The Ancient Library

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business, unless it was claimed by the emperor, who could also, at an extraor­dinary meeting, take precedence of the magistrate who convoked it. The emperor usually caused his address to be read for him in the form of a speech by the qua-star princlpis. At an audience of ambassadors, their speeches were heard before the busi­ness was laid before the meeting. After this followed the " questioning " (rogatlo) of the senators, called on one after another by name in order of their rank and seniority. Towards the end of the Republic and under the Empire, after the consular elections the consuls-designate came first. If the emperor himself was presiding, he called first on the consuls then in office. The senators so called upon either stood up in their place and delivered their opinions in a speech, in which they were able (as some­times happened) to touch on other matters than the one in hand ; or, without rising, declared their assent to some opinion al­ready delivered. After the different opinions had been delivered, they were collected together by the president and arranged for voting on. The voting took place by dis-cessio, or separation into groups, the sup­porters of the various views taking up their position together. A bare majority decided the question. If there was any doubt, the numbers were counted.

After the division the president dismissed the Senate, in order, with the aid of a com­mittee of senators, to draw up the resolu­tion of the Senate (senatils consultum) on the lines of the minutes of the meeting, unless an objection to it was raised by any of the officials present. The resolution was j headed with the names of the consuls, followed by the date and place of meeting, the names of the proposers and of the members of the committee for drawing up the resolution; last of all followed the resolution itself, drawn up in certain fixed forms. The resolutions of the Senate were communicated to those concerned by word of mouth or by writing. Those that related to the nation were published by the magis­trates at the popular assembly, or by means of wooden (or in special cases bronze) tablets publicly displayed. Of resolutions affecting international relations two copies on bronze were prepared, one of which was hung up in the temple of Fides at Rome, the other in a temple of the other nation concerned. Reso­lutions of the Senate were preserved in early times in the office of the plebeian eediles, later in the ^Erarfum, the office of the quaestors.

Under the Monarchy the powar of the Senate was very limited. Its most impor­tant privilege was the power of appointing

i an interrex after the death of a king for

j the purpose of carrying on business and nominating a new king. During the Re­public it soon extended its influence, as it had to be consulted, and its advice fol­lowed, by the magistrates on all important measures of administration. At length the whole government of the State came practically into its hands, and the magis-

J trates were only the instruments for carry­ing out its will. Its predominance ftund expression in its taking the first place in the well-known formula, senatus populusque Rfimanus, especially as this was employed even in cases where the Senate acted with-

1 out the co-operation of the people. In the time of the Gracchi the power of the Senate suffered a deadly blow, which it had to a great extent brought upon itself. In par­ticular, it became customary to affix to re­solutions of the people a stipulation that within a few days the Senate should swear allegiance to them. The last century b.c. saw the complete downfall of the Senate's authority. Augustus attempted to raise it by every means at his disposal. But in spite of important privileges conferred upon it, the Senate only possessed the semblance of power in opposition to the military force of the emperor. Afterwards it sank to a mere shadow, when, from the time of Hadrian onwards, a special imperial council, the consllium princlpls, was instituted to deal with matters of paramount importance. The principal duties of the Senate con­sisted in (1) the supervision of religion, which it retained even under the Empire. This included the maintenance of the State religion, the introduction of foreign wor­ships, arranging for the consultation of the Sibylline books, the establishment of new festivals, games, festivals for prayer and thanksgiving, etc. (2) The supervision of the whole of the State property and finances, and control of expenditure (e.g. the colo­nization and allotment of State lands, the revenues for building and the maintenance of public gardens, for the army, for games, etc.). Under the Empire the Senate had also the nominal control of the State treasury, until this was amalgamated with the im­perial fiscus. (3) In reference to foreign affairs, the Senate had considerable in­fluence over the declaration of war, the nomination of commanders, the decisions for the levy of troops and war taxes, the

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