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On this page: Tribuni Militum – Tribuni Plebis



play and for the emperor, the other for the Vestal Virgins and the empress.

Trlbuni JErarli (from ces = stlpend%um, "pay"), The name given amongst the Romans in earlier times to the wealthy members of the several tribes, who were entrusted with the levying of the war-tax {see tributum) and the distribution of pay to the soldiers from the proceeds of it. What position they held after the payment of the troops was handed over to the quaestors is not clear, from want of infor­mation on the subject. In the 1st century b.c. they appear as a distinct class, from which, during the years 70-46 b.c., the third dScurla of judges was appointed to represent the plebeians, the other two con­sisting of senators and knights.

Trlbuni MIHtum (military tribunes). The superior officers of the Roman legions, six in number, two of whom always held the command for two months on alternate days. They were appointed before the levy took place, as they themselves had to be in office at that time. Originally they were nominated by the consuls ; afterwards partly by them and partly by the people, inasmuch as the people elected twenty-four out of the number of candidates in the cBmUla trlbuta for the four legions which were levied regularly every year, while the consuls retained the appointment for the remaining legions. They were not as a rule taken from veteran centurions, but for the greater part from young men of senatorial or equestrian rank, who had served their first campaign in the train or on the staff of a general, and then began their political career with this office. As a mark of distinction, all of them wore the gold ring of the equestrian order. They also wore a narrow or broad purple stripe on their tdga, according as they were of eques­trian or senatorial rank respectively. In the time of the Empire, they always led the legion on the march and in battle. They did not, however, as under the Republic, rank immediately below the commanders-in-chief, but under the ISg&tns llglonls, the commander of the legion and its auxiliary troops.

Trlbuni Plebls (tribunes of the commons). The name given among the Romans to the official representatives granted to the plebeians in 494 b.c., as a protection against the oppression of patricians and the consuls. At first they were two in number, then five, and (after 457) ten. Only free-born plebeians were eligible for the office, which

was annual. The election took place at first in the cttmitla curiata, but after 471 in the comitia trlbuta, under the presidency of any tribune who happened to be in office at the time. At first they were only magistrates of the plebs, and were without any insignia of office, or even lictors, in­stead of whom they had several attendants (vlatorcs). This continued even after they were fully recognised as public officials. On the other hand, they possessed the privilege guaranteed to them by the plebs under solemn oath, on the institution of their office, of being " sacrosanct" and inviolable; and, under the protection of this right, they extended their originally limited powers by judicious encroach­ments.

Their earliest right, which was at first exercised in favour of the plebs, but soon on behalf of all citizens, was that of pro­tection (auxlllum), which they could use against all magistrates with the exception of the dictator. This enabled them to prevent the execution of official orders by a simple veto (intercesslo). In face of any opposition they were authorized to have recourse to compulsory measures such as arrest, fines, or imprisonment. Their power only extended over Rome and its immediate neighbourhood, and was further restricted by the right of veto, which they could exercise against one another. For the pro­tection of the individual they only inter­posed when their aid was asked. For this purpose their house stood open day and night to any who sought their assistance, and they themselves could never be absent from the city a whole day, except during the flrlce L&tlnce, when all business was suspended. Without appeal they could interpose in any measure which affected the whole plebs, such as the levying of troops and the raising of the war-tax (tributum). This right of intercession, which originally was confined to the auxilium, and which could never be exercised except by the tribune in person, and simultaneously with the proceeding that was to be prohibited, was in course of time gradually extended, until finally the veto of the tribunes enabled them to suspend almost all official proceedings; administrative measures, transactions with the Senate, and meetings of the people for the purpose of legislation and election, etc. They had the right of calling meet­ings of thereto for the discussion of affairs relating to that body. From the time that

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