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The Place of Arbitration and Mediation in Ancient Systems of International Ethics


There can be no doubt that the Romans were very much influenced in their use of interstate arbitration by the Greeks. This statement can be made without affecting the question as to whether the actual principle of arbitration was known to them before their contact with the Greeks. Either the practice sprang up independently in Italy and Greece owing to similarity of conditions, or else it was part of the same stock of political and social ideas inherited by each race alike from common ancestors. It would be improbable if two nations of such close relationship and such similar civilisation could not have inherited so natural an idea or developed it along similar lines, and indeed the very widespread practice of arbitration in private law at Rome has none of the signs of an imported idea.

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page 241 note 1 Ancient authorities are quoted according to the following editions:

Polybius, ed. Hultsch, vol. i2. 1888, vol. ii2. 1892, vol. iii. 1870, vol. iv. 1872.

Livy, ed. Weissenborn, 1885.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, ed. Jacoby (Teubner), 1885–1905.

Diodorus Siculus, ed. Dindorf (Teubner), 1866–1888.

Florus, ed. Tauchnitz, 1892.

Dio Cassius, ed. Boissevain, 1895–1901.

Plutarch, ed. Sintenis (Teubner), 1879, etc.

Appian, ed. Mendelssohn (Teubner), 1879.

page 241 note 2 For recuperatores see Roby, Roman Private Law, ii. pp. 315–318, and Greenidge, The Legal Procedure of Cicero’s Time, pp. 47–49. Hartmann (Der ordo iudiciorum, pp. 229–263) is the only critic who denies the international character of the early tribunals of recuperatores. With regard to the few remarks here offered on this subject, I must acknowledge much indebtedness to Professor Reid.

page 242 note 1 An exceedingly close parallel to recuperatores might be found in the border commission, which existed for a very long time to decide re cases of cattle-lifting, etc., on the English-Scottish border.

page 242 note 2 Roby, op. cit. p. 317, denies that cases between two private Roman citizens ever came before recuperatores. One party was always either a peregrinus, or else had his citizenship called into question.

page 242 note 3 Whence the summary procedure which was characteristic of them. Cic. pro Tullio, 5. 10; Gai. iv. 185; Plin. Epp. iii. 20. 9.

page 242 note 4 Equity is, of course, characteristic of all arbitration. Cf. Sen. de benef. iii. 7. 5.

page 243 note 1 A comparison of Liv. xlii. 25. 1–13, 30. 8–11 and 36. 1–7, will show that the real or pretended readiness of Perseus to respond seriously to the rerum repetitio (a ceremony alluded to in the words ‘nisi de iis rebus satisfecisset,’ 30. 11), was altogether unexpected at Rome, where the rerum repetitio was looked on not as beginning, but as ending negotiations, in fact, as an actual declaration of war.

page 243 note 2 Liv. xliii. 2.

page 243 note 3 Liv. xliii. 2. 3.

page 243 note 4 ibid. §11.

page 244 note 1 Cf. Tac. Ann. i. 74. 7.

page 244 note 2 All passages where the recuperatores are mentioned by name will be found in Roby and Greenidge, ll. cc.

page 244 note 3 Liv. xxxii. 10. 3, cf. note of Weissenborn ad loc.

page 244 note 4 Liv. xxxiv. 35. 6.

page 244 note 5 Liv. xxxviii. 11. 5.

