For hundreds of years, the Roman people produced laws in popular assemblies attended by tens of thousands of voters to publicly forge resolutions to issues that might otherwise have been unmanageable. Callie Williamson's book,The Law of the Roman People, finds that the key to Rome's survival and growth during the most formative period of empire, roughly 350 to 44 B.C.E., lies in its hitherto enigmatic public lawmaking assemblies which helped extend Roman influence and control. Williamson bases her rigorous and innovative work on the entire body of surviving laws preserved in ancient reports of proposed and enacted legislation from these public assemblies.
“This intellectually powerful and highly original book examines Roman expansion through the lens of public lawmaking, the process of negotiation and debate by which citizen assemblies resolved conflict and expressed consensus. Williamson incisively examines how problems of expansion were managed, and boldly argues that in the end it was expansion itself—both of the electorate and its leadership—that overwhelmed the problem-solving capacities of public lawmaking and led to the breakdown of the Republic.”
—American Historical Association
“In this extraordinary book, Williamson takes on a daunting and demanding subject—the character and consequences of Roman expansion in Italy over a period of 300 years, the incorporation of Italic peoples into the Roman system, and the resultant tensions and pressures that culminated in the fall of the Republic. No brief review can begin to do justice to the richness and complexity of this work.”
—Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Cover: Detail from the map Italia Tributim Discripta drawn by G. C. Susini. From The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic, by L. R. Taylor, updated by J. Linderski (University of Michigan Press, 2013).