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SENATUS The “senate” or “council of elders” (seniores: comp. the Greek γερουσία) ranked with the kingship, and the assembly of burgesses among the oldest of Roman institutions, and, like the two latter, existed also among the kindred communities of Latium (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.836, note 2). Its creation is ascribed by tradition to Romulus (Liv. 1.8). The members of the senate were senatores. The collective appellation patres (= “chiefs” rather than “fathers” ) belonged of right to the purely patrician senate of the earliest days, but was transferred to the mixed patricio-plebeian body of later times (Cicero, Sallust, and Livy, passim), and used as equivalent to senatus. Similarly the two functions inherited by the mixed senate from its patrician predecessor, the appointment [p. 2.621]of the interrex, and the ratification of votes given by the assembly, are always spoken of as acts of the patres, though in fact performed by the senate as a whole. [For this and for Mommsen's rival theory, that patres in these cases always meant only the patrician members of the senate, see below.] The fact that the patrician patres had once formed the whole senate, and that plebeians were not admitted until a later time, was possibly commemorated by the official term patres conscripti; the conscripti denoting originally the plebeian members called up by the magistrate (Festus, p. 254; Liv. 2.1; Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.839; Madvig, Verfass. 1.125. Willems, Le Sénat, 1.37 sqq., maintains on the contrary that the term means simply “assembled fathers.” For Mommsen's view of the inferior position of the plebeian conscripti, see below).

I. Number of the Senate. Roman tradition represents the senate as consisting originally of 100 members (Liv. 1.8), and as having been gradually enlarged to 300, though of the steps by which this increase was effected it gives no consistent account. That 300 remained the normal number down to the time of Sulla is generally agreed. From 81 B.C. to the dictatorship of Caesar, the nominal maximum was 600. Under Caesar the numbers rose to 900 (D. C. 43.47); under the triumvirs to over 1000 (Suet. Aug. 35, “erant enim super mille:” cf. Mon. Ancyr. 5, 6). Augustus reduced them once more to 600 (Suet. l.c.; D. C. 54.13); but there is no proof that either by himself or his successors was this limit strictly observed. [The advice given by Maecenas to Augustus not to be particular as to the number of senators (μηδὲν περὶ τοῦ πλήθους αὐτῶν ἀκριβολογούμενος, D. C. 52.19) may be taken, with Mommsen, to represent the practice of Dio's own time. See Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.850, note 3.]

II. Admission and expulsion of Senators.--It was a distinctive peculiarity of the Roman senate, that admission to its ranks was always given, not by popular election or by cooptation, but by the act of the magistrate, who has for the time being the authority legere in senatuzm; and though, as will be shown, his freedom of choice was under the later Republic so restricted by law as to reduce the lectio senatus to little more than the formal enrolment of persons with a legal claim to be enrolled, yet his action continued to be indispensable (V. Max. 2.3, 1), and under the Empire regained much of its original liberty. The two principles that the senate was only a council of advice for the magistrate, and that the magistrate selected his councillors, though modified in practice by the anxiety of the senate to assert its independence, were never formally abandoned, and were successfully re-asserted by the Caesars. Prof. Mommsen indeed has a theory that in pre-historic times the case was otherwise, and that the original senate, as consisting of the assembled heads (patres) of the patrician gentes, was independent as to its composition of the authority of the magistrate (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.844, 854). That the early senate was composed exclusively of patricians may be safely assumed. It is, moreover, probable that from this original and close connexion with the gentes were derived the claims which the patrician senate bequeathed to its patricio-plebeian successor to be the special guardians of the auspicia, and of the ancient order of things bound up with them. But of a strictly representative gentile council there is, as Mommsen himself confesses, no evidence. The senate as first known to us appears as a council composed of patricians, but of patricians selected by the chief magistrate [Liv. 1.8, “Romulus centum creat senatores.” Willems' theory (Le Sénat, 1.26) that the senate was originally a “réunion de tous les patres familiarum seniores des familles patriciennes,” and that subsequently “le choix royal succéda au droit d'hérédité,” is an equally unfounded and a less plausible conjecture].

Starting from the earliest system known to us, that under which the senators were chosen by the magistrate, we have to consider, (1) to what magistrates this right of choice was successively granted; (2) by what conditions, legal or customary, the choice was limited; and (3) the mode in which the lectio senatus was carried out.

(1.) The prerogative of choosing senators belonged at first to the king. From the king it passed to the consuls, and was during a brief period granted to their temporary substitutes, the tribuni militum consulari potestate (Festus, p. 246, “ut reges sibi legebant, sublegebantque quos in consilio publico haberent, ita post exactos eos consules quoque et tribuni militum consulari potestate conjunctissimos sibi quosque patriciorum et deinde plebeiorum legebant” ). The date at which it was transferred to the censors is uncertain. That the change was not made before 387 A.U.C. = 367 B.C., the last year in which consular tribunes were appointed, is implied in the passage quoted above from Festus; and it was not therefore coeval with the institution of the censorship itself (443 B.C.). According to the same passage, it was effected by a Lex Ovinia tribunicia: “donec Ovinia tribunicia intercessit qua sanctum est ut censores ex omni ordine optimum quemque curiatim (sic) in senatum legerent;” and may be assumed to have been, as such, made in the interest of the plebs. We may consequently place it after the passing of the Lex Publilia (339 B.C.), which enacted that one censor must be a plebeian (Liv. 8.12), since a tribune of the plebs at that period would not have been likely to entrust the choice of senators to patrician magistrates. The first recorded lectio senatus by censors is the famous one in the censorship of Appius Claudius Caecus (312 B.C.; Liv. 9.29), so that the Lex Ovinia and the transference of the lectio senatus to the censors may be assigned to some date between 339 B.C. and 312 B.C. (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.395; Willems, 1.155). With the censors the duty remained down to the close of the Republic, though on two occasions it was entrusted, as an exceptional measure, to a dictator. In 216 B.C., after the battle of Cannae, M. Fabius Buteo was created dictator for this purpose (Liv. 23.22, “qui senatum legeret” ); and Sulla exercised the prerogative as dictator in 81 B.C. (Appian, App. BC 1.100). Both Julius Caesar and the triumvirs “selected senators” in virtue of the extraordinary powers vested in them. Augustus, true to his general policy, made a partial return to the old practice. Although the censorship proper ceased to exist, and the creation of senators devolved upon the princeps, the old [p. 2.622]connexion between this act and the censorial authority was not entirely lost sight of. Of the three regular lectiones senatus held by Augustus (Mon. Ancyr. 2.1, “senatum ter legi” ), the first certainly and the two others probably coincided with the three census of Roman citizens taken by him in 28 B.C., 8 B.C., and 14 A.D. Moreover, though under Augustus and his successors both the calling up into the senate of persons legally qualified by the tenure of the quaestorship, and the removal from the list of the names of such senators as had died or proved themselves unworthy, took place annually and quite independently of any censorial authority, the direct admission (adlectio) of men freely selected by Caesar was a power only occasionally exercised in the first century and always in virtue of the censorial authority, e. g. by Claudius, Vespasian, and Titus (C. I. L. 5.3117; Orelli, 3659; Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.877, 3.857). Domitian, as censor for life, first exercised it continuously. From his time onwards the right was possessed and used by all emperors at their discretion, and without any reference to censorial authority as a power inherent in the imperial prerogative (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.857).

(2.) The old constitution left the king or consul free to choose as senators the men he thought best fitted for the post. Full citizenship, free birth (ingenuitas), and good character were no doubt always indispensable for a seat in the senate as for a magistracy; but although custom may have limited the choice of the king to patricians, there is no proof that he was prohibited by law from admitting plebeians; and the admission of the latter is represented in tradition as the free act of the king or consul, not as the consequence of special legislation. [Liv. 2.1. Mommsen's theory, that originally a seat in the senate was an exclusively patrician privilege (Staatsr. 3.870), must stand or fall with his hypothesis mentioned above, of a time when the senate was a representative council of the gentes. As he confesses himself, no traces are discoverable of any formal representation in the senate of the gentes or curiae.] The classical passage in Festus describes the kings and consuls as choosing freely: “conjunctissimos sibi quosque . . . legebant;” so that to be passed over inflicted no disgrace, “praeteriti senatores in opprobrio non erant” (Id. ib.). Even by the Lex Ovinia the censors were directed to choose “ex omni ordine optimum quemque;” and Cicero declares (pro Sest. 65, 137) that the original intention of the constitution was, that the senate should be open “omnium civium industriae ac virtuti.” But this early freedom of choice was gradually restricted. It is probable that the consuls at the end of their year of office had always a claim to be enrolled as senators, and we may assume that this privilege was conceded from the first to praetores. When, owing to the transference of the lectio senatus to the censors, the revision of the senatorial list took place not annually but quinquennially, the ex-magistrates who had a claim to be enrolled were permitted, after the end of their year of office and while waiting for the next quinquennial lectio, to enter the senate-house, and though not yet senators to give their sententiae with the rest. Hence the distinction drawn between “senatores” and those “quibus in senatu sententiam dicere licet.” (Liv. 23.32; Fest. p. 339; Varro, ap. Gel. 3.18, “qui nondum a censoribus in senatum lecti, senatores non erant, sed quia honoribus populi usi erant, in senatum veniebant, et sententiae jus habebant.” ) The number of magistracies carrying this privilege increased as time went on. By 216 B.C. it had evidently been extended to the curule aedileship, since Livy, in describing the lectio of that exceptional year, plainly includes the curule aedileship among the offices which entitled their holders to a seat in the senate (Liv. 22.49, “unde in senatum legi deberent,” 23.23; and Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.860, note 3). On the other hand, the minor magistracies, the plebeian aedileship, tribunate, and quaestorship gave no such right as yet; although, as we might expect, former holders of these offices were selected next to ex-curule magistrates, and before such private citizens as had distinguished themselves in war: “primum in demortuorum locum legit, qui post L. Aemilium, C. Flaminium censores curulem magistratum cepissent, necdum in senatum lecti essent . . . tum legit qui aediles, tribuni plebis, quaestoresve fuerant; tum ex iis qui magistratus non cepissent, qui spolia ex hoste fixa domi haberent aut civicam coronam accepissent” (Liv. 23.23). By Sulla's time, if not before, the customary preference hitherto given to ex-holders of the plebeian aedileship and tribuneship had been exchanged for a legal claim both to the provisional seat and jus sententiae in the senate, pending the next censorial lectio, and to formal enrolment as senators when the time for the lectio arrived. [These privileges were apparently given to the tribunes by the plebiscitum Atinium (Gel. 14.8, 2, “senatores non essent ante Atinium plebiscitum” ), the date of which must fall, according to Mommsen, between 123 B.C. and 102 B.C. (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.862, note 2). When the plebeian aediles obtained them is uncertain. Mommsen infers, from their inclusion in the Lex Acilia among those “quei in senatu sient,” that they had done so before 122 B.C. (ib. 861, note 2).] Finally, the same rights were attached to the quaestorship by Sulla (Tac. Ann. 11.22, “viginti quaestores creati supplendo senatui” ). But these rights had long lost all value for the holders of the higher offices; since, owing to the gradual establishment of a fixed order of succession to these posts, a man was presumably already a senator by the time that he reached even the lowest curule magistracy. After Sulla, they were of importance only for the quaestorship, which was then legally established as the first step in the ladder of promotion. As a rule even the tribunate was taken after the quaestorship, and its holders were consequently already senators. The effect of these changes was practically to destroy the magistrate's freedom of choice. He still created senators, but as a rule the number of ex-quaestors awaiting his call, and with a legal claim to be called, must have been sufficient to fill the vacancies, and have left no room for others. Of senators admitted by free selection of the magistrate, there is no trace after 70 B.C., until we reach the dictatorship of Caesar. The votes of the people in Comitia in fact gave admission to the senate. (Cic. Clu. 56, 153, [p. 2.623] “judicio populi Romani in amplissimum locum pervenire.” ) But the “call” of the magistrate was still indispensable; and with the Empire it became once more a reality. The quaestorship still retained its right to give a seat; and it is true that the transference of the elections for the quaestorship to the senate by Tiberius gave that body in appearance a complete control over its own composition, and substituted cooptation both for the free choice of the magistrate and for the votes of the people. But it was only in appearance; for, apart from the influence which his control of the quaestorian elections gave him, the emperor possessed and exercised the old right of direct admission, now known as adlectio, possibly to distinguish it from the old periodic lectiones of republican times (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.877, note). This right, used occasionally (see above) by the earlier emperors, was from the reign of Nerva onwards constantly exercised. The person so admitted was assigned a definite place on the roll, usually “inter tribunicios,” occasionally “inter praetorios,” and in the 3rd century even “inter consulares;” this titular rank counting as equivalent to the actual tenure of the office itself. The increasing frequency of these ad lectiones indicates the use of the method as a means of strengthening the emperor's hold over the senate, and of promoting his friends and protégés (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.877 sqq.; Vita Pert. 6, “cum Commodus adlectionibus innumeris praetorios miscuisset;” Vita Marci, 10, “multos ex amicis adlegit” ).

