Peasants, citizens and soldiers: the effects of demographic growth in Roman Republican Italy (202-88 BC)

Information about the VICI-project on demographic growth in Roman Republican Italy.

About the project

For medieval and modern historians demographic change is a major determinant of economic, social, military and even political developments. By contrast, the vast majority of ancient historians content themselves with identifying certain periods of population decline, which have a suspicious tendency to coincide with eras of political and military crisis. One such period is the Later Roman Empire, another is the second century BC. Strikingly, in most publications in the field of ancient history periods of demographic growth are conspicuous by their absence. It seems, however, possible to explore the significance of the demographic factor during at least one much-discussed period of Roman history, the century following the conclusion of the Second Punic War (218-202 BC).

The specific themes covered by the project include the shortage of military manpower that supposedly lay behind the Gracchan land reforms, the emergence of a more commercialized type of agriculture with special reference to the number of slaves employed on the slave-staffed farms of the elite, the gradual privatization of large tracts of public land, and the evolving relationships between the Romans on the one hand and their Latin and other Italian allies on the other.

The guiding idea underlying the project as a whole is that, contrary to the prevailing view, the second century BC was a period of rapid population growth. If this is correct, many time-honoured views concerning the background to well-known episodes of Roman republican history, including Tiberius Gracchus’ programme of agrarian reform, are up for re-assessment. Methodologically, a central assumption underlying this research proposal is that those who approach Roman society from the angle of demography must do full justice not only to the written sources but also to the ever-growing body of archaeological evidence.


List of publications VICI-project (2004-2009)

  1. L. de Ligt, ‘Poverty and demography: the case of the Gracchan land reforms’, Mnemosyne 57 (2004), 725-757. 
  2. L. de Ligt, ‘Huwelijksleeftijden in de Romeinse wereld’ (n.a.v. A. Lelis, W. Percy & B. Verstraete, The age of marriage in ancient Rome, Lewistion etc. 2003), in Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 118 (2005), 75-77. 
  3. L. de Ligt, ‘Agrarian economy’ (n.a.v. U. Fellmeth, Eine wohlhabende Stadt sei nahe’. Die Standortfaktoren in der römischen Agrarökonomie, St. Katharinen 2002), in Classical Review 55 (2005) 255-256. 
  4. L. de Ligt, ‘The economy: agrarian change during the second century’, in N. Rosenstein and R. Morstein-Marx, A Companion to the Roman Republic (Oxford 2006), 590-605.
  5. L. de Ligt, ‘Roman manpower and recruitment during the Middle Republic’, in P. Erdkamp, A Companion to the Roman Army (Oxford 2007), 114-131.
  6. L. de Ligt, ‘Roman manpower and recruitment during the Middle Republic’, in P. Erdkamp (ed.), A Companion to the Roman Army (Oxford 2007), 114-131.
  7. L. de Ligt, ‘Roman manpower resources and the proletarianization of the Roman army in the second century BC’, in L. de Blois and E. Lo Cascio (eds), The Impact of the Roman Army (200 BC-AD 476) (Leiden 2007) 3-20.
  8. L. de Ligt, ‘Some thoughts on the nature of the demographic ‘crisis’ of the second century BC’, in O. Hekster, G. de Kleijn and D. Slootjes (eds), Crises and the Roman Empire (Leiden 2007) 167-181.
  9. L. de Ligt, ‘Military service and the peasant economy’, Classical Review 57 (2007) 168-170.
  10. L. de Ligt, ‘The problem of ager privatus vectigalisque in the epigraphic Lex agraria’, Epigraphica 69 (2007) 87-98.
  11. L. de Ligt, ‘Mancipes, pecunia, praedes and praedia in the epigraphic Lex agraria of 111 BC’, Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 75 (2007) 3-16.
  12. L. de Ligt, ‘Provincial dediticii in the epigraphic Lex Agraria of 111 BC?’, Classical Quarterly n.s. 58 (2008), 362-367.
  13. L. de Ligt, ‘Leger en politiek in de late Romeinse Republiek’, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 121 (2008), 217-218.
  14. L. de Ligt & S.J. Northwood (eds), People, Land, and Politics. Demographic Developments and the Transformation of Roman Italy, 300 BC-AD 14 (Leiden 2008).
  15. L. de Ligt, ‘The population of Cisalpine Gaul in the time of Augustus’, in: De Ligt & Northwood (2008), 139-183.
  16. P. Erdkamp, ‘Army and society’, in: N. Rosenstein and R. Morstein-Marx, A companion to the Roman Republic (Oxford 2006) 278-296.
  17. P. Erdkamp, ‘The transformation of the Roman army during the second century BC, in: T. Ňaco and I. Arrayás (eds), War and territory in the Roman world (Oxford 2006) 41-51.
  18. P. Erdkamp, ‘Late-annalistic battle-scenes in Livy (books 21-44)’, Mnemosyne 59 (2006) 525-563.
  19. P. Erdkamp, ‘Valerius Antias and Livy’s casualty statistics’, in Studies in Latin literature and Roman history 13 (2006) 166-182.
  20. P. Erdkamp,  ‘Polybius and Livy on the allies in the Roman army’, in: E. Lo Cascio and L. de Blois (eds), The Impact of the Roman Army (Leiden (2007), 47-74.
  21. P. Erdkamp (ed.), A Companion to the Roman Army (Oxford 2007).
  22. P. Erdkamp, ‘War and state formation in the Roman Republic’, in: P. Erdkamp (ed.), A Companion to the Roman Army (Oxford 2007), 96-113.
  23. P. Erdkamp, review of N. Rosenstein, Rome at War. Farms, Families and Death during the Middle Republic, Chapel Hill ands London 2004), in: Mnemosyne 60 (2007), 157-163.
  24. P. Erdkamp, ‘Mobility and migration in Italy in the second century B.C.,’ in: De Ligt, Northwood (2008), 417-449.
  25. P. Erdkamp, ‘Polybius, the Ebro Treaty and the Gallic threat of 225 BC’, Classical Philology 104 (2009) 495-510.
  26. S. Northwood, ‘Asconius’ fifty-three Roman colonies: a regal solution’, te verschijnen in Classical Quarterly 2007.
    L. de Ligt & S. Northwood (eds), People, Land, and Politics. Demographic Developments and the Transformation of Roman Italy, 300 BC-AD 14 (Leiden 2008).
  27. S. Northwood, ‘Census and tributum,’ in: de Ligt & Northwood (2008), 257-270.
  28. S. Roselaar, ‘Regional variations in the use of ager publicus,’ in de Ligt & Northwood (2008), 573-602. 
  29. S. Roselaar, Public Land in the Roman Republic: A Social and Economic study of the Ager Publicus (dissertatie Leiden 2008, verdegigd op 14-1-2009).
  30. S. Roselaar, ‘Property in Roman citizen colonies and the vacatio militiae,’ Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 609-623.
  31. S. Roselaar, ‘References to Gracchan activity in the Liber Coloniarum,’ Historia 58 (2009), 198-214.
  32. S. Hin, ‘Counting Romans,’ in: de Ligt & Northwood (2008), 187-238.
  33. S. Hin, The Dynamics of Life. Demography and the History of Roman Italy (201 Bc-AD 14) (dissertatie Leiden 2009, verdedigd op 14-5-2009). 
  34. J. Pelgrom, ‘Sacrale plaatsen en culturele identiteit in Romeims Lucanië,’ Tijdschrift voor Mediterrane Archeologie 32 (2004) 21-29. 
  35.  J. Pelgrom & T. Stek, ‘Samnite sanctuaries surveyed. Preliminary report’, Babesch 80 (2005) 65-71.
  36. J. Pelgrom, ‘Settlement organization and land distribution in Latin colonies before the Second Punic War,’ in: de Ligt & Northwood (2008), 333-372.
  37. J. Pelgrom, dissertatie (te voltooien per 1-3-2010).

Last Modified: 18-02-2010