The Ancient Library

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On this page: Consilium – Consualia – Consules



one who stole corn in the ear, to Ceres. To kill & hdmd sdcer was not accounted as murder, but as the fulfilment of the divine vengeance.

Conslllum. The Latin word for a council, or body of advisers. Such councils were called in, according to ancient custom, by the presiding magistrate in civil and criminal cases. Even in the family tribunals, which decided cases affecting the members of the gens, a consilium of kinsfolk was thought necessary. The custom was that the presiding judge bound himself by the decision of his freely chosen consilium, but took the responsibility himself. The expres­sion consilium was afterwards transferred to the regular juries of the courts which decided civil and criminal cases (see centumviri, judices). The emperors, too, made a practice of inviting a consilium of friends to assist them in their judicial decisions. After the time of Hadrian, the members of the imperial consiliuni appear as regularly appointed and salaried officers, the Consiliarll Augusll. These were gene­rally, though not exclusively, selected from the body of professional jurists. After the 4th century a.d. the word consistorlum was substituted for consilium; meaning, originally, the council-chamber in the im­perial palace,

ConsualU. See consds.

Consules (originally called Prcetores). The Roman consuls were the magistrates to whom the supreme authority was trans­ferred from the kings, after the expulsion of the latter in 510 b.c. The consuls gave their name to the year. They were elected by the comitia centuriata, and, down to b.c. 366, from the Patricians only. The legal age at which a man might be elected was. in the time of Cicero, forty-three. ] The time of entering on the office varied in the early periods : in 222 b.c. it was fixed to March 15th, in 153 to the 1st of January. The accession of the new consuls was at­tended with the performance of certain cere­monies, among which may be mentioned a procession of the consuls to the Capitol, with the senate, fqultes, and other citizens of position, as escort; an offering of white bulls to Jupiter, and the utterance of solemn vows.

The consuls were the representatives of the royal authority, and consequently all other magistrates were bound to obey them, with the exception of the tribunes of the plebs and the dictator. During a dictator­ship their powers fell into abeyance. In I

the city their authority was limited by the right of appeal to the people, and the veto of the tribunes. But in the army, and over their subordinates, they had full power of life and death. Some of their original functions passed from them in course of time. Thus in 444 b.c. the business of the census was made over to the Censors; in 366 the civil jurisdiction within the city, so far as it included the right of performing the acts of adoption, emancipation, and liberation of slaves, was transferred to the prsetors. In the field, however, having the criminal jurisdiction in their hands, they had also the right of deciding in civil cases affecting the soldiers. In the general administration of public business the con­suls, although formally recognised as the supreme authority, gradually became, in practice, dependent upon the senate and the comitia, as they had only the power of preparing the resolutions proposed, and carrying them out if accepted. Within the city, their powers were virtually confined to summoning the senate and comitia, and presiding over their meetings. They also nominated the dictators, and conducted the elections and legislation in the comitia, and the levies of soldiers. After the office of dictator fell into abeyance, the power of the consuls was, in cases of great danger, increased to dictatorial authority by a special decree of the senate.

An essential characteristic of the consular office was that it was collegial; and there­fore, if one consul died, another (called consul suffectus) was immediately elected. This consul suffectus had absolutely the same authority as his colleague, but he had to lay down his office with him at the end of the year for which the two had been originally elected.

The power of the two consuls being equal, the business was divided between them. In the administration of the city they changed duties every month, the senior taking the initiative. With regard to their insignia, namely, the toga prcetexta, sella curulis, and twelve lictors, the original ar­rangement was that the lictors walked in front of the officiating consul, while the other was only attended by an acccnsus. In later times the custom was for the lictors to walk before the officiating consul, and behind the other.

In the field, each consul commanded two legions with their allied troops; if they were in the same locality, the command changed from day to day. The question of

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