Table of Status


 (Reference: John Crook, Law and Life of Rome, Cornell University Press, c1967, pp. 36-45.)

Citizenship in the ancient world was based on a principle of personality, rather than territoriality. Ones legal status depended on birth, [status of parents,] or upon a grant of one kind or another. Depending upon status, each person carried around with them an individualized bundle of rights and duties under Roman law.

Table of Statuses (corresponding to different sets of rights and duties under the Roman law):

  People (male and female) are either slaves, or they are free;

  Free people are either free by birth, [ingenui,] or free by grant from slavery, ["freedmen," libertini;]

  Free people are also either Roman citizens, "Latins," or "peregrines;"

  If a Latin, a free person is either a coloniary Latin [Latin right - granted to municipalities,] or Junian Latin [informally manumitted slaves;]

  If a free person is a peregrine, he is either a citizen of some particular peregrine community or of none; *

  Roman citizens are either independent, ["in their own power," sui iuris, suae potestatis ,] or in the power of someone else, [alieni iuris;]

  Persons sui iuris are either under guardianship, [tutela,] or caretakership, [cura, curatio,] or under neither of these.

  Further, if a man is domiciled as a permanent resident in a place where he was not a citizen, he is "incola." [An incola must obey the magistrates both of the community of his domicile, and that of which he is a citizen.]


* Generally, the peregrini did not have the Roman rights of "commercium," [the right to convey property by "mancipation," to contract under the "nexum," to adopt or inherit under civil law wills, and to have access to the urban praetor's court.] The great majority of peregrines were citizens of their own municipal communities, subject to their own local laws.