2. Beginnings of Rome
3. Institutions of Early Rome
4. Etruscan Kings of Rome
5. Reorganization of Kingdom

6. Struggle against Kingship
7. Struggle for Economic Rights
8. Struggle for Equal Laws
9. Struggle for Political Equality
10. Conquest of Latium
11. Conquest of Central Italy
12. Conquest of Southern Italy
13. Supremacy of Rome in Italy
14. First Punic War
15. Second Punic War
16. Conquests in East
17. Reduction of Roman Conquests
18. Rome as a World Power
19. Times of Gracchi
20. Times of Marius and Sulla
21. Times of Pompey and Caesar
22. Times of Antony and Octavius

23. Reign of Augustus
24. Julian Emperors
25. Flavian Emperors
26. Five Good Emperors
27. Decline of Empire
28. Reorganization of Empire
29. Extinction of Western Empire
Outlines of Roman History
by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: American Book Company (1901).



Table of contents




The Introduction of the Plebeians, I.The Reformed Constitution, II.The Supremacy of Rome in Latium, III.


   The Reforms of the Tarquins.—We must not suppose that the work of the Etruscan kings was simply to give to Rome better buildings and more durable public works. However important these may have been, the Tarquins did something which was of still greater benefit to the Roman people. The first Tarquin and Servius Tullius are described as great reformers, who made the little Roman state stronger and more compact than it had been before. Let us see why the Roman state needed to be reformed, and how this reform was brought about.

   The Patrician Aristocracy.—We have already seen that the early Roman people was made up of three tribes, that is, the three old communities which were settled on the Roman hills. We have also seen that these tribes were made up of curiae; and these curiae of gentes; and lastly, that these gentes were composed of the old families. It is therefore evident that no person could be a member of the state unless he was a member of some old Roman family. It was only the descendants of the old families who could vote in the assembly or could be chosen to the senate. And it was they only who were called upon to serve in the army. These old families and their descendants were called patricians; and the state was in reality a patrician state. As all other persons were excluded from political rights and privileges, the patricians formed an aristocratic class, exclusive and devoted to their own interests.

   The Growth of the Plebeians.—But in the course of time there grew up by the side of the patricians a new class of persons. Though living at Rome, they were not members of the old families, and hence had no share in the government. These persons were called plebeians. There were no doubt many of these persons under the early kings; but they became more numerous under the later kings. They consisted largely of people of other cities who had been conquered and brought to Rome, and of people who had escaped from other cities and found refuge at Rome. They thus became subjects, but not citizens. They could not hold office, nor vote; nor could they marry into the patrician families; although they were allowed to hold property of their own. But as they became more numerous, and as some of them became wealthy, they desired to be made equal with the patricians.

   The New Plebeian Gentes.—It was Tarquinius Priscus, the first Etruscan king, who, it is said, took the first step toward introducing the plebeians into the state. He did this by introducing into each one of the tribes a number of the more wealthy plebeian families, under the name of lesser gentes (gentes minores); while the old patrician gentes were called by the more honorable name of greater gentes (gentes maiores). In this way the line of separation between the patricians and the plebeians began to be broken down, but it was many years after this time before the two classes became entirely equal.


   The New Local Tribes.—More important than the reforms of Tarquinius Priscus were the reforms which are said to have been made by Servius Tullius. The previous changes had affected only a small part of the plebeian class; the great body of the plebeians remained just where they were before. Now Servius saw that Rome would be stronger and more able to compete with her enemies if the plebeians were called upon to serve in the army and pay taxes, just like the patricians. He therefore made a new division of the people, based not upon their birth and descent, like the old division into tribes, but upon their domicile, that is, the place where they lived. He divided the whole Roman territory, city and country, into local districts, like wards and townships. There were four of these in the city, and sixteen in the country, the former being called “city tribes” (tribus urbanae), and the latter “rural tribes” (tribus rusticae). All persons, whether patricians or plebeians, who had settled homes (assidui), were enrolled in their proper tribes and were made subject to military service and the tribal tax (tributum).

