In the Latin Settlement, which was supposedly initiated in 338 BC, Rome organised many of the incorporated communities into either the civitas or civitas sine suffragio. Livy, and those scholars who have accepted his explanation, claim that the use of these two types of citizenship was influenced by the political and military circumstances of each community’s incorporation. Such an argument posits that Rome judged each community on the basis of its past behaviour and ‘rewarded’ or ‘punished’ it accordingly, using these different forms of citizenship. However, Livy’s anachronistic and inconsistent approach to the Roman franchise undermines this explanation – at least in its simplest form. This paper highlights the inconsistencies in Livy’s account of the Latin Settlement and offers an alternative explanation for the differing grants of citizenship. It is argued that the pre-existing languages and cultures of the different communities need to be taken into account, as does the legal significance of the use of Latin at Rome. In sum, this paper argues that the decision to incorporate a community as a civitas or as a civitas sine suffragio was not straightforwardly based on the political or military circumstances of each community’s incorporation, but also (or rather) involved the recognition of cultural and linguistic differences in each community and the consequent practicalities of the inclusion of each in Rome’s legal and political apparatus.
Roman republic, Latin settlement, Roman citizenship