The lex calpurnia of 149 BC

I. Betts, Bruce Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Erich Gruen long ago put forward the view that, in the twenty-five years or so before the introduction of the lex Calpurnia, the senate saw that it was losing control of foreign policy and that tribunes were playing a larger role in stirring up popular outrage at the conduct of provincial governors. Therefore, he claims, the senate felt that something had to be done. Gruen and others also stress that the catalyst for the introduction of the lex Calpurnia arose from atrocities committed by Sulpicius Galba in 150. The first part of this article examines a whole series of atrocities over those twenty-five years to test how accurate these two views are, and concludes that the senate did play a large part in attempting to curb the excesses of some governors and that all the atrocities contributed to the climate of opinion which led to the establishment of the Calpurnian court. The second part describes the scope, limitations and implementation of the law, leading to the conclusion that it was not really of benefit to the socii and peregrini, since actions could be brought only by Roman citizens or by patroni acting on their behalf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-60
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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