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Curia

A word which signifies both a division of the Roman people and the place of assembly for such a division.


1.

Each of the three ancient Romulian tribes, the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres, was subdivided into ten curiae, so that the whole body of the populus was divided into thirty curiae (Liv.i. 13). It has commonly been asserted that the plebeians had no connection whatever with the curiae, and that the clients of the patricians were members of the curiae only in a passive sense. But Mommsen has adduced strong reasons for denying the purely patrician character of the curiae (Röm. Forsch. i. 140-150), and accepting the view of Dionysius (iv. 12, 20) that plebeians were admitted. In B.C. 209, we find a plebeian elected as Curio Maximus, and, according to all analogy, plebeians must have been admitted to the curiae long before one of them could be found holding the highest post of dignity. Plebeians also are represented as existing and voting side by side with patricians before the institution of any other than the Comitia Curiata. The extinction of the functions of the curiae is nowhere mentioned as a result of the decay of the patriciate. Again, the thirty lictors who represented the curiae, 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 curiae was limited to patricians, and we have one positive instance of a plebeian adopting before the curiae in the case of Clodius. Hence the common theory of the purely patrician character of the curiae must be abandoned. There is no historical evidence to show when the plebeians became members of them, but it is a reasonable conjecture that they were admitted at the time of the expulsion of the kings, when the Comitia Curiata lost their political power by the development of the Comitia Centuriata (Mommsen, Hist. i. 264). All the members of the different gentes belonging to one curia were called, in respect of one another, curiales. Each curia as a corporation had its peculiar sacra (Fest. pp. 174, 245), 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. ii. 50). The religious affairs of each curia were taken care of by a priest, curio, who was assisted by another called Flamen Curialis. (See 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.i. 13). O. Gilbert has lately (Gesch. und Topogr. der Stadt Rom im Alterthum, 2 vols. 1883, 1885) advocated, with much ingenuity and learning, a theory that the curiae were based originally upon the gradual occupation of the seven hills of the Septimontium by tribes of different origin, and their ultimate federation.


2.

Curia (βουλευτήριον) is also used to designate the place in which the Senate held its meetings. From this there gradually arose the custom of calling the Senate itself curia in the coloniae and municipia, but never the Senate of Rome. (See Decurio). The official residence of the Salii, which was dedicated to Mars, was likewise styled curia (De Div. i. 17; Dionys. xiv. 5; Camill. 32).

The history and site of the Senate-house at Rome have been much discussed. Built by Tullus Hostilius (Varr. L. L. v. 155-156), the Curia Hostilia was burned at the funeral of Clodius (B.C. 52). Successive restorations by a son of Sulla and by Augustus are recorded in the names C. Cornelia and C. Iulia. Under Domitian the C. Iulia was again rebuilt. A still later building, ascribed to Diocletian, has been identified with the present church of S. Adriano on the northeast of the Forum. It is of brick, ornamented with stucco and marble. See Middleton, Ancient Rome in 1888; id. Remains of Ancient Rome, i. pp. 237, 385; ii. 139.

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