page 244 note 6 Liv. xxxviii. 38. 12. = Pol. xxi. 45. 16. This clause refers to claims arising out of the war and the language is that always employed in connection with recuperatores. At the end of the treaty we come across provisions which were meant to apply permanently: the reference to recuperatores is not so clear: possibly the Greek form of arbitration (appeal to a neutral power) was contemplated. The words are, in Pol. xxi. 45. 26, ‘περί δέ των άδικημάτων των πρόs άλλήλoυs γιγνoμένων είs κρίσιν πρoκαλείσθωσαν.’ App. res Syr. 38, 39, misses out this clause. Liv. xxxviii. 38. 17 adds to it, thus: ‘controuersias inter se iure ac iudicio disceptanto, aut, si utrisque placebit, bello.’ This is sometimes quoted (e.g. in Dar. et Sagl. Dict. d. Antiq. s.v. amicitia) as evidence that Rome recognised arbitration between her amici and herself; this necessitates taking ‘utrisque’ and ‘inter se’ of the same persons, namely, Antiochus and Rome, and reduces the whole sentence to nonsense, since the last half flatly contradicts the first. Professor Reid suggests that ‘utrisque’ refers to Antiochus and Rome, ‘inter se’ to Antiochus and the Asiatic cities: the clause then follows quite logically on the one preceding it, ‘si qui sociorum populi Romani (= the Asiatic cities) ultro bellum inferent Antiocho, uim ui arcendi ius esto, etc.’ = Pol. §§24, 25. The two clauses, taken together, provide Antiochus with the right of self-defence, if attacked by the cities, but reserve to Rome a right to veto any offensive war against them, as they were under her protection. This explanation agrees with the language of Polybius, who uses ‘άλλήλoυs’ of the two parties who are to submit to arbitration, but in speaking of Antiochus and Rome he changes to ‘άμπότερoι,’ §27.

I cannot here refrain from referring to a most interesting passage in Menander Protektor 212, though the date of the events mentioned places it outside the scope of this paper. In the conditions of the peace between Justinian and Chosroes, 562 A.D., are found clauses regulating the commerce on the frontier and possible quarrels arising out of it; the analogy to the old courts of recuperatores is remarkable. Mixed tribunals, drawn from Persian and Roman provincials living on the frontier, is the leading feature; further, equity, and not law, is to rule all cases, and the fulfilment of the verdict rests on the executive power of the government, as in the iudicium recuperatorium it had rested on the imperium of the praetor: finally, non-fulfilment of the verdict becomes a casus belli, as in the oldest days were ‘res non redditae ex foedere.’ The text of these clauses and an interesting commentary will be found in Karl Güterbock, Bysanz u. Persien in ihren diplomatisch-völkerrechtlichen Beziehungen im Zeitalter Justinians (Berlin, 1906), p. 83 sqq.

page 245 note 1 The most recent publication is a thesis by Victor Bérard, De arbitrio inter liberas Graecorum civitates, Paris, Thorin, 1894. Some of his conclusions are disputed by Westermann W. L. in Interstate arbitration in antiquity, The Classical Journal, March, 1907, University of Chicago Press.

page 245 note 2 L’Arbitrato pubblico in relazione col privato presso i Romani, Bullettino dell’ istituto di diritto Romano, 1892, pp. 49–443.

page 246 note 1 p. 84 sq.

page 246 note 2 pp. 100, 102.

page 246 note 3 p. 126.

page 246 note 4 The case of Aricia and Ardea, for which see infra p. 247.

page 246 note 5 Cf. some remarks in a paragraph by Westermann, op. cit. p. 207. ‘Despite the fact that the Senate in the second century B.C. often acted as arbiter for the Greek states, the Roman republic did not acknowledge the principle of arbitration when it was applied to itself.’

page 247 note 1 As a matter of fact, the Amphictyonic assemblies were not used by the Greeks as arbitrating tribunals. See Ruggiero, op. cit. p. 96, and Westermann, op. cit. p. 205.

page 247 note 2 See p. 254.

page 247 note 3 The incident is repeated in Plutarch, de mul. virt. 14, and Popl, 18. Zonaras vii. 12. c.

page 247 note 4 Ruggiero accepts this instance (op. cit. pp. 157, 317), and perhaps also something of what Dionysius says (p. 126), as probably historical.