   The New Classes and Centuries.—The next step which Servius took was to reorganize the Roman army, so that it should include all persons who resided in the Roman territory and were enrolled in the new local tribes. First came the cavalry (equites), made up of young wealthy citizens, and arranged in eighteen centuries, or companies. Next came the infantry (pedites), which comprised all the rest of the men capable of bearing arms. In ancient times every man was obliged to furnish his own weapons. Now as all the people could not afford to obtain the heavier armor, they were subdivided into “classes” according to their wealth, and according to the armor it was supposed they could afford to furnish. The first class consisted of eighty centuries, and was made up of the wealthiest men, who could afford a full armor—a brass shield carried on the left arm, greaves which covered the legs, a cuirass to protect the breast, and a helmet for the head, together with a sword and a spear. The second class had in place of the brass shield a wooden shield, covered with leather. The third class omitted the greaves, and the fourth class omitted also the cuirass and the helmet, carrying only the wooden shield, spear, and sword. The fifth class was made up of the poorest citizens, who fought only with darts and slings. Each of these classes, except the first, was arranged in twenty centuries, or companies. One half of the centuries in each class were composed of the younger men (iuniores), who might be called out at any time. The other half were composed of the older men (seniores), who were called out only in times of great danger. Besides, there were fifteen centuries of musicians, carpenters, and substitutes, We may perhaps get a clearer idea of this new military arrangement by the following table:—

I. Cavalry (Equites) 18 centuries.
II. Infantry (Pedites)
          1st class (40 iuniores, 40 seniores) 80 centuries.
          2d class (10 iuniores, 10 seniores) 20 centuries.
          3d class (10 iuniores, 10 seniores) 20 centuries.
          4th class (10 iuniores, 10 seniores) 20 centuries.
          5th class (10 iuniores, 10 seniores) 20 centuries.
               Musicians, Carpenters, Substitutes 15 centuries.
                         Total   193 centuries.

   The New Assembly, Comitia Centuriata.—This arrangement of the people was first intended for a military purpose; but it soon came to have a political character also. There was every reason why the important questions relating to war, which had heretofore been left to the old body of armed citizens, should now be left to the new body of armed citizens. As a matter of fact, the new fighting body became a new voting body; and there thus arose a new assembly, called the assembly of the centuries (comitia centuriata). But this new assembly did not lose its original military character. For example, it was called together, not by the voice of the lictor, like the old assembly, but by the sound of the trumpet. Again, it did not meet in the Forum, where the old assembly met, but in the Field of Mars (Campus Martius), outside of the city. It also voted by centuries, that is, by military companies. After a time the comitia centuriata acquired the character of a real political and legislative body, of greater importance than the old comitia curiata.


   Conquests in Latium.—While Rome was thus becoming strong, and her people were becoming more united and better organized, she was also gaining power over the neighboring lands. The people with whom she first came into contact were the Latins. A number of Latin towns were conquered and brought under her power, and were made a part of the Roman domain (ager Romanus). She also pushed her conquests across the Anio into the Sabine country, and across the Tiber into Etruria. So that before the fall of the kingdom, Rome had begun to be a conquering power. But her conquests at present were limited, for the most part, to Latium, and it was from this conquered land in Latium that she had created the rural tribes already mentioned.

   Rome and the Latin League.—Outside of this conquered territory were the independent Latin cities, united together into a strong confederacy. When Alba Longa was conquered, Rome succeeded to the headship of this confederacy of thirty cities. The people of these cities were not made Roman citizens; but they were given the right to trade and to intermarry with Romans. The Latin league was bound to Rome by a treaty, which made it partly subject to her; because it could not wage war without her consent, and it must assist her in her wars.

   Review of the Roman Kingdom.—In the various ways which we have described, Rome had come to be a strong city, and was growing into something like a new nation, with a kind of national policy. If we should sum up this policy in two words, these words would be expansion and incorporation. By “expansion” we mean the extension of Roman power over the neighboring territory, whether by conquest or by alliance. By “incorporation” we mean the taking of subject people into the political body. For example, Rome had first incorporated the Sabine settlement on the Quirinal; then the Latin settlement on the Caelian; and finally the plebeian class, which had grown up by the side of the patrician class. By pursuing this kind of policy, Rome had come to be, at the end of the kingdom, a compact and quite well-organized city-state with a considerable territory of her own (ager Romanus) about the Tiber, and having a control over the cities of Latium.


Ihne, Early Rome, Ch. 9, “People of the Regal Period” (
Shuckburgh, Ch. 5, “The Regal Period” (1).
Granrud, pp. 19-26, “The Later Royal Constitution” (13).
How and Leigh, Ch. 4, “The Regal Period” (1).
Mommsen, abridged, Ch. 4, “Reforms of Servius Tullius—Supremacy of Rome in Latium” (2).


   THE SERVIAN CLASSES AND CENTURIES.—’Pelham, pp. 36-39 (1); Leighton, pp. 22-24 (1); Mommsen, Vol. I., pp. 132-141 (2); Ramsay and Lanciani, p. 96 et seq. (8); Niebuhr, Hist., Vol. I., pp. 212-236; Taylor, pp. 25-36 (1).

1 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the
Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.


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