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Title: Sedes et rura : landownership and the Roman peasantry in the Late Republic
Author: Adamo, Mario
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 8571
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis reconsiders the cultural and economic relevance of landownership for the Roman republican peasants. In the Introduction, I define direct agricultural producers (hereafter 'peasants') as the object of my investigation. In Chapter 1, I argue that throughout the republic peasants owned little or no land, and private landholdings had a marginal role in peasants' production strategies. The frequent land schemes did not make the distribution of property more egalitarian, because they were not designed for that purpose, and due to their poverty peasants were unable to maintain control of the allotments. In Chapter 2, I explain that in ancient literature peasants were idealized as symbols of complete independence and self-sufficiency, and in political reflection they were considered the most perfect citizens. In accordance with the widespread view that Roman power had peaked and was now declining, already by the time of Fabius Pictor early and middle republican Rome was idealized as a society of peasants, whose supposed decline was threatening the republic. I conclude that in the Gracchan period peasants' discontent may have been a consequence of growing inequality, rather than utter impoverishment. In Chapter 3, I argue that in order to understand whether the free peasantry was actually declining we should consider variations in peasants' opportunities for dependent labour on the one hand, marketing on the other. Therefore, I reconsider the available data on the demography of Roman Italy and on commercial agriculture. I conclude that, while peasants could profit from increased access to markets, there is no conclusive evidence that competition for labour grew. In Chapter 4 I explain that the late republican peasants were perfectly aware that land had an economic value, and were even able to carry out evaluations. I suggest that this was a consequence of census procedures.
Supervisor: Purcell, Nicholas Sponsor: Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Ancient ; Classical antiquities