The Ancient Library

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On this page: Mural Crown – Murcia – Murrina – Musaeus – Musagetes – Museion



The Lex lulia of b.c. 90 made all the towns of Italy municipia with full civic rights, and every Italian country-town was now called a Koman municipiittn. Gradu­ally the towns in the provinces received municipal rights, till finally Caracalla made all towns of the empire municipia. Ori­ginally one class of municipia had retained their own laws and their own constitution ; this arrangement underwent a change when they were received into the Roman citizen­ship, inasmuch as the Roman law then became binding upon them, and a regularly organized administration on the Roman model was introduced. The citizens were divided into curia;, and at their comitia curiata passed all kinds of decrees, and chose officers ; mo^t of these rights, how­ever, passed into the hands of the local senate towards the end of the 1st century. This senate usually consisted of 100 life-members, called dScuriont's, and in every fifth year the vacancies were filled up from those who had held office or were qualified by their property. The highest officials were the duo viri, who were judges and presided at the assemblies of the people, especially at elections, and in the senate; the two quinquenndles, chosen for a year, once in five years, and corresponding to the Roman censors; and qua'stdres and <edil£s, officials with similar duties to the Roman officials of the same name. (See magistratus.) Besides the decuriones, •whose position became hereditary at the end of the Empire, there were, under the heathen emperors, a second privileged class, known as Augustales, chosen by decree of the local senate and next to that body in rank. They made up a collegium, which was originally dedicated to the worship of the Julian family, and in later times seems to have also extended its functions to the worship of the other emperors. The de­cline of the municipal system, the pros­perity of which had depended on the liberty and independence of the administration, set in at the end of the 2nd century after Christ, when the emperors began to transfer to the municipia the burdens of the State, and the decuriones gradually became mere imperial officials, who were more especially responsible for the collection of the tribute imposed.

Mural Crown. See corona.

Mnrcla. See venus.

Murrlna (rasa). A name given by the Romans to vessels made of an oriental mineral called murra, which only occurred

in small plates, opaque, of dull lustre and changing colours, and very brittle. The first vesseUi of this kind were brought to Rome by Pompey in B.C. 61, among the spoils of king Mithridates [Pliny, A'. //., xxxvii 18]. In Rome enormous prices were paid for them on account of their material, which is unknown to us, but is held by many to have been a rare kind offluor spar [while others identify it with porcelain}. Thus Nero paid for his cup with a handle, made of murra, the sum of a million sesterces, about £10,000 [ib. § 20]. Murra, as well as every variety of precious stone, was imi­tated in glass.

| Miisaeus. (1) A mythical singer, seer, • and priest, who occurs especially in Attic legends. He is said to have lived in pre-Homeric times, and to have been the son of Selene and Orpheus or Lmus or Eumol-pus. Numerous oracular sayings, hymns, and chants of dedication and purification were ascribed to him, which had bee» collected, and also interpolated, by Ono-macrltus, in the time of the Pisistratldse. His tomb was shown at Athens on the Museum Hill, south-west of the Acropolis [Pausanias i 25 § 8].

(2) A grammarian and Greek poet, who in the beginning of the 6th century after Christ wrote a short epic of love, entitled Hero and Leander, which shows intense warmth of feeling, and has touches that are almost modern.

Musagetes, i.e. leader of the Muses. A title of (Apollo) the god of poets. (See apollo and muses.)

Museidn (Lat. Museum). Originally a temple of the Muses, then a place dedicated to the works of the Muses. In this sense the most remarkable and most important museum of antiquity was that established at Alexandria by Ptolemy Philadelphus in the first half of the 3rd century B.C. This institution contributed very largely towards the preservation and extension of Greek literature and learning. It was a spacious and magnificent edifice, supplied with every­thing requisite for its purpose, such as an observatory, a library, etc.; it lay near the royal palace and communicated immediately with the temple of the Muses. Noted men of erudition were there supported at the cost of the State, to enable them to devote themselves to their learned studies without interruption. They were under the super­vision of principals chosen from their own body, while the priest of the Muses was at their head. Under the Roman emperors,

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.