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The Latin name for the State domains, formed of territory taken from conquered states. The Romans made a practice, upon every new acquisition of land, of adding a part of it, usually a third, to the domain. So far as this land was under culture, portions of it were sometimes assigned to single citizens or newly-founded colonies in fee simple, sometimes sold by the quaestors on the condition that, though the purchaser might bequeath and alienate it, it still remained State property. In token of this it paid a substantial or merely nominal rent (vectigal), and was called ager privatus vectigalisque or quaestorius. The greater part was left to the old occupiers, yet not as free property, but as rent-paying land, and was called ager publicus stipendiarius datus assignatus; the rest remained under State management, and was let by the Censors. Of uncultivated districts, the State, by public proclamation, gave a provisional right of seisin, occupatio, with a view to cultivation, in consideration of a tithe of the com raised and a fifth of the fruit, and reserving its right of resumption. Such seisin was called possessio. It could be bequeathed or otherwise alienated, yet never became private property, but remained a rent-paying and resumable property of the State. Though the Plebeians had as good a right to occupy lands won by their aid as the Patricians, yet in the early times of the Republic this right was exercised by the latter alone, partly because they had the greater command of means and men, and partly because by the right of the stronger they excluded the Plebeians from benefiting by the Ager Publicus. Against this usurpation the Plebeians waged a bitter and unbroken warfare, claiming not only a share in newly conquered lands, but a wholesale redistribution of existing possessiones, while the Patricians strained every nerve to maintain their vested interests, and managed to thwart the execution of all the enactments passed from time to time in favour of the Plebeians. Even the law of the tribune Gaius Licinius Stolo (B.C. 377), limiting possessiones to 500 iugera (acres) per man, and ordering the distribution of the remainder, were from the first eluded by the possessores, who now included both Patricians and well-to-do Plebeians. Allpossible means were employed, as pretended deeds of gift and other similar devices. The threatened extinction of the Italian peasantry by the great wars, and the rapid growth of huge estates (latifundia) worked by slaves, occasioned the law of Tiberius Gracchus (B.C. 133), retaining the Licinian limit of 500 acres, but allowing another 250 for each son, and granting compensation for lands resumed by the State. The land thus set free, and all the Ager Publicus that had been leased, except a few domains indispensable to the State, were to be divided among poor citizens, but on the condition that each allotment paid a quit-rent, and was not to be alienated. But again, the the resistance of the nobility practically reduced this law to a dead letter; and the upshot of the whole agrarian movement stirred up by Tiberius and his brother Gaius Gracchus was, that the wealthy Romans were not only left undisturbed in their possessiones, but were released from paying rent. In the civil wars of Sulla the Ager Publicus in Italy, which had been nearly all used up in assignations, received so vast an increase by the extermination of whole townships, by proscriptions and confiscations, that even after all the soldiers had been provided for, there remained a portion undistributed. Under the Empire there was hardly any left in Italy; what there was, whether in Italy or in the provinces, came gradually under the control of the imperial exchequer.
The Latin term for the assignment of public lands to single citizens or to colonies. See COLONIES and AGER PUBLICUS.
The Roman term for the appropriation of untilled portions of the State lands, consequent upon the invitation of the State, and having for its object the cultivation of the soil. (See further AGER PUBLICUS.)
The Roman term for the de facto possession of an article without actual proprietary right (dominium). The name was given in particular to those lands, properly belonging to the State, which were taken into by what was called occupatio. For more see AGER PUBLICUS.
The Latin term for an extensive landed estate which was worked by means of slaves. Lands of the State (see AGER PUBLICUS) taken into permanent use by occupatio formed the foundation of these properties, and their possessor enlarged them by obtaining contiguous property either by purchase or by forcible appropriation. This system of latifundia gradually caused the utter ruin of the Italian peasantry, and involved in it the general destruction of the community [Latifundia perdidere Italiam, Pliny, N. H., xviii 35].
