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I - Demography

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Chapter Summary

A better understanding of Roman population size is a vital concern for ancient and indeed all of premodern history well beyond the ambit of the recent Leiden project with its focus on Italy during the last two and a half centuries BC. This chapter defends the productivity of Rome's small farmers, who played a critical role in making the Italian countryside, as Varro so memorably claimed, the most intensively cultivated in the ancient world, and to question the widespread assumption that these Roman owner-occupiers were necessarily unable to compete with large ?capitalist? farms. It addresses this narrow question in the broader context of the overall productivity of the Roman agrarian economy. The chapter sketches some parameters for future debate on the relationship between the phenomenon of ?urbanisation? and other developments associated with the transformation of Roman Italy and the ?Gracchan crisis? in the late Republic.

Keywords: demography; Roman agrarian economy; Roman Italy; Roman Population; urbanization



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