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LEX This term indicates generally a rule of law binding universally on the citizens of a given state: “Lex est commune praeceptum, virorum prudentium consultum, delictorum coercitio, communis reipublicae sponsio” (Dig. 1, 3, 1); “Legis virtus est haec, imperare, vetare, permittere, punire” (ib. 7). In the works of the Roman writers and jurists it is used to denote an enactment of any body (or even individual) constitutionally empowered to legislate, but more properly it is used only of the enactments of the Comitia Centuriata. Definitions of lex will be found in Cicero, de Leg. 1.6 (cf. 2.16); in Aulus Gellius, 10.20 (by the jurist Capito); in Gaius, 1.3 (adopted in Justinian's Institutes, 1.2, 4); and in Dig. 1, 3, 1 (by Papinian).

The earliest leges of which we read were those made in the Comitia Curiata (whence they are called Leges Curiatæ), which till the reforms of Servius Tullius was the only legislative body at Rome. Some of these--the so-called leges regiae--were said to have been enacted by the Comitia on the motion of Romulus, as well as of the kings who succeeded him (Dig. 1, 2, 2, 2). Dionysius says (3.36) that a collection of these leges regiae was made towards the end of the regal period by one Sextus Papirius, a commentary on which, written in the time of Julius Caesar by Granius Flaccus, is quoted in Dig. 50, 16, 144; but it is improbable that they were anything more than formal restatements of customary law already binding, and the fact that Sextus Papirius was (according to Dionysius) a pontifex suggests that they may have been only of sacerdotal import. (Some of their substance has been collected in a fragmentary form by earlier writers, and there is an essay on the subject by H. E. Dirksen: Versuche zur Kritik und Auslegung, Leipzig, 1823). It may indeed be doubted whether any large proportion of the enactments of the Comitia Curiata were genuine “laws,” though the fifty leges of Servius mentioned by Dionysius (4.13) seem to have made some general changes; at any rate it is certain that after the establishment of the Comitia Centuriata by Servius Tullius the assembly of the Curiae, as a legislative body, fell almost entirely into disuse. We read of its conferring the imperium on the magistrates, sanctioning testaments and adrogations, and confirming some of the resolutions of the centuries which were held to require a religious sanction, and in all these cases it acted by a resolution or lex, but the difference between such a lex and a true law is too obvious to need any further exposition. And though even under Augustus a shadow of the old constitution was preserved in the formal bestowal of the imperium by a Lex Curiata only, the assembly of the Curiae had ceased even before Cicero's time to consist of the old patricians: they were merely represented by thirty lictors.

In the sense of a genuine enactment, establishing a rule of law, lex denotes the legislation of the Comitia Centuriata, in which the law was proposed (rogabatur) by a magistrate of senatorial rank, usually by one or both of the consuls for the year (Inst. 1.2, 4). Such leges were also called populiscita (Festus, s. v. Scitum Pop.).

The resolutions of the Comitia Tributa, whose origin was almost contemporaneous with that of the centurial assembly, had not at first the force of law: they seem to have been regarded merely as expressions of plebeian opinion, by which the patricians gauged the temper of the political opposition, and were guided to the line of policy which party exigencies rendered expedient. They were known as plebeiscita because the Comitia Tributa was at first attended only by members of the plebs, though every Roman was in fact enrolled in a tribe, and entitled to attend. When the tribunate of the plebs was instituted (circ. B.C. 494), a means was provided by which the resolutions of the tribes might become law. The tribunes were permitted to appear at the threshold of the building where the senate deliberated, and lay before it the proposals of the order which they represented: if approved, these proposals could then be referred in the ordinary way to the Comitia Centuriata, and thereby become genuine enactments of the sovereign populus (V. Max. 2.2, 7). After the enactment of the Lex Horatia Valeria (B.C. 449) the patricians seem to have begun to take part in the business of the Comitia Tributa, and it was perhaps provided by the same statute that plebiscita which related to matters of purely private law should have binding force without confirmation by the centuries. This exemption was apparently extended to all plebiscita by the first of the Leges Publiliae, B.C. 339 (Liv. 8.12; Gellius, 15.27), and finally a Lex Hortensia (B.C. 287) dispensed with the requirement of senatorial sanction to plebiscita. By this last change they were placed on a footing of complete equality with leges passed in the Comitia Centuriata (Dig. 2, 14, 7, 7; Gaius, 1.3; Inst. 1.2, 4): as the latter were proposed to the centuries by a senatorial magistrate, so they were submitted to the tribes by a tribune: leges related in the main to administrative and constitutional matters, plebiscita to matters of private law. The result of the equal legislative authority of the two comitia was that plebiscita came not uncommonly to be called leges, lex becoming a generic term (Dig. 1, 3, 32, 1), to which was sometimes added the specific designation, as “lex plebeivescitum,” “lex sive plebiscitum est” (e. g. the Tabula Heracleensis, Savigny, Zeitschrift, &c. vol. ix. p. 355). Cicero, in his enumeration of the sources of Roman law (Top. 5), does not mention plebiscita, which he undoubtedly included under leges: among the so-called leges which in fact were plebiscita are the Lex Aquilia (Cic. pro Tullio, 8, 11; Dig. 9, 2, 1, 1), the Lex Canuleia, Lex Rubria, &c. [p. 2.33]