Under the Roman Empire a postal service proper was first formed in the time of Augustus. This, however, was not intended for the use of the public, but served only for the conveyance of magistrates and of government despatches; just as the great network of roads, with which the Romans covered the whole empire, was laid down, not for the purposes of traffic, but in the first instance for the transport of the armies and of the materials of war. Under the Republic the correspondence of officials was carried as a rule by special messengers; the conveyance of the officials themselves was laid upon the provincials, who were bound to provide relays of horses and supplies. Augustus instituted a State post (cursus publicus) with a military organization, which conveyed the official despatches from station to station by means of couriers. For the conveyance of the magistrates stations were instituted, with changes of horses (mutationes) and with night-quarters (mansiones). Private persons were allowed to use the State posts only by special permission on the part of the governors, afterwards of the emperor, and upon definite orders given [diplomata: Pliny, Ep. x, the last two letters]. The cost of the posting-houses was made a charge upon the several localities, though occasionally the emperors undertook the provision of draught-animals and carriages. Besides the horse they rode, the couriers had a spare horse to carry, the letter bags. Passengers were conveyed in carriages called redae, drawn by horses and mules; while goods were forwarded on vans, which were drawn by oxen. Besides this, vessels were stationed at various points on the rivers to carry letters, passengers, and goods, just as there was postal communication over sea, especially from Ostia, the port of Rome, outwards, to the islands and chief ports of the Mediterranean.
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The Italian peoples regarded the Genius as a higher power which creates and maintains life, assists at the begetting and birth of every individual man, determines his character, tries to influence his destiny for good, accompanies him through life as his tutelary spirit, and lives on in the Lares after his death. (See LARES.) As a creative principle, the Genius is attached strictly speaking, to the male sex only. In the case of women his place is taken by Juno, the personification of woman's life. Thus, in house inhabited by a man and his wife a Genius and a Juno are worshipped together. But in common parlance it was usual to speak of the Genius of a house, and to this Genius the marriage bed was sacred. A man's birthday was naturally the holiday of his attendant Genius, to whom he offered incense, wine, garlands, cakes, everything in short but bloody sacrifices, and in whose honour he gave himself up to pleasure and enjoyment. For the Genius wishes a man to have pleasure in the life he has given him. And so the Romans spoke of enjoying oneself as indulging one's Genius, and of renunciation as spiting him. Men swore by their Genius as by their higher self, and by the Genius of persons whom they loved and honoured. The philosophers originated the idea of a man having two Genii, a good and a bad one; but in the popular belief the notion of the Genius was that of a good and beneficent being. Families, societies, cities and peoples had their Genius as well as individuals. The Genius of the Roman people (Genius Publicus, or Populi Romani) stood in the forum, represented in the form of a bearded man crowned with a diadem, a cornucopia in his right hand, and a sceptre in his left. An annual sacrifice was offered to him on the 9th October. Under the Empire the Genius of Augustus, the founder of the Empire, and of the reigning emperor, were publicly worshipped at the same time. Localities also, such as open spaces, streets, baths, and theatres, had their own Genii. These were usually represented under the form of snakes (see cut); and hence the common habit of keeping tame snakes.
