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 Sovereign Roman State, I.The Subject Communities, II.The Military System, III.


   The Sovereign and Subject Communities.—To understand properly the history of Rome, we must study not only the way in which she conquered her territory, but also the way in which she organized and governed it. The study of her wars and battles is less important than the study of her policy. Rome was always learning lessons in the art of government. As she grew in power, she also grew in political wisdom. With every extension of her territory, she was obliged to extend her authority as a sovereign power. If we would comprehend the political system which grew up in Italy, we must keep clearly in mind the distinction between the people who made up the sovereign body of the state, and the people who made up the subject communities of Italy. Just as in early times we saw two distinct bodies, the patrician body, which ruled the state, and the plebeian body, which was subject to the state; so now we shall see, on the one hand, a ruling body of citizens, who lived in and outside the city upon the Roman domain (ager Romanus), and on the other hand, a subject body of people, living in towns and cities throughout the rest of Italy. In other words, we shall see a part of the territory and people incorporated into the state, and another part unincorporated—the one a sovereign community, and the other comprising a number of subject communities.

   Extent of the Roman Domain.—The Roman domain proper, or the ager Romanus, was that part of the territory in which the people became incorporated into the state, and were admitted to the rights of citizenship. It was the sovereign domain of the Roman people. This domain land, or incorporated territory, had been gradually growing while the conquest of Italy was going on. It now included, speaking generally, the most of Latium, northern Campania, southern Etruria, the Sabine country, Picenum, and a part of Umbria. There were a few towns within this area, like Tibur and Praeneste, which were not incorporated, and hence not a part of the domain land, but retained the position of subject allies.

   The Thirty-three Tribes.—Within the Roman domain were the local tribes, which had now increased in number to thirty-three. They included four urban tribes, that is, the wards of the city, and twenty-nine rural tribes, which were like townships in the country. All the persons who lived in these tribal districts and were enrolled, formed a part of the sovereign body of the Roman people, that is, they had a share in the government, in making the laws, and in electing the magistrates.

   The Roman Colonies.—The colonies of citizens sent out by Rome were allowed to retain all their rights of citizenship, being permitted even to come to Rome at any time to vote and help make the laws. These colonies of Roman citizens thus formed a part of the sovereign state; and their territory, wherever it might be situated, was regarded as a part of the ager Romanus. Such were the colonies along the seacoast, the most important of which were situated on the shores of Latium and of adjoining lands.

   The Roman Municipia.—Rome incorporated into her territory some of the conquered towns under the name of municipia, which possessed all the burdens and some of the rights of citizenship. At first, such towns (like Caere) received the private but not the public rights (civitas sine suffragio),—
see page 64,—and the towns might govern themselves or be governed by a prefect sent from Rome. In time, however, the municipia obtained not only local self-government but also full Roman citizenship; and this arrangement was the basis of the Roman municipal system of later times.


   The Subject Territory.—Over against this sovereign body of citizens living upon the ager Romanus, were the subject communities scattered throughout the length and breadth of the peninsula. The inhabitants of this territory had no share in the Roman government. Neither could they declare war, make peace, form alliances, or coin money, without the consent of Rome. Although they might have many privileges given to them, and might govern themselves in their own cities, they formed no part of the sovereign body of the Roman people.

   The Latin Colonies.—One part of the subject communities of Italy comprised the Latin colonies. These were the military garrisons which Rome sent out to hold in subjection a conquered city or territory. They were generally made up of veteran soldiers, or sometimes of poor Roman citizens, who were placed upon the conquered land and who ruled the conquered people. But such garrisons did not retain the full rights of citizens. They lost the political rights, and generally the conubium (
p. 64), but retained the commercium. These colonies, scattered as they were throughout Italy, carried with them the Latin language and the Roman spirit, and thus aided in extending the influence of Rome.

   The Italian Allies.—The largest part of the subject communities were the Italian cities which were conquered and left free to govern themselves, but which were bound to Rome by a special treaty. They were obliged to recognize the sovereign power of Rome. They were not subject to the land tax which fell upon Roman citizens, but were obliged to furnish troops for the Roman army in times of war. These cities of Italy, thus held in subjection to Rome by a special treaty, were known as federated cities (civitates foederatae), or simply as allies (socii); they formed the most important part of the Italian population not incorporated into the Roman state.

   This method of governing Italy was, in some respects, based upon the policy which had formerly been adopted for the government of Latium (
see p. 77). The important distinction between Romans, Latins, and Italians continued until the “social war” (consult map, p. 167).


   The Roman Army.—The conquest of Italy was due, in great measure, to the efficiency of the Roman army. The strength of the Roman government, too, depended upon the army, which was the real support of the civil power. By their conquests the Romans became a nation of warriors. Every citizen between the ages of seventeen and forty-five was obliged to serve in the army, when the public service required it. In early times the wars lasted only for a short period, and consisted in ravaging the fields of the enemy; and the soldier’s reward was the booty which he was able to capture. But after the siege of Veii, the term of service became longer, and it became necessary to give to the soldiers regular pay. This pay, with the prospect of plunder and of a share in the allotment of conquered land; furnished a strong motive to render faithful service.

