signifies both a division of the Roman people
and the place of assembly for such a division. Various etymologies of the
word have been proposed. Varro (de Ling. Lat.
it from curare,
a view defended by Mommsen
1.72). Lange (Röm.
i. p. 79), who regards Quirites
as derived from curia,
theory which others again invert, wavers between this view and Corssen's
earlier suggestion, that is, for covisia,
“a dwelling together,” from the root vas,
“to dwell.” But seeing that the original meaning seems to have
been “house,” it is better to trace it to the root sku,
“shelter,” as Corssen now does.
Each of the three ancient Romulian tribes, the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres,
was subdivided into 10 curiae, so that the whole body of the populus was
divided into 30 curiae. (Liv. 1.13
; Dionys. A. R. 2.7
; Plut. Rom.
.) It has commonly been asserted that the plebeians had no
connexion whatever with the curiae, and that the clients of the patricians
were members of the curiae only in a passive sense. (Fest. p. 285, ed.
Müller; comp. PATRICII, GENS.) But
Mommsen has adduced strong reasons for denying the purely patrician
character of the curiae
1.140-150), and accepting the view of Dionysius (4.12
) that plebeians were admitted. He points out first that, as is
generally admitted, the curiae
in their sacral
character included plebeians as well as patricians. The Fornacalia was a
festival celebrated by curies, but Ovid's account of it (Fast.
2.511 if.) is quite inconsistent with the notion that
it was a patrician festival. Besides, in B.C. 209 we find a plebeian elected
as Curio Maximus, and, according to all analogy, plebeians must have been
admitted to the curies long before one of them could be found holding the
highest post of dignity. Secondly, there is absolutely no proof of the
purely patrician character of the comitia
but much evidence to the contrary. Cicero's words
(de Leg. Agr.
2.11, 27, “curiatis comitiis quae vos
non initis” ) refer merely to the formal meetings of lictors [cf.
], which no
citizens, patrician or plebeian, attended. Plebeians are represented as
existing and voting side by side with patricians before the institution of
any other than the comitia curiata.
extinction of the functions of the curies is nowhere mentioned as a result
of the decay of the patriciate. By comparing Cic.
pro Planc. 3
, 8, and de
14, 38, it is plain that the populi
of the former answers to the comitia centuriata et curiata
of the second. The election of
a magistrate and the conferring of the imperium are represented by Cicero
(de Leg. Agr.
2.11, 26, “maiores de singulis
magistratibus bis vos sententiam ferre voluerunt” ) as two acts
of the same body; but the former took place in the centuries, the latter in
the curies. The thirty lictors who represented the curies, and therefore
must have had the right of voting there, were plebeians. There is no reason
whatever to believe that the right of making wills and adoptions before the
curies was limited to patricians, and we have one positive instance of a
plebeian adopting before the curies in the case of Clodius. Hence the common
theory of the purely patrician character of the curies must be abandoned.
There is no historical evidence to show when [p. 1.577]
plebeians became members of them (Mommsen, Forsch.
but it is a reasonable conjecture that they were admitted at the time of the
expulsion of the kings, when the comitia
lost their political power by the development of the
1.264). All the members of the different
gentes belonging to one curia were called, in respect of one another,
Each curia as a corporation had
its peculiar sacra (Fest. pp. 174, 245; Paul. Diac. p. 49, ed.
Müller), and, besides the gods of the state, they worshipped other
divinities and with peculiar rites and ceremonies. For such religious
purposes each curia had its own place of worship, called curia, which at
first may have contained nothing but an altar, afterwards a sacellum, and
finally a building in which the curiales assembled for the purpose of
discussing political, financial, religious, and other matters. (Paul. Diac.
pp. 62, 64; Dionys. A. R. 2.50
religious affairs of each curia were taken care of by a priest, curio,
who was assisted by another called Flamen
curialis. (Paul. Diac. pp. 49, 64; Varro, de L. L.
6.46; Dionys. A. R. 2.21
; comp. CURIO
) The thirty curiae had their
own distinct names, which are said to have been derived from the names of
the Sabine women who had been carried off by the Romans, though it is
evident that some derived their names from certain districts or from ancient
eponymous heroes. Few of these names only are known, such as curia Titia,
Faucia, Calabra, Foriensis, Rapta, Veliensis, Tifata. (Paul. Diac. pp. 49,
366; Fest. p. 174; Liv. 1.13
; Dionys. A. R. 2.47
; Cic. de Re Publ. 2.8
, 14.) O.
Gilbert has lately (Gesch. und Topogr. der Stadt Rom in
2 vols. 1883, 1885) advocated with much ingenuity and
learning a theory that the curiae
originally upon the gradual occupation of the seven hills of the
by tribes of different origin, and their
ultimate federation. The details of this view involve too many moot points
to be discussed here with advantage.
Curia is also used to designate the place in which the senate held its
meetings. [See following article.] From this there gradually arose the
custom of calling the senate itself curia in the coloniae and municipia, but
never the senate of Rome. [DECURIO
] The official residence of the Salii, which was dedicated to
Mars, was likewise styled curia. (Cic. de
Div. 1.1. 7
; Dionys. A.
; Plut. Camill.
32; comp. Becker,
Handb. der Röm. Alterth.
vol. ii. part i. p. 31,
&c.; Lange, Röm. Alterth.
Mommsen, Röm. Forsch.