The equites were originally a real division of the Roman army. At the beginning of the kingly period they were called celeres, and their number is said to have been 300, chosen in equal parts from the three tribes of the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres. A hundred formed a centuria, each centuria being named after the tribe from which it was taken. Thirty made a turma, and ten were under the command of a decurio, while thewhole corps was commanded by the tribunus celerum. During the course of the kingly period the body of equites was increased to six centuriae, and the constitution of Servius Tullius finally raised it to eighteen. When the twelve new centuries were formed, consisting of the richest persons in the state, whose income exceeded that of the first class in the census, the corps of equites lost the exclusively patrician character which had hitherto distinguished it. At the same time its military importance was diminished, as it no longer formed the first rank, but took up a position on the wings of the phalanx (see LEGIO). The equites, however, retained both in the state and in the army their personal prestige. In the comitia they voted first, and in centurioe of their own. They were the most distinguished troops in the army. No other soldiers were in a position to keep two horses and a groom apiece, a costly luxury, although they received an allowance for the purchase and keep of their horse. After the introduction of the pay system they received three times as much as the ordinary troops; on occasion of a triumph three times the ordinary share of booty; and at the foundation of a colony a much larger allotment than the ordinary colonist. The 1,800 equites equo publica, or equites whose horse was purchased and kept by the state, were chosen every five years, at the census. The election was carried out in the republican period originally by the consuls, but in later times by the censors. After the general census was completed, the censors proceeded to review the equites (recognitio). They were arranged according to their tribes, and each of them, leading his horse by the hand, passed before the tribunal of the censors in the forum. All who had served their time, and who were physically incapacitated, received their discharge. If an eques were judged unworthy of his position, he was dismissed with the words: "Sell your horse" (Vende equum). If there were nothing against him, he was passed on with the words Traduc equum ("lead your horse past"). The vacancies were then filled up with suitable candidates, and the new list (album equitum) read aloud. In later times, the eques whose name was first read out was called princeps iuventutis (see PRINCEPS). During their time of service (aetat. 17-46) the equites were beund to serve in a number of campaigns not exceeding ten. Their service expired, they passed into the first censorial class. The senators alone among the equites were, in earlier times, allowed to keep their equus publicus, their name on the roll, and their rights as equites unimpaired. But of this privilege the senators were deprived in the time of the Gracchi. The number of the equites equo publico remained the same, as no addition was made to the sum expended by the state on the horses. Young men of property sometimes served on their own horses (equo privato) without any share in the political privileges of the equites. After the Second Punic war the body of equites gradually lost its military position, and finally ceased to exist as a special troop. In the 1st century B.C. the members of the equestrian centuriae only served in the cohors praetoria of the general, or in the capacity of military tribunes and praefecti of cohorts. The wealthy class, who were in possession of the large capital which enabled them to undertake the farming of the public revenues, and who consequently had the opportunity of enriching themselves still further, had long enjoyed a very influential position. In 123 B.C. the lex iudiciaria of Gaius Gracchus transferred to the possessors of the equestrian census (400,000 sestertii, or about £3,500) to right to sit on juries, which had previously belonged exclusively to members of the senate. Thus an ordo equester or third order, standing between the senate and the people, was formed, which began to play an important part in politics. Its members were called equites even if they were not enrolled in the centuriae equitum. The contests between the senate and the equites for the exclusive right to sit on the juries, continued with varying fortunes until the end of the Republic. Augustus allowed the ordo equester to continue in existence as a class in possession of a certain income; but the old fiscal and judicial system came to an end, and the ordo accordingly lost all its former importance. On the other hand, the equites proper rose into a position of great consideration. They were divided into six turmae, headed by an imperial prince as princeps iuventutis. True, they had no further standing as a corporation: but the emperor employed them in a variety of confidential posts. The title eques equo1 publico was necessary for the attainment of the office of military tribune, and for a number of the most important military posts. The power of conferring or withdrawing the title came at length to rest with the emperor alone. The review of the equites, which used to take place every five years, now became a mere ceremony, and was united by Augustus with the ancient annual parade (transvectio) of the 15th July. The equites, in full uniform, rode through the Forum to the Capitol, past the temple of Mars or Honos. After the transference of the seat of government to Constantinople, the turmae equitum sank into the position of a city corporation, standing between the senate and the guilds, and in possession of special privileges. The insignia of the equites were a gold ring and a narrow purple border on the tunic (see TUNICA). At the transvectio they wore the trabea, a mantle adorned with purple stripes, and crowns of olive. From 67 B.C. the fourteen first rows were assigned to them honoris causa.
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