No qualification of age or property was originally fixed by law for a seat in the senate; but from the time when election to the quaestorship became the normal mode of entry into the senate, the legal age for this office became practically that for the senate also. Under the later Republic it was consequently thirty; from the time of Augustus onwards, twenty-five (D. C. 52.20; QUAESTOR). A property qualification was first introduced by Augustus, who fixed it at one million sesterces (D. C. 54.17; Suet. Aug. 41; Tac. Ann. 1.75, 2.37). Under Trajan, all candidates for office, and therefore for a seat in the senate, were compelled to invest a third of their property in Italian land (Plin. Epp. 6.19). This proportion was reduced to a fourth by M. Aurelius (Vit. 11).

It should lastly be mentioned that in the early days of the Empire the Roman franchise was given to Gauls (Tac. Ann. 11.23), and possibly to other provincials, without the right of standing for office in Rome (jus honorum; and to such men, therefore, unless directly admitted by the emperor, the senate-house was closed. But of this special disability no trace is found after the reign of Claudius.

With the right of creating senators was closely connected that of removing them (loco movere), or omitting them from the revised list (praeterire). Of the mode in which it was exercised by the kings and consuls we know nothing beyond the statement in Festus, that, inasmuch as the magistrate then drew up the list as he chose, no stigma attached to those whose names were left out (Festus, p. 246: see above). It is easy to understand that the senate would resent being so completely at the magistrate's mercy; and the Lex Ovinia, carried as it was when the senate was slowly establishing its ascendancy (339-312 B.C.), seems to have given greater security to the senator's tenure of his seat. By transferring the “revision of the list” to the censors, it substituted a quinquennial for an annual revision; and though the removal or omission of a name henceforward inflicted disgrace, this was probably due in part to the fact that the censors, possibly under a clause of the law, were obliged not only to be agreed in doing so (App. 1.28; Liv. 40.51; Cic. Clu. 43, 122), but to state in writing their reasons for inflicting the penalty (Ascon. in tog. Cand. p. 84; Liv. 39.42, “adscriberent notas” ). The power was no doubt abused more than once for party or personal purposes, but in the main the evidence points to the conclusion that the arrangement gave a senator fixity of tenure, unless he were guilty of some act, or had incurred some public disgrace, which by law or custom disqualified him for sitting in the senate (e. g. deprivation of his office for misconduct, loss of civic rights, conviction in certain cases in a court of justice, gross immorality, extravagance, &c.). After 70 B.C., when the censors expelled a number of the unworthy members placed on the list possibly by Sulla, the power of expulsion or omission remained in abeyance (Sall., Cat. 23, gives an instance, belonging to 70 B.C.), though Cicero in the Laws advocates its revival ( “probrum in senatu ne relinquunto,” de Legg. 3.3, 7). Under the Empire it came again into exercise. The thorough “purgings” of the overgrown senate by Augustus in 29-28 B.C., and again in 18 B.C., were no doubt exceptional (Suet. Aug. 35; D. C. 52.42, 54.12), as was that carried out by Vespasian after the civil wars of 69 A.D. (Suet. Vesp. 9, “summotis indignissimis” ). But alike at the periodic lectiones held by Claudius, Vespasian, and Titus as censors, and at the yearly revision of the senatorial list, not only were the names removed of those who had vacated their seats by death, by loss of the necessary property qualification (unless the loss, as frequently happened, was made good by the emperor: Tac. Ann. 1.75, 2.37, 13.34; Suet. Nero 10), or by condemnation in a court of law; but those were also expelled who for one. reason or another were held by the emperor to be unworthy (Ann. 2.48, “prodigos et ob flagitia egentes;” 4.42, “quod in acta d. Augusti non juraverat;” 11.25, “famosos;” Suet. Domit. 8, “quod gesticulandi saltandique studio tenleretur:” the alternative of voluntary, withdrawal was sometimes given, Ann. 2.48). This power of removal, exercised as it was with increasing freedom and even arbitrariness as time went on, combined with the more frequent use of the right of adlectio completely to destroy that practical independence of magisterial control which the republican senate had gradually won for itself. The senate under the Principate became again what it must have been in early days--a body of councillors, largely selected by the chief magistrate at his discretion, and retaining their seats at his good pleasure.

(3.) The mode in which the lectio or revision of the list was carried out has next to be described. Our knowledge of this commences with the period when the revision of the senate was in the hands of the censors, i. e. at the earliest after 339 B.C. Although the lectio senatus was not apparently an integral part of the census, like [p. 2.624]the recognitio equitnm (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.396, and so Willems), it seems to have immediately preceded it (Liv. 24.18; 27.11, &c.). It was conducted usually by both censors jointly (Liv. 32.7, 40.50; Willems, 1.241), though on one occasion at least it was decided by lot which of the two should undertake the work (Liv. 27.11, “sors legendi” ). The first point, down to 81 B.C., was to select the senator whose name should stand at the head of the list as “princeps senatus” and enjoy the privilege of giving his sententia first. This honour belonged by ancient custom to the oldest patrician censorius (Liv. l.c.; Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.970). After 209 B.C. any patrician censorius might be chosen irrespective of seniority. From the time of Sulla onwards, it is not clear that any princeps senatus in the old sense was appointed: the list in the Ciceronian age was possibly headed by the senior consular, and at any rate the post, if it survived at all, must have been deprived of most of its importance by the change made in the order of taking the sententiae, which took away from the princeps the privilege of being asked first (Varro, ap. Gel. 14.7; Willems, 1.114, maintains not only that principes senatus existed after Sulla, but that they were no longer necessarily patricians. Indeed, the three whose names he gives--Q. Lutatius Catulus, P. Servilius Vatia, and Cicero--were all plebeians. But his arguments are not conclusive). Under the Empire, the emperors, following the example of Augustus (Mon. Anc. Gk. 4, 2, πρῶτον ἀξιώματος τόπον τῆς συνκλήτου), placed their own names at the head of the list, though only in the case of Pertinax (D. C. 73.4) was the old title princeps senatus revived. The princeps senatus chosen, the old list of the senate was gone through, the names of deceased members or of those legally disqualified struck out, those who had risen to higher office in the interval placed in their proper position; and finally, any whom the censors judged unfit, struck off the roll. the lectio of 216 B.C. there were no such erasions, but this was exceptional (Liv. 23.23).] The vacancies were then filled up according to the order described above, though here again the censors might pass over one or more of the legally qualified claimants. In the completed list the senators were arranged according to their official rank, from the dictatorii and censorii down to the quaestorii; those, if there were any, who had held no office, being no doubt placed last. Down to the time of Sulla, the patricians in each magisterial category took precedence of the plebeians; in the post-Sullan period, the members of each category were arranged simply by official seniority (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.968; Willems, 1.259). Under the Empire a senator might obtain precedence by the grant of the jus trium liberorum, and earlier still by the successful prosecution in a public court of a senator higher in rank than himself, whose place he took (Mommsen, l.c. 971; D. C. 36.40). Those persons directly admitted (adlecti) by the emperor, among the praetorii or tribunicii, were properly placed below the genuine ex-praetors or ex-tribunes (Vit. Pertin. 6). The list when made up was in Republican times read aloud from the rostra (Liv. 23.23); under the Empire it was regularly published (D. C. 55.3). It held good until the next revision, i. e. under the Republic, until the next censors came into office. Under the Empire the revision was annual (Dio Cass. l.c.). The official name for the list, “album senatorium,” first occurs in Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 4.42).

III. Composition and Character of the Senate.--The first important change in the composition of the senate must have been effected by the admission of plebeians--a measure ascribed by tradition to Brutus, and certainly anterior to their admission to the consulship. With the opening of the magistracies to plebeians, and the additions made to the list of magistracies giving a legal claim to a seat, the plebeian element in the senate grew in strength; and at the close of the Punic wars largely outnumbered the patrician. (See the calculations made by Willems, i. pp. 285 sqq.) The question then arises, how far any distinction was maintained as regards rights and privileges between these two elements? That the interrex was necessarily, and the princeps senatus customarily, a patrician, is certain (see above and art. INTERREX), as also that on the roll patrician senators took precedence of plebeian senators of equal official rank. But on two points there is a division of opinion: (1) Were the functions of appointing the interrex (prodere interregem) and of ratifying votes of the assembly (patrum auctoritas) reserved exclusively for patrician senators? (2) Were plebeian senators at any time without the right sententiam dicere? The first question is answered in the affirmative by Mommsen (Röm. Forschungen, 1.218; Staatsr. 3.871) and Madvig (Verfass. 1.233, 496); in the negative by Willems (2.1 and 33. See also INTERREX). The difficulty. in the way of a decision is increased by the ambiguous sense in which the term patres is used by ancient writers, and by the fact that while the appointment of interreges had become extremely rare during the period to which our best authorities (Cicero, Livy) belong, the patrum auctoritas had long before that time been reduced to a meaningless form (by the Lex Publilia, 339 B.C.). The most probable view on the whole seems to be that, while both acts belonged originally to the senate as a purely patrician body, they were in later times performed by the patricio-plebeian senate as a whole. [Cf. the extension of the term patres to cover the whole senate, and the retention of the phrase patricii magistratus for the curule offices long after these had been opened to plebeians (Cic. ad Brut. 1.5). It is only in connexion with the three earliest interregna under the Republic that Livy speaks of patricii (3.40, 4.7, 4.43: 421 B.C.). On later occasions he speaks always of patres, as does Cicero throughout The patrum auctoritas is never expressly connected with the patricii. For a full discussion, see Willems, l.c., and INTERREX] The second question admits of a more confident answer. It is agreed on all hands that in post-Sullan times no distinction is traceable between patricians and plebeians as regards the right sententiam dicere, and that the term pedarii had no legal value, but merely denoted the lower ranks of senators (i. e. in fact the non-curules), whose names, from want of time, were rarely reached in taking the sententiae, and who were therefore, as a rule, obliged pedibus ire in sententiam, [p. 2.625]i.e. to cross to one side or the other of the senate-house. [Gel. 3.18, “qui in alienam sententiam pedibus irent.” The explanation of the term quoted in the same passage from Gavius Bassus (1st century A.D.), “Senatores qui magistratum curulem nondum cepissent pedibus itavisse in curiam,” though in fact non-curules and pedarii coincide, is a bad guess, which, strangely enough, Willems accepts (op. cit. 1.137). The confusion which follows between the pedarii and the ex-curule magistrates “nondum a censoribus lecti” is probably due to Gellius himself. The latter class were not senators, but had the jus sententiae dicendae; the pedarii were senators, but in practice were unable sententiam dicere. The confusion is repeated in Lewis and Shortt's Latin Dict. The sense of inferiority associated with the pedarii in the senate sufficiently explains the “equites pedarii” of Varro (=common or inferior equites).]

