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On this page: Decennalia – Decimatio – Decimatrus – Decretum – Decumae


the centumviri. (Suet, Aug. 36 ; Dion Cass. liv. 26.) During the empire, this court had juris­diction in capital matters, which is expressly stated in regard to the -decemvirs.

3. decemviri sacris faciundis, sometimes called simply decemviri sacrorum, were the members of an ecclesiastical collegium, and were elected for life. Their chief duty was to take care of the Sibylline books, and to inspect them on all important occasions, by command of the senate. (Liv. vii. 27, xxi. 62, xxxi. 12.) Virgil (Aen. vi. 73) alludes to them in his address to the Sibyl •—"Lectos sacrabo viros."

Under the kings the care of the Sibylline books was committed to two men (duumviri) of high rank (Dionys. iv. 62), one of whom, called Atilius or Tullius, was punished by Tarquinius, for being unfaithful to his trust, by being sewed up in a sack and cast into the sea. (Dionys. L c. ; Val. Max. i. 1, § 13.) On the expulsion of the kings, the care of these books was entrusted to the noblest of the patricians, who were exempted from all military and civil duties. Their number was increased about the year 367 B. c. to ten, of whom five were chosen from the patricians and five from the plebeians. (Liv. vi. 37, 42.) Subsequently their number was still further increased to fifteen (quindecemviri) ; but at what time is uncertain. As, however, there were decemviri in b. c. 82, when the capitol was burnt (Dionys. /. c.), and we read of quindecemviri in the time of Cicero (ad Fain. viii. 4), it appears probable that their number was increased from ten to fifteen by Sulla, especially as we know that he increased the numbers of several of the other eccle­siastical corporations. Julius Caesar added one more to their number (Dion Cass. xlii. 51) ; but this precedent was not followed, as the collegium appears to have consisted afterwards of only fifteen.

It was also the duty of the decemviri and quinqueviri to celebrate the games of Apollo (Liv. x. 8), and the secular games. (Tac. Ann. xi. 11 ; Hor. Carm. Saec. 70.) They were, in fact, con­sidered priests of Apollo, whence each of them had in his house a bronze tripod dedicated to that deity. (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. iii. 332.)

4. decemviri agris dividundis, were some­times appointed for distributing the public land among the citizens. (Liv. xxxi. 4, xlii. 4.)

DECENNALIA or DECE'NNIA, a festival celebrated with games every ten years by the Roman emperors. This festival owed its origin to the fact that Augustus refused the supreme power when offered to him for his life, and would only consent to accept it for ten years, and when these expired, for another period of ten years, and so on to the end of his life. The memory of this comedy, as Gibbon has happily called it, was pre­served to the last ages of the empire by the festival of the Decennalia, which was solemnised by sub­sequent emperors every tenth year of their reign, although they had received the imperium for life, and not for the limited period of ten years. (Dion Cass. liii. 16, liv. 12, Iviii. 24, Ixxvi. 1 ; Trebell. Poll. Salonin. 3, Gallien. 7.)

DECIMATIO, was the selection, by lot, of every tenth man for punishment, when any number of soldiers in the Roman army had been guilty of any crime. The remainder usually had barley allowed to them instead of wheat. (Polyb. vi. 38 ; Cic. Cluvnt. 46.) This punishment does not appear to. have been often inflicted in the early times of



the republic ; but is frequently mentioned in the civil wars, and under the empire. It is said to have been revived by Crassus, after being discon­tinued for a long time. (Plut. Crass. 10.) For instances of this punishment, see Liv. ii. 59 ; Suet. Aug. 24, Galba, 12 ; Tacit. Hist. i. 37 ; Dion Cass. xli. 35, xlix. 27, 38.

Sometimes only the twentieth man was punished (vicesimatio\ or the hundreth (centesimatio, Capitol. Macrin. 12).

DECIMATRUS. [quinquatrus.]

DECRETUM, seems to mean that which is determined in a particular case after examination or consideration. It is sometimes applied to a de­ termination of the consuls, and sometimes to a de­ termination of the senate. A decretum of the senate would seem to differ from a senatus-con- sultum, in the way above indicated : it was limited to the special occasion and circumstances, and thia would be true whether the decretum was of a judicial or a legislative character. But this dis­ tinction in the use of the two words, as applied to an act of the senate, was perhaps not always ob­ served. Cicero (adFam. xiii. 56) opposes edictum. to decretum ; between which there is, in this pas­ sage, apparently the same analogy as between a consul turn and decretum of the senate. A de­ cretum, as one of the parts or kinds of constitutio, was a judicial decision in a case before the sove­ reign, when it was carried to the auditorium principis by way of appeal. Paulus wrote a work in six books on these Imperiales Sententiae.. Gaius (iv. 140), when he is speaking of interdicta, says that they are properly called decreta, " cum (praetor aut proconsul) fieri aliquid jubet," and interdicta when he forbids. A judex is said " con- demnare," not "decernere," a word which, in judicial proceedings, is appropriate to a.magistratus who has jurisdictio. [G. L.]

DECUMAE (sc. paries'), the tithes paid to the state by the occupiers of the ager publicus [ager publicus] : hence the Publicani are also called Decumani from their farming these tithes.


A similar system likewise existed in Greece. Peisistratus, for instance, imposed a tax of a tenth on the lands of the Athenians, which the Peisistra-tidae lowered to a twentieth. (Time. vi. 54.) The same principle was also applied to religious pur­poses : thus Xenophon subjected the occupiers (robs e'xo^Tas /ecu /capjrou/xez/ous) of the land he purchased near Scilius, to a payment of tithes in support of a temple of Artemis, the goddess to whom the purchase-money was dedicated ; the Delian Apollo also received tenths from the Cyclades. (Xen. Anab. v. 3. § 11 ; Callim. Hymn. Del. 272, Spanheim.) That many such charges originated in conquest, or something similar, may be inferred from the statement of Herodotus (vii. 132), that at the time of the Persian war the con­federate Greeks made a vow, by which all the states who had surrendered themselves to the enemy, were subjected to the payment of tithes for the use of the god at Delphi,

The tenth (rb eynSe/caToz/) of confiscated pro­perty was also sometimes applied to similar ob­jects. (Xen. Hell. i. 7. § 11.) The tithes of the public lands belonging to Athens were farmed out as at Rome to contractors, called SeKar&vai: the term Se/ccmjA-oyoi was applied to the collectors ; but the callings were, as we might suppose, often

c c 2

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