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On this page: Comes – Comissatio – Comitia



pillus, caesanes, crines, cincinnus, and cirrus, the two last words being used to signify curled hair. In early times the Romans wore their hair long, as was represented in the oldest statues in the age of Varro (De lie Rust. ii. 11. § 10), and hence the Romans of the Augustan age designated theii ancestors intonsi (Ov. Fast. ii. 30) and capillati (Juv. vi. 30). But after the introduction of bar­bers into Italy about u. c. 300, it became the practice to wear their hair short. The women too originally dressed their hair with great simplicity, but in the Augustan period a variety of different head-dresses came into fashion, many of which are described by Ovid (de Art. Am. iii. 136, &c.). Sometimes these head-dresses were raised to a great height by rows of false curls (Juv. Sat. vi. 502). The dressing of the hair of a Roman lady at this period was a most important affair. So much attention did the Roman ladies devote to it, that they kept slaves especially for this purpose, called ornatrices, and had them instructed by a master in the art (Ov. de Art. Am. iii. 239 ; Suet. Claud. 40 ; Dig. 32. tit. 1. s. 65). Most of the Greek head-dresses mentioned above were also worn by the Roman ladies ; but the .mitrae appear to have been confined to prostitutes (Juv. iii. 66). One of the simplest modes of wearing the hair was allowing it to fall down in tresses behind, and only confining it by a band encircling the head [ViTTA]. Another favourite plan was platting the hair, and then fastening it behind with a large pin, as is shown in the figure on p. 14.

Blonde hair was as much prized by the Romans as by the Greeks, and hence the Roman ladies used a kind of composition or wash to make it ap­pear this colour (spuma caustica, Mart. xiv. 26 ; Plin. //. N. xxviii. 12. s. 51).

False hair or wigs (</>ej/ctai7, uTjvfKij, galerus) were worn both by Greeks and Romans. (See e. g. Juv. vi. 120.) Among both people likewise in ancient times the hair was cut close in mourn­ing [funus] ; and among both the slaves had their hair cut close 'as a mark of servitude. (Aristoph. Aves, 911 ; Plant. Ampli. i. ]. 306 ; Decker, Ckaricles, vol. ii. p. 380, &c. ; Bottiger, Sabina, vol. i. p. 138, &c.)

COMES, first signified a mere attendant or companion, distinguished from socius, which always implied some bond of union between the persons mentioned. Hence arose several technical senses of the word, the connection of which may be easily traced.

It was applied to the attendants on magistrates, in which sense it is used by Suetonius (Jut. Caes. 42). In Horace's time (Epist. i. 8. 2) it was cus­tomary for young men of family to go out as contuber-nales to governors of provinces and commanders-in-chief, under whose eye they learnt the arts of war and peace. This seems to have led the way for the introduction of the comites at home, the main­tenance of whom was, in Horace's opinion (Sat. i. 6. 101), one of the miseries of wealth. Hence a person in the suite of the emperor was termed comes. As all power was supposed to flow from the imperial will, the term was easily transferred to the various offices in the palace and in the provinces (comites palatini, provinciales}, About the time of Con-stantine it became a regular honorary title, includ­ing various grades, answering to the comites ordinis primi, secundi, tertii. The power of these officers, especially the provincial, varied with time and place j


some presided over a particular department, with a limited authority, as we should term them, com­missioners ; others were invested with all the powers of the ancient proconsuls and praetors.

The names of the following officers explain themselves:—Comes Orientis (of v^hom there seem to have been two, one the superior of the other), comes Aegypti, comes Britanniae, comes Africae, comes rei militaris, comes portuum, comes stabuli, comes domesticorum equitum, comes clibanarius, comes linteae vestis or vestiarii (master of the robes). In fact the emperor had as many comites as he had duties: thus, comes consistorii, the em­ peror's privy-councillor ; comes largitionum priva- tarum, an officer who managed the emperor's pri­ vate revenue, as the comes largitionum sacrarum did the public exchequer. The latter office united in a great measure the functions of the aedile and quaestor. The four comites commerciormn, to whom the government granted the exclusive privi­ lege of trading in silk with barbarians, were under his control. An account, however, of the duties and functions of the comites of the later empire does not fall within the scope of the present work. [B. J.]

COMISSATIO (from kwjuos, Varr. De Ling. Lat. vii. 89, ed. Miiller), the name of a drinking entertainment, which took place after the coena, from which, however, it must be distinguished. Thus Demetrius says to his guests, after they had taken their coena in his own house, " Quin co-missatum ad fratrem imus ? " (Liv. xl. 7) ; and when Habinnas comes to Trimalchio's house after taking his coena elsewhere, it is said that " Comis-sator intravit" (Petron. 65). It appears to have been the custom to partake of some food at the comissatio (Suet. Vitell. 13), but usually only as a kind of relish to the wine.

The comissatio was frequently prolonged to a late hour at night (Suet. Tit. 7); whence the verb comissarimeans "to revel" (Hor. Carm. iv. 1. 11), and the substantive comissator a " reveller" or " debauchee." Hence Cicero (Ad Ait. \. 16) calls the supporters of Catiline's conspiracy comissatores conjurationis. (Becker, Gallus, vol. ii. p. 235.)

COMITIA. This word is formed from co, cum, or con, and ire, and therefore comitium is a place of meeting, and comitia the meeting itself, or the assembled people. In the Roman constitution the comitia were the ordinary and legal meetings or assemblies of the people, and distinct from the condones and concilia; or, according to the still more strict definition of Messala (op. Gell. xiii. 15), comitia were those assemblies convened by a magistrate for the purpose of putting any subject to their vote. This definition does not indeed com­prehend all kinds of comitia, since in the comitia calata no subjects were put to the vote of the people, certain things being only announced to them, or they being only witnesses to certain solemn acts, but with this single exception the de­finition is satisfactory. The Greek writers on Roman affairs call the comitia of dpxcapecricu, to. apxatp€(na, eKKXrjffta and tyytyotyopia.

All the powers of government were divided at Rome between the senate, the magistrates, and the people in their assemblies. Properly speak­ing, the people alone (the populus) was the real sovereign by whom the power was delegated to the magistrates and the senate ; and the magis­trates in particular could not perform any public

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