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Rastegaeva M. N. «Legitimate right» to loot: the distribution of war booty and Roman civitas of the Republic. Ancient World and Archaeology, 2023, vol. 21, iss. 21, pp. 110-139. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18500/0320-961X-2023-21-110-139

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«Legitimate right» to loot: the distribution of war booty and Roman civitas of the Republic

Autors: 
Rastegaeva Mariya Nikolaevna, Saratov State University
Abstract: 

The article examines the distribution and use of war booty in the Roman Republic. In spite of quite extensive historiography on this question, scholars as a rule focused their interest on the role of the commander in the process of dividing the loot, and the collective of citizens of the Roman state, which also claimed part of the loot, unreasonably remained without required attention. Therefore the article analyzes the parts of the Roman civitas, among which the spoils of war were distributed, namely, the commander, the soldiers and the treasury. Besides the desire of each of the parties to get their «legitimate» part of the loot inevitably led to a number of conflicts, which were later reflected in the literary tradition. Based on the information from narrative sources, author of the article highlights not the economic, but the political and ideological aspects of the problem – how the distribution of loot was carried out, what traditions were formed for this procedure, whether there was any law, what social contradictions were in the division of the loot, what ideas are associated with this process and what place civil community is occupied in the distribution of the spoils of war. Discussion of all these issues allows us to create an idea of the role that war booty played in the economy of the Roman Republic; in particular, the article reveals the issues of the relations between war booty and tax system. In addition, the article presents a number of important remarks on the interrelation of the commander, the army and the state treasury, which were the main players in the process of dividing the spoils of war. The article concludes that in Rome, until the end of the Republic, there was no universal norm of law which would regulate the processes of distribution of war booty; it is more likely to claim that there is some tradition which took into account the interests of all parties and changed with the development of Roman statehood.

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Received: 
22.02.2023
Accepted: 
27.02.2023
Published: 
27.04.2023