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Decuriōnes, Curiāles

In the constitution of the Italian towns (municipia, coloniae, praefecturae), 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 administrative purposes.

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, libitinarii, were incapable of holding this office (Tab. Heracl. 23 [25]; cf. Dig. 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. C. 9, p. 598; Orelli, No. 3721), shows the plan on which such an album was arranged.

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