The term rogatio means any measure proposed (bill, projet de loi) to the legislative body, whether on its enactment it would technically be a lex or a plebiscitum: hence the expressions populum rogare (Cic. Phil. 1.10.26), plebem rogare (de Leg. 3.3, 9), legem rogare (de Republ. 3.10, 17; Phil. 2.29, 72; Dig. 9, 2, 1, 1), and, by analogy, magistratum rogare, to offer a magistrate for election to the people (Liv. 3.65, 6.42; Cic. Att. 9.1. 5, 2, &c.; Sallust, Sal. Jug. 29: cf. Festus, s. v. Rogatio). The form of such rogation (in the case of an adrogation effected before the Comitia Curiata) is given by Gellius, 5.19, 5, 9: “Velitis jubeatis, uti L. Valerius L. Titio tam jure legeque filius siet, quamsi ex eo patre matreque familias ejus natus esset, utique ei vitae necisque in eum potestas siet, uti patri endo filio est, haec ita uti dixi, ita vos quirites rogo.” Assent to the proposal was expressed in the form “uti rogas” (which explains the term sponsio in the definition of lex above from Dig. 1, 3, 1); rejection by the verb antiquo (Liv. 4.58, 5.30, 55, &c.; Cic. de Off. 2.2. 1, 73; ad Att. 1.13; de Leg. 3.17, 38). The measures submitted were not unfrequently called rogationes even after their definite enactment as leges or plebiscita; and in Dig. 35, 2, 1, pr., an enacted statute is termed “lex rogata.” “Promulgare legem” denotes the publication of its terms for the public information (see LEX CAECILIA DIDIA inf.), such publication being usually followed by contiones or meetings in which the bill was explained and recommended to the people by its proposer or supporters (suasores): this promulgation and informal discussion is expressed by the phrase “ferre legem” as contrasted with rogare, which is confined to the solemn submission of the measure to the Comitia for acceptance or refusal: the general term used for acceptance is “rogationem accipere.” “Legem perferre” is to carry a rogatio, to convert it into a lex (Cic. Cornel. fragm. ap. Ascon.; Liv. 33.46). Other terms familiarly used in connexion with leges are explained by Ulpian (Reg. 1, 3): “Lex aut rogatur, id est fertur: aut abrogatur, id est, prior lex tollitur: aut derogatur, id est, pars primae legis tollitur: aut subrogatur, id est, adjicitur aliquid primae legi: aut obrogatur, id est, mutatur aliquid ex prima lege.”

By Festus rogatio is described as equivalent to what is otherwise called privilegium: “a command of the populus relating to one or more persons, but not to all persons, or relating to one or more things, but not to all:” cf. Dig. 50, 17, 196. Privilegia had been forbidden by the Twelve Tables (Cic. de Leg. 3.1. 9, 44; pro Domo, 17, 43), but in the sense of statutes in favour of or directed against individuals they are common; e. g. the Lex Centuriata by which Cicero was recalled from exile: “Non sunt generalia jussa, ... sed de singulis concepta, quocirca privilegia vocari debent, quia veteres priva dixerunt quae nos singula dicimus” (Gellius, 10.20, 4). The term is generally used by Cicero in the unfavourable sense (pro Domo, 17, 43; pro Sestio, 30, 65; Brut. 23, 89), and from the language in pro Domo, 11, 28, it may be inferred that privilegia were not considered leges proper: cf. Ulpian in Dig. 1, 3, 8: “Jura non in singulas personas, sed generaliter constituuntur.” In the Corpus juris privilegium is used generally to denote a jus singulare or privilege conferred on classes by law: cf. Dig. 1, 3, 16; 9, 2, 51, 2; 1, 3, 14 and 15: and see Savigny, System, i. p. 61.

