In the constitution of the Italian towns (municipia, coloniae,
), as regulated by the Lex Iulia Municipalis, B.C. 45, each municipality was
governed by an assembly of the populus
, which elected magistrates and
made laws, and also by a senate, which was an administrative body. Subsequently, by a change
corresponding to that which took place in Rome, the power of the popular assembly was
transferred to the senate, which thus became the supreme municipal body for legislative and
The municipal senate is sometimes called senatus
, but the terms
commonly used to denote it are ordo decurionum
, or simply ordo
, and in later times curia.
Decuriones or curiales signify
members of the senate, these words being used indifferently in the same sense.
As opposed to the decuriones, which formed a sort of patrician body, the rest of the people
were styled plebeii.
Thè number of the decuriones was fixed by
the local senate, and vacancies were filled by co-optation. To be eligible as decurio, a person was required to be of a certain age; the limit was thirty (Tab. Heracl. 23 (25)), till reduced by Augustus to twenty-five for the municipal
senate as well as for the Roman.
A property qualification, the amount of which depended on the constitution of each town, was
attached to the acquisition of membership in a curia
, but membership was
not vacated by loss of property. We learn from Pliny (Pliny
Ep. i. 19
) that at Comum a person who had less than 100,000 sesterces
could not become a decurio. Criminals, bankrupts, persons of infamous character, and persons
who followed certain employments, as praecones, designatores,
, were incapable of holding this office (Tab. Heracl. 23 ; cf.
50, 2, 12). Freedmen were likewise incapable.
The names of decuriones were inscribed on an album or register in a regular order, which was
based partly on rank and partly on seniority. The album of Canusium, which was discovered in
the last century and is now in the Museo Nazionale at Naples (Fabretti, Inscr.
9, p. 598; Orelli, No. 3721), shows the plan on which such an album was arranged.