Foederātae Civitātes, Foederāti, Socii
In extending her influence and dominions beyond the seven hills, Rome followed two
alternative courses. One was to conclude a treaty of alliance with a community between which
and herself there had previously been no relation; the other was to reduce such community to
complete subjection by conquest or enforced surrender (Livy, xxxiv.
; iv. 30; viii. 2). Where there was a treaty of alliance (foedus
), the allied community was described by the terms prefixed to this article. At
first, of course, such allies were exclusively Italian; in particular the Socii and Latini,
who forced on the Social War, B.C. 90, though no town which had obtained the Roman civitas, or
which was a Roman or Latin colony (see Colonia
said to be foederata. But even long before that war Rome had attached allies to herself by
treaty outside Italy, both states governed on the republican principle and foreign princes (e.
g. Ptolemaeus Philadelphus, B.C. 273, Dio Cass. 147; and Hiero of Syracuse, a year later,
Polyb. i. 16). After the extension of the Roman imperium into the provinces, two kinds of
foederati populi or civitates have to be distinguished: those whose territory lay within the
bounds of a Roman province, and those which were genuinely foreign. The latter, however, after
the subjection of the kings of Macedon and Syria, were constantly becoming mere tribute-payers
to Rome (Livy, xlii. 6
; xlv. 13, 44
), and as a general rule had
to be content with concealing their practical vassalage (Sall. Iug.
the thin disguise of “friends and allies of the Roman people” (B.
i. 3, 35, 43; iv. 12; vii. 31; Pro Lege Manilia
, 5, 12).
The foedera were of three kinds, stipulating merely for friendship between the contracting
parties, or for reciprocal hospitality, or for military subvention. Those of the first kind
(Polyb. iii. 22; Livy, xxxviii. 38
) provided that the two States
should not engage in war with one another without first making every attempt at an amicable
settlement (e. g. the treaty with Alba, Dionys.iii. 3
contained regulations as to the sojourn of the citizens of each on the territory of the other,
and the measure of legal protection they should enjoy (e. g. Carthage, Polyb. iii. 22-24).
Other terms in such treaties, especially when concluded after a war, are
exemplified by those with Carthage after the Sicilian and Second Punic Wars, with Philip of
Macedon, and with Antiochus. Treaties of the second kind, which bargained for greater intimacy
between the two States, are exemplified by that with the Aedui (B. G.
Those providing for military assistance varied with the power and eminence of the allied
State; sometimes they placed the parties on an absolute equality (Livy,
）—e. g. those with Camerinum and Heraclea, with the Aetolians, the
Jews (Iosephus, Ant. Iud.
xii. 10, 6), and Rhodians; in other cases the socius
was subordinated to Rome, being required to “respect her
majesty” (Pro Balb.
16, 35; Dig.
xlix. 15, 7, 1); it
remained free, but practically was at Rome's orders, as a client at those of his patron,
though the Romans admitted their obligation to afford full protection (Livy, xxx. 42
), and included the socius
in their own treaties
with neighbouring peoples (Polyb. iii. 22 foll., xv. 18; Livy, xxx.
, Livy, xxxviii. 11, 38
The condition of the socii and foederati was originally one of tolerable independence,
subject to the obligation of furnishing a contingent to the Roman army; but it was
continuously depressed by the increasing power of Rome, and the resulting discontent
culminated in the Social War, at the termination of which the Leges Iulia and Plautia Papiria
brought the Roman civitas within the reach of all who were domiciled in Italy (see Civitas
), from whose territories this class of community
now disappeared. Civitates foederatae seem, however, to have acquired the benefits of these
statutes only on condition of becoming fundus
There were also foederatae civitates in most of the provinces, their treaty of course being
anterior to the formation of the province itself; thus there were three in both Sicily and
Baetica, and others in Asia Minor; Athens, Rhodes, and Tyre were also federate towns, and
Cicero (Pro Scauro
, 44) regards it as a dishonour to Sardinia that in all that
island there was no town which “was free and united by friendship with the Roman
people.” These federate towns in the provinces enjoyed certain privileges not shared
by the ordinary provincial town. Their citizens were exempted from payment of the land impost
), and perhaps from some of the other ordinary taxes of the
State; and they possessed αὐτονομία
, the independent control
of their own affairs, with some measure of legislative and judicial power, excluding the
authority of the provincial governor; but this perhaps was more theoretical than practical,
especially when a Roman army came their way (Plut.
). It is hardly necessary to say that the foederatae civitates
were forbidden to embark on any independent foreign policy. They were free to adopt the civil
law of Rome in whole or part. Thus even before the Social War it was not unusual for the Socii
and Latini to adopt Roman laws into their own system. In such cases the State which adopted a
Roman statute was said in eam legem fundus fieri;
but of course it did
not thereby obtain for its citizens any privileges with respect to the Roman State.