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The Roman term for the military oath of allegiance, originally the preliminary engagement entered upon with the general by newly enlisted troops (De Off. i. 11.36; Livy, xxii. 38.2). The oath was taken first by the legates and tribunes. These officers then administered it to the soldiers in the following manner: one soldier in each legion recited the formula of the oath, and the rest were called up by name, and, coming forward one by one, swore to the same oath with the words idem in me—i. e. “the same (holds good) for me.” The oath remained in force only till the next campaign, and whenever there was a new general a new oath was taken. After the introduction of the twenty years' service by Marius (about B.C. 100), the men raised for service took the oath, not one by one, but all together and for the whole time of service, in the name of the State, afterwards in that of the emperor.

Sacramentum in the oldest and most general form of civil lawsuit, named after it legis actio per sacramentum, is a deposit made beforehand by the parties in the suit. It was originally five sheep or five oxen, according to the value of the object in dispute, afterwards a sum of money at the rate of ten asses for each sheep and one hundred for each ox. The deposit was given back to the successful party, while that of the loser was originally applied to religious purposes; afterwards it went to the aerarium, or public treasury. See Ius Iurandum.

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 22, 38
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