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TABELLA the voting tablet, by means of which votes were given at Rome both in the assemblies and in the courts of law.

1. In the assemblies the votes were originally the answers of the individual citizens to the magistrate who consulted the people as to their will and pleasure (rogavit populum quid vellent juberent). All evidence goes to show that the answers were originally given vivâ voce to the officials (rogatores) in attendance on the presiding magistrate. In the case, of an election these officials pricked each vote on the tablet which bore the name of the candidate in whose favour it was given, who was said punctum ferre, a phrase which remained in use metaphorically after the custom on which it was based had been abandoned (Hor. Epist 2.2, 99; Art. Poet. 343). The result was then reported to the magistrate, who declared elected (creavit) the candidates with a majority. The only difficulty in accepting this view arises from the meaning of the word suffragium: it can hardly be doubted that this means originally a potsherd, a broken piece of tile (Corssen, 1.397); but there is no evidence or probability that, voting by this means was ever practised at Rome in the assembly; the name may have been transferred from the use of the potsherd under other circumstances, but of this there is no proof (Mommsen, Röm. Staatsr. 3.402, n. 1). Wunder's attempt (Var. Lect. p. clxvii. sqq.) to show that voting by pebbles (ψῆφοι) was in use, at least in passing or rejecting proposed laws, has not found favour with scholars. His arguments are derived entirely from passages in Dionysius, which only show that the writer transferred to an earlier time the arrangements of his own day (Mommsen, ib. 404, 2). The ballot was introduced first for the election of magistrates, B.C. 139 [TABELLARIAE LEGES]. After this date each voter received one tabella, on which were written the names, or more probably (cf. Cic. pro Domo, 43, 112) only the initials, of the candidates; and apparently he voted by pricking the tablet at the name of the favoured candidate. It is important to distinguish the tabella by means of which the citizens gave their votes, from the tabula or list on which the custodes checked off the votes, as they were taken out of the cistae and reported. (Cf. Tyrrell on Q. Cic. de Pet. Cons. 8

In voting upon laws after the introduction of the ballot, each citizen was provided with two tickets, one inscribed V. R., i.e. uti rogas, for assent; the other A., i.e. antiquo, “I approve the old law,” for rejection (cp. Cic. Att. 1.1. 3, 3). When Clodius desired to secure the failure of a rogatio, he contrived that no tickets marked V. R. should be issued (Cic. Att. 1.1. 4, 5). Walther's view (Geschichte, 1.126, note 117), that when the Comitia acted as a court the tablets were different, does not seem well supported (cf. Lange, Röm. Alt.3 2.489).

2. In trials the judices were provided with three tabellae, one marked A., for absolvo, “I acquit;” the second with C., for condemno, “I condemn;” the third with N. L., for non liquet, “It is not clear to me.” The first of them was called tabella absolutoria, the latter tabella damnatorii (Suet. Aug. 33): Cicero also calls the former littera salutaris, the latter littera tristis (pro Mil. 6, 15). In Caesar (Caes. Civ. 3.83) we read that Domitius proposed that the senators who followed Pompeius should on their return to Rome be given each three tabellae, by which they might pass a verdict upon those who had remained at Rome: “unam fore tabellam, qui liberandos omni periculo censerent; alteram qui capitis damnarent, tertiam qui pecunia multarent.” A tabella marked with the letters L. D. is represented on a denarius of the Caelian gens; and as C. Caelius Caldus introduced one of the tabellariae leges, it has been plausibly suggested that these letters denote Libero and Damno


respectively (cf. Spanheim, Numism. 2.198-200, ed. 1706; Mommsen, Röm. Münzwesen, p. 636). The annexed cut represents a coin of (Cassius) Longinus iii vir, referring to the Lex Cassia; the tablet is marked v. (Mommsen, ib. Cf. Cohen, Monnaie de la République, pll. xi. and xix.)


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