The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

873

LEGATUS.

came from an ally of the Roman people, some one of the inferior magistrates, or a legatus of a consul, was despatched by the senate to receive and con­duct them to the city at the expense of the re­public. When they were introduced into the senate by the praetor or consul, they first ex­plained what they had to communicate, and then the praetor invited the senators to put their ques­tions to the ambassadors. (Liv. xxx. 22.) The manner in which this questioning was frequently carried on, especially when the envoys came from a state with which the Romans were at war, re­sembled more the cross-questioning of a witness in a court of justice, than an inquiry made with a view to gain a clear understanding of what was proposed. (Liv. I. c. with Gronov's note.) The whole transaction was carried on by interpreters, and in the Latin language. [!nterpres.] Vale­rius Maximus (ii. 2. § 3) states that the Greek rhetorician Molo, a teacher of Cicero, was the first foreigner who ever addressed the Roman senate in his own tongue. After the ambassadors had thus been examined, they were requested to leave the assembly of the senate, who now began to discuss the subject brought before them. The result was communicated to the ambassadors by the praetor. (Liv. viii. 1.) In some cases ambassadors not only received rich presents on their departure, but were at the command of the senate conducted by a magistrate, and at the public expense, to the fron­tier of Italy, and even further. (Liv. xlv. 14.) By the Lex Gabinia it was decreed that from the first of February to the first of March, the senate should every day give audience to foreign ambassadors. (Cic. ad Quint. Frat. ii. 11, 12, ad Fain. i. 4.) There was at Rome, as Varro (De Ling. Lat. v. 155, Miiller) expresses it, a place on the right-liand side of the senate-house called Graecostasis, in which foreign ambassadors waited.

All ambassadors, whencesoever they came, were considered by the Romans throughout the whole period of their existence as sacred and inviolable. (Cic. c. Verr. i. 33 ; Dionys. Hal. Ant. Rom. xi. 25 ; Tacit. Ann. i. 42 ; Liv. xxi. 10 ; Dig. 50. tit. 7. s. 17.)

II. Legati to foreign nations in the name of the Roman republic were always sent by the senate (Cic. c. Vatin. 15) ; and to be appointed to such a mission was considered a great honour which was conferred only on men of high rank or eminence ; for a Roman ambassador, according to Dionysius, had the powers (e|ou<ria »cai 5iW/ius) of a magis­trate and the venerable character of a priest. If a Roman during the performance of his mission as ambassador died or was killed, his memory was honoured by the republic with a public sepulchre and a statue in the Rostra. (Liv. iv. 17 ; Cic. Philip, ix. 2.) The expenses during the journey of an ambassador were, of course, paid by the re­public ; and when he travelled through a province, the provincials had to supply him with everything he wanted.

III. The third class of legati, to whom the name of ambassadors cannot be applied, were per­sons who accompanied the Roman generals on their expeditions, and in later times the governors of provinces also. Legati, as serving under the con­suls in the Roman armies, are mentioned along with the tribunes at a very early period. (Liv. ii. i>9, iv, 17.) These legati were nominated {lega-bantttr') by the consul or the dictator under whom

LEGATUS.

they served (Sallust. Jug. 28 ; Cic. ad Aft. xv. 11, ad Fam. vi. 6, pro Leg. Manil. 19), but the sanction of the senate (senatusconsuttum) was an essential point without which no one could be legally considered a legatus (Cic. c. Vatin. I. c., pro Sext. 14) ; and from Livy (xliii. 1 ; compare xliv. 18) it appears that the nomination by the magistrates (consul, praetor, or dictator) did not take place until they had been authorised by a decree of the senate. The persons appointed to this office were usually men of great military talents, and it was their duty to advise and assist their superior in all his undertakings, and to act in his stead both in civil and military affairs. (Varro, de Ling. Lat. v. 87, Mtiller.) The legati were thus always men in whom the consul placed great confidence, and were frequently his friends or relations ; but they had no power independent of the command of their general. (Caes. de Bell. Civ. ii. 17, iii. 51 ; Appiau, de Bell. Civ. i. 38.) Their number varied according to the greatness or im­portance of the war, or the extent of the province : three is the smallest number we know of, but Pompey, when in Asia, had fifteen legati. When­ever the consuls were absent from the army, or when a proconsul left his province, the legati or one of them took his place, and then had the in­signia as well as the power of his superior. He was in this case called legatus pro praetore (Liv. xxix. 9 ; Lydus, de Magistr. iii. 3 ; Caes. de Bell. Gall. i. 21), and hence we sometimes read that a man governed a province as a legatus without any mention being made of the proconsul whose vice­gerent he was. (Sallust. Cat. 42.) During the latter period of the republic, it sometimes hap­pened that a consul carried on a war, or a pro­consul governed his province through his legati, while he himself remained at Rome, or conducted some other more urgent affairs.

When the provinces were divided at the time of the empire [PnoviNCiA], those of the Roman people were governed by men who had either been consuls or praetors, and the former were always accompanied by three legati, the latter by one. (Dion Cass. lii'i. 13; Dig. 1. tit. 16.) The pro­vinces of the emperor, who was himself the pro­consul, were governed by persons whom the emperor himself appointed, and who had been con­suls or praetors, or were at least senators. These vicegerents of the emperor were called legati Au-gusti pro praetore, legati praetorn, legati consu­lates^ or simply legati, and they, like the governors of the provinciae populi Romani, had one or three legati as their assistants. (Strabo, iii. p. 352 ; com­pare Dig. 1. tit. 18. s. 7 ; Tacit. Ann. xii. 59, Agricol. c. 7 ; Spanheim, de Usu et praesi. Numism. ii. p. 595.)

During the latter period of the republic it had become customary for senators to obtain from the senate the permission to travel through or stay in any province at the expense of the provincials, merely for the purpose of managing and conducting their own personal affairs. There was no restraint as to the length of time the senators were allowed to avail themselves of this privilege, which was a heavy burden upon the provincials. This mode of sojourning in a province was called legatio libera, because those who availed themselves of it en­joyed all the privileges of a public legatus or ambassador, without having any of his duties to perform. At the time of Cicero the privilege of

Pages
About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index

677

678

679
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.