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Here, since I see that you are moved by the dignity of the man, and by the insult put upon him by this law, I will return to the assertion that I made at the beginning, that a kingly power is being erected, and your liberties entirely taken away by this law. [25] Did you think, otherwise, that when a few men had cast the eyes of covetousness on all your possessions, they would not in the very first place take care that Cnaeus Pompeius should be removed from all power of protecting your liberty, from all power to promote, from all commission to watch over, and from all means of protecting your interests? They saw, and they see still, that if, through your own imprudence and my negligence, you adopt this law, without understanding its effect, you would afterwards, when you were creating decemvirs, think it expedient to oppose Cnaeus Pompeius as your defence against all defects and wickednesses in the law. And is this a slight argument to you, that these are men by whom dominion and power over everything is sought, when you see that he, whom they see will surely be the protector of your liberty, is the only one to whom that dignity is denied?

[26] Now consider what a power is given to the decemvirs, and how great is its extent. In the first place be gives the decemvirs the honour of a lex curiata. 1 But this is unheard-of and absolutely without precedent, that a magistracy should be conferred by a lex curiata on a man who has not previously received it in some comitia. He orders the law to be brought in by that praetor who is appointed first praetor. But how? In order that these men may receive the decemvirate whom the people has elected. He has forgotten that none have been elected by the common people. Here is a pretty fellow to bind the whole world with laws, who does not recollect in the third clause what is set down in the second! This, too, is quite plain; both what privileges you have received from your ancestors, and what is left to you by this tribune of the people.

1 The comitia curiata, at which alone a lex curiata could he passed, was a meeting of the populus of Rome, assembled in its tribes of houses; and no member of the plebs could vote at such a meeting. They met principally for the sake of confirming some ordinance of the senate; a senatus consultum was an indispensable preliminary, and with regard to elections and laws, they had merely the power of confirming or rejecting what the senate had already decreed. The lex curiata (de imperio),which was the same as the auctoritas patrum, was necessary in order to confer upon the dictator, the consuls, and the other magistrates the imperium or military command. The comitia curiata were held by the patrician magistrates, and they voted by their curies.

The comitia centuriata were the assembly of the populus and plebs together, and they voted by their centuries by ballot.

The comitia tributa were not established till B. C. 491. They were an assembly of the people according to the local tribes into which the Plebs was originally divided. No qualification of birth or property was necessary to enable a them to vote in the comitia tributa. They were summoned by the tribuni plebis, who were also the presiding magistrates in general; but the consuls or praetors might preside if they were convoked for the election of inferior magistrates, such as the quaestor, propraetor, or proconsul. Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 274, v. Comitia, q. v.

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