The Ancient Library

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On this page: Consus – Contio – Contubernium



the administration of the provinces they either settled by consent, or left it to be decided by lot. With the extension of the empire the consuls became unable to under­take the whole burden of warfare, and the praetors were called in to assist. The pro­vinces were then divided into consular and praetorian; the business of assignment being left to the senate, which, after the year 122, was bound to make it before the elections. In the last century b.c. a law of Sulla deprived the consuls of an essential element of their authority, the military impSrium ; for it enacted that the consuls should spend their year of office in Rome, and only repair to the provinces and assume the imperium after its conclusion.

In the civil wars the consular office completely lost its old position, and though it continued to exist under the Empire, it became, practically, no more than an empty title. The emperors, who often held the office themselves, and sometimes, like Caesar, for several years in succession, had the right of nominating the candidates, and therefore, in practice, had the election in their own hands. It became usual to nominate several pairs of consuls for one year, so as to confer the distinction on as many persons as possible. In such cases, the consuls who came in on January 1st, after whom the year was named, were called consules ordlnarli, the consules suffecti counting as minOrSs. Until the middle of the 1st century a.d., it was a special distinction to hold the consulship for a whole year; but after that no cases of this tenure occur. In time the insignia, or orndmenta consuldrla, or honorary distinctions of the office, were given, in certain degrees, even to men who had not been consuls at all. The chief duties of the consuls now were to preside in the senate, and conduct the criminal trials in which it had to give judgment. But, besides this, certain functions of civil jurisdiction were in their hands; notably the liberation of slaves, the provision for the costly games which occurred during their term of office, the festal celebrations in honour of the emperor, and the like. After the seat of empire was transferred to Con­stantinople, the consulate was, towards the end of the 4th century, divided between the two capital cities. The consulate of the western capital came to an end in 534 a.d., that of the eastern in 541. From that time the Emperor of the East bore the title of consul perpStuus,

Census. An ancient Italian god, probably

a god of the earth or of crops. His altar on the Circus Maxlmus at Rome was covered with earth, apparently as a sign of the deity's activity in the bosom of the earth. Three times in the year only was it un­covered, on the occasion of sacrifices or festivities. The festival of Consus, the Con-su<5l1at was held twice a year; on the 21st August, after the harvest, and the 15th December, after the sowing was ended. Its establishment was attributed to Romu­lus, and it was at the first celebration that the rape of the Sabine women was sup­posed to have taken place. At this fes­tival the sacrifice was superintended by the Flammes of Qulrinus with the Vestal Virgins, and was followed by a chariot race in the circus, under the direction of the pontlficfs. The horses and mules, their heads crowned with flowers, had their share in the holiday. In consequence of these games the god Consus was afterwards iden­tified with Poseidon Hippie's, or Neptunus Equester.

Contlo. The Latin name for any as­sembly summoned and presided over by a magistrate. A contio differed from the comitia in the following points : (1) The people were not divided into centuries or tribes. (2) The people did not vote, but were only there to receive communications made by the presiding magistrate or some other official or private individual, whom he allowed to address the meeting. All magistrates had the right of summoning contiones, but the tribunes took precedence of all others, and a higher magistrate took precedence of a lower. Contiones were usually summoned by public heralds (pra>-canSs) and generally met in the Forum. The comitici were immediately preceded by a contio, that the people might be pre­pared for the questions to come before them. If the comitia were to exercise judicial functions, it was a fixed rule that three contiones must be held previously for the purpose of investigation.

Contubernlum. A Latin word properly meaning tent companionship, or companion­ship in military service. The word signi­fied (1) the relation of young Roman nobles to the general officer to whom they had voluntarily attached themselves for the sake of military training, and in whose company they took their meals in the tent, It meant (2) the marriage of slaves, which was not legally accounted marriage, though under the Empire it was considered, as a rule, indissoluble if contracted by members

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