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On this page: Decastylos – Decate – Decem Primi – Decempeda – Decemviri



According to Aristotle (ctpud Harpocrat. s. v. i>), Anytus was the first person at Athens who bribed the judges ; and we learn from Plutarch (C'orioL c. 14) that he did so, when he was charged of having been guilty of treachery at Pylos, at the end of the Peloponnesian war. Other writers say that Melitus was the first person who bribed the judges. (Petit. Leg. AM. p. 427, and Duker's note.)

Actions for bribery were under the jurisdiction of the thesmothetae. (Dem. c. Stepli. I. c.) The punishment on conviction of the defendant was death, or payment of ten times the value of the gift received, to which the court might add an ad­ditional punishment (Trpotrri/x^jua). Thus Demos­thenes was sentenced to a fine of 50 talents by an action for bribery, and also thrown into prison. (Bockh, PuU. Econ. of Athens, p. 384, 2d ed. ; Meier, Att. Process, p. 352.)

DECASTYLOS. [templum.]

DECATE (5e/c<£nj). [decumae.]

DECEMPEDA, a pole ten feet long, used by the agrimensores in measuring land. (Cic. Pro Mil. 27 ; Hor. Carm. ii. 15. 14 ; Cic. Pliilipp. xiv. 4.) Thus we find that the agrimensores were sometimes called decempedatores (Cic. Pliilipp. xiii. 18). The decempeda was in fact the standard land-measure. [AcTus; agrimensores.]

DECEM PRIMI. [senatus.]

DECEMVIRI, the Ten Men, the name of various magistrates and functionaries at Rome.

1. decemviri legibus scribendis, were ten persons, who were appointed to draw up a code of! laws, and to whom the whole government of the s.tate was entrusted. As early as b. c. 4G2, a law was proposed by C. Terentilius Arsa, that commissioners should be appointed for drawing up a body of laws ; but this was violently opposed by the patricians (Liv. iii. 9) ; and it was not till after a struggle of nine years that the patricians consented to send three persons to Greece, to col­lect such information respecting the laws and con­stitutions of the Greek states as might be useful to the Romans. (Liv. iii. 31.) They were absent a year ; and on their return, after considerable dis­pute between the patricians and plebeians, ten commissioners of the patrician order were ap­pointed with the title of " decemviri legibus scri-bendis," to whom the revision of the laws was committed. All the other magistrates were ob­liged to abdicate, and no exception was made even in favour of the tribunes ; for there is no reason to suppose, as Niebuhr has done, that the tribune-ship was not given up till the second decemvirate (Cic. de Rep. ii. 36 ; Liv. iii. 32 ; Dionys. x. 56). They were thus entrusted with supreme power in the state.

The decemviri entered upon their office at the beginning of b.c. 451. They consisted of App. Claudius and T. Genucius Augurinus, the new consuls, of the praefectus urbi, and of the two quaestores parricidii as Niebuhr conjectures, and of five others chosen by the centuries. They dis­charged the duties of their office with diligence, and dispensed justice with impartiality. Each ad­ministered the government day by day in succes­sion as during an interregnum ; and the fasces were only carried before the one who presided for the day. (Liv. iii. 33.) They drew up a body of laws, distributed into ten sections ; which, after being approved of by the senate and the comitia, were


engraven on tables of metal, and set up in the comitium.

On the expiration of their year of office, all parties were so well satisfied with the manner in which they had discharged their duties, that it was resolved to continue the same form of government for another year ; more especially as some of the decemvirs said that their work was not finished. Ten new decemvirs were accordingly elected, of whom Appius Claudius alone belonged to the former body (Liv. iii. 35 ; Dionys. x. 53) ; and of his nine new colleagues, Niebuhr thinks that five were plebeians. These magistrates framed several new laws, which were approved of by the centuries, land engraven on two additional tables. They acted, however, in a most tyrannical manner. Each was attended by twelve lictors, who carried not the rods only, but the axe, the emblem of sove­reignty. They made common cause with the patri­cian party, and committed all kinds of outrages upon the persons and property of the plebeians and their families. When their year of office expired they refused to resign or to appoint successors. Niebuhr, however, considers it certain that they were appointed for a longer period than a year ; since otherwise they would not have been required to resign their office, but interreges would at the expiration of the year have stepped into their place. This, however, does not seem conclusive ; since the decemvirs were at the time in possession of the whole power of the state, and would have pre­vented any attempt of the kind. A.t length, the unjust decision of App. Claudius, in the case of Virginia, which led her father to kill her with his own hands to save her from prostitution, occasioned an insurrection of the people. The decemvirs were in consequence obliged to resign their office, b. c. 449 ; after which the usual magistracies were re-established. (Niebuhr, Hist, of Rome, vol. ii. pp. 309—356 ; Arnold, Hist, of Rome, vol. i. pp. 250—313 ; Becker, Romiscli. Alterthum. vol. ii. part ii. pp. 126—136.)

The ten tables of the former, and the two tables of the latter decemvirs, together form the laws of the Twelve Tables, of which an account is given in a separate article. [lex duodecim tab.]

2. decem virilitibus or stlitibus jtjdican-dis, were magistrates forming a court of justice, which took cognizance of civil cases. From Pom-ponius (de Grig. Jur. Dig. i. tit. 2. s. 2. § 29) it would appear that they were not instituted till the year b. c. 292, the time when the triumviri capi-tales were first appointed. Livy (iii. 55) however mentions decemvirs as a plebeian magistracy very soon after the legislation of the Twelve Tables ; and while Niebuhr (Hist, of Rome, vol. ii. p. 324, &c.) refers these decemvirs to the decemviral magistrates, who had shortly before been abolished, and thus abides by the account of Pomponius, Gottling (Gesch. der Rom. Staatsv. p. 241, &c.) believes that the decemvirs of Livy are the de­cemviri litibus judicandis, and refers their insti­tution, together with that of the centumviri, to Servius Tullius. [centumviri.] But the history as well as the peculiar jurisdiction of this court during the time of the republic are involved in inextricable obscurity. In the time of Cicero it still existed, and the proceedings in it took place in the ancient form of the sacramentum. (Cic. pro Caecin. 33, pro Dom. 29.) Augustus transferred to these decemvirs the presidency in the courts o!

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