page 247 note 5 For a full discussion of these difficulties, see Zoeller, Latium und Rom, p. 253 sq. If one could accept the substance and date of Polybius’ first treaty with Carthage, the story would be distinctly discredited, as he there makes Ardea subject to Rome in 509 B.C.

page 247 note 6 Mommsen, as Ruggiero points out, accepts it in his Roman History (R.G. i7. p. 345), but rejects it in his Staatsrecht (iii. p. 325, n. 2), suggesting that it was an invention of the patricians to prove how dangerous it was to leave such decisions to the plebeians.

page 248 note 1 Cic. de off. i. 10. 33, cf. Val. Max. vii. 3. 4.

page 248 note 2 Liv. viii. 23. 8.

page 248 note 3 I content myself with repeating Westermann’s references to Thuc. i. 78. 4, 85. 2, 140. 2; vii. 18. 2.

page 248 note 4 Liv. i. 32.

page 250 note 1 Pol. i. 14.

page 251 note 1 Liv. vii. 31. 7–32. 1. and viii. 2. 1–3.

page 251 note 2 viii. 2. 2.

page 251 note 3 viii. 2. 1–4.

page 251 note 4 viii. 23. I.

page 251 note 5 viii. 39. 10–14, cf 37·2 for the breaking by the Samnites of some indutiae.

page 251 note 6 ix. 1. 3.

page 251 note 7 viii. 39. 10–14; ix. 1. 1–2. 1.

page 251 note 8 Even Appian, who, in his account of this war (Res. Samn. fr. 2–5), takes a much more unfavourable view of the Roman dealings, and makes them announce an ‘άκήρυκτoν άσπoιδoι πδΚςμoν,’ only blames them for ‘μγαηγoρία’ =superbia, 4. 2.

page 251 note 9 ix. I. 10.

page 251 note 10 ix. 5. 1, 8. 6, 9. 19.

page 252 note 1 Liv. ix. 15. 5. 6. 8.

page 252 note 2 ix. 8. 6.

page 252 note 3 ix. 5. 1 sqq. Cf. the note of Weissenborn ad loc.

page 252 note 4 As the same argument of the sponsio, based on the general principle that no magistrate has the right to bind the community without its sanction, did duty on the occasion of the struggle with Numantia in 133 B.C., it is perhaps possible that it was first quoted or first popularised in connexion with the Caudine incident at that time. It is very usual to find the influence of later historical events traceable in Roman legend.

page 252 note 5 At this point the sponsio tradition and the foedus tradition join hands together again. These patriotic annalists were really quite artistic in their completeness. The Roman victory is postulated for the very next year: the Samnites suffer the very same punishment as the Romans—the sub iugum missio (ix. 15. 5. 6): the Samnite general Pontius is included, like the Roman general, in the disgrace of his army (§ 8): the town to be relieved is the same—Luceria (2. 3–6 and 12. 9): the very district of the battle is the same, near Caudium (15. 10): all the booty and standards captured by the Samnites are recovered, as well as the 300 hostages (15. 7). All this was the veriest invention of the annalists, who did not even agree among themselves as to the details of their poetic justice: cf. ‘in annalibus … obscurum esse’ (15. 8. 9).

page 253 note 1 Liv. ix. 10. 10, cf. 11. 11. ‘eo uobis iusium in nos factum esse bellum.’

page 253 note 2 This version of the sponsio is apparently accepted by Cicero as satisfactory from a moral point of view: de off. iii. 30. 109.

page 253 note 3 ix. 11. 1–13.

page 253 note 4 ix. 11. 13, et illi quidem forsitan et publica, suacerte liberata fide, ab Caudio in castra Romana inuiolati redierunt.

page 253 note 5 x. 39. 15.

page 253 note 6 For a criticism of the tradition of the Samnite wars see Pais, Storia di Roma, i. 2. p. 226 sq. and 468 sq.

page 253 note 7 ix. I. 7.

page 254 note 1 Liv. ix. 14. 1–16.

