Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
City Traffic Laws
#1
I've been trying to collect information on traffic regulations in Roman cities. Several times I've read that Julius Caesar banned wheeled vehicles from the centre of Rome itself in daylight, and I wondered whether that ruling extended to other places, and how long it lasted.

The actual law seems to be Lex Julia Municipalis of 44BC: After January 1 next no one shall drive a wagon along the streets of Rome or along those streets in the suburbs where there is continuous housing after sunrise or before the tenth hour of the day...

The law goes on to make exceptions for wagons transporting building material or rubbish. But the word plostra (or plaustra) indicates that these are heavy goods vehicles, not just anything on wheels.

The next ruling, according to Suetonius, was from Claudius - He provided by an edict that travellers should not pass through the towns of Italy except on foot, or in a chair or litter. (Claudius 25.2)

This is far more specific and wide ranging. However, the law was obviously not strictly applied, if we can believe the Historia Augusta, as Hadrian had to repeat it: He forbade the entry into Rome of heavily laden waggons, and did not permit riding on horseback in cities. (Hadrian 22.6).

What looks like this same ruling was then repeated once more by Marcus Aurelius: He forbade riding and driving within the limits of any city (HA Marc.Aur 23.8).

Things appear to change a bit in the early third century, when Septimius Severus allowed senatorial legates to ride in carriages in the city (HA Sev 2.7), although again this law needed reinforcing, or perhaps extending, by Severus Alexander: He permitted every senator to use a carriage in the city... thinking that it enhanced the dignity of Rome...(HA Sev Alex 43.1)

The HA's life of Aurelian (however believable it might be) has an interesting detail: while still a tribune, Aurelian entered Antioch in a carriage, for the reason that because of a wound he could not ride his horse… when he desired to change to a horse, because at that time the use of a carriage in a city was attended with odium [quia invidiosum tunc erat vehiculis in civitate uti] , a horse belonging to the emperor was led up to him... (Aur 5.3)

So it seems from this that by the late 3rd century riding horses in cities was now okay - at least for military tribunes - and even carriages were fine if you had a good reason, although 'attended with odium'. The note about this being the case 'at that time', however, implies that things had changed by the actual or supposed date of the HA... (and in fact the Life of Aurelian begins with 'Junius Tiberianus, the prefect of the city' riding through Rome in 'his carriage, that is to say, his official coach.')

The last piece of legislation I can find comes from the Theodosian Code (14.11.1, title 12), dated January 30, AD386: All dignitaries of high civil or military rank shall have the right always to use within Our City of most sacred name the vehicles of their rank, that is, two-horse carriages.

'Our city' was presumably Rome. Did this apply to Constantinople too, and to other cities as well?

Have I missed anything here? In particular, is there anything from the period between Severus and the Theodosian Code that could show how legislation, or  behaviour, might have changed?
Reply
#2
This researcher considers the legislation to amount to a pedestrian zone: http://www.swansea.ac.uk/grst/What%27s%2...n_zone.htm
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
Reply
#3
(01-11-2018, 02:52 PM)Eleatic Guest Wrote: This researcher considers the legislation to amount to a pedestrian zone

Although the passage he puts in quotes ("although wheeled traffic was forbidden in the streets during daylight hours") does not appear in Caligula 44, but is a modern gloss; Suetonius only says that the messengers were ordered to drive straight to the Forum and deliver their messages to the consuls in person.

Since Caesar's law only seems to have applied to heavy goods wagons, and the law against other vehicles apparently dates to Claudius, there does not seem to have been a strict ruling banning lighter vehicles or horse riders under Caligula.
Reply
#4
I found a passage in Lionel Casson's "Life in Ancient Rome" (Pos. 606, 29%, Epub), but nothing new for you there. He puts the law into the context of the jammed state of Rome's streets and adds "The law was enforced for centuries and applied in all the other cities of Italy, not merely Rome."

You might find more in other books of the "(daily) life in Ancient Rome" variety. Or in encyclopedias such as Brill's New Pauly, but I wonder which entry should be looked up. There is a promisingly sounding entry on Fahren und Reiten behind a pay wall in Meineke, Eckhard; Beck, Heinrich; Joachim, Hans-Eckart; Janssen, Walter; Steuer, Heiko Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (1994). Or sift through http://dagr.univ-tlse2.fr/rechercher?search-text=trafic

Best would be of course to consult a monograph on law in the City of Rome or traffic law, but I don't know of any.