But Mommsen, while agreeing that in the Ciceronian age pedarius was merely a conventional epithet describing the actual but not the legal position of the lower senators, holds that in earlier times the term had a statutable meaning, and denoted “plebeian senators directly admitted by consuls or censors, as distinct from those qualified by office” --a class which ceased to exist after 81 B.C. These plebeian senators were, he thinks, legally incapable of delivering sententiae, and only allowed to vote (pedibus ire). The objections to this theory are: (1) That no such distinction can be drawn between the right sententiam dicere and the right to vote. For the Roman senator, the sententia and the vote were the same thing, though the sententia might be given in different ways, of which the pedibus ire was one [see below under Procedure]. (2) That though there were certainly at one time men in the senate with the jus sententiae who were not senators, there is no evidence of the existence at any time of senators without this right. (3) There is no proof that there was ever a legally distinct class of pedarii, or that the term had ever any other meaning than that which it bore in the Ciceronian age.

The admission of plebeians has been assigned to the early days of the Republic; the period from the Lex Ovinia to the dictatorship of Sulla witnessed another change which stood in close connexion with the growing ascendancy of the senate in the political system. The class of senators freely chosen by the magistrate as distinct from those whom election to office had given a legal claim on his call, gradually disappeared (Cic. de Legg. 3.1. 2, “neminem in summum locum nisi per populum venire” ), and the senate came to be composed entirely of actual and ex-officials, to the exclusion of lay interests and opinions--an exclusiveness intensified by the extent to which from 200 B.C. onwards the official class was recruited from a single section of Roman society, that of the nobiles. In Cicero's day the only working classification of senators was classification by official rank.

Further changes followed under the Empire. The class of those who, while awaiting the next lectio, were permitted to sit in the senate and give sententiae (see above), must have ceased to exist, when the yearly revision enabled the emperor to call them up immediately on the expiry of their year of office. On the other hand, though the official classification continued, and even those directly adlecti by Caesar were placed in one official category or another, and though the majority of senators as a rule entered by the old official door, the quaestorship, the increasing number of the adlecti unquestionably served not only to strengthen the emperor's control over the senate, but to widen the area from which its members were drawn. The effect of Vespasian's admission of numerous Italians and provincials is specially noticed by Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 3.55, “novi homines e municipiis et coloniis atque etiam provinciis--domesticam parsimoniam intulerunt.” Senators from the eastern provinces are very rare before the 2nd century). But while in this way the senate became in its composition more representative of the whole Empire, a narrowing effect was exercised by the tendency to confine the senatorial dignity to a particular class, by making it hereditary. The way for this latter change was prepared in the last century of the Republic. In the time of Cicero, the male members of the great families passed into the senate through the quaestorship, almost as a matter of course. The son of a senator was expected and as a rule did thus qualify himself for senatorial rank; and Cicero contrasts the senatorial and official career proper to young nobles, with the quieter and less ambitious course marked out by custom for members of the equestrian order (Cic. Clu. 56, 153). But as yet the son of a senator had no legal claim to be himself a senator, nor did he as such enjoy any legal distinctions or privileges. Even the phrase ordo senatorius is usually limited in meaning to the actual senate (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.459). Julius, it is true, extended the restriction on foreign travel from senators to their sons (Suet. Jul. 42); but from Augustus dates the first attempt to make the senatorial dignity formally hereditary, and to give the ordo senatorius, as distinct from the senate, a legal existence. According to his regulations, the sons of senators were authorised to assume the broad stripe (latus clavus) on the assumption of the toga virilis, and to attend meetings of the senate (a revival of an ancient custom, Gel. 1.23). They entered the army as tribuni militum or praefecti alarum, and were distinguished from other young officers as laticlavii (Suet. Aug. 38, “liberis senatorum, quo celerius reipublicae assuescerent, protinus a virili toga, latum clavum induere et curiae interesse permisit, militiamque auspicantibus non tribunatum modo legionum, sed et praefecturas alarum dedit . . . binos plerumque laticlavios praeposuit singulis alis.” The ordinary trib. mil. were angusticlavii, Suet. Otho 10). From military service they passed on to the quaestorship and a seat in the senate. That under the earlier emperors this career was morally incumbent both on senators' sons and on other young men, to whom the emperor had granted the latus clavus, seems certain (they are described as honores petituri: Plin. Ep. 8.14; D. C. 59.10, ἐπὶ τῇ τῆς βουλῆς ἐλπίδι), but there is no proof that in the 1st century A.D. it was legally necessary. [We hear of several cases in which a man either declines to assume the latus clavus, or discards [p. 2.626]it after a time. Suet. Vesp. 2, “latum clavum din aversatus” (Vespasian); Tac. Ann. 16.17, “Mela petitione honorum abstinuerat;” Hist. 2.86, “prima juventa senatorium ordinem exuerat;” Ovid, Ov. Tr. 4.10, 35. Claudius, however, as censor took a strict view of the obligation (Suet. Cl. 24, “senatoriam dignitatem recusantibus equestrem quoque ademit.” Augustus, at the lectio, in B.C. 13, compelled qualified persons under 35 βουλεῦσαι (D. C. 54.26).] A further illustration of the same policy is the enactment due to Augustus prohibiting both senators and their sons from marriage with libertinae (Lex Papia Poppaea, Dig. 23, 2, 23). The development of the policy by the emperors of the 2nd century cannot be traced in detail. At the close of that century, however, we find the two orders, senatorial and equestrian, clearly and sharply distinguished. Each has its own privileges. The careers appropriate to the members of each order are different, and the passage from one to the other difficult and rarely made. [EQUITES; PRINCIPATUS; PROCURATOR.] Suetonius already contrasts “senatoria et equestria officia,” Galb. 15; cf. Vita Commodi, 4, “per laticlavi honorem a praefecturae (sc. praetorio, an equestrian office) administratione summovit.” By the lawyers of the early part of the 3rd century senatorial rank is treated as strictly hereditary. Not only the sons, but the grandsons of senators are born into the senatorial order, and cannot escape either the honours or the burdens attached to the dignitas senatoria. Neither posthumous birth, nor adoption into a family of lower rank, affects their position (Dig. 7, 35, 9, 7). As Mommsen has well said (Staatsr. 3.467), the senatorial order took the place as a hereditary nobility of the nobiles of the later Republic, as they had in their turn superseded the patriciate. [For the distinctive privileges and liabilities of the senatorial order as thus constituted, see the next section;--for its general position, cf. Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.865, 3.466; Madvig, Verf. 1.123 sqq.; Friedländer, Sittengesch. 1.197 sqq.]

IV. Insignia, Privileges, &c.--In Republican times the senator bore no distinctive title, for “senator Romanus” was never like “eques Romanus” in official use. The title of courtesy clarissimus, though not unfrequently applied to senators at an early date, was first formally assigned to them in the 2nd century A.D. (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.565), and then or soon afterwards extended not only to their sons, but to their wives and daughters. The outward insignia of the senator were always the broad purple stripe on the tunic (latus clavus) and the red sandals (calcei) with the crescent-shaped buckle (luna), and the leathern thongs wound round the leg (lora). The former of these insignia was possibly not older than the Gracchan period (sero, Plin. Nat. 33.29); the latter were originally the distinctive mark of the patrician. Under the Empire the latus clavus was assumed by a senator's son on reaching manhood; while the red sandals were worn even in childhood (Stat. Silv. 5.2, 28). Separate seats in the theatre were first assigned to senators in 194 B.C. (Liv. 34.44), and at the shows in the circus by Claudius (Suet. Cl. 21). A variety of fresh distinctions were conceded as the senatorial order under the Empire increasingly assumed the character of a hereditary peerage, e. g. the right of entrée to the imperial presence (D. C. 57.11), and of banquets at the public cost (Suet. Aug. 35), the use of covered carriages by their wives (D. C. 57.15), of silver plating upon their own vehicles (Vit. Sev. Alex. 43), and of running footmen (cursores, Vit. Aurel. 49). In the 3rd century A.D., and probably earlier still, they were exempt from all burdens, though still eligible for honores in their own municipia (Dig. 50, 1, 23, “municeps esse desinit senatoriam adeptus dignitatem, quantum ad munera: quantum vero ad honorem, retinere creditur originem;” cf. the omission in inscriptions of senators of their place of domicile; see Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.2, 887, note 1). Though subject, like other citizens, to the ordinary law, they were outside the jurisdiction of municipal authorities. From Hadrian dated the custom for the emperor to summon only senatorial assessors to sit with him in judgment on a senator (Vit. Hadr. 8), a practice revived by Severus Alexander (Vit. 21, “ne quis non senator de Romano senatore judicaret” ). But the increased outward dignity of their position under the Empire brought with it not only increased risk under the worse emperors, but increased liabilities and restrictions. Their exclusion from trade and from taking state contracts, as also their liability and that of their sons to prosecution under the leges de repetundis, date from republican times (Lex Claudia, Liv. 21.63: cf. Dig. 50, 5; Lex Acilia de pec. repet. 2; Bruns, Fontes jur. Rom. 54; Cic. Clu. 55, 150). In addition, Severus Alexander forbade them to lend money except at a low rate of interest (Vit. 26). The prohibition issued in Tiberius' reign against intercourse with stage-buffoons (Ann. 1.77) was, like that against marriage with libertinae, intended to preserve the dignity of the order. But Claudius's edict forbidding praetorian guardsmen to attend the morning levees of senators (Suet. Cl. 25) was no doubt provoked by the same jealousy of senatorial interference with the army, which finally led to their exclusion from military commands and from the camps by Gallienus (Victor. Caes. 33). The separate taxation of senators did not exist as a system before Diocletian (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.2, 900 f.). The costly obligation of providing games was a magisterial rather than a senatorial burden. [LUDI; PRAETOR; QUAESTOR. For the privilege originally enjoyed by senators of voting in the equitum centuriae, and for their duty of serving as judices in the quaestiones perpetuae, see COMITIA; JUDEX; QUAESTIO.]

