The Ancient Library

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with the census, in b. c. 443, an office which at' first was confined to holding the census and regis­tering the citizens according to their different classes, but afterwards acquired very extensive powers. [censor.] The second function that was in this manner taken from the consuls, was their judicial power, which was transferred in b. c. 366, to a distinct magistracy under the title of the praetorship [praetor] ; and henceforth the con­suls appeared as judges only in extraordinary cases of a criminal nature, when they were called upon by a senatus consultum. (Cic. Brut. 32 ; Liv. xxxix. 17, &c., xli. 9.) But, notwithstanding these curtailings, the consulship still continued to be re­garded as the representative of regal power. (Polyb. vi. 1-1 ; Cic. De Leg. iii. 3.)

In regard to the nature of the power of the con­suls, we must in the outset divide it into two parts, inasmuch as they were the highest civil authority, and at the same time the supreme com­manders of the armies. So long as they were in the city of Rome, they were at the head of the government and the administration, and all the other magistrates, with the exception of the tribunes of the people, were subordinate to them. They convened the senate, and as presidents conducted the business ; they had to carry into effect the de­crees of the senate, and sometimes on urgent emer­gencies they might even act on their own authority and responsibility. They were the medium through which foreign affairs were brought before the senate; all despatches and reports were placed in their hands, before they were laid before the senate ; by them foreign ambassadors were introduced into the senate, and they alone carried on the negotiations between the senate and foreign states. They also convened the assembly of the people and presided in it; and thus conducted the elections, put legis­lative measures to the vote, and had to carry the decrees of the people into effect. (Polyb. vi. 12 ; comitia ; senatus.) The whole of the internal machinery of the republic was, in fact, under their superintendence,, and in order to give weight to their executive power, they had the right of summoning and arresting the obstreperous (yocatio and prensio, Cic. in Vat* 9», p. Doin. 41), which was limited only by the right '<sf appeal from their judgment (provocatio) ; and their right of inflicting punishment might be exercised even against in­ferior magistrates.

The outward signs of their power, and at the same time the means by which they exercised it, were twelve lictors with the fasces, without whom the consul never appeared in public (Liv. xxv. 17, xxvii. 27 ; Val. Max. i. 1. § 9 ; comp. Liv. vi. 34, xxxix. 12), and who preceded him in a line one behind another. (Liv. xxiv. 44 ; Val. Max. ii. 2. § 4.) In the city, however, the axes did .not appear in the fasces; a regulation said to have been introduced by Valerius Publicola (Dionys. v. 2, 19, 75, x. 59), and which is in­timately connected with the right of appeal from a consul's sentence/whence it did not apply to the dictator nor to tne decemvirs. Now as the provocatio could take place only within the city and a thousand paces in circumference, it must be supposed that the axes did not appear in the fasces within the same limits, an opinion which is not contradicted by the fact that the consuls on return­ing from war appeared with the axes in their fasces in the Campus Martius, at the very gates of Rome ;


for they had the imperium militare, which ceased as soon as they had entered the city.

But the powers of the consuls were fur more extensive in their capacity of supreme commanders of the armies, when they were without the pre­cincts of the city, and were invested with the full imperium. When the levying of an army was decreed by the senate, the consuls conducted the levy, and, at first, had the appointment of all the subordinate officers — a right which subsequently they shared with the people; and the soldiers had to take their oath of allegiance to the consuls. They also determined the contingent to be fur­nished by the allies ; and in the province assigned to them they had the unlimited administration, not only of all military affairs, but of every thing else, even over life and death, excepting only the conclusion of peace and treaties. (Polyb. vi. 12 ; compare exercitus.) The treasury was, indeed, under the control of the senate ; but in regard to the expenses for war, the consuls do not appear to have been bound down to the sums granted by that body, but to have availed them­selves of the public money as circumstances re­quired ; the quaestors, however, kept a strict ac­count of the expenditure (Polyb. vi. 12, 13, 15 ; Liv. xliv. 16). But when in times of need money was to be taken from the aerarium sanctius, of which the keys seem to have been in the exclusive possession of the consuls, they had to be authorised by a senatus consultum. (Liv. xxvii. 10.) In the early times, the consuls had the power to dispose of the booty in any way they pleased ; sometimes they distributed the whole or a part of it among the soldiers, and sometimes they sold it, and de­posited the produce in the public treasury, which in later times became the usual practice.

Abuse of the consular power was prevented, first of all, by each of the consuls being dependent on his colleague who was invested with equal rights ; for, if we except the provinces abroad where each was permitted to act with unlimited power, the two consuls could do nothing unless both were unanimous (Dionys. x. 17 ; Appian, De Bell. Civ. ii. 11), and against the sentence of one consul an appeal might be brought before his col­league ; nay, one consul might of his own accord put his veto on the proceedings of the other. (Liv. ii. 18, 27, iii. 34 ; Dionys. v. 9 ; Cic. De Leg. iii. 4.) But in order to avoid every unnecessary dis­pute or'rivalry, arrangements had been made from the first, that the real functions of the office should be performed only by one of them every alternate month (Dionys. ix. 43) ; and the one who was in the actual exercise of the consular power for the month, was preceded by the twelve lictors, whence he is commonly described by the Words penes quern fasces erant. (Liv. viik 12, ix. 81) In the early times, his colleague was then not accompanied by the lictors at all, or he was preceded, by an accensus, and the lictors followed after hiink (Cic. D.e Re Publ. ii. 31 ; Liv. ii. 1, iii. 33 ; comp. Dionys. v. 2, x. 24.) As regards the later times, it is certain that the consul, when he did not perform the functions of the office, was followed by the twelve lictors (Suet. Caes. 20) ; when this custom arose is uncertain, and we only know that, in the time of Polybius, the dictator had twenty-four lictors. It is commonly believed, that the consul who for the month being performed the functions of the office, was designated as the consul major ; but the an-

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