The Classical Quarterly (New series)


The Lex Plotia Agraria and Pompey's Spanish Veterans

R. E. Smitha1

a1 University of Manchester

The Lex Plotia Agraria is known to us only by name through a single reference in one of Cicero's letters, from which we can extract nothing more than a terminus ante quern and a very general notion of its probable scope. Gabba in a short article, after reviewing the different hypotheses about this law, decided in favour of a suggestion put forward originally by Zumpt, that it belongs probably to the year 70/69 B.C.; and identifying it with a law referred to in a passage of Dio, he argued that the law was passed on behalf of Pompey's and Metellus Pius' veterans of the Spanish war. Following a suggestion of Niccolini he identified Plotius with the Plotius, tribune 70/69 B.C., who was responsible for the Lex Plotia de reditu Lepidanorum, and the date of his tribunate he put in 70 B.C. With Gabba's reasoning and general conclusions the present writer is in agreement, namely, that the law belongs to 70/69 B.C., and aimed at providing land for the veterans of Pompey and Metellus; the object of this note is to draw attention to a piece of evidence which has hitherto been strangely neglected, and to draw some possible inferences about the scope and fate of the law.