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On this page: Tribunus Celerum – Tribus



the authority of these meetings extended over all State business, and their decrees (called plebiscite?), were considered binding on the whole people, this right enabled the tribunes to propose changes in private or public law. It is true that, for carrying out their proposals, they were dependent on the sanction of the Senate ; but, as they were safe from the risk of prosecution, they sometimes assumed, in case of need, an authority superior to that body. Originally they had no official relations with the Senate, but afterwards, by virtue of their inviola­bility, they obtained the right of sitting on their benches (subsellict) at the open door of the senate-house, so as to be present at the deliberations, and in case of need to inter­fere by virtue of their auanlium. Soon, however, they even obtained a seat in the Senate, and a general right of veto; until finally they acquired the right of summon­ing a meeting of the Senate, and of making proposals. At the same time they acquired the privilege of entrance into the Senate at the first census after the expiration of their office.

The office of tribune, really the highest in the State, was employed by demagogues in the later days of the Republic in the interests of a party and to the injury of the commonwealth. By Sulla, in 80 b.c., its power was cut down to the very narrowest limits, chiefly by the regulation that, after the tribunate, no one was eligible for a curule office. However, as soon as 50 b.c. there came a complete reaction and a return to the old state of things, which finally entailed total anarchy, and, as a natural consequence, the sole rule of Csesar and Augustus. In 48 B.C. Csesar, to secure his position, assumed the tribunician power, at first without limit of time, and after­wards without limit of extent; and in 36 Augustus followed his example. From that time the tribunate became the pivot of the imperial power. Nevertheless, until beyond the time of Constantine, tribunes to the number of ten continued to exist. They were elected by the Senate, and as a rule from among the senators, but were in com­plete dependence on the will of the emperor. In order to find candidates for the office, which was now but little sought after, Augustus made the candidature in the case of the plebeians for the praatorship dependent on having held the tribunate. The office was also thrown open to sons of freedmen.

Trlbunus The designation, under the Roman Empire, of the commander

of the cavalry, nominated by the emperor for the time being.

Tribus. Originally the name of each of the three classes of Roman patricians (Ramnes, Titles, and Lucirffs), who were divided into ten ciirlce (q.v.). In direct contrast with this was the classification made by king Servius, whereby Roman citizens, together with the whole territory of Rome, were divided into four city (tribus urbantK) and twenty-six country tribes (trlbus rustlcce). These were geographical divisions, according to which the census was taken, troops levied, and the war cax imposed and collected. From time to time the number was diminished; but it in­creased again until 241 B.C., when it was raised to thirty-five (four city and thirty-one country tribes), and this number re­mained fixed for the future, even under the Empire. The new citizens admitted after 241 were distributed amongst the existing tribes. This was the case with all the Italian communities, which in 89 b.c., by the extension of the citizenship to all dwellers in Italy, were included in the tribes.

Every citizen (with the exception of those called wrarffi, q.v.) belonged to some special tribe, to which he himself or his ancestors had been assigned, even when he no longer had his home there. Accordingly, in the official designation of a free citizen, the name of his tribe was added to his family names. Originally the country tribes were on an equality with those of the city, but subsequently they were deemed superior, on the ground that they consisted of owners of property in land, whilst the chief part of the city tribes was made up of mer­chants, workmen, and the proletariate, who possessed no landed property, and amongst whom freedmen were included.

The tribes attained political importance on the establishment of the cOnntta tributa (q-v.), in which those present voted as individuals, and not as members of property-classes, as in the comitia centurlata. The comitia tributa thus had a democratic character. The importance of the tribes was further increased on the reform of the comitia centuriata (q,i'.\ since each of the thirty-five tribes was thereby divided into five property-classes, each consisting of two centuries, sentores and iunlores. Under the Empire they lost all political impor­tance ; the country-tribes were used merely as geographical subdivisions, while the lists of the whole number of the thirty-five tribes were treated as a register for thedis-


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