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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VIII. THE GREAT AGE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC, 264-31 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 12
THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD UNDER ROMAN RULE
CREATION OF THE PROVINCIAL SYSTEM
Rome's dealings with the new dependencies across the sea did not follow the methods that had proved so successful in Italy. The Italian peoples had been treated with great liberality. Rome regarded them as allies, exempted them from certain taxes, and in many instances gave them Roman citizenship. It did not seem possible to extend this wise policy to remote and often barbarous lands beyond the borders of Italy. Rome adopted, instead, much the same system of imperial rule that had been previously followed by Persia and by Athens. She treated the foreign peoples from Spain to Asia as subjects and made her conquered territories into provinces.  Their inhabitants were compelled to pay tribute and to accept the oversight of Roman officials.
 In 133 B.C. there were eight provinces—Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, Hither Spain, Farther Spain, Illyricum, Africa, Macedonia, and Asia.
EVILS OF THE PROVINCIAL SYSTEM
As the Romans came more and more to relish the opportunities for plunder afforded by a wealthy province, its inhabitants were often wretchedly misgoverned. Many governors of the conquered lands were corrupt and grasping men. They tried to wring all the money they could from their helpless subjects. To the extortions of the governors must be added those of the tax collectors, whose very name of "publican"  became a byword for all that was rapacious and greedy. In this first effort to manage the world she had won, Rome had certainly made a failure. A city-state could not rule, with justice and efficiency, an empire.
 In the New Testament "publicans and sinners" are mentioned side by side. See Matthew, ix, 10.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy