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Rome - The Republic

Moneyer: Marsic Confederation (Social War)
Held Office: 91 - 88 BC
Denomination: AR Denarius
Mint: Rome
Date of Issue: 90 BC
Obverse: Laureate head of Italia left.
Reverse: Oath-taking scene: eight soldiers, four on each side, pointing their swords at pig held by kneeling youth; in the background, standard; "IIIIX" in exergue.
Reference: HN Italy 415b
Weight: 3.8 gms
Diameter: 17.0 mm
Comment: The oath taking scene presumably refers to the oaths between the Marsic confederation: Marsi, Peligni, Piceni, Vestini, Samnites, Frentani, Marrucini, and Lucani.
The type is taken from Roman coins - for example T. Veturius

Social War

The Social War ("Social" from socii ("allies"); also called the Marsic War) was a war waged from 90 to 88 BC between the Roman Republic and several of the other statelets in Italy, which prior to the war had been Roman allies for centuries.

Roman victory in the Samnite wars resulted in effective Roman dominance of the Italian peninsula. This dominance was expressed in a collection of alliances between Rome and the cities and communities of Italy, on more or less favourable terms depending on whether a given city had voluntarily allied with Rome or been defeated in war. These cities were theoretically independent, but in practice Rome had the right to demand from them tribute money and a certain number of soldiers: by the 2nd century BC the Italian allies contributed between one half and two-thirds of the soldiers in Roman armies. Rome also had virtual control over the allies' foreign policy, including their interaction with one another. For the most part the Italian communities were content to remain as client states of Rome in return for local autonomy.

The Romans' policy of land distribution had led to great inequality of land-ownership and wealth. This led to the "Italic people declining little by little into pauperism and paucity of numbers without any hope of remedy."

A number of political proposals had attempted to address the growing discrepancy whereby Italians made a significant contribution to Rome's military force, while receiving disproportionately small shares of land and citizenship rights. These efforts came to a head under the impetus of Marcus Livius Drusus in 91 BC. His reforms would have granted the Roman allies Roman citizenship, giving them a greater say in the external policy of the Roman Republic. The response of the Roman senatorial elite to Drusus' proposals were to reject his ideas and assassinate him. This brusque dismissal of the granting of rights that the Italians considered to be long overdue greatly angered them, and communities throughout Italy attempted to declare independence from Rome in response, sparking a war.

The Social War began in 91 BC when the Italian allies revolted. The rebellious allies planned not just formal separation from Rome, but also the creation of their own independent confederation, called Italia, with its own capital at Corfinium (in modern-day Abruzzo) that was renamed Italica. The main participants were the Marsi, Picentines, Paeligni, Marrucini, Vestini, Frentani, Samnites and Hirpini.

The Roman strategy focused on surviving the first onslaught, while simultaneously trying to entice other Italian clients to remain loyal or refrain from defection, and then meet the threat of the revolt with troops raised from provinces as well as from client kingdoms. Amongst the Roman commanders were Gaius Marius and Pompeius Strabo; in the south the consul Lucius Julius Caesar had Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Titus Didius.

One of the two separate theatres of war was assigned to each of the consuls of 90 BC. In the north, the consul Publius Rutilius Lupus was advised by Gaius Marius and Pompeius Strabo; in the south the consul Lucius Julius Caesar had Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Titus Didius.

Despite several losses, the Romans managed to stave off total defeat and hang on. By 88 BC, the war was largely over except for the Samnites (the old rivals of Rome) who still held out. It is likely that the war would have continued a lot longer had Rome not made concessions to their allies.

L. Julius Caesar proposed the Lex Julia during his consulship which he carried before his office ended. The law offered full citizenship to all Latin and Italian communities who had not revolted.

However, the law offered the option of citizenship to whole communities and not to individuals. This meant that each individual community had to pass the law before it could take effect. It was also possible under the Lex Julia for citizenship to be granted as a reward for distinguished military service in the field. The Lex Julia was closely followed by a supplementary statute, the Lex Plautia Papiria, which stated that a registered male of an allied state could obtain Roman citizenship by presenting himself to a Roman praetor within 60 days of the passing of the law. This statute enabled inhabitants of towns disqualified by the Lex Julia to apply for citizenship if they desired.

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