I find this topic interesting. Do you plan to publish something on it?
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
Reply
#5
(01-11-2018, 07:29 PM)Eleatic Guest Wrote: I find this topic interesting.

Yes, and interesting too how little seems to be known about it! The standard view, repeated in most 'daily life' type books, seems to be that wheeled transport was banned by Caesar and the ruling continued unchanged from his day until the fall of the empire... It appears that this was not necessarily the case, but without further evidence to that which I mentioned in my original post above I think it would be impossible to say more.
Reply
#6
I might venture to add the text of the relevant passages of the Tabula Heracleensis in English translation, extracted from the University of Grenoble's gold-mine of Roman law, so that readers who cannot read Latin can see the text of the LEX IVLIA MVNICIPALIS -- 

14) After January 1 next no one shall drive a wagon along the streets of Rome or along those streets in the suburbs where there is continuous housing after sunrise or before the tenth hour of the day, except whatever will be proper for the transportation and the importation of material for building temples of the immortal gods, or for public works, or for removing from the city rubbish from those buildings for whose demolition public contracts have been let. For these purposes permission shall be granted by this law to specified persons to drive wagons for the reasons stated.

15) Whenever it is proper for the vestal virgins, the king of the sacrifices, or the flamens to ride in the city for the purpose of official sacrifices of the Roman people; whatever wagons are proper for a triumphal procession when any one triumphs; whatever wagons are proper for public games within Rome or within one mile of Rome or for the procession held at the time of the games in the Circus Maximus, it is not the intent of this law to prevent the use of such wagons during the day within the city for these occasions and at these times.

16) It is not the intent of this law to prevent ox wagons or donkey wagons that have been driven into the city by night from going out empty or from carrying out dung from within the city of Rome or within one mile of the city after sunrise until the tenth hour of the day.

The Latin text refers to heavy goods wagons, the THENSAE drawn by young PATRIMI and MATRIMI (boys whose parents were both still alive, also a condition to be chosen one of the SALII or Leaping Priests of Mars) that bore the attributes of the gods in the POMPA CIRCENSIS or sacred procession to open the LVDI (in Rome as in Greece, games such as chariot races were religious rites), the triumphal chariot and the CARPENTVM of the Vestals and flamines all alike as PLOSTREIS, sing. PLOSTRA, whose descendant PLAVSTRVM became an ox-wagon. 

According to Smith, Wayte and Marindin's ''Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities'' the covered CARPENTVM had been allowed to all Roman matrons always, and the four-wheeled PILENTVM at games and festivals, during the early Republic as a reward for their patriotic generosity during the investment and fall of Veii (406-396 B.C.E.) but this seems to have been abolished by the LEX OPPIA in 215 B.C.E.

Despite this law, and the LEX IVLIA MUNICIPALIS on top of it, the CARPENTVM was voted to ladies of the Imperial family several times by the Senate -- Agrippina the Elder, the wife of Germanicus, had her CARPENTVM in her funeral-procession, Valeria Messalina (third wife of the God Claudius) and Agrippina the Younger (fourth wife of the God Claudius and mother of Nero) were both voted the carriage.
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.
Reply
#7
Very interesting. Thank you.
AKA Tom Chelmowski

Historiae Eruditere (if that is proper Latin)
Reply
#8
Incidentally, there is a reconstruction of a covered carriage with four wheels at Cologne, reported on the Internet as a CARPENTVM but by my source a PILENTVM.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-B2jWVrNt4iI/USEt79zir5I/AAAAAAAAAOQ/-zTc3LK-iz0/s1600/Carpentum3.jpg

 It is far less elaborate than the CARPENTA of Livia (Tiberian sestertius of 22-23 C.E.) and of Agrippina (Gaian [Caligula's] sestertius of 37-41 C.E.), both having caryatides to support the roof and figural panels in relief, as well as turned wheel-spokes and an ornamented roof.

