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V - Ager Publicus

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines Appian?s account of the background to the reform of Tiberius Gracchus, the history of public lands that is contained within it, and its relationship to the historian?s depiction of the lex Sempronia agrarian of 133 BC. It argues that for the pre- Gracchan limit Niebuhr was wrong and has led most of the subsequent discussion astray. The principal basis for this contention is that Niebuhr?s doctrine flies in the face of the bulk of the evidence. The Niebuhrian orthodoxy has been challenged in two recent but brief contributions, by Kunkel and Rathbone. The chapter examines the extent of the ager publicus in the second century. It considers the size of the market and the possibilities for elite competition. Finally it discusses the role played by the ager publicus in the economic developments of the second century.

Keywords: ager publicus; Appian; Gracchan reform; lex Sempronia agrarian; Roman republic; Tiberius Gracchus



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