Lex Licinia Sextia

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For other Licinian laws, see Licinia (disambiguation).

Lex Licinia Sextia was a Roman law introduced around 376 BCE and enacted in 367 BCE. It restored the consulship, allegedly reserved one of the two consular positions for a plebeian (though subsequent years did see two patricians as consul), and introduced new limits on the possession of conquered land.

Authors[edit]

It is named for the plebeian tribunes Gaius Licinius Stolo and Lucius Sextius Lateranus who held office in this year and promoted the legislation.

Purpose[edit]

The law was championed for the plebeians in their struggle for power with the war-weakened patricians during what is often referred to as the Later Conflict of the Orders, following major wars with Gaul and the Latins. It combines agrarian and constitutional demands of the plebeians.

Patrician conservative leader Marcus Furius Camillus may have seen the law as a required concession. The law comes near the end of a period described as 'anarchy' (375 BCE) during which no legitimate chief magistrates were elected at Rome. Some of the constitutional aspects of the bill were intended to address this and at the same time ensure more power for the plebeians.

The agrarian portions of the law may have been more form than substance, as it has been suggested they were easily evaded. The year following the passage of the law did see a plebeian stand for consul. Some historians present this as the first time plebeians as permitted to serve as consuls; others suggest that as many as 30% of the consuls in the early republic may have been plebeian. In any case, at this time there was fairly intense conflict between the orders and lex Licinia Sextia was a significant event in that conflict.

Provisions[edit]

  • It restored the consulship.
  • It stipulated that one of the two yearly-elected consuls should be from the plebeian order.
  • It limited grants and ownership of ager publicus, "public land" conquered by the Roman army, to less than 500 iugera, or 320 acres (1.3 km2), for a single person. This was intended to prevent patricians from seizing all the ager publicus, but in reality this law was ignored.
  • It limited the number of sheep and cattle that could be kept on public pastures.

Alternate names[edit]

  • Leges Liciniae Sextiae
  • Lex Licinia
  • Licinian Rogations
  • The Licinian Laws
  • Licinio-Sextian Rogations
  • Lex de modo agrorum
  • The Sexto-Licinian Laws

See also[edit]

References[edit]