Republican Political Forms

Maggiani, A.  2000. “Republican Political Forms.” In The Etruscans. edited by Torelli, M., 227-241. New York: Rizzoli International Publications.

Presenter: Ariana Louder

Respondents:
Ali Gonzalez;
Allen Kupetz;
Sara McFadden;
Caitlin O’Loughlin
Francesca Pierre

8 thoughts on “Republican Political Forms

  1. This chapter describes the magisterial offices in Etruscan city-states. Are these offices the same throughout Etruria or are they different? How or how not?

    • In regards to magisterial positions in Etruria, they were definitely similarities within some city-states. For example, the text states that the Cerverteri was ruled by a rex in the middle of the fourth century, we know this from Aulus Spurinna’s “elogium” in the forum of Tarquinii. In Chiusi, there was a tyrannical figure similar to the rex, known as Porsenna. However, in Felsina, there is mention of multiple supreme magistrates (“reges”) rather than just one. Later, as many Etruscan city-states were Romanized and tried out the Republican form of government. Interestingly enough, when Romanization occurred, the names of Etruscan leaders were transformed into Roman names (such as Tarquinius Priscus).

      • You mentioned Romanization had an affect on Etruscan political organization, was this effect the same across all of Etruria?

      • Revision:
        In regards to magisterial positions in Etruria, they were definitely similarities within some city-states. For example, the text states that the Cerverteri was ruled by a rex in the middle of the fourth century, we know this from Aulus Spurinna’s “elogium” in the forum of Tarquinii. In Chiusi, there was a tyrannical figure similar to the rex named Porsenna. He was the legendary Etruscan king of Clusium. However, in Felsina, there is mention of multiple supreme magistrates (“reges”) rather than just one.

        Interestingly enough, around the sixth and seventh centuries, leaders transformed their Etruscan names into Roman names (such as Tarquinius Priscus, whose original Etruscan name was Lucumo).This emphasizes the process of Romanization going on in Etruria during the time.

    • Magisterial offices differed in each Etruscan city state under variations of the term used for ruler, but the role of these offices were similar to those of the Roman officials. Cerveteri rulers in the fourth century were identified by the name rex, similar to the reges ruling in Felsina in the fifth and fourth centuries. Chiusi is one of the few city states that strayed away a monarchy during the fifth century, returning to an aristocracy that based its power greatly on the possession of land to produce trade goods and agriculture. Aside from Chiusi, most Etruscan city states were trying out forms of government similar to Roman Republic, appointing kings or reges. (The word zilath is an Etruscan version of the Roman word rex, reges.) After the expulsion of the kings,oligarchies, or the princeps civitatis were highest magistrature to rule over the Etruscan city states. Under these kings were political administrative offices which have not been defined or mentioned in literary texts. The names of magistratures are all said to be characterized, while names of the officials are similar to one another. Volterra and Vetulonia had a single magistrature, Chiusi and Cerveteri had two ruling offices, and Volsinii had three (zilath, eprthnevch, and marunuch). Tarquinia is the only city state described in the article to have a cursus honorum, a political structure that starts with the lowest forms of office to the highest. Etruscan city states magisterial offices differed from one region to the other, but were all ruled by a republican institution headed by a zilath or reges with a relatively complex inner organization.

  2. Though they’re all different, the one thing that I really found interesting was Capua’s magistrates’ name: the meddices. I understand Archaic Capua is far from Renaissance Florence both in distance and time, but I can’t help but wonder if there is some sort of correlation. Maybe it’s merely coincidence. I don’t know.

    Ignoring that non sequitor, no, the offices were not all the same. While many had titles that correlated with Rex (Veii, Cerveteri, Felsina), Chiusi had an aristocracy where the power was based around land possession. And even though kings, oligarchies, and principes were expelled, the term princeps civitatis is often used to name the office of the highest magistrate. In Arezzo an oligarchy controlled the plebs. Republicanism happened most notably in Volsinii, where servi slowly but surely were granted political rights, until they managed to be able to serve in the Senate. However, even then there was a distinct mark between the “septem principes senatus” and everyone else; even though everyone was legally equal in this sense, in reality the senators were still very much in the old train of thought.

    • Volsinii is a southern city. Do you think Rome had affect on how this city-state’s government developed differently than the rest?

      • I think that would depend on Rome’s interests at the time. Since this was all during the Etruscans’ conflicts with the Greeks, and therefore the Romans hadn’t begun their military expansion, then yes it’s certainly possible that Rome tried to determine Volsinii’s government, either directly or indirectly. From a defensive point of view, it would be harder for the Volsinians to start a war with Rome and keep a sustained war under a republican government whereby the leaders were accountable.

        If, however, the Romans knew that eventually they would have to go on the offensive to ensure a good defense, then perhaps they would have wanted a rex to remain in Volsinii: it is much easier to depose a king and replace him with a Roman puppet than it is to convince/get rid of the entire republican system and implement a pro-Roman government. This possibility seems unlikely, but it is still perhaps within the realm of reason. It all depends on how farsighted the Romans were.

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