune of the people in vain to pass an agricultural law with far-reaching political implications.


Publius Servilius Rullus was the son of the mint master of the same name from 89 BC. Chr. And son-in-law of a Valgius, who had enriched himself with the confiscation of goods by the dictator Sulla with extensive land in the area of ​​the Hirpiner .

As a tribune of the people in 63 BC Servilius wanted to pass an agricultural law through, but the later triumvirs Gaius Iulius Caesar and Marcus Licinius Crassus were probably behind this proposal . As early as 65 BC Caesar, supported by Crassus, who was then censor , had the support of Ptolemy XII. ruled Egypt as a Roman province trying to move in to gain a power base through the rich Nile country. Yet his plan had been foiled. A year later, however, he apparently wanted to realize his plans by other means with the help of Servilius.

That of Servilius in December 64 BC The agricultural law applied for in BC officially served the welfare of landless Roman farmers. In Italy, they were to receive real estate on the one hand from still available state domains ( ager publicus ) and on the other hand from newly purchased land, the financing of which was planned through the sale of public lands in the provinces. A ten-man commission with far-reaching powers, elected for a period of five years, was to be set up for the implementation of the Farm Act, so that these decemviri would have the power to dispose of the entire public state domains. Caesar figured he had a good chance of becoming a member of this commission and in this capacity would probably also have included Egypt in his considerations, since the land of the Nile had been bequeathed to the Romans by a will from Ptolemy X.

But the speaker and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero fought the requested lex agraria immediately after taking up his consulate (on January 1, 63 BC according to the pre-Julian calendar) in four speeches, three of which have largely been preserved. He feared that an ambitious Roman politician like Caesar could gain so much influence as ruler in Egypt that he succeeded in abolishing the republican form of government. On the very first day of his consulate, Cicero gave a speech De lege agraria in the Senate , in which he resolutely opposed the law proposed by Servilius. A little later he tried his rhetorical talent in a second speech on the same cause at the popular assembly and accused Servilius of only playing a major role and above all wanting to care for his own relatives, especially his father-in-law. Only one of two other addresses given by the speaker on the same topic has survived.

Cicero achieved his goal that the legislative initiative of the Servilius failed. His decisive arguments were in particular the exposure of the political background to the planned agricultural law, which in reality was not a social reform at all, as well as the reference to the great powers of the Ten Men Commission, whose members he therefore dubbed "kings". According to Cicero, they were intended primarily as a counterweight to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus . But when Caesar 59 BC When he became consul, his Lex Iulia agraria brought through the essential points of the rejected proposal by Servilius.

The further fate of Servilius is unknown. It is possible that Octavian 's equestrian leader of the same name was his son.



  1. Pliny , Natural History 8, 210.
  2. Cicero , de lege agraria 1:14 ; 2.69; 3, 3; 3, 8; 3, 13f.
  3. Plutarch , Crassus 13, 2; Caesar 5, 9; Suetonius , Caesar 11; on this W. Huss, 2001, p. 680; G. Hölbl, 1994, p. 197 (with a slightly different source assessment).
  4. Cicero, de lege agraria 2, 38.
  5. See Cicero, de lege agraria 2, 41f.
  6. Cicero, ad Atticum 2, 1, 3.