V. Procedure.--The right to hold a meeting of the senate (senatum habere), to consult it (consulere, referre, relationem facere), and to carry a decree (senatusconsultum facere) belonged in the Ciceronian age to consuls, praetors, and tribunes of the plebs; but if all were present in Rome together, they could only exercise it in the above order of precedence. The right no doubt attached to the consulship and praetorship from the moment of their establishment. It was acquired by the tribunate at some period previous to the plebiscitum Atinium (? before 133 B.C.). The right was also given to the dictator, interrex, [p. 2.627]and praefectus urbi. [See the classical passage, Gel. 14.7, 8, “Primum ibi ponit (Varro) per quos more majorum senatus haberi soleret, eosque nominat, dictatorem, consules, praetores, tribunos plebi, interregem, praefectum urbi . . . tribunis plebi senatus habendi jus erat quamquam senatores non essent ante Atinium plebiscitum.” ] Any one of these magistrates could be prevented from exercising the right by the interference of a colleague, or of a superior, or of a tribune. [INTERCESSIO; TRIBUNUS.] In the earlier times, when the consuls were frequently absent from Rome in the field, the duty of convening the senate constantly developed upon the praetor urbanus (Liv. 22.7; 26.21; 42.8, &c.). In the Ciceronian age, it is regularly performed by the consuls (Cic. Fam. 12.2. 8; CONSUL). Augustus in 23 B.C. was specially empowered to hold a senate as often as he would, even when not consul (D. C. 54.3), and the power was continued to his successors (Lex de Imp. Vesp. 2, “utique ei senatum habere . . . . liceat, ita uti licuit divo Augusto,” &c. Tiberius before he was formally invested with this power convened the senate “tribuniciae potestatis praescriptione sub Augusto acceptae,” Tac. Ann. 1.7). But even under the emperors it was usually the consuls who convened the senate and presided at its meetings (Plin. Epp. 2.11, “princeps praesidebat erat enim consul;” cf. Id. Paneg. 76).

The magistrate who convened the senate determined also the place of meeting, subject, however, to certain conditions. A lawful senate could only be held in a templum, and, except in special cases, within the pomerium (Gel. 14.7, “in loco per augurem constituto, quod templum appellaretur:” see TEMPLUM). Among the ordinary meeting-places of the senate in republican times were the Curia Hostilia and the temples of Concord, of Castor, of Jupiter Stator, and of Tellus. The senate could be convened outside the pomerium, but “intra milia passuum,” if either embassies from states not in alliance with Rome or a pro-magistrate [PROCONSUL; PROPRAETOR] were to take part in the proceedings (Mommsen, Staatsr. iii., 930. As meeting-places outside the pomerium, the temples of Apollo and of Bellona are mentioned: Liv. 34.43; Cic. Fam. 8.4; Plut. Sull. 30).

The senate could not be summoned to meet before sunrise or sit after sunset (Gel. 14.7). But under the Republic there were no fixed days for its meetings any more than for those of the Comitia. Augustus first enacted that there should be two regular meetings held in each month (Suet. Aug. 35, “ne plus quam bis in mense legitimus senatus ageretur Kal. et Idibus,” D. C. 55.3). Nor is it clear that in early times there were any days on which a senate could not be lawfully held. But by a Lex Pupia, the date of which Mommsen fixes at about 154 B.C., the magistrates were apparently forbidden to hold a senate upon any day actually appointed for Comitia, or possibly upon any of the days on which Comitia might legally be held (dies comitiales, Cic. Fam. 1.4, “senatus haberi ante Kal. Febr. per legem Pupiam . . . non potest;” Id. ad Q. Fr. 2.2, “consecuti sunt dies comitiales per quos senatus haberi non potest:” cf ad Fam. 8.8; Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.921-923).

The usual mode of summoning the senate (cogere senatum) was by a proclamation issued by one or both the consuls, naming the date and place of meeting, and occasionally stating the special business to be considered (Liv. 28.9, “praemisso edicto ut triduo post senatus ad aedem Bellonae adesset;” Suet. Jul. 28, “edicto praefatus se summa de republica relaturlum;” Cic. Fam. 11.6, “quam edixissent . . . senatus adesset” ). The procedure was the same if the magistrate concerned was a praetor or tribune. The magistrate was empowered, if necessary, to compel the attendance of senators by taking pledges for their attendance, or by fining those who failed to appear (Gell. xiv, 7; Cic. de Legg. 3.4, Phil. 1.12); but this power was, it would seem, sparingly exercised under the later Republic, and the increased numbers of the senate after 81 B.C., added to the fact that no quorum was required by law, gave little occasion for its use. Under the Empire it was otherwise. Augustus found it necessary not only to fix a quorum (D. C. 55.3: see below), but to increase the penalties for non-attendance (D. C. 54.18), and Claudius did the same (D. C. 60.11: cf. Tac. Ann. 16.27, “patres arguebat(Nero) quod publica munia desererent” ).

On the assembling of the senate, usually in the early morning, the senators took their seats, as they chose, upon the benches (subsellia) ranged in rows to the right and left of the curule chairs of the presiding magistrates; the latter being so placed as to face the door of the house. [Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.932, has shown that under the Republic neither the ordinary senators nor, as Willems (2.173) maintains, the magistrates generally, had any special or fixed seats.] Under the Empire the emperor's chair was placed between those of the consuls (this seat was first assigned to Augustus in 19 B.C.: D. C. 54.10); and separate seats were assigned to the praetors., tribunes, and possibly to the other magistrates (Mommsen, op. cit. p. 934). The proceedings opened with a sacrifice, followed by the inspection of the victim's entrails (Gel. 14.7; Mommsen, op. cit. p. 935).

The magistrate who summoned the senate also presided at its meetings, and it is he who, subject to certain customary rules, determines what business shall be laid before the house and in what order. It was his duty, in the first place, to communicate to the senate any news of importance, to read despatches received from officials abroad, and to introduce provincial or foreign deputations (Caesar, B.C. 1.2; Cic. Fam. 10.1. 2, 3; Liv. 44.20, 21). On his demand, or with his permission, any individual senator might similarly read letters, communicate information, or make a statement to the house. The same privilege belonged to praetors and tribunes, as having the right to consult the senate, even when not actually presiding.

The magistrate might follow up these preliminary communications by referring one or more of the points raised to the senate for its opinion, and the senate not unfrequently demanded by acclamation that such a reference should be made. It rested, however, with the magistrate to decide whether or not this further step should be taken (Liv. 30.21, “conclamatum ex omni parte curiae est, uti referret [p. 2.628]P. Aelius praetor;” ib. 42.3, “ex omnibus partibus postulabatur ut consules earn rem ad senatum referrent;” Cic. Fam. 10.1. 6; Caes. B.C. 1.1, “ut ex litteris ad senatum referretur, impetrari non potuit” ).

The formal consultation of the senate (relatio) was governed by a variety of customary rules. After, usually, an explanation of the business in question ( “verba facere,” Cic. Fam. 8.8; Phil. 8.14, &c.), the magistrate asked the senate “quid de ea re fieri placet,” without himself submitting a definite proposition (Sal. Cat. 30; Cic. Cat. 1.1. 0, 3.13). Occasionally the magistrate indicated his own view (Liv. 39.39, “sibi nisi quid aliud eis videretur in animo esse . . . comitia habere.” For instances of a definite proposition, see Suet. Jul. 28, “rettulit ad senatum ut ei succederetur;” Cic. Phil. 1.1, “scriptum senatusconsultum quod fieri vellet attulit;” cf. Cic. Phil. 10.17). It is significant of the more dependent position of the senate in relation to the emperor that the latter, when consulting the senate, usually made at the same time a definite proposal (see below). The reference to the senate might either be general ( “infinite de republica,” Gel. 14.7; cf. Liv. 26.10, “de summa republica consultatum” ) or special ( “de singulis rebus finite,” Gel. 14.7; Cic. Phil. 7.1, “de Appia Via et de Moneta” ), and the senators might, in giving their sententiae, express a wish for the separate reference of some particular question (Cic. Phil. 10.2. 4, “de M. Appuleio separatim censeo referendum,” ad Fam. 8.8, “ne quid conjunctim referatur” ). Custom again prescribed in general terms the order in which the business should be taken: “de rebus divinis priusquam humanis ad senatum referendum esse” (Gel. 14.7; cf. Liv. 22.9, “ab diis orsus--tum de bello deque republica” ); but here again the practice at least of the later Republic allowed a certain weight to the wishes of the senators themselves, who might either directly demand urgency for a particular question (Cic. Fam. 10.1. 6, “flagitare senatus institit . . . ut referret statim” ), or indirectly force the magistrate's hand by refusing to give opinions upon any matter until the desired point had been submitted to them (Cic. Att. 3.2. 4, “senatum nihil decernere, antequam de nobis actum esset;” in Pison. 13, 29, “quum quacunque de re verbum facere coeperatis aut referre ad senatum, cunctus ordo reclamabat, ostendebatque, nihil esse vos acturos, nisi prius de me rettulissetis” ). The right of reference (jus referendi, consulendi senatum, cum patribus agendi) belonged, exclusively of extraordinary magistrates, to consuls, tribunes of the plebs, and praetors; the latter, however, do not appear to have exercised it except in the absence of the consuls. As between consuls and tribunes, the consul's business took precedence, though it would seem from Cic. Phil. 7.1, that if the questions were small ones, the references of both consuls and tribunes might be put conjointly to the house ( “de Appia Via et de Moneta consul; de Lupercis tribunus plebis refert” ). To the emperors a special right of reference, as of convening the senate, was granted by statute, in addition to that which they possessed in virtue of the tribunicia potestas. This right, granted to Augustus in 23 B.C. on his resignation of the consulship (D. C. 53.32), and confirmed to his successors (Lex Vespas. 2, Bruns, 128), invested him with the power of making the first relatio (περὶ ἑνός τινος, Dio Cass. op. cit.) at each meeting of the senate, and was afterwards extended so as to enable him to make four and even five relationes before the regular magistrates took their turn ( “jus quartae relationis,” Vit. Pert. 5; “quintae relationis,” Sev. Alex. 1; cf. Pelham, Journal of Philology, xvii. pp. 41, 42). At first at any rate the emperor, like the consul, made his relatio in person; or, if unable to do so, communicated it in writing through the consuls (Tiberius, Dio Cass. lviii, 11; Nero, Suet. Nero 15). But from the close of the first century onwards the practice, occasionally adopted by Augustus (D. C. 54.25) and by Claudius (Id. 60.2), of employing the quaestor principis as the emperor's mouthpiece, became the regular one (QUAESTOR: cf. Digest 1, 13, 1, “quaestores . . . libris principalibus in senatu legendis vacant;” ib. 4, “quique epistulas eius in senatu legunt” ). The relationes of the emperor thus took the form of written “speeches” (orationes) or “letters” (litterae, epistulae), and are usually referred to as such (Suet. Tit. 6; Dig. 23, 2, 16, &c.).

