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find it in- Lanuvium even in very late times (Cic. pro Mil. 10). At Rome this magistrate was originally called magister populi arid not dictator, and in the sacred books he was always designated by the former name down to the latest times. (Cic. de Rep, i. 40, de Leg. iii. 3, de Fin. iii. 22 ; Var. L. L. v. 82, ed. Miiller ; Festus, s. v. optima leos^ p. 198, ed. Muller.)
On the establishment of the Roman republic the government of the state was entrusted to two consuls, that the citizens might be the better protected against the tyrannical exercise of the supreme power. But it was soon felt that circumstances might arise in which it was of importance for the safety of the state that the government should be vested in the hands of a single person, who should possess for a season absolute power, and from whose decision there should be no appeal to any other body. Thus it came to pass that in B. c. 501, nine years after the expulsion of the Tarquins, the dictatorship (dictatura] was instituted. The name of the first dictator and the immediate reason of his appointment were differently stated in the annalists. The oldest authorities mention T. Larcius, one of the consuls of the year, as the first dictator, but others ascribed this honour to M'.Valerius. (Lav. ii. 18.) Livy states (/. c.) that a formidable war with the Latins led to the appointment ; and he also found mentioned in the annals that the consuls of this year were suspected of belonging to the party of the Tarquins ; but in the latter case T. Larcius could not have been one of the consuls. Dionysius relates at length (v. 63—70) that the plebs, who were oppressed by the weight of their debts, took advantage of the danger of the republic to obtain some mitigation of their sufferings, and refused to serve in the army, and that thereupon recourse was had to a dictator to bring them to their duty. But as Livy makes no mention of any internal disturbances in this 3rear, and does not speak of any commotions on account of debts till ibiir years subsequently, we may conclude that Dionysius has in this case, as he has in many others, deserted the annalists in order to give what appeared to him a more satisfactory reason. It is true that the patricians frequently availed themselves of the dictatorship as a means of oppressing the plebs ; but it is certainly unnecessary to seek the first institution of the office in any other cause than the simple one mentioned by Livy> namely, the great danger with which the state was threatened. Modern scholars have stated other reasons for the establishment of the dictatorship, which are so purely conjectural and possess such little inherent probability, that they do not require any refutation. Thus JMiebuhr infers (Hist, of Rome, vol. i. p. 564) from the Roman dictator being appointed only for six months, that he was at the head both of Rome and of the Latin league, and that a Latin dictator possessed the supreme power for the other six months of the year ; but this supposition, independent of other considerations, is contradicted by the fact, that in the year in which the dictator was first ap* pointed, Rome and the Latins were preparing for war with one another. In like manner Huschke (Verfassung d. Servius Tulliiis, p. 516) starts the strange hypothesis, that the dictatorship was part of the constitution of Servius Tullius, and that a dictator was to be nominated every decennium for the purpose of fixing the clavus annalis and of holding the census,
By the original law respecting the appointment of a dictator (lex de dictators creando) no one was eligible for this office, unless he had previously been consul (Liv. ii. 18). We find, however, a feAv instances in which this law was not observed. (See e.g. Liv. iv. 26, 48, vii. 24.) When a dictator was considered necessary, the senate passed a senates consultum that one of the consuls should nominate -(diceve) a dictator; and without a previous decree of the senate the consuls had not the power of naming a dictator, although the contrary used to be asserted in most works on Roman antiquities. In almost all cases we find mention of a previous decree of the senate (see e. g. ii. 30, iv. 17, 21, 23, 26, 57, vi. 2, vii. 21, viii. 17, ix. 29, x. 1 ],. x.xii, 57); and in the few instances, in which the appointment by the consul is alone spoken of, the senate, consultum is probably not mentioned, simply because it was a matter of course. Niebuhr indeed supposes (Hist, of Rome, vol. i. p. 567) that the dictator was originally created by the curiae, like the kings. According to his view the senate proposed a person as dictator, whom the curiae elected and the consul then proclaimed (dixit} ; and after this proclamation the newly elected magistrate received the imperium from the curiae. Niebuhr further supposes that the right of conferring the imperium may have led the curiae to dispense with voting on the preliminary nomination of the senate. But this election of the dictator by the curiae is only supported by two passages, one of Dionysius and the other in Festus, neither of which is conclusive in favour of Niebuhr's view. Dionysius simply says (v. 70) that the dictator should be one " whom the senate should nominate and the people approve of" (eVnJ/^iV-T^raf), but this may merely refer to the granting of the imperium by the curiae. In Festus (p. 198) we read " M. Valerius — qui primus magister a popida creatus est;" but even if there were no, corruption in this passage, we need only understand that a dictator was appointed in virtue of a senatus consultum, and certainly need not suppose that by populus the curiae are intended: there can however be hardly any doubt that the passage is corrupt, and that the true reading is " qui primus magister populi creatus est." We may therefore safely reject the election by the curiae.
The nominati<Mi or proclamation of the dictator by the consul was, however, necessary in all cases. It was always made by the consul, probably without any witnesses, between midnight and morning, and with the observance of the a,uspices (surgens or oviens noete silentio * dictatorem dicebat, Liv. viii. 23, ix. 38, xxiii. 22 ; Dionys. x. 11). The technical word for this nomination or proclamation was diceye (seldom oreare orfacere). So essential was the nomination of the consuls, that we find the senate on one occasion having recourse to the tribunes of the people to compel the consuls to nomi* nate a dictator, when they had refused to do so (Liv. iv. 26) ; and after the battle at the lake Trasimenus, when all communication with the surviving consul was cut off, the senate provided for the emergency by causing the people to elect a prodiciator^ because, says Livy, the people could not elect (creare) a dictator, having never up to that time exercised such a power (Liv. xxii. 8)..
* Respecting the meaning of silentiym in rela* tion to the auspices, see augur, p, 176, b,,
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