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On this page: Comitia (continued)

COMITIA.

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result was arrived at by sunset, or if un­favourable omens appeared during the pro­ceedings, or while the voting was going on, the assembly was adjourned until the next convenient occasion.

This form of voting gave the wealthier citizens a decided advantage over the poorer, and lent an aristocratic character to the comitia centuriata. In the 3rd century b.c. a change was introduced in the interest of the lower classes. Each of the thirty-five trfbus, or districts, into which the Ro­man territory was divided, included ten centuria;, five of iunwrSs and five of stnlOres. (ForthefivecZasses,seeCENTURU.) Thus each of the five classes included 70 centurice, making 350 centuries in all. To this number add the eighteen centuriat cquitum, and the five centuria; not in­cluded in the propertied classes; namely, two of fabri (mechanics), two of tublclnes (musicians), and one of prOletarii and llberti (the very poor and the freedmen), and the whole number of centuria; amounts to 373. The centuria;, it must be remem­bered, had by this time quite lost their military character. Under this arrange­ment the 88 votes of the equites and the first classis were confronted with the 285 votes of the rest. Besides this, the right of voting first was taken from the equites and given to the centuria prcerogativa chosen by lot from the first classis. The voting, it is true, was still taken in the order of the classes, but the classes were seldom unanimous as in former times; for the interests of the trlbus, which were re­presented in each classis by two centuria; respectively, were generally divergent, and the centuries voted in the sense of their tribe. The consequence was that it was often necessary — indeed, perhaps that it became the rule, at least at elections—to take the votes of all the classes.1

In old times the military arrangement was sufficient to secure the maintenance of order. But, after its disappearance, the classes were separated, and the centuria; kept apart by wooden barriers (scepta), from which the centuria; passed over bridges into an open inner space called Ovlle (sheep-fold). On the position of the comitia centuriata during the imperial age, see below.

(3) Comitia Tributa. This was the collective assembly of the people arranged according to the local distribution of tribes (see tkibus). It must be distinguished from the concilium ptebis, which was an

c. cetuvria-iii pra:rogatiua>ii) tiderti

by the higher magistrates, with the approval of the senate. This right lost much of its value after 287 b.c., when the legislative powers of the comitia tributa were made equal to those of the comitia centuriata. After this time the legislative activity of the latter assembly gradually diminished.

The comitia centuriata were originally a military assembly, and the citizens accord­ingly, in ancient times, attended them in arms. On the night before the meeting, the magistrate summoning the assembly took the auspices on the place of meeting, the Campus Martins. If the auspices were favourable, signals were given, before day­break, from the walls and the citadel by the blowing of horns, summoning the citizens to a contlo. The presiding magistrate offered a sacrifice, and repeated a solemn prayer, and the assembly proceeded to consider the business which required its decision. Private individuals were not allowed to speak, except with the consent of the presiding magistrate. At his command the armed people divided themselves into their centuria;, and marched in this order to the Campus Martins, pre­ceded by banners, and headed by the cavalry. Arrived at the Campus, they pro­ceeded to the voting, the president having again put the proposal to the people in the form of a question ("Do you wish?" "Do you command ? ") While the voting waa going on, a red flag stood on the Janlculum. Thf, equates, who in ancient times used to be­gin the battles in war, opened the voting, and their eighteen centuries were therefore called prcsrdgatlvce. The result of their vote was immediately published, and, being taken aa an omen for the voters who were to follow, was usually decisive. Then came the 175 centuries, 170 of which composed the five classes of infantry in their order. Each cen­turia counted as casting one vote; this vote was decided by a previous voting within the centuria, which was at first open, but in later times was taken by ballot. If the 18 centuries of equites, and the 80 centuries of the first class, with whom went the two cen­turies of mechanics (centuria3 fabrum), were unanimous, the question was decided, as there would be a majority of 100 centuries to 93. If not, the voting went on until one side secured the votes of at least 97 centuries. The lower classes only voted in the rare cases where the votes of the higher classes were not united. The proceedings con­cluded with a formal announcement of the result on the part of the presiding magis­trate, and the dismissal of the host. If no

1 See, however, Cic. jtro I'lawio, -19, nemo umquam prior qilin renuiififitus fit consul.

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