The formal introduction of the business was followed, not by a debate, in the modern sense of the word, but by the taking of the sententiae (sententias rogare, perrogare) of the individual senators in order. Just as the senate was in theory only a council of advice consulted by the magistrate, so the senator's one duty was to give his opinion (sententiam dicere), and technically in this one act both speech and vote were included. But, as we shall see, considerations of convenience, as well as the growing tendency to treat the senate's expression of opinion as a positive decision, developed in practice a process of counting votes actually, though not theoretically, distinct from the taking of sententiae.

The magistrate, in taking the sententiae, was expected to follow a well-established order of precedence, corresponding in the main to that observed in the official roll (see above). Down to the time of Sulla, the first sententia taken was that of the princeps senatus. In the Ciceronian age the magistrate might select for this honour any consular, subject only to two restrictions, as (1) he was expected to adhere to the order adopted by him on his first day of office; (2) after the consular elections, i. e. during the latter half of the year, he was bound to give the priority to the consuls-designate. The other consulares were taken next, usually in order of seniority; after them the praetorii, aedilicii, &c. [It is possible that in earlier times, before senatorial ascendancy was well established, the magistrate's discretion in this respect was wider (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.974). The classical passage on the ordo sententiarum is Varro, ap. Gel. 14.7, “singulos autem debere consuli gradatim, incipique a consulari gradu, ex quo gradu . . . antea primum rogari solitum qui princeps in senatum lectus esset, tum autem cum haec scriberet . . . ut is primus rogaretur, quem rogare vellet qui haberet senatum, dum is tamen ex gradu consulari esset;” cf. ib. 4.10; Suet. Jul. 21, “post novam adfinitatem Pompeium primum rogare sententiam coepit” (Caesar). For the consules designati, comp. Sal. Cat. 50: “Silanus primus sententiam rogatus quod eo [p. 2.629]tempore consul designatus erat;” and Cic. Fam. 8.4; Tac. Ann. 3.22.] The right to give an opinion, jus sententiam dicendae, belonged to all senators, excepting only the magistrates of the year; the latter being in theory the consulting and not the consulted parties (Liv. 8.20; Willems, 2.189). It was only when the emperor made a relatio in virtue of his special powers, that the sententiae of magistrates were taken (Tac. Ann. 3.17; Hist. 4.41). But every magistrate could at any moment interpose with a speech on the subject in hand. [Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.943. The same author holds that in earlier days plebeians directly admitted to the senate by consuls or censors, without having held a qualifying magistracy, had no jus sententiae dicendae (Staatsr. 3.963), but could merely take part (pedibus eundo) in the final discessio. Of this, however, there is no sufficient evidence.] The question was put to each senator in turn in the simple form “die M. Tulli (quid censes)” (Liv. 1.32; Cic. Att. 7.1), but the modes of reply were various. (1) The senator might rise, discuss the question in a set speech, and close with a formal statement of his opinion, so worded as to form the basis of a decree ( “stantem sententiam dicere,” Liv. 27.34; Cic. Att. 1.1. 4, “surrexit, ornatissimeque locutus est.” For the form of the closing statement of opinion, comp. Phil. 14.29, “decerno igitur,” &c.; ib. 10.25, “quod consul . . . verba fecit de litteris de ea re ita censeo;” ib. 5.46, “ita censeo decernendum” ). It was occasionally drafted in writing beforehand (Phil. 3.20). This method was that which, in cases of any importance, consulars and other prominent senators were expected to adopt (Liv. 27.34). (2) He might, without rising, express his agreement with some previous sententia, either verbo (Cic. Att. 7.3, “dic M. Tulli: σύντομα, Cn. Pompeio adsentior” ), or by a nod, or by holding up his hand ( “verbo assentiebatur;” Liv. 27.34; cf. Sal. Cat. 52, “sedens assensi;” Cic. Fam. 5.2). (3) He might cross over to the side of a senator with whose opinion he agreed ( “pedibus ire in sententiam,” Liv. 27.34; Cic. ad Q. Fr. 2.1, 3; Vit. Aureliani, 20, “interrogati plerique senatores sententias dixerunt . . . deinde aliis manus porrigentibus, aliis pedibus in sententias euntibus, plerisque verbo consentientibus” ). By this method, a senator who had already given his sententia at length, might indicate that he had changed his mind (Sal. Cat. 50, “Silanus . . . primus sententiam rogatus . . . decreverat: isque postea permotus oratione G. Caesaris pedibus in sententiam Tiberi Neronis iturum se dixerat” ).

In strictness this orderly taking of opinions on business introduced by a magistrate precluded both the introduction of fresh matter by those consulted, and also any debate in the modern sense of the word. But, in the Ciceronian age, custom sanctioned a freedom of speech really inconsistent with the theory of the procedure. For a senator, when asked for his opinion on a particular point, to seize the opportunity to deliver a lengthy oration on some wholly irrelevant matter, was a privilege thoroughly well recognised and frequently exercised ( “egredi relationem,” Gel. 4.10; Tac. Ann. 2.38,; Cic. Fam. 10.2. 8, “quum tribuni plebis. . .de alia re referrent, totam rempublicam sum complexus” ). It was indeed the only means open to the senator of forcing upon the attention of the senate subjects which the magistrates were unwilling formally to bring before it (Cic. Phil. 7.1, “parvis de rebus consulimur . . . tamen animus aberrat a sententia, suspensus curis majoribus” ). That the presiding magistrate could not compel a senator to speak to the question is clear, and it is doubtful how far he was able to limit the duration of his speech. According to Ateius Capito (Gel. 4.10), a senator could say, “quicquid vellet . . . et quoad vellet;” and several instances are recorded in which a measure was, as we should say, “talked out” (Cic. Att. 4.3, “calumnia dicendi tempus exemit;” Gel. 4.10, “eximebat dicendo diem;” cf. Cic. Att. 4.2, ad Q. Fr. 2.1, 3). One instance only is recorded in which the presiding magistrate exercised his authority to check this abuse, and then the feeling of the house was decidedly against him (Caesar's arrest of Cato, Gel. 4.10). On another occasion the senate by resolution decided that the speeches should be brief (Cic. Fam. 1.2). The altercationes, which were not infrequent in the Ciceronian age, were certainly out of order, but were as certainly tolerated (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.947; Willems, 2.191).

The theory of the procedure unquestionably implied that the magistrate took the sense of the house on the matter which he had laid before them, by asking each senator in turn to give his opinion (perrogare sententias); and there is no evidence that he could, by any form of closure, abridge the process (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.983, as against Willems, 1.194). It is also possible that in the early days, when the senate was still a subordinate and purely consultative body, the sense of the house as expressed in the course of this process was taken as sufficient, and that no formal division (discessio) followed. But when the senate became in fact the governing council, the business before it increased in amount and complexity, and the importance of its decisions increased also. These changes, coupled with the rise in its numbers from 300 to 600, modified the character of the perrogatio sententiarum, and necessitated a more exact method of “taking a vote,” i. e. of determining where the majority of sententiae lay. (But the “voting” was not technically distinct from the “giving an opinion;” nor is it conceivable that, as Mommsen holds, there were senators who could vote but who were legally unable sententiam dicere.) The accounts we have of the procedure in the senate during the Ciceronian age, make it clear that sententiae, in the shape of formal proposals explained and advocated in speeches, were as a rule only given by the highest category of senators, the consulares and praetorii, and that the rest contented themselves with a brief assent (verbo), or ranged themselves behind the speaker they agreed with (pedarii. The cases of Cato in 63 B.C., who, though only tribunus designatus, gave the sententia which was ultimately adopted, and of P. Servilius Isauricus, Cic. Att. 1.1. 9, were no doubt exceptional). On the perrogatio followed, at least in Cicero's time, the pronuntiatio sententiarum: where only one definite [p. 2.630]proposal had been made; or when the sense of the house was clearly in favour of a particular sententia, the case was simple. But where, as in the debate on the restoration of Ptolemy Auletes (Cic. Fam. 1.1 and 2), several conflicting sententiae had been given, and there was a real division of opinion, the difficulty was considerable. It rested with the magistrate who had made the relatio to take the division on such sententiae, and in such order as he thought best; and he might decline to put such as seemed to him inexpedient (Willems, 2.194; Cic. Phil. 14.2. 2), or to be covered, or better expressed by others (Cic. Att. 12.2. 1, “cur ergo in sententiam Catonis, quia verbis luculentioribus et pluribus rem eandem comprehenderat” ). As a rule, however, the sententiae were put to the vote in the order in which they had been given. If the first was carried, the rest, if inconsistent with it, naturally fell to the ground. A single seenentia might lastly be divided and put as two (Cic. pro Mil. 14, “divisa est sententia;” cf. ad Fam. 1.2). The difficulties involved in the putting a variety of sententiae to the house so as to get a clear decision are well described by Pliny (Epp. 8.14, “quae distinctio pugnantium sententiarum quae exsecutio prioribus addentium,” &c.). The sententia once put (pronuntiata), the magistrate took the division by bidding the “ayes” cross to the side of the senate-house on which its author sat, the “noes” to the other (Plin. l.c., “qui haec sentitis in hanc partem, qui alia omnia in illam partem ite . . . in hanc partem, id est in earn in qua sedet qui censuit;” cf. Cic. Fam. 1.2, “frequentes ierunt in alia omnia;” Festus, p. 261). He then declared on which side the majority was ( “haec pars major videtur,” Senec. de Vit. beat. 2. There is no evidence of any actual counting of heads, any more than when the Speaker in the English House of Commons declares that the “ayes” have it: Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.993).

Such was the regular order of procedure. But in certain cases the perrogatio sententiarum might be dispensed with, and a division taken at once (senatusconsultum per discessionem facere). This, however, was only allowable where the business was formal, or where no difference of opinion existed (Varro, ap. Gel. 14.7, “senatusconsultum fieri duobus modis aut per discessionem si consentiretur, aut si res dubia esset, per singulorum sententias exquisitas;” cf. Cic. Phil. 3.24).

The republican order of procedure was maintained with comparatively little change throughout the first three centuries of the Empire (cf. Plin. Epp. viii. 14; Vit. Aurel. 20); nor can the “lex, quae nunc de senatu habendo observatur” (Gel. 4.10), possibly the work of Augustus, have effected many alterations of importance. The special jus referendi granted to the emperor has been mentioned above. He had also the right as a senator to give his sententia, and to give it when he would, usually either first or last (D. C. 57.7; Tac. Ann. 1.74. The emperors after Tiberius seem never to have exercised this right: Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.977). The claim of the consuls designate to be asked first disappears early in the second century A.D. (ib. 3.976); and lastly, by Augustus, a certain quorum was fixed as necessary for a valid discessio. (The exact number required is unknown: ib. 3.990; D. C. 55.3; Suet. Aug. 35). In practice, however, the declining independence of the senate led to a frequent disregard of the elaborate routine of earlier days. A body which met to accept submissively an imperial proposal, to pass a complimentary vote, or decide some trivial point, willingly dispensed with the routine of the perrogatio, and its place was taken by the undignified adclamationes [Plin. Epp. 8.14, “priorum temporum (sc. under Domitian) servitus . . . etiam juris senatorii oblivionem quandam et ignorantiam induxit,” cf. Paneg. 54, 75, 76; “consulti omnes atque etiam dinumerati sumus” (under Trajan). For the adclamationes, cf. Mommsen, op. cit. 3.951, note 2, and the Script. Hist. Aug. passim, especially Vit. Alex. Sev. 6, 7; Vit. Taciti, 5].

