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ABROGA´TIO MAGISTRA´TUS The deposition of a magistrate from his office by any legal process was, strictly speaking, unknown to the Roman constitution (Becker, Rhein. Mus. N. S., 4.293). The only legitimate termination of the magistrate's power was his own abdication. But (1) it was in the power of a superior magistrate to forbid an inferior one to exercise his official functions (vetare quicquam agere pro magistratu): thus the dictator L. Quinctius in B.C. 458 suspended the consul L. Minucius from his office (Liv. 3.29, 2; Dionys. A. R. 10.25); and. this action was followed by the abdication of Minucius. (2) The people, by the exercise of its sovereign legislative power, could put an end to a magistrate's tenure of office. Thus, according to the tradition followed by Cicero (Cic. Brut. 14, 53; de Off. 3.10, 40), and held by Schwegler (2.43, note 2) to be older than that of Livy and Dionysius, one of the first two consuls was deposed from his consulship (Brutus ... collegae suo imperium abrogavit). The right of the people to do this was never challenged, and was admitted in terms by the Lex Cassia (cf. Ascon. p. 78), ut quem populus damnasset cuive imperium abrogasset in senatu non esset. There are no other instances of the abrogatio of a consul, except in the troubled times of the Civil Wars; e. g. Cinna (Vell. 2.20: ex auctoritate senatus consulatus ci abrogatus est), who refused to regard it, because the deposition proceeded from the senate, not from the people. But there are two cases of the actual abrogation: of proconsular imperium (cf. Appian, Iber. 83; Asconius, p. 78), and two more in which it was threatened (Liv. 27.20, 21; 29.19, 6). The strict legality of the deposition of the tribune M. Octavius by the people, on the proposal of Ti. Gracchus, was never called in question, and Mommsen now withdraws the statement made in his earlier editions that “deposition was a constitutional impossibility” (cf. Gesch. 2.88; Röm. Staatsr. i. pp. 512-3). See also LEX


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 20
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 29
    • Cicero, Brutus, 14
    • Cicero, Brutus, 53
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