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Division of Political Power At Rome

Such, then, is the distribution of power between the
The mutual relation of the three.
several parts of the state. I must now show how each of these several parts can, when they choose, oppose or support each other.

The Consul, then, when he has started on an expedition

The Consul dependent on the Senate,
with the powers I have described, is to all appearance absolute in the administration of the business in hand; still be has need of the support both of people and Senate, and, without them, is quite unable to bring the matter to a successful conclusion. For it is plain that he must have supplies sent to his legions from time to time; but without a decree of the Senate they can be supplied neither with corn, nor clothes, nor pay, so that all the plans of a commander must be futile, if the Senate is resolved either to shrink from danger or hamper his plans. And again, whether a Consul shall bring any undertaking to a conclusion or no depends entirely upon the Senate: for it has absolute authority at the end of a year to send another Consul to supersede him, or to continue the existing one in his command. Again, even to the successes of the generals the Senate has the power to add distinction and glory, and on the other hand to obscure their merits and lower their credit, For these high achievements are brought in tangible form before the eyes of the citizens by what are called "triumphs." But these triumphs the commanders cannot celebrate with proper pomp, or in some cases celebrate at all, unless the Senate concurs and grants the necessary money.
and on the people.
As for the people, the Consuls are pre-eminently obliged to court their favour, however distant from home may be the field of their operations; for it is the people, as I have said before, that ratifies, or refuses to ratify, terms of peace and treaties; but most of all because when laying down their office they have to give an account1 of their administration before it. Therefore in no case is it safe for the Consuls to neglect either the Senate or the goodwill of the people.

1 εὐθύνας. Polybius uses a word well known at Athens and other Greek states, but the audit of a Consul seems to have been one of money accounts only. At the expiration, however, of his office he took an oath in public that he had obeyed the laws, and if any prosecution were brought against him it would be tried before the people. See the case of Publius Claudius, 1, 52.

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 33.23
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CONSUL
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TRIUMPHUS
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