   Divisions of the Army.—In case of war it was customary to raise four legions, two for each consul. Each legion was composed of thirty maniples, or companies, of heavy-armed troops,—twenty maniples consisting of one hundred and twenty men each, and ten maniples of sixty men each,—making in all three thousand heavy-armed troops. There were also twelve hundred light-armed troops, not organized in maniples. The whole number of men in a legion was therefore forty-two hundred. To each legion was usually joined a body of cavalry, numbering three hundred men. After the reduction of Latium and Italy, the allied cities were also obliged to furnish a certain number of men, according to the terms of the treaty.

   Order of Battle.—In ancient times the Romans fought in the manner of the Greek phalanx, in a solid square. This arrangement was well suited to withstand an attack on a level plain, but it was not adapted to aggressive warfare. About the time of Camillus, the Romans introduced the more open order of “maniples.” When drawn up in order of battle, the legion was arranged in three lines: first, the hastati, made up of young men; second, the principes, composed of the more experienced soldiers; and third, the triarii, which comprised the veterans, capable of supporting the other two lines. Each line was composed of ten maniples, those of the first two lines consisting of one hundred and twenty men each, and those of the third line consisting of sixty men each; the maniples, or companies, in each line were so arranged that they were opposite the spaces in the next line, as follows:

1. Hastati
2. Principes
3. Triarii

   This arrangement enabled the companies in front to retreat into the spaces in the rear, or the companies in the rear to advance to the spaces in front. Behind the third line usually fought the light-armed and less experienced soldiers (rorarii and accensi). Each maniple carried its own ensign; and the legion carried a standard surmounted with a silver eagle.

   Armor and Weapons.—The defensive armor of all the three lines was alike—a coat of mail for the breast, a brass helmet for the head, greaves for the legs, and a large oblong shield carried upon the left arm. For offensive weapons, each man carried a short sword, which could be used for cutting or thrusting. The soldiers in the first two lines each had also two javelins, to be hurled at the enemy before coming into close quarters; and those of the third line each had a long lance, which could be used for piercing. It was with such arms as these that the Roman soldiers conquered Italy.

   Military Rewards and Honors.—The Romans encouraged the soldiers with rewards for their bravery. These were bestowed by the general in the presence of the whole army. The highest individual reward was the “civic crown,” made of oak leaves, given to him who had saved the life of a fellow-citizen on the battlefield. Other suitable rewards, such as golden crowns, banners of different colors, and ornaments, were bestowed for singular bravery. When a general slew the general of the enemy, the captured spoils (spolia opima) were hung up in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius. The highest military honor which the Roman state could bestow was a triumph,—a solemn procession, decreed by the senate, in which the victorious general, with his army, marched through the city to the Capitol, bearing in his train the trophies of war.

   Military Roads.—An important part of the military system of Rome was the network of military roads by which her armies and munitions of war could be sent into every part of Italy. The first military road was the Appian Way (via Appia), built by Appius Claudius during the Samnite wars. It connected Rome with Capua, and was afterward extended to Beneventum and Venusia, and finally as far as Brundisium. This furnished a model for the roads which were subsequently laid out to other points in Italy. The Latin Way (via Latina) ran south into the Samnite country and connected with the Appian Way near Capua and at Beneventum. The Flaminian Way (via Flaminia) ran north through eastern Etruria and Umbria to Ariminum. From this last-mentioned place, the Aemilian Way (via Aemilia) extended into Cisalpine Gaul as far as Placentia on the river Po. Another important road, the Cassian Way (via Cassia) ran through central Etruria to Arretium, and connected with the Aemilian Way in Cisalpine Gaul. Along the western coast of Etruria ran the Aurelian Way (via Aurelia). These were the chief military roads constructed during the time of the republic. So durable were these highways that their remains exist to the present day (see
“special study,” p. 85).


Merivale, Gen. Hist., Ch. 16, “Survey of Roman Institutions” (
Mommsen, Vol. I., Bk. II., Ch. 7, “Union of Italy” (2).
Liddell, Ch. 27, “Settlement of Italy” (1).
Pelham, pp. 97-107, “Rome as Mistress of Italy” (1).
Leighton, Ch. 19, “Roman Supremacy in Italy” (1).
Taylor, Ch. 6, “Rome and Italy” (1).
Duruy, Vol. I., Ch. 17, “Organization of Italy” (2).


   ROMAN AND LATIN COLONIES.—Shuckburgh, p. 164, note 2 (1); Liddell, pp. 254-257 (1); Arnold, Hist., Ch. 41 (2); Ramsay and Lanciani, pp. 118-120 (8); Harper’s Dict. Antiqq., “Colonia” (8); Niebuhr, Vol. III., pp. 240-252 (2).

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.


Table of contents