The Ancient Library

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certain ; and the fact that the awkward number 30 was chosen or retained for the assembly can be accounted for only by the fact that the number three and its multiples had a certain sacred import in all matters connected with the constitution. The order in which the curiae voted, was not fixed lay any regulation, but it appears that the one which gave its vote first, and was called principium, was determined by lot. (Liv. ix. 38.) Further particulars regarding the method of voting, how­ever, are not known. The president in the comitia curiata was always the person that had convoked them, that is, in the kingly period, either the king himself, or the person that acted as his vicegerent, and the meeting was always held in the comitium. As regards the powers and functions of the comitia curiata, it must first of all be borne in mind, that in the early times no comitia, of whatever kind they were, had the right to originate any measure, to introduce amendments, or to discuss the merits and demerits of any subject that was "brought before them. All they could do was to accept or reject any measure which was brought before them, so that all proposals were in fact no­thing but rogationes (populus rogatur), which the people passed by the formula uti rogas^ or rejected by the formula antiquo. Whatever was thus de­creed became law for the king and senate no less than for the people. The main points upon which the populus had to decide, were the election of the magistrates, including the king himself, the pass­ing of laws, peace and war, the capital punishment of Roman citizens (Dionys. ii. 14, iv. 20, ix. 41), and, lastly, upon certain affairs of the curiae and gentes. In the kingly period, the only magistrate in whose person all the powers of the republican officers were concentrated, was the king himself. All the other officers were appointed by him, with the exception of the quaestores, who were elected by the people (Ulpian, Dig. ii. 13 ; but comp. Tac. Ann. xi. 22 ; quaestor). With regard to the election of the king, the assembly, as in all other matters, was limited to the persons proposed by the senate through the president in the assembly, that is, when the senate had passed a decree re­specting the election, the interreges determined upon the candidates, from among whom he was to be chosen, and then proposed them to the curiae. (Dionys. iv. 34, 40, 80, ii. 58, 60, iii. 36 ; Liv. i. 17 ; Cic. De Re Publ. ii. 13 ; comp. interrex and rex.) The priestly officers, such as the Cu-riones, Flamines Curiales, were likewise either elected by the curiae, or at least inaugurated by them (Dionys. ii. 22 ; Gell. 1. e.), until in later times, b. c. 104, the Domitian law transferred the whole appointment of the priestly colleges to the comitia of the tribes. Legislative proposals were laid before the curiae by the king or the senate, and they .might either pass them as laws or reject them. Such laws belonging to the kingly period were the so-called leges reyiae; their number cannot have been great, as custom and religion had hal­lowed and firmly established the principal rules of conduct without there being any necessity for formal legal enactments. The right of finally de­ciding upon the life of Roman citizens (judicia de capite civis Romani) is said to have been given to the populus by king Tullus Hostilius (Liv. i. 26, viii. 33 ; Dionys. iii. 22) ; and previous to the con­stitution of Servius Tullius this privilege was of course confined to the patriciars, for whom it was


nothing else but the right of appealing from the sentence of the king or judge to the assembly of their peers. W^hen Valerius Publicola renewed this law, it must have been extended to the ple­beians also. The fourth right of the assembly of the populus was that of deciding upon war and p?ace, but this decision again could only be made when it was proposed by the king. With regard to the declaration of war there is no doubt (Liv. i. 32 ; Gellius, xvi. 4 ; Dionys. viii. .91, ix. 69) ; but there is no instance on record of the populus ever having had any thing to do with the conclu­sion of treaties of peace ; no trace of it occurs till long after the establishment of the republic, so that we may fairly presume that in early times the conclusion of peace was left to the king (or the consuls) and the senate, and that Dionysius, as in many other instances, transferred a later custom to the early times. Besides these great functions the curiae had unquestionably many others relating to their own internal administration; and among them we may mention, that no new members could be admitted into a curia, either by the co-optatio of strangers or by the acllectio of plebeians,; without the consent of the assembly of the curies ; and that no arrogatio could take place without the concurrence of the assembled curiae under the pre­sidency of the pontiffs. The consent of the curiae in such cases is expressed by the term lex curiata. (Gellius, v. 19 ; Tac. Hist. i. 15.) It must further be remarked, that when a magistrate (such as the king) proposed to the assembly had been elected, the populus held a second meeting, in which he was formally inducted in his new office. This formality was called lex curiata de imperio, where­by the magistrate received his imperium, together with the right of holding the comitia. (Liv. v. 52 ; Dion Cass. xxxix. 19, xli. 43 ; Cic. De Leg. Agr. ii. 12.) It was not till a magistrate had thus been solemnly installed, that he was a magistratus op­tima lege or optima jure, that is, in the full posses­sion of all the rights and privileges of his office.

Down to the time of Servius Tullius, the comitia curiata were the only popular assemblies of Rome, and remained of course in the undiminished pos­session of the rights above described ; but the con­stitution of that king brought about a great change, by his transferring the principal rights which had hitherto been enjoyed by the curiae to this new national assembly or the comitia centuriata. The power of electing the magistrates, the decision upon war, the passing of laws and jurisdiction in cases of appeal to the body of the Roman people, were thus transferred to the comitia of the cen­turies. But while the patricians were obliged to share their rights with the plebeians, they reserved for themselves the very important right of sanc­tioning or rejecting any measure which had been passed by the centuries. Even independent of their right finally to decide upon these questions, they seem, for a time at least, to have exercised a considerable power in several departments of the government: thus, the abolition of royalty and the establishment of the republic are said to have been decreed by the curiae (Dionys. iv. 75, 84) ; in like manner they decided upon the property of the last king (Dionys. v. 6), and upon the rewards to be given to those who had given information re­specting the conspiracy (v. 57). The sanction of decrees passed by the centuries is often expressed by patres aiictores fiunt^ and down to the time of the,

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