With the Punic Wars, the expansionist aims of the Romans also materialised in southern Italy.
With its fertile land and strategic position at the centre of the Mediterranean, Sicily was named the first Roman Province in 241 BC, after its partial conquest.
Pro-Carthaginian Syracuse initially remained independent, but in 211, during the second conflict with the Punics, consul Laevinus freed it from the Carthaginians, unifying the territory of the Sicilian province once and for all.
From the administrative point of view, it was necessary to wait until 132 BC for a definitive organisational layout of the new provincial territory, when six capitals – Syracuse, Lilybaeum, Agrigento, Messina, Palermo and Etna – and sixty-eight municipalities were identified with the Lex Rupilia, distinguished according to the type of relationship they maintained with Rome. Government of the Province was entrusted to a praetor assisted by two quaestores : one resided in Syracuse, together with the praetor, and one in Lilybaeum .
The presence of the two quaestores, whose relationship with the governor was governed by pietas , was probably a legacy from the island’s ancient territorial and cultural division.
At tax level, a complex system of levies was formulated, inspired by the Lex Hieronica, introduced by Hierone II of Syracuse ) during his reign: the main tax was the tithe, placed on the harvests of wheat, wine, oil, barley and legumes.