The relationes of the magistrates once disposed of by the perrogatio and discessio, the presiding magistrate dismissed the senate with the words “nihil vos teneo” or “tenemus patres conscripti” (Cic. ad Q. Fr. 2.2, or “nihil vos moramur,” Vit. Marci, 10). The resolution or resolutions were then formally drafted as senatusconsulta by the magistrate who had made the relatio and taken the division ( “senatusconsultum perscribere,” Cic. Cat. 3.6; ad Fam. 8.8) in the presence of two or more senators ( “scribendo adfuerunt,” Cic. Fam. 8.8; ad Att. 4.17). If the interference of a tribune prevented the “making” of a senatusconsultum, the resolution was nevertheless drafted as a “senatus auctoritas” (Cic. Fam. 8.8; TRIBUNUS). The regular form of the senatusconsultum ran as follows:--“Pridie Kal. Oct. in aede Apollinis scribendo adfuerunt . . . quod consul verba fecit de provinciis consularibus, de ea re ita censuere, uti,” &c. (Cic. ib.). The older decrees commence with the formula “consul (or praetor, tribunus pl.) senatum consuluit” (e. g. Senatusconsultum de Bacchanalibus, C. I. L. 1.196; de Tiburtibus, ib. 1.201). Under the Empire, if the proposal carried had been introduced by the emperor, the words were inserted “auctore Claudio,” &c. (Senatusconsultum Hosidianum, Orelli, 3115). Occasionally in the second century a private senator is named as the author of the sententia on which the decree is based (Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1009). The number of senators present at the division, but not the numbers for and against, is often stated ( “in senatu fuerunt C,” C. I. L. viii. p. 270). The senatusconsultum thus written out was then entrusted to the quaestors, by them placed in the aerarium and entered in the tabulae publicae ( “ad aerarium deferre,” Tac. Ann. 3.51; Cic. Att. 13.3. 3, “liber in quo sunt senatusconsulta,” C. I. L. viii. p. 270; “senatusconsultum descriptumn et recognitum ex libro sententiarum in senatu dictarum,” 138 A.D. [TABULARIUM]. The entry of spurious senatusconsulta was not uncommon in the last days of the Republic: Cic. Phil. 5.4, 12.5). Although the terms of a senatusconsultum were communicated to the individuals or communities interested, and occasionally to the public, by the presiding magistrate (Liv. 45.20; Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1014), no official record of the proceedings in the senate was published until Caesar's first consulship in 59 B.C. The acta senatus instituted by him on the model of the acta urbana were published after each sitting of the senate, and contained, besides the decrees [p. 2.631]passed, some account of the various sententiae given, &c. (Suet. Jul. 20, “ut tam senatus quam populi diurna acta confierent et publicarentur.” These acta were distinct from the commentarii or notes kept by magistrates or private senators: Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1015; Hübner, de senatus Populique R. actis, Leipzig, 1860). Acta senatus continued to be regularly compiled under the Empire, but Augustus discontinued their publication (Suet. Aug. 36). The duty of compiling them was by him entrusted to one of the younger senators (curator actorum senatus, later “ab actis senatus;” Tac. Ann. 5.4, “componendis patrum actis delectus a Caesare;” Orelli, 5447, “curat(or) actorum senatus (Domitian) 2273 ab actis” (Trajan). The “commentarii senatus” (Tac. Ann. 15.74) are identical with the acta. >Extracts from the acta were occasionally published by order of the senate (Plin. Paneg. 75), and the acta themselves could be consulted by privileged students. Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1021).

VI. Powers of the Senate.--The patricio-plebeian senate inherited from its patrician predecessor two important prerogatives,--those of ratifying votes of the assembly (patrum auctoritas), and of appointing an interrex. The first of these had been reduced to a meaningless form by 287 B.C. (Lex Publilia, 339 B.C. Liv. 8.12; Lex Maenia, B.C. 338; Cic. Brut. 14.5. 5; Lex Hortensia, B.C. 287), though as such it long survived (Liv. 1.17). The second retained its reality, but the opportunities for its exercise became rare as the number of the magistrates with the imperium increased, and the necessity for declaring an interregnum more remote [INTERREX]. Apart from these prerogatives, the senate had constitutionally no right or duty whatsoever but that of advising the magistrate when consulted by him.

Its members were, strictly speaking, chosen by him, and he could remove them. Subject to certain restrictions, he convened it when and where he would. He determined what business should be laid before it, and the duty of the senators was merely to give their opinion on the point submitted to them. The “senatusconsultum” was technically nothing more than a recommendation to the magistrate (comp. the phrase in senatusconsulta “si iis videretur” ), and its force depended on his adoption of it (so the magistrate was said “facere senatusconsultum;” cf. Mommsen, op. cit. 3.995, for the older use of the term decretum as implying a magisterial act). It is clear, in short, that even in Cicero's time the senate was formally dependent on the magistrate. It had no direct relation with any department of administration, and the extent to which it controlled affairs depended, not upon any prerogatives of its own, but upon the readiness of the magistrate to ask its advice and to accept it when asked. The result was that even in the period of its assured ascendancy, and still more in the days of Cicero, the area of its activity alternately contracted or expanded, as the attitude of the executive magistrates was friendly and deferential or the reverse. (Comp. Cicero's description of Antony's change of front in 44 B.C., Phil. 1.1: “praeclara tum oratio, egregia voluntas . . . ad hunc ordinem res optimas deferebat . . . ecce . . . Kalendis Juniis . . . mutata omnia: nihil per senatum, multa et magna per populum.” ) We may safely assume (Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1023) that under the monarchy, and even under the early Republic, the dependence of the senate upon the magistrature was as great in practice as in theory, and its control of affairs proportionately limited. But throughout the period of the great wars (300-146 B.C.) the case was otherwise. It was by the senate that the policy and the administration of the state were really directed; and the magistrates were, with rare exceptions, its obedient servants, consulting it at every step, and conceding to its advice the force of a command ( “quasi ministros gravissimi consilii,” Cic. pro Sest. 65, 137). The causes of the change were various. The constant wars by keeping the chief magistrates constantly in the field threw the responsibility for the safe conduct of affairs upon the senate; the growing complexity of political and administrative questions rendered the senate rather than either the assembly or the magistrate the fittest authority to discuss and settle them; the increase in the numbers of the magistracy, while it gave the senate additional importance as the one body which could so organise and direct them as to secure effective co-operation, weakened the power and diminished the self-reliance of the individual magistrate. To these causes must be added the support afforded to the senate by its intimate connexion with the nobility (Mommsen, Röm. Gesch. bk. 3, cap. 11). The precise steps by which the senate gained this ascendancy cannot be followed in detail. In some cases where in earlier times the magistrate had consulted the people as well as the senate, the reference to the former was quietly dropped, and a decree of the senate was accepted as sufficient (e. g. in the case of the prorogatio imperii: see art. IMPERIUM and Mommsen, Staatsrecht, 3.1091). In others (e. g. the arrangement of the provinciae; see PROVINCIA), a point originally settled by the magistrates among themselves was regularly submitted to the senate for decision. Naturally, too, where an established custom of consulting the senate grew up, the tendency was to claim for the senate a constitutional right to have its advice both asked and followed. A conspicuous instance of this was the assertion confidently made by senatorial advocates that no measure could legally be introduced into the assembly which had not received the previous sanction of the senate (Liv. 14.21, “praetor novo maloque exemplo rem ingressus erat, quod non ante consulto senatu . . . rogationem ferret” ). It is also clear that as the senate grew stronger, and the magistrates weaker, the original theory of the nature and force of its senatorial decrees, as nothing but expressions of opinion on particular cases, was lost sight of, or rather was put aside in favour of one better suited to the facts of the case. The replacement of the older decretum by senatusconsultum, of the phrase de senatus sententia by ex senatusconsulto, and the introduction of the custom that the magistrate should in making his relatio abstain from anticipating the decision of the senate by any definite proposal, are significant illustrations of the change (see supra, pp. 628 f.; Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.994 ff.). Not less so was the tendency to regard the senate as capable by decree of suspending or invalidating a law (e. g. the suspension of the law of appeal [p. 2.632]by the senatusconsultum ultimum; cf. Sallust, Sal. Cat. 29), or of enacting general regulations for the future (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.2, 1230), as distinct from special provisions for particular cases. Nor is it surprising that the growth of senatorial ascendancy should have been accompanied by attempts formally to emancipate the senate from the magisterial control which, if no longer effective, was yet irksome. Thus, as we have seen, the magistrate's freedom of choice in the lectio senatus was gradually destroyed (see supra, pp. 622 f.), the infliction of penalties for non-attendance fell into disuse (Mommsen, Staatsrecht, 3.2, 916), and the licence egredi relationem (see supra, p. 629) became an established privilege.

The limits of the authority of the senate, at the period of its most complete ascendancy (circa 300-133 B.C.), are not easy to define. There were indeed certain things with which the senate had no concern (e. g. the election of magistrates), as falling wholly and exclusively within the domain of the people. There are others where its interference was limited properly to a preliminary consideration, while the final decision rested with the assembly (e. g. alterations in the constitution, the declaration of war, the ratification of a formal treaty); though in these cases the tendency was to depreciate the importance of, and even to omit the second stage in, the proceeding. Finally, the ordinary routine business of each department was as a rule left entirely to the magistrate in charge of it. But within these limits, there were hardly any administrative questions which the senate might not be called upon to discuss and decide. In the first place, the growing amount and variety of the work to be done necessitated a more systematic division and assignment of departments than had been required in earlier days, and for this delicate business only the senate was fitted. Year after year, from the commencement of the Second Punic war onwards, the consuls consulted the senate de provinciis; and the senate decided what these should be, which of them should be consular and which praetorian. [This division was, before 122 B.C., made at the first meeting of the senate in the year: Liv. 32.28 and 39.38. The Lex Sempronia de provinciis consularibus (122 B.C.) enacted that the point must be settled before the consular elections: Sallust, Sal. Jug. 27; Cic. de Prov. Cons. 17 In settling what the provinces should be, the senate varied the arrangements as necessity required: e. g. Liv. 45.16, “duas provincias Hispaniam rursus fieri quae una per bellum Macedonicum fuerat,” Willems, op. cit. 2.544.] It decided further in what cases a prorogatio imperii was desirable (Liv. 26.28 and passim); and occasionally not only determined whether a province should be consular or praetorian, but assigned it extra sortem to a particular individual (apparently only in the case of praetorian provinces, Willems, 2.273, 545). When, as was the case in the post--Sullan period, all the provinces abroad were taken by pro-magistrates, whose imperium had been prolonged, the duration of each command was also fixed by the senate's willingness or the reverse to renew the prolongation at the close of each year. (Cic. de Prov. Consul., passim; cf. ad Att. 5.11, “ne provincia nobis prorogetur:” see IMPERIUM; PROVINCIA.) But the control of the senate did not end here. It had also to determine what equipment (ornatio) in the way of troops, money, staff, &c., should be granted to each magistrate or pro--magistrate (Cic. Att. 4.1. 8, “in ornandis provinciis consularibus;” ad Q. Fr. 2.3, “de ornandis praetoribus;” in Pison. 57, “provinciam senatus auctoritate exercitu et pecunia instructam et ornatam” ), a right of supply which should have been a more effective check upon the executive than in practice it proved to be. Finally, it may be noted that the actual administration of the various departments was, in a variety of ways, subject to senatorial supervision. Alike at home and abroad, not only was the frequent reference of special points to the senate required from the magistrate by custom, but general regulations were made by senatorial decree for his guidance. In three cases especially the control of the senate was of great importance: in the management of the finances, in the government of the transmarine provinces, and in the regulation of foreign affairs. (1) The income of the Roman state was derived partly from the state property,--the public lands, mines, fisheries, &c.,--partly from taxation. As regards the first, although the alienation of public land by assignation required the sanction of the people, its management was under the supervision of the senate, which authorised surveys of its boundaries, the leasing of lands or mines on certain conditions, and the collection of the dues payable by the lessees. As to taxation, the imposition of a new tax upon Roman citizens was indeed beyond the power of the senate; but inasmuch as after 167 B.C. the burden of taxation fell on the provincials, the restriction was unimportant. On the other hand, it was the senate which determined what a province should pay, and in what form; which granted exemptions, increased the amount, or altered the mode of collection. (Comp. the senatusconsultum as to Macedonia in 167 B.C. Liv. 45.18: see also Cic. Ver. 3.16, 42; Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1120 sqq. The Lex Sempronia de provincia Asia, which altered the mode of collecting the tithes of Asia, was an infringement of the customary rights of the senate.) The case was much the same with regard to the public expenditure. It was the senate which sanctioned the expenditure, which directed the payments to be made from the treasury--except where these were in a few cases fixed by law,--and which authorised the striking and issue of coins in Rome. (Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1126 sqq.; Plb. 6.13, καὶ γὰρ παραπλησίως; Cic. in Vat. 15, 36, describes the “aerarii dispensatio” as a prerogative of the senate.) (2) The organisation, in the first instance, of a new province was usually carried out by a commission of senators in accordance with a decree of the senate [PROVINCIA]; and it was by the senate, as a rule, that any subsequent modifications in its constitution were made, and regulations laid down as to the methods of its administration (Mommsen, op. cit. 3.2, 1211 sqq.; Liv. 43.2; Cic. Ver. 2.39, ad Att. 5.21). It was to the senate that the provincial governor addressed his despatches, and before the senate that provincial deputations [p. 2.633]appeared. (3) In foreign relations, it is not easy to define exactly the functions of the senate, as distinct on the one hand from the constitutional rights of the people, and on the other from the authority wielded on the spot by the magistrate or pro-magistrate, vested with the imperium and in command of troops. For a formal declaration of war against a previously friendly power, the consent of the people was constitutionally necessary; while the repulse of invaders and the chastisement of insurgents were matters within the authority of the magistrate himself. But for military expeditions on any considerable scale, or for expeditions outside his province, or against friendly peoples within it, he was expected to obtain the sanction of the senate (Liv. 39.3, 55, 43.1; Appian, App. Hisp. 81). The ratification of a formal and permanent treaty of peace, like the formal declaration of war, was properly the act of the people [Plb. 6.14, ὑπὲρ εἰρήνης οὕτος βουλεύεται καὶ πόλεμου. Livy, 30.44, describes the conditions of peace with Carthage (201 B.C.), arranged by Scipio, as requiring confirmation “patrum auctoritate populique jussu;” comp. Id. 29.12; Sal. Jug. 39, “senatus decernit suo atque populi injussu nullum potuisse foedus fieri” ]; the arrangement of a temporary truce that of the magistrate. But the terms of a proposed treaty were discussed and settled in the senate. It was before the senate that foreign ambassadors appeared, and by the senate's authority that Roman legati were sent out (Plb. 6.13). Of the numerous alliances by which communities were admitted to the status of dependent allies of the Roman people, the majority seem to have been ratified by the senate only. [Mommsen, op. cit., 3.1172. The ratification by law of Pompey's arrangements in Asia (59 B.C.) was an exception to the rule (D. C. 38.7).] If to the senate's control of the finances, of the administration of the provinces, and of foreign relations we add its general supervision of matters touching public peace and order in Rome and Italy (described by Plb. 6.13), the justice of its claim to be considered the actual ruler of the Roman state will be evident.

But this claim did not pass unchallenged in the last century of the Republic, and during the latter half of that century (70-49 B.C.) it was weakened by the growing ineffectiveness of senatorial control in the very case where it was most needed, in the government of the provinces. The attacks made upon the ascendancy of the senate by the Gracchi, and by the leaders of the popular party after them, were directed in the first place against the claim put forward on behalf of the senate that its auctoritas was necessary for any measure which a magistrate wished to bring before the assembly. The question of the legality of this claim, raised by the opposition which the senate offered to the Sempronian agrarian laws, was answered by the successful passing of those laws “contra auctoritatem senatus.” Sulla indeed endeavoured to reassert the claim by making the senatus auctoritas legally necessary (88 B.C.; Appian, App. BC 1.59, μηδὲν ἔτι ἀπροβούλευτον ἐς τὸν δῆμον ἐσφέρεσθαι), but his work was undone in 70 B.C., and thenceforward the independent right of the magistrate to propose and of the people to pass any law, though denied in theory by senatorial advocates (Cic. de Rep. 2.36; de Legg. 3.12), was allowed in practice and was repeatedly exercised. Similarly the summary condemnation of the elder Gracchus' adherents drew from the popular party an emphatic repudiation of the principle that the senate by decree could authorise the consuls to suspend the law of appeal (Plut. C. G. 5; Cic. pro Rab. perd. 4, 12; pro Cluent. 55, 150), and the execution of the Catilinarians in 63 B.C. led to a second reassertion of the inviolability of the law by Clodius in 58 B.C. (Vell. 2.45; for a statemen of the senatorial view of the force of the decree in this case, comp. Sallust, Sal. Cat. 29).

More dangerous to senatorial ascendancy was the policy pursued by Gaius Gracchus, who, taking his stand on the legislative independence of magistrate and people, invited the latter to deal by law with a variety of questions, long left by custom to the decision of the senate, such as the distributions of corn, the conditions of military service, the taxation of the provincials, and even the mode of assigning the provinces. [LEGES SEMPRONIAE.] The precedent set by Gracchus was followed by his successors, and in particular the interference of the assembly in the assignment of provincial commands struck at the very roots of the power of the senate (comp. Gabinian and Manilian laws, 67-66 B.C.; Lex Vatinia, 59; Lex Clodia, 58; Lex Trebonia, 55).

But the ascendancy of the senate might have survived these attacks, had it been able to retain its hold over the great officers who led the legions and governed the provinces abroad. While, however, the senate from 81 onwards showed itself increasingly anxious to retain in its own hands the control of the provinces and of foreign relations (see, for instances, Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1171, 1222), the virtual independence of the proconsuls, and the impotence of the senate to enforce the observance by them of its own decrees or of laws, became daily clearer. And this was so not only in the case of great autocratic officers, such as Pompey or Caesar, holding important commands by the direct vote of the people, but of the ordinary provincial governor. (Comp. the advice given by Cicero to Lentulus Spinther to restore Ptolemy Auletes on his own responsibility: ad Fam. 1.7, 4.) It was finally in a conflict, not with the popular assembly and its leaders, but with the powerful proconsul of the Gauls, that the senate was decisively defeated.

VII. The Senate under the Emperors.--The changes effected by the emperors in the composition and procedure of the senate have been already described. It remains to consider the share it took in the work of government. The restoration of the Republic professedly accomplished by Augustus formally replaced the senate in its ancient position as the recognised council of advice for the executive magistrates. The decay of the comitia removed an ancient rival; it transferred to the senate the election of magistrates, and substituted senatorial decrees for laws. In conjunction with the consuls the senate exercised throughout the first century a criminal jurisdiction, such as it had only claimed before in exceptional cases, and, since 122, only under protest from the popular party. The growing insignificance of the old magistracies increased its prestige as the surviving representative of the old Republic, and [p. 2.634]the one constitutional check on the power of Caesar. And when, on the death or deposition of an emperor, the principate for the moment ceased to exist, it was to consuls and senate that its powers in theory reverted, and from them came constitutionally the proposal to confer them anew upon a successor. [PRINCIPATUS.]

But the political and administrative ascendancy of the senate was gone for ever, and even the partnership with Caesar in the government often claimed for it was unreal and delusive. [For a different view, see Mommsen, Staatsrecht, 2.709; as to the supposed Dyarchie of Caesar and senate, comp. ib. 3.1252, “Der souveräne Senat des Principats:” see also PRINCIPATUS.] The period of its real supremacy had been marked by a gradual restriction of the magistrates' control over its composition and procedure. How farreaching on the other hand was the authority of Caesar in these respects has been shown above. Moreover, under the system established by Augustus, the senate had a double part to play. On the one hand it was still as of old the council which advised, instructed, and even directed the ordinary executive officials, the consuls, praetors, &c., in Rome, and the governors of all provinces other than those of Caesar abroad. Under this aspect it had a sphere of activity conterminous with theirs, covering nominally the administration of affairs in Rome, Italy, and the public provinces. But in the first place this sphere of activity was not only restricted by the wide area originally assigned to Caesar, but became continually narrower as Caesar laid his hand on one after another of the departments properly belonging to the regular magistrates (see for details PRINCIPATUS). Even within these limits the power and influence of Caesar made themselves increasingly felt, to a degree which deprived the action of the senate of all real independence. In the discussion of matters within this sphere, brought forward by the consuls or other magistrates, Caesar, if present, took part as an ordinary senator, but his sententia carried a weight which was usually decisive. (Tac. Ann. 1.74; 2.36. This is especially clear in the case of trials before the senate, where Caesar's sententia is sometimes treated as equivalent to a judicial verdict, e.g. Ann. 4.31.) In virtue, moreover, of his tribunicia potestas, Caesar could and did interfere at any stage of the proceedings: to prevent the making of a relatio, the taking of sententiae, or the passing of a decree. (In Tac. Ann. 1.13, Tiberius is thanked “quia relationi consulum jure tribuniciae potestatio non intercessisset;” comp. ib. 3.70, 14.48.) It is evident also that, even under the early emperors, the consciousness of Caesar's overwhelming strength disinclined the senate to discuss or decide any but the most ordinary and unimportant questions except at his suggestion or with his approval, and made it anxious to transfer all serious responsibility to him. (Tac. Ann. 2.35, 3.32, 52, 13.26, “consules non ansi relationem incipere ignaro principe.” Plin. Epp. 6.19, “senatus sententiae loco postulavit ut consules desiderium universorum notum principi facerent;” ib. 7.6, “consules omnia integra principi servaverunt.” Tac. Hist. 4.4, “eam curam consul designatus ob magnitudinem oneris . . . principi reservabat.” Nero thought it necessary to profess his intention of respecting the supposed division of labour between himself and the senate. Ann. 13.4, “teneret antiqua munia senatus . . . consulum tribunalibus Italia et publicae provinciae adsisterent.” ) A glance at the three departments of finance, of provincial government, and of foreign relations, over which under the Republic the senate exercised a real authority, will sufficiently illustrate its altered position under the emperors. In that of finance, a limit was at once placed to the senate's control by the existence of the fiscus, which was from the first wholly under Caesar's management [FISCUS]. Over the old state chest, “aerarium populi Romani,” the senate retained a nominal supervision, but of its independent management by the senate there is little trace. The expenditure of money from it, or remissions of payments due to it, were indeed, as late as the second century, authorised by senatusconsulta, but on the initiative of the emperor (Tac. Ann. 2.47, 4.13. A natural exception was the occasional outlay on temples in the emperor's honour). Its custody was by Nero transferred to imperial officers (praefecti aerarii, Tac. Ann. 13.29); and though the fiscus and aerarium remained for long formally distinct, Dio Cassius pronounces the distinction to be at once unreal and difficult to define (D. C. 53.16, 22). As regards the government of the provinces, the control of the senate was similarly at once restricted in area, and shorn of all real independence [PRINCIPATUS; PROVINCIA]. Over two-thirds of the empire Caesar was sole master, and over the rest he exercised a majus imperium which ultimately gave him all that he wanted. Of its old duties in connexion with the assignment even of the so-called “senatorial provinces” all that remained was the formal selection of the same two provinces each year as “consular.” In the first century it is true that the responsibility of proconsuls to the senate rather than to Caesar, and the right of the senate to supervise their administration, was recognised in theory and occasionally in practice; but, as has been shown elsewhere [PRINCIPATUS], in the second century even this partial authority disappeared. Over foreign relations the senate retained no independent control whatever, even in name. Although announcements as to foreign affairs were constantly made in the senate or communicated to it by the emperor (Tac. Ann. 1.52, 2.52, 3.32, 47; Mommsen, op. cit. 3.1107, 1264), and though foreign embassies were sometimes introduced to it by him (Tac. Ann. 12.10; Hist. 4.51), yet the exclusive command of all troops, and the plenary authority to declare war and conclude treaties given to Augustus and his successors, deprived the senate of all real power (Strabo xvii. p.840, καὶ πολέμου καὶ εἰρήνης κατέστη κύριος. Lex Vespasiani, Bruns, p. 128, “foedusve cum quibus volet facere liceat” ). It is lastly significant of the growing dependence of the senate upon Caesar, even within its own sphere, that by the close of the second century even the criminal jurisdiction seems to have been exercised only at the invitation or by direction of the emperor (Mommsen, op. cit. 2.110).

