The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Acta


namely, for the sloping roof of a "building, and more particularly for the ornamental front or gable of such a roof, that is, tlie pediment. (Plut. cogs. 63, com­pared with Cic. Philipp. ii. 43, and Suet. Caes. 81.) The usual meaning of acroteria^ however, is the pedestals placed on the summit of a pediment to receive statues or other ornamental figures. There were three acroteria, one above each angle of the pediment. Vitruvius says that those over the outer angles (acrot. angularia) should be as high as the apex of the tympanum, and the one over the high­est angle one-eighth part higher. (Vitruv. iii. 3, or iii. 5. § 12, ed. Schneider.) Some writers in­clude the statues themselves as well as the bases under the name ; but the only authority for this seems to be an error of Salmasius. (In Ael. Spart. Pescen. Nig. 12.) 2. The extremities of the prow of a vessel, which were usually taken from a con­quered vessel as a mark of victory: the act of doing so was called aKpwrripid&iv. (Xen. Hell. ii. 3. § 8, vi. 2. § 36 ; Herod, iii. 59, viii. 121.) 3. The ex­tremities of a statue, wings, feet, hands, &c. (Dem. c. Timocr. p. 738 ; Athen. v. p. 199, c.) [P. S.]

ACTA. 1. Signified the public acts and orders of a Roman magistrate, which after the expiration of "his office were submitted to the senate for ap­proval or rejection. (Suet. Caes. 19, 23 ; Cic. Phil. i. 7, &c.) After the death of Julius Caesar the triumvirs swore, and compelled all the other magistrates to swear, to observe and maintain all his acta (in actajurare., comp. Tac. Ann. i. 72 ; Suet. Tib. 67) ; and hence it became the custom on the accession of each emperor for the new monarch to swear to observe and respect all the acta of his predecessors from Julius Caesar downwards, with the exception of those who had been branded with infamy after death, such as Nero and Domitian. Every year all the magistrates upon entering upon their office on the 1st of January swore approval of the acts of the reigning emperor: this oath was ori­ginally taken by one magistrate in each department on behalf of his colleagues, but subsequently it was the usual practice for each magistrate to take the oath personally. (Dion Cass. xlvii. 18, liii. 28; Tac. Ann. xvi. 22, with the Excursus of Lipsius ; Dion Cass. Iviii. 17, lx. 25.)

2. acta forensia were of two kinds: first, those relating to the government, as leges, ple-biscita, edicta, the names of all the magistrates, &c., which formed part of the tabulae publicae; and secondly, those connected with the courts of law. The acta of the latter kind contained an account of the different suits, with the arguments of the advocates and the decisions of the court. In the time of the republic the names of those who were acquitted and condemned were entered on the records of the court (in tabulas absolutum non rettulit) Cic. ad Fain. viii. 8. §. 3), and it appears from the quotations of Asconius from these Acta, that they must have contained abstracts of the speeches of the advocates as early as the time of Cicero. (In Scaurian. p. 19, in Milonian. pp. 32, 44, 47, ed. Orelli.) Under the empire the pro­ceedings of the higher courts seem to have been al­ways preserved, and they are frequently referred to in the Digest. They are sometimes called Gesta ; and they commenced with the names of the consuls for the year, and the day of the month. (Amm. Marc. xxii. 3 ; August. Acta c. Fortun. Manicli. Retract, i. 16 ; Cod. Theod. 2. tit. 29. s. 3.) Spe­cimens of these Acta are given by Brissonius. (De


Formulis, v. § 113.) They were taken by clerks (ab actis /on'), whose titles and duties occur in Lydus (de Magistr. ii. 20, &c.) and the Notitia Dignitatum.

3. acta militaria, contained an account of the duties, numbers, and expences of each legion (Veget. ii. 19), and were probably preserved in the military treasury founded by Augustus (Suet. Aug. 49 ; Tac. Ann. i. 78 ; Dion Cass. Iv. 25.) The soldiers, who drew up these acta, are fre­quently mentioned in inscriptions and ancient wri­ters under various titles, as, librarius legionis ; ac~ tuarius or actarius legionis; tabularius castrensis^ &c.

4. acta senatus, called also commentarii senatus (Tac. Ann. xv. 74) and acta patrum {Ann. v. 4), contained an account of the various matters brought before the senate, the opinions of the chief speakers, and the decision of the house. It has been usually inferred from a passage of Suetonius (" Inito honore primus omnium instituit, ut tarn senatus quam populi diurna acta conficeren-tur et publicarentur," Caes. 20), that the pro­ceedings of the senate were not published till the first consulship of Julius Caesar, b. c. 59 ; but this was not strictly the case ; for not only had the de­crees of the senate been written down and pub­lished long previously, but the debates on the Catilinarian conspiracy had been widely circulated by Cicero (p. Sutt. 14, 15.) All that Suetonius means to say is, that the proceedings of the senate, which had been only occasionally published before and by private individuals, were for the first time, by the command of Caesar, published regularly every day (senatus acta diurna) under the authority of government as part of the daily gazette. Augustus forbade the publication of the proceedings of the senate, but they still continued to be preserved, and one of the most distinguished senators, who re­ceived the title ab actis senatus, was chosen by the emperor to compile the account. (Tac. Ann. v. 4 ; Spart. Hadr. 3; Orelli, Inscr. No. 2274, 3186.) The persons entrusted with this office must not be confounded with the various clerks (actuarii, servi publici, scribae^ censuales}^ who were present in the senate to take notes of its proceedings, and who were only excluded when the senate passed a senatusconsultum taciturn, that is, when they de­liberated on a subject of the greatest importance, respecting which secresy was necessary or advisa­ble. (Capit. Gord. 12.) It was doubtless from notes and papers of these clerks that the Acta were compiled by the senator, who was entrusted with this office. The Acta were deposited in some of the record offices in particular departments of the public libraries, to which access could only be ob­tained by the express permission of the praefectus urbi. They were consulted and are frequently re­ferred to by the later historians (Vopisc. Prob. 2 ; Lamprid. Sever. 56; Capitol. Opil. Macr. 6), and many extracts from them were published in the Acta Diurna. Tacitus and Suetonius never refer to the Acta Senatus as authorities, but only to the Acta Diurna.

5. acta diurna, a gazette published daily at Rome by the authority of the government during the later times of the republic, and under the em­pire, corresponding in some measure to our news­papers. (Tac. Ann. iii. 3, xiii. 31, xvi. 22.) In addition to the title Acta Diurna, we find them referred to under the names of Diurna, Acta

b 4

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of