''The carpentum of later times was a luxurious and richly ornamented carriage, used for travelling purposes and also for state occasions (Juv. 8.147 ; 9.132). We read of silken curtains (or cushions?), serica carpenta [p. 1.367](Propert. 5.8, 23). It was commonly drawn by a pair of mules (carpentummulare, Lamprid. Heliog. 4); more rarely by oxen or horses, and sometimes by four horses as a quadriga. The form of this carriage is seen on the preceding medal. When Caligula instituted games and other solemnities in honour of his deceased mother the elder Agrippina, her carpentum went in the procession (Suet. Cal. 15); and medals, still extant, commemorated the event. Agrippina's carriage, as represented above, shows painting or carving on the panels, and the head is supported by Caryatides at the four corners.'' [Dict. Gr. & Rom. Antiq., Wayte, Smith and Marindin, 1920]

It's interesting to note the use of mules as opposed to horses -- modern society uses the mule chiefly as a beast of burden and it is  a ''low-status'' animal, whereas in Rome it drew the cars of empresses. I am wandering rather from the original subject, but it is interesting, I hope, to see the vehicles so regulated.

From the same source I attach A. a PLAVSTRVM and B. the triumphal chariot. A representation of the THENSAE has eluded me.

I cannot get A or B. to attach properly, here in the link:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/image?img=Perseus:image:1999.04.0063.fig20433

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/image?img=Perseus:image:1999.04.0063.fig20896

With regard to the hours of the day,  I seem to remember the first hour began at dawn, the sixth at mid-day and the twelfth the hour before dusk. I was also taught ''to the modern hour add  but six -- this the Roman hour will fix''. This only works from the seventh to the twelfth, and makes ''the tenth hour'' begin at four o'clock. Incidentally, the reverse of this rhyme (take six from the modern hour) works from the first to the sixth (giving seven o'clock as the first, eight as the second, nine as the third and so on)


Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
       
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.
Reply
#9
(01-14-2018, 04:19 PM)Clavdivs Wrote: there is a reconstruction of a covered carriage with four wheels at Cologne, reported on the Internet as a CARPENTVM but by my source a PILENTVM.

And another, rather more accessible, at Xanten! In both cases I doubt we know exactly what the Romans might have called the vehicle, as terms of reference seem to have changed over the centuries anyway...

The note in the Theodosian Code that I mentioned in my original posts states that vehiculis dignitatis suae would be carrucis biiugis -  a two-horse carruca. The reference from the Life of Alexander Severus also has high officials riding in the carruca or raeda, so presumably these were quite similar vehicles.


(01-14-2018, 04:19 PM)Clavdivs Wrote: ''to the modern hour add  but six -- this the Roman hour will fix''

But the Romans hours changed in length over the seasons... I generally use Carcopino's list of hours at the Winter and Summer Solstice as a guide (not sure how accurate it might be!) - so e.g. the fourth hour would be 9.46am - 10.31am at midwinter, 8.13am - 9.29am at midsummer.

The tenth hour, when (according to Caesar's law) carts were allowed into the city, would be 2.13pm - 2.58pm at midwinter, 3.36pm - 5.02pm at midsummer. A good while before sunset in either case!
Reply
#10
Many thanks -- I picked up that little rubric a long time ago from an annotated edition of the FASTI of Ovid and it is clearly only approximate -- I am tremendously deeply in your debt for the new information and a more detailed approach to Roman time-keeping. Somehow I have made it through seven years of Classical reading without it and am delighted to acquire it.

You're also right about the shift of terms over time and the degree of flexibility in the definitions -- a desire to force everything into precise categories has always been one of my flaws!

The proper understanding of timekeeping really makes the Caligulan gloss you allude to (''daylight hours'') untenable, as patently even at midwinter wagons were allowed into the city well into daylight hours.
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.
Reply
#11
(01-14-2018, 06:06 PM)Clavdivs Wrote: a more detailed approach to Roman time-keeping.

If you don't have a copy of Carcopino's book Daily Life in Ancient Rome then I can certainly recommend it. It's old now (written in the 1930s) and in places a little fusty, to say the least, but full of excellent information that seldom appears elsewhere. Paperback copies are available very cheaply.

Carcopino calculates that a midwinter hour of daylight lasts only 44 4/9 minutes, while the hours of night last 1 hour 15 5/9 minutes! At midsummer these durations are exactly reversed.


(01-14-2018, 06:06 PM)Clavdivs Wrote: a desire to force everything into precise categories

This is quite common throughout the study of Roman history, I think!
Reply
#12
Many thanks indeed.
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  International law and laws of war eugene 6 1,228 01-27-2010, 01:48 PM
Last Post: deprosagios

Forum Jump: