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Approaching Late Antiquity$
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Simon Swain and Mark Edwards

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297375

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297375.001.0001

Roman Citizenship and Roman Law in the Late Empire

Chapter:
(p.133) 6 Roman Citizenship and Roman Law in the Late Empire
Source:
Approaching Late Antiquity
Author(s):

Peter Garnsey

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297375.003.0006

This chapter shows that Roman citizenship in the days of Augustine, while widely possessed (though not universal), was still to some extent a social divider, marking off Romans from external barbarians and foreigners within several categories, not to mention slaves. Its use among citizens and usefulness to them was uneven. The general function of citizenship was, and always had been as, an enabling mechanism, offering access to the judicial procedures and remedies of the society at different levels. In practice, only a minority are likely to have exploited the juridical status that it conferred, and even fewer the potential for social and political advancement that it possessed. This was a reflection not so much of a supposed lack of content in citizenship itself, as of the profound social inequalities that rendered the mass of the population powerless to make citizenship work for them.

Keywords:   Roman Empire, Roman citizenship, Carcalla, Roman law

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