page 254 note 2 ibid. § 5.

page 254 note 3 ibid. §4.

page 254 note 4 Plut. Pyrrhus 16. The case is quoted by M. Berard, op. cit. p. 38.

page 254 note 5 Op. cit. p. 105. ‘Quotiescumque arbitrum permittebant, non hoc illis propositum erat ut litem aeque finirent pacemque et amicitiam inter se renouarent. Sed aut bello lassati breues inducias sperabant, quibus uires fessas restituere, socios uel mercenaries conducere, et exercitu iam refecto bellum ex integro restaurare possent, aut exorta inter Graecos noua quadam auctoritate, ad hanc non ut ad arbitrum sed ut ad uindicem ultoremque conmgiebant.’

page 255 note 1 App. res Pun. 5.

page 255 note 2 App. res Sic. 2. 3.

page 255 note 3 Appian derived his account of the First Punic war from the Roman annalists of about the time of Valerius Antias. See Schwartz in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencycl.2, 3rd half-volume, p. 218, s.v. Appianus (2). The story of the Roman mediation in Africa is supported only by Zonaras (viii. 17 c) =Dio Cassius, who drew his information for the First Punic war probably from the same sources, the Roman annalists: see note 5 on p. 257.

page 256 note 1 Pol. i. 88. 8–12. ‘ρωμαîoι δέ κατά τόν καιρόν τoντoν ύπό τ***ν έκ τής Σάρδoνoς αύτoμoλησάντων μισθoπόρων πρός σπας έκκληθέντες έπεβάλoντo πλεΐν έπί τήν πρoείρημένην νησoν των πέ Καρχηδoνίων άγανακτoύΐτων ***ς αύτoΐς καθηκoύσης μάλλoν τής των Σαρδπων δυναστίας, καί παρασκεναζoμένων μεταπoρεύβσθαί τoύς άτoστήσανταί αύτων τήν νήσoν, λαβόμενoι τής άπoρμς ταύτς oί ‘Pωμαΐoι πόλεμoν έψηπίσαντo πρός τoύς Καρχηδoνίoυς κ.τ.λ.

page 257 note 1 Dio Cassius, fr. 43. 5. 6.

page 257 note 2 ibid. § 10 and Zonaras, viii. 9 A.

page 257 note 3 There is no mention of arbitration in the passage describing the negotiations for peace opened by the consul, Appius Claudius (Pol. i. 11. 9), and this attempt must be distinguished altogether from the action of Gaius Claudius.

page 257 note 4 So the writer in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencycl.2 vol. iii. p. 2669, s.v. Claudius, no. 18, who points out that § 4 in Pol. i. 11 must be referred to Gaius Claudius, while § 9 and § 11 refers to the consul, Appius Claudius.

page 257 note 5 Schwartz in Pauly-Wissowa, op. cit. vol. iii. p. 1694, s.v. Cassius Dio. Concerning books ix.–xii. he says the basis is ‘die verderbte annalistische Tradition.’

page 257 note 6 Zonaras, viii. 9A, ό δέ ( = Hanno) καταβηναί oύκ ήθέλε πoβηθείς δέ μή oί μαμερτîνoι ***ς ά δ ι κ o ύ ν τoΰ αύτoΰ νεωτερΐσωσιν κ.τ.λ.

page 257 note 7 Ct. Zonaras, viii. 9 A, ‘συνήβήασέ τις των ‘Pωμαίων αΰτoν ενέβάλεν ες τό δεσμωτήρίoν, συνήρπαινoύντων των μαμερτίνων,’ with Pol. i. 11. 4.

page 258 note 1 Dio Cassius, fr. 43. 8.

page 259 note 1 See collection of examples by Victor Berard, op. cit. p. 104, and also Pol. iv. 26; v. 24, 28, 100; xi. 4 et al., and Westermann, op. cit. p. 201.

