The Ancient Library

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act, unless they were authorised by the senate and people. The sovereign people or populus, however, was not the same at all times. In the earliest times of Rome the populus consisted of the patri­cians (or patres) only, the plebs and the clients forming no part of the populus, but being without the pale of the state. The original populus was divided into thirty curiae, and the assembly of these curiae, or the comitia curiata, therefore, were the only assembly in which the populus was re­presented. A kind of amalgamation of the patri­cians and the plebs afterwards appeared in the comitia of the centuries, instituted by king Servius Tullius, and henceforth the term populus was ap­plied to the united patricians and plebeians assem­bled in the comitia centuriata. But Servius had also made a local division of the whole Roman ter­ritory into thirty tribes, which held their meetings in assemblies called comitia tributa, which, in the course of time, acquired the character of national assemblies, so that the people thus assembled were likewise designated by the term populus. We shall examine in order the nature, power, and busi­ness of each of these different comitia.

I. comitia calata. These and the comitia curiata were the only assemblies that met and were recognized at Rome previous to the time of Servius Tullius, and inasmuch as the populus of which they consisted was the same as the populus in the comitia curiata., they might also be called comitia curiata, but they differed in their objects, in the persons presiding at them, and in the place of meeting. The comitia calata were held under the presidency of the college of pontiffs (Gellius, xv. 27), who also convened them. They derived their name calata (from calare, i. e. vocare) from the cir­cumstance that the attendants or servants of the pontiffs, who were probably employed in calling them together, were termed calatores. (Serv. ad Virg. Georg, i. 268.) Their place of meeting was probably always on the Capitol in front of the curia Calabra, which seems to have been an official building of the pontiffs, and to have been destined for this purpose. (Paul. Diac. p. 49, ed. Mtiller ; Varro, De Ling. Lot. v. ]. p. 24.) With regard to the functions of the comitia calata, all writers are agreed that the people assembled acted merely a passive part, that they met only for the purpose of hearing what was announced, and of being wit­nesses to the actions there performed. One of the things which were made known to the people in these comitia, was that on the calends of every month it was proclaimed on what day of the new month the nones fell, and perhaps also the ides as well as the nature of the other days, namely, whether they were fasti or nefasti, comitiales, feriae, &c., because all these things were known in the early times to the pontiffs exclusively. (Liv. ix. 46 ; Macrob. Sat. i. 15 ; Serv. ad Aen, viii. 654 ; Varro, De Ling. Lat. vi. 4.) Another func­tion of the comitia calata was the inauguration of the flamines, and after the banishment of the kings, also that of the rex sacrorum. (Gellius, /. c.) A third business which was transacted in them was the testamenti factio, or the making of a will. The object of this was probably to prevent, after the death of the testator, any dispute concerning his will, to which the whole assembly of the populus had been a witness; and it is not improbable that, as the art of writing was not sufficiently known in those times, it was thought a matter of importance



to have the whole populus as a witness to such an act, which perhaps consisted in an oral declaration. The populus thus did not vote upon the validity or invalidity of a will, but solely acted the part of a witness. (Gellius, xv. 27 ; Theophil. ii. 10.) Assemblies for the express purpose of making the populus witness to a will were in the earliest times held twice in every year (Gains, ii. § 101) ; but this cnistom afterwards fell into desuetude. (Gains, ii. § 103.) A fourth business transacted in the comitia calata was the detestatio sacrorum, which was in all probability an act connected with the testamenti factio, that is, a solemn declaration, by which the heir was enjoined to undertake the sacra privata of the testator along with the reception of his property. (Gellius, xv. 27, coinp. vi. 121) It has already been observed that originally only the members of the curiae formed the comitia calata, so that they were the same as the comitia curiata, in this respect ; but from the words of Gellius (eorum autem alia esse curiata, alia centuriata), it is clear that after the time of Servius Tullius, there must have been two kinds of comitia calata, the one convened according to curiae by a lictor, and the other according to centuries by a cornicen. As regards the business of the latter, we have no in­formation whatever, though it is not impossible, that in them all announcements respecting the calendar were made by the pontiffs, as this was a matter of interest to the whole people, and not to the populus alone (Macrob. and Serv. II. cc.) ; and it may further be, that in the calata centtiriata the testamenta of plebeians were laid before the assembled people ; as in the calata curiata, they were laid before the assembled curies.


II. comitia curiata (e/c/cA?7<n'a QparpiK-f] were of far greater importance than

the comitia calata, inasmuch as the populus here was not present in a mere passive capacity, but had to decide by its votes as to whether a measure brought before it was to be adopted or rejected. As the populus was at first only the body of real citizens, that is, the patri­cians, or those contained in the curiae, none but members of the curiae, that is, patricians, had a right to take part in these assemblies. It is a disputed point, as to whether the clients of the patricians had a right to vote in the comitia curiata ; but it is highly probable that, when they appeared in them, they could not act any other part than that of listeners and spectators. They were con­vened, in the kingly period, by the king himself, or by his tribunus celerum, and in the king's ab­sence by the praefectus urbi. (Liv. i. 59.) After the death of a king the comitia were held by the interrex. In the republican period, the president was always one of the high patrician magistrates, viz. a consul, praetor or dictator. (Cic. De Leg. Agr. ii. 11, 12 ; Liv. ix. 38.) They were called together by lictors or heralds. (Gellius, xv. 27 ; Dionys. ii. 7.) The votes were given by curiae, each curia having one collective vote ; but within a curia each citizen belonging to it had an inde­pendent vote, and the majority of the members of a curia determined the vote of the whole curia. (Gell. 1. c. ; Liv. i. 43 ; Dionys. ii. 14, iv. 20, 84, v. 6.) Now as the curiae were thirty in number, it was impossible to obtain a simple majority, which must always have consisted of 16 curiae. How matters were decided in case of 15 curiae voting for and 15 against a measure, is quite un-

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