XVI[16arg] Another passage from the same Messala, in which he argues that to address the people and to treat with the people are two different things; and what magistrates may call away the people when in assembly, and from whom.
THE same Messala in the same book has written as follows about the lesser magistrates 1 “A consul may call away the people from all magistrates, when they are assembled for the elections or for another purpose. A praetor may at any time call away the people when assembled for the elections or for another purpose, except from a consul. Lesser magistrates may never call away the people when assembled for the elections or another purpose. Hence, whoever of them first summons the people to an election has the law on his side, because it is unlawful to take the same action twice with the people (bifariam cum populo agi), nor can one minor magistrate call away an assembly from another. But if they wish to address the people (contionem habere) without laying any measure before them, it is lawful for any number of magistrates to hold a meeting (contionem habere) at the same time.” From these words of Messala it is clear that cum populo agere, “to treat with the people,” differs from contionem habere, “to address the people.” For the former means to ask something of the people [p. 457] which they by their votes are to order or forbid; the latter, to speak to the people without laying any measure before them.