page 259 note 2 The Roman attitude is well rendered in Appian, res Mac. 3. Traces of similar negotiations are to be found in Liv. xxviii. 7. 14.

page 259 note 3 Liv. xxix. 12. 8.

page 260 note 1 Liv. xxxiii. 29. 8.

page 260 note 2 ibid. §10.

page 260 note 3 Other instances of this are plentiful: e.g. Athens and Rhodes on behalf of the Aetoli in 190 B.C., Liv. xxxvii. 6. 4, 7. 4; xxxviii. 3. 7, 9. 3, 10. 2. 4–6; cf. xxxviii. 9. 6.

page 260 note 4 The amicitia with Achaea dates from two years before this incident, Liv. xxxii. 19. I sqq.; that with Athens from 229 B.C. according to Zonaras, viii. 19D, certainly from before 205 B.C., Liv. xxix. 12. 14. For the Boeotian connection with Athens, Achaea and the whole anti-Aetolian league, cf. Pol. iv. 15. 1, 25. 1; Liv. xxxiii. 1. 2, xxxvii. 53. 10.

page 260 note 5 Liv. xxxv. 33. 8.

page 260 note 6 Liv. xxxv. 45. 3. 9.

page 261 note 1 Liv. xxxii. 10. 5–7.

page 261 note 2 ibid. §3; see p. 244.

page 261 note 3 Liv. xliv. 10. 12 and see note 4.

page 261 note 4 Liv. xliv. 14. 6. 7. Prusiae preces magis quam postulatio fuere profitentis et ad id tempus se cum Romanis stetisse et, quoad bellum foret, staturum: ceterum cum ad se a Perseo legati uenissent de finiendo cum Romanis bello, ei se pollicitum deprecatorem apud senatum futurum; petere, si possent inducere in animum, ut finiant iras.

page 261 note 5 Pol. xxviii. 1.8. oί δέ περί τoν Tιμoθεoν … περί … της διαλύστεως oύκ έθάβρησαν είπείν μαρκoΰ συμβoυλεύσαντoς αύτoίς Aίμλίoυ.

page 261 note 6 Liv. xliv. 14. 5. 8, cf. 29. 7 and xlv. 23. 11 sqq.

page 261 note 7 Liv. xliv. 14, 15.

page 262 note 1 C.I.L. v. 7749 = i. 199.

page 262 note 2 Liv. xlv. 13. 10.

page 262 note 3 C.I.L. v. 2491.

page 262 note 4 See p. 244.

page 263 note 1 De off. ii. 8. 26.

page 263 note 2 Liv. xlv. 22. 5.

page 263 note 3 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscr. Grace.2 i. no. 307.

page 263 note 4 Dittenberger, op. cit. i. no. 315.

page 263 note 5 Pol. xvi. 27. 5; xxvii. 19; xxviii. 1; xxix. 27; Liv. xxxiii. 39, 40; xlii. 29. 5; xlv. 12. 3, 13. 1–9, 23. 12; App. res Syr. 2, 3, 66; Justin, xxx. 3. 3–4; xxxi. I; xxxiv. 3. 1–4; Val. Max. vi. 4. 3; Vell. Pater, i. 10. 1. 2; Diod. Sic. xxx. 2; xxxi. 2.

page 263 note 6 Liv. xxxii. 8. 9, 27. I.

page 263 note 7 Pol. xxii. 5; xxv. 4; xxx. 5. 12; cf. xvi. 27; Liv. xli. 6. 8–12; xliv. 15. 1; xlv. 25. 6; App. res Syr. 44.

page 263 note 8 Pol. xvi. 34; xxii. 9, 15, 17, 18; Liv. xxxix. 24. 6, 33; xl. 2. 7.

page 263 note 9 Liv. xlii. 26. 2.

page 263 note 10 Pol. xxxii. 2; Liv. xxxiv. 62. 5; App. res Pun. 67–69.

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