Of the form and style of Roman legislation we can judge to some extent from the fragments which survive. The Romans seem to have always adhered to the old expressions, and to have used few superfluous words. Great care was taken with such clauses as were intended to alter a previous lex (whence the standing clause “de impunitate si quid contra alias leges, ejus legis ergo, factum sit,” Cic. Att. 3.2. 3), and to avoid all interference with prior enactments when no change in them was contemplated (whence the common formula “ejus hac lege nihil rogatur,” E. H. L. N. R. Lex Tab. Heracl., Lex Rubria, Lex Quinctia de aquaed.: cf. Valerius Probus; Cic. pro Caec. 33, 95; pro Balbo, 14, 32): though the general principle seems to have been that a subsequent repealed or modified a prior lex with which it was inconsistent. The leges were often divided into chapters (capita), e. g. the Lex Aquilia (Gaius, 3.210, 215, 217): cf. also the tablet of the Lex Rubria or de Gall. Cisalp. and Cic. ad Att. l.c. In order to preserve a permanent record, the lex was engraved on bronze (aes) and deposited in the Aerarium (Sueton. Jul. 28; Plut. Cat. min. 17): but it also seems to have been usual to cut statutes on tablets of oak (Dionys. A. R. 3.36), which were whitened over and then fixed in a public place for all citizens to read, though whether they were so exposed for any great length of time is uncertain (Cic. Att. 14.1. 2). The title of the lex was generally derived from the gentile name of the magistrate who proposed it, and sometimes from those of both the consuls or praetors (e. g. Lex Aelia Sentia, Junia Norbana, Papia Poppaea, &c.): and it was sometimes further described by reference to the topic to which it related (e. g. Lex Cincia de donis et muneribus, Lex Furia de sponsu, Lex Furia testamentaria, Lex Julia municipalis, &c.). Leges which related to a common subject were often designated by a collective name, as Leges agrariae, judiciariae, sumptuariae, &c. When a lex comprised very various provisions, relating to matters essentially different, it was called Lex Satura.

The terms in which a statute was expressed were fixed by the proposer, though he would usually be assisted by others who possessed the requisite familiarity with technical language: it was proposed to the Comitia for acceptance or rejection in its entirety, there being no discussion of or alteration in its clauses, which indeed in such an assembly would have been injurious, if not impossible. One important part of the lex was its sanctio--i.e. that part of it which provided a penalty for, or declared what should be the effect of, its infraction (Inst. 2.1, 10; Auct. ad Herenn. 2.10; Cic. de Invent. 2.4. 9, 146; Papinian in Dig. 48, 19, 41). If the sanctio declared that the act against which the statute was directed should be void, the lex was said to be perfecta; if there was no such provision, it was imperfecta (e.g. the Lex Cincia): and if an act was merely penalised, but not declared void, the lex is said by Ulpian (Reg. 1, 2) to be called “minus quam perfecta” (e. g. the Leges Furiae [p. 2.34]testamentaria and de sponsu): cf. Savigny, System, iv. p. 549 sq.

The number of leges was largely increased towards the end of the republican period (Tac. Ann. 3.25-28), and Julius Caesar is said to have contemplated a revision of the whole of them. Augustus, and perhaps his immediate successors, was careful to conduct his legislation under republican forms, though it may be doubted whether any statute was enacted after the fall of the Republic except on the initiative of the emperor, or at any rate without his sanction express or implied. The Comitia assembled and gave the force of law to the proposals submitted to them for some time after the constitution had lost all trace of real freedom (Tac. Ann. 1.15 relates to the election of magistrates, not to legislation); and most of the Leges Juliae, a Lex Visellia, an agrarian law of Caligula, and a law of Claudius (Gaius, 1.157, 171) were enacted in the ordinary way. The last statute which we know to have been passed in this manner is a lex agraria of the time of Nerva (A.D. 96-98), mentioned in

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