The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


-senator when called upon to speak might do so at full length, and even introduce subjects not directly connected with the point at issue. (Cic. de Leg. iii. 18 ; Gellius, iv. 10 ; Tacit. Annal. ii. 38, xiii. 30 ; compare Cic. Philip, vii.) It depended upon the president which of the.opinions expressed he would put to the vote, and which he would pass over. (Polyb. xxxiii. I ; Cic. ad Fam. i. 2, x. 12 ; Caes. B. C. i. 2.) . Those men who were not yet real senators, "but had only a seat in the senate on account of the office they held, or had held, had no right to vote (Gellius, xiii. 8.) When a Senatusconsultum was passed, the consuls ordered it to be written down by a clerk in the presence of some senators, especially of those who had been most interested in it or most active in bringing it .about. (Polyb. vi. 12; Cic, de Orat.ili. 2, ad Fam. viii. 8.) [senatusconsultum.] A meet­ing of the senate was not allowed to be held be­fore sunrise or to be prolonged after sunset (Varro, op. GelL I. c.) : on extraordinary emergencies, how­ever, this regulation was set aside. (Dionys. iii. 17; Macrob. Sat. i. 4.)

During the latter part of the republic the senate was degraded in various ways by Sulla, Caesar, and others, and on many occasions it was only an instrument in the hands of the men in power. In this way it became prepared for the despotic go­vernment of the emperors, when it was altogether the creature and obedient instrument of the, prin­ceps. The emperor himself was generally also princeps senatus (Dion Cass. liii. 1, Ivii. 8, Ixxiii. 5), and had the power of convoking both ordinary and extraordinary meetings (Dion Cass. liv. 3 ; Lex de imperio Vespas.), although the consuls, praetors, and tribunes, continued to have the same right. (Tacit. Hist. iv. 39; Dion Cass. Ivi. 47, lix. 24, Ix. 16, &c.) The ordinary meetings according to a regulation of Augustus were held twice in every month. (Suet. Aug. 35 ; Dion Cass. Iv. 3.) A full assembly required the presence of at least 400 members, but Augustus himself afterwards modified this rule according to the difference and importance of the subjects which might be brought under discussion. (Dion Cass. liv. 35, Iv. 3.) At a later period we find that seventy or even fewer senators constituted an assembly. (Lamprid. AL Sever. 16.) The regular president in the assembly was a consul, or the emperor himself, if he was invested with the consulship. (Plin. Epist. ii. 11, Panegyr.lQ.} At extraordinary meetings, the person who convoked the senate was at the same time its president. The emperor, however, even when he did not preside, had by virtue of his office of tribune, the right to introduce any subject for discussion, and to make the senate decide upon it. (Dion Cass. liii. 32 ; Lex de imperio Vespas.) At a later period this right was expressly and in proper form conferred upon the emperor under the name of jns relationis, and accordingly as he obtained the right to introduce three or more subjects, the jus was called jus tertiae, quartae^ quintae, &c. relation-is. (Vopisc. Prob. 12 ; J. Capitol. Pertin. 5, M. An-tonin. 6; Lamprid. AL Sev. 1.) The emperor in­troduced his proposals to the senate in writing (orattO) libellus, epistola principis)^ which was read in the senate by one of his quaestors. (Dion Cass. liv. 25, Ix. 2; Suet. Aug. 65, Tit. 6; Tacit. Annal. xvi. 27 ; Dig. 1. tit. 13. s. 1. §§ 2 and 4.) [ORA-

-tiones principum.] The praetors, that they might not bf>'inferior to the tribunes, likewise



received the jus relationis. (Dion Cass. Iv. 3.) The mode of conducting the business, and the order-in which the senators were called upon to vote, re­mained on the whole the same as under the re­public (Plin. Epist. viii. 14, ix. 13); but when magistrates were to be elected, the senate, as in former times the comitia, gave their votes in secret with little tablets. (Plin. Epist. iii. 20, xi. 5.) The transactions of the senate were from the time of Caesar registered by clerks appointed for the purpose, under the superintendence of a senator. (Suet. Caes. 20, Aug. 36 ; Tacit. Annal. v. 4, &c.; Spart. Hadrian, 3 ; Dion Cass. Ixxviii. 22.) In cases .which required secrecy (senatusconsultum taciturn), the senators themselves officiated as clerks. (Capitol. Gord. 20.)

As the Roman emperor concentrated in his own person all the powers which had formerly been possessed by the several magistrates, and without limitation or responsibility, it is clear that the senate in its administrative powers was dependent upon the emperor, who might avail himself of its counsels or not, just as he pleased. In the reign of Tiberius the election of magistrates was trans­ferred from, the people to the senate (Veil. Pat. ii. 124 ; Tacit. Annal. i. 15 ; Plin. Episi. iii. 20, vi. 19), which, however, was enjoined to take especial notice of those candidates who were recommended to it by the emperor. This regulation remained, with a short interruption in the reign of Caligula, down to the third century, when we find that the princeps alone exercised the right of appointing magistrates. (Dig. 48. tit. 14. s. 1.) At the de­mise of an emperor the senate had the right to appoint his successor, in case no one had been nominated by the emperor himself; but the senate had in very rare cases an opportunity to exercise this right, as it was usurped by the soldiers. The aerarium at first still continued nominally to be under the control of the senate (Dion Cass. liii. 16, 22), but the emperors gradually took it under their own exclusive management (Dion Cass. Ixxi. 33 ; Vopisc. Aurel. 9, 12, 20), and the senate retained nothing but the administration of the funds of the city (area puUica\ which were distinct both from the aerarium and from the fiscus (Vopisc. Aurel. 20, 45), and the right of giving its opinion upon cases connected with the fiscal law. (Dig. 49. tit. 14. s. 15 and 42.) Its right of coining money was limited by Augustus to copper coins, and ceased altogether in the reign of Gallienus. (Eck-hel, D. N. Proleg. c. 13.) Augustus ordained that no accusations should any longer be brought before the comitia (Dion Cass. Ivi. 40), and instead of them he raised the senate to a high court of justice, upon which he conferred the right of taking cog­nizance of capital offences committed by senators (Dion Cass. Hi. 31, &c. ; Suet. Calig. 2 ; Tacit. Annal. xiii. 44 ; Capitol. M. Antonin. 10), of crimes against the state and the person of the em­perors (Dion Cass. Iii. 15, 17, 22, Ix. 16, Ixxvi. 8 ; Suet. Aug. 66 ; Tacit. Annal. iii. 49, &c.), and of crimes committed by the provincial magistrates in the administration of their provinces. The senate might also receive appeals from other courts (Suet. Nero, 17; Tacit. Annal. xiv. 28; Capitol. M. Antonin. 10 ; Vopisc. Prob. 13), whereas, at least from the time of Hadrian, there was no ap­peal from a sentence of the senate. (Dion Cass. lix. 18 ; Dig. 49. tit. 2. s. 1. § 2.) The princeps sometimes referred cases which were not contained

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



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of