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On this page: Centesima – Centesimae Usurae – Centumviri


Peloponncsian war, tlioiigh the divisions into classes themselves continued to be observed for a consider­ able time after. As the wants of the republic in­ creased, and as many citizens were possessed of large property without being landed proprietors, the original land-tax was changed into a property- tax, In this manner we must explain the proposal of Euripides, shortly before b. c. 393, to raise 500 tilents by imposing a tax of one fortieth part. (Aristoph. Ecclcs. 823, &c.) For the taxable capital, viz. 20,000 talents, far exceeds the amount of all the landed property in Attica. This property tax, which was substituted for the land tax, was called ejV<|>opa, concerning which see eisfhora. - Compare leiturgiae ; and for the taxes paid by resident aliens, metoici. (Bockh, Publ. Econ. of Athens, p. 495, &c., 2dedit.) 2. roman. [censor.] [L. S.]

CENTESIMA, namely pars, or the hundredth part, also called vectigal rerum venalium, or cen- tesima.rerum venatium, was a tax of one per cent, levied at Rome and in Italy upon all goods that were exposed for public sale at auctions. It was collected by persons called coactores. (Cic. ad Brut. 18, pro Rabir. Post. 11; Dig. 1. tit. 16. e. 17. § 2.) This tax, as Tacitus {Ann. i. 78) says, was introduced after the civil wars, though its being mentioned by Cicero shows, that these civil wars cannot have been those between Octa- vian and Antony, but must be an earlier civil war, perhaps that between Marius and Sulla. Its produce was assigned by Augustus to the aera- rium militare. Tiberius reduced the tax to one ha.lf per cent, (ducenksima), after he had changed Cappadocia into a province, and had thereby in­ creased the revenue of the empire. (Tac. Ann. ii. 42.) Caligula in the beginning of his reign abolished the tax altogether for Italy, as is at­ tested by Suetonius (Calig. 1C) and also by an ancient medal of Caligula on which we find C. C. R. (i. e. d-uceniesima remissa.) But Dion Cassius (Iviii. 16), whose authority on this point cannot outweigh that of Suetonius and Tacitus, states that Tiberius increased the ducentesima to a centesima, and in another passage he agrees with Suetonius in stating that Caligula abolished it altogether (lix. 9 ; comp. Burmami, De Vectiq. Pop. Horn. p. 70). [L. S.]


CENTUMVIRI. The origin, constitution, and powers of the court of centumviri are exceedingly obscure, and it seems almost impossible to com­ bine and reconcile the various passages of Roman writers, so as to present a satisfactory view of this subject. The essay of Hollweg, Uber die Com- pentenz des Centiimviralyericlits (Zeitsclirift, &c,, v. 358), and the essay of Tigerstrbm, De Judicibus apud Romanes, contain all the authorities on this matter; but these two essays do not agree in all their conclusions.

The centumviri were judices, who resembled other judices in this respect, that they decided cases under the authority of a magistratus ; but they differed from other judices in being a definite body or collegium. This collegium seems to have been divided into four parts, each of which some­times sat by itself. The origin of the court is un­known ; but it is certainly prior to the Lex Aebutia, which put an end to the legis actiones, except in the matter of Damnum Infectum, and in the causae centurnvirales. (Gaius, iv. 31 ; Gell. xvi. 10.) According to Festus (s. Centumvimlia Judicia),



three were chosen out of each tribe, and conse­quently the whole number out of the 35 tribes would be 105, who, in round numbers, were called the hundred men; and as there were not 35 tribes till b.c. 241, it has been sometimes inferred that to this time we must assign the origin of the cen­tumviri. But, as it has been remarked by Hol!~ weg, we cannot altogether rely on the authority of Festus, and the conclusion so drawn from his state -ment is by no means necessary. If the centumviri were chosen from the tribes, this seems a strong presumption in favour of the high antiquity of the court.

The proceedings of this court, in civil matters, were per legis actionem, and by the sacramentum. The process here, as in the other judicia privata, con­sisted of two parts, injure, or before the praetor, and in judicio, or before the centumviri. The praetor, however, did not instruct the centumviri by the formula, as in other cases, which is further explained by the fact that the praetor presided in the judicia centum viral ia. (Plin. Ep. v. 21.)

It seems pretty clear that the powers of the cen­tumviri were limited to Rome, or at any rate to Italy. Hollweg maintains that their powers were also confined to civil matters ; but it is impossible to reconcile this opinion with some passages (Ovid, Trist. ii. 91 ; Phaedr. iii. 10, 35, £c.), from which it appears that crimina came under their cogni­zance. The substitution of aut for ut in the passage of Quintilian (Inst. Oral. iv. 1. § 57), even if supported by good MSS. as Hollweg affirms, can hardly be defended.

The civil matters which came under the cogni­zance of this court are not completely ascertained. Many of them (though we have no reason for say­ing all of them) are enumerated by Cicero in a well-known passage (De Oral. i. 38). Hollweg men­tions that certain matters only came under their cognizance, and that other matters were not within their cognizance ; and further, that such matters as were within their cognizance, were also within the cognizance of a single judex. Hollweg maintains that actiones in rem or vindicationes of the old civil law (with the exception, however, of actions praejudiciales or status quaestiones) could alone be brought before the centumviri ; and that neither a personal action, one arising from contract or delict, nor a status quaestio, is ever mentioned as a causa centumviralis. It was the practice to set up a spear in the place where the centumviri were sit­ting, and accordingly the word hasta, or hasta cen-tumviralis, is sometimes used as equivalent to the words judicium cen turn virale. (Suet. Octaiiian. 36; Qiiintil. Inst. Orat. v. 2. § 1.) The spear was a symbol of quiritarian ownership: for " a man was considered to have the best title to that which he took in war, and accordingly a spear is set up in the centumviralia judicia." (Gaius, iv. 16.) Such was the explanation of the Roman jurists of the origin of an ancient custom, from which it is argued, that it may at least be inferred, the centumviri had properly to decide matters re­lating to quiritarian ownership, and questions con­nected therewith.

It has been already said that the matters which belonged to the cognizance of the centumviri might also be brought before a judex ; but it is conjec­tured by Hollweg that this was not the case till after the passing of the Aebutia Lex. He considers that the court of the centumviri was established

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