But the senate was also the council of advice for Caesar himself, who possessed by statute a special right of convening it, of laying matters [p. 2.635]before it, and of carrying senatusconsulta (Lex Vespasiani, “utique ei senatum habere, relationem facere remittere, senatusconsulta per relationem discessionemque facere liceat” ). Here there was no question of divided authority; from this point of view the activity of the senate was determined by the willingness or reluctance of Caesar to consult it, and to use its decrees, as instruments of his own government, within the sphere assigned to him.

Such a use of the senate had obvious advantages. It was in accordance with republican tradition; it gave an appearance of constitutionalism to imperial rule, without involving any real sacrifice of power; and it divided responsibility. By nearly all the emperors of the first and second centuries the usefulness of the senate in this capacity was fully recognised. The list of questions submitted to the senate by Caesar and of decrees promoted by him (auctore principe) is a long one; and besides non-political matters, such as changes in the civil law, regulations as to the theatre and gladiatorial shows, restrictions on luxury, or the expulsion of astrologers (for instances, see Haenel's useful work, entitled, rather inaccurately, Corpus legum ab Imperatoribus latarum, Leipzig, 1857, and art. SENATUSCONSULTUM), it includes a variety of subjects directly connected with the general administration of the Empire. (Suet. Tib. 30, “de vectigalibus et monopoliis . . . etiam de legendo vel exauctorando milite . . . denique quibus imperium prorogari ant extraordinaria bella mandari, quid et qua forma regum litteris rescribi placeret;” Tac. Ann. 11.23, grant of jus honorum to the Aedui; ib. 12.61, grant of immunitas to Cos: comp. Haenel, op. cit.).

The usefulness of the senate as a subordinate instrument of Caesar's government outlasted its importance as an independent administrative authority: but even in this capacity it ceased after a time to fill any but a quite insignificant place. By the time of the younger Pliny, the emperor's relationes, whether oral or written, were assuming the form of definite proposals, accepted by the senate as a matter of course, and sometimes without even a formal taking of sententiae; and the imperial oratio or epistula, rather than the senatusconsultum which followed, is quoted as authoritative (see supra, under PROCEDURE, p. 628). In the third century even this purely formal reference to the senate became rare; and from the reign of Septimius Severus onwards, government by imperial edicts, constitutions, and rescripts is the rule. (Even in the department of civil law, the references to orationes, epistulae, and senatusconsulta rapidly dwindle in number, while those to constitutions and rescripts as rapidly increase. See Haenel, op. cit,; Rein, Privatrecht, p. 86.)

On two or three occasions during the third century, accident seemed to revive the importance of the senate. The formal investiture of the person chosen to be princeps, with the customary powers, had always been accomplished by decree of the senate followed by a vote of the people [PRINCIPATUS], though only rarely had the senate exercised a voice in the selection itself. But both Maximus and Balbinus and Tacitus were actually chosen by the senate, the responsibility of choosing being in the latter case entrusted to the senate with the consent of the army. It is clear, however, that with this delicate and hazardous duty, thrust upon it by the force of circumstances, the senate's renewed activity began and ended; and in spite of the magniloquent language used in the senate on the accession of Tacitus, and of some trifling concessions to its vanity made by that emperor, there was in no sense any revival of senatorial authority. [Schiller's phrase, “Senatskaiserthum,” is misleading (Gesch. d. Kaiserzeit, 1.795, 872), as also is his description of the reign of Severus Alexander as a “Restauration der Senatherrschaft.” With the language used in the senate (Vit. Tac. 12), “in antiquum statum redisse rempublicam,” &c., compare the naive admission of the consul himself (ib. 3), “quare agite, patres conscripti, et principem dicite, aut accipiet enim exercitus quem elegeritis, aut, si refutaverit, alterum faciet.” ]

The senate of the Republic, and even of the early Empire, was emphatically the central deliberative council of the Empire, and “senators” are the members of this council, with seats and votes in the Curia. But the tendency of imperial policy in the second and third centuries was, on the one hand, to exclude the senate from any effective share in imperial policy, and limit its activity to local Roman or Italian matters; on the other, to create outside it a senatorial order (see supra, p. 625). This policy was carried to its extreme point by Diocletian, Constantine, and their successors. The abandonment of Rome by the emperors, and the creation of a second Curia at Byzantium, destroyed the significance of the senate as an imperial institution; while the extension given to the senatorial order, and its importance as a numerous class represented in every part of the Empire, formed an effective contrast with the quasi-municipal councils which at Rome and Constantinople jointly inherited the name of “senate.”

Admission to the order--that is, to senatorial rank--was gained either by birth, as the son or grandson of a senator, or as in old times by election to the quaestorship, or lastly as under the early emperors by imperial adlectio. But admission by adlectio was now attached to the tenure of certain offices in the imperial service. The senatorial order of the fourth and fifth centuries is in consequence a numerous body, and includes all but the subordinate officials and ex-officials of the Empire. Within this body further degrees of rank were gradually established. The title clarissimus, originally common to the whole order, had been by the time of Justinian restricted to the lowest class within it, and above the clarissimi stood the spectabiles, and highest of all the illustres: a classification which was based entirely on the scale of precedence established for the various offices of state. The members of this order enjoyed certain common privileges (e. g. the right of being tried on criminal charges before the praefectus urbi, and special seats at games), and were liable to certain special burdens,--a liability which extended to their wives and children. (See, for these, Kuhn, Verf. d. röm. Reichs, 1.204.) But of this numerous body only a minority actually sat and voted in the senate-house at Rome or Constantinople, for the jus sententiae, once the right of every senator, was now limited to the highest class in the senatorial order, that of the illustres; [p. 2.636]i.e. to the holders and ex-holders of the great offices of state, including ex-consuls, consulares. [Mommsen, Ostgothische Studien, pp. 487, 488. Schiller, Gesch. d. kaiserzeit, 2.41, would include also consulares in the wider and later use of the term (see CONSUL; CONSULARIS), but allows that the point is doubtful. Among the lower of the offices which gave the “jus sententiae,” “honorum lege” (Cassiod. Var. 5.41), were those of the “comes rerum privatarum,” the “quaestor sacri palatii,” and the “vicarius urbis Romae.” ] To this select consistory of high officials and ex-officials, all appointed by the emperor, were still entrusted a few duties which though robbed of all importance served to connect them with the great past of the senate. They still chose the consules suffecti, the praetors, and quaestors,--offices of purely municipal importance, but their choice required confirmation by the emperor. They still passed decrees as to the public games and the schools of the city, and managed an aerarium which was now only a city chest. On rare occasions the emperor submitted to them an edict or constitution, or entrusted to them the trial of a case of treason. But nothing more clearly shows how low this later senate had fallen than the fact that the official president at its meetings, who kept the senatorial roll, admitted new members, and submitted its decisions to the emperor, was not one of the consuls, but the imperial prefect of the city. (See, for the senate of this period, Cod. Theod. vi.; Nov. Just. 62; Kuhn, Verf. d. röm. Reichs, 1.174-226; Schiller, Gesch. d. Kaiserzeit, 2.36-43; Mommsen, Ostgothische Studien, pp. 485-493; Lécrivain, Le Sénat Romain depuis Dioclétien, Paris, 1888.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (154):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.1.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.1.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 11.6
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 1.1
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    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 1.4
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    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8.8
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 12.2.1
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    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.1.8
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    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.1
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    • Cicero, Letters to Brutus, 1.5
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 13.81
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.11.100
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.7.59
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.13
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.14
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 122
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 150
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 43
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 56
    • Cicero, For Milo, 14
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.3.42
    • Cicero, On the Consular Provinces, 17
    • Cicero, Against Vatinius, 15
    • Cicero, Against Catiline, 1.1.0
    • Cicero, Against Catiline, 3.6
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 153
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 55
    • Cicero, Philippics, 10.17
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    • Cicero, Philippics, 12.5
    • Cicero, Philippics, 14.2.2
    • Cicero, Philippics, 1.1
    • Cicero, Philippics, 3.24
    • Cicero, Philippics, 5.4
    • Cicero, Philippics, 7.1
    • Cicero, For Rabirius on a Charge of Treason, 4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 29
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 21
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 25
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 20
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 21
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 28
    • Suetonius, Nero, 10
    • Suetonius, Nero, 15
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    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 30
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    • Tacitus, Annales, 11.22
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    • Tacitus, Annales, 13.34
    • Tacitus, Annales, 15.74
    • Tacitus, Annales, 16.17
    • Tacitus, Annales, 16.27
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.13
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    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.7
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.74
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.75
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    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.36
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    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.4
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    • Sallust, Bellum Iugurthinum, 27
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    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 35
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    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 24
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    • Suetonius, Divus Titus, 6
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.29
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 8.14
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 43, 2
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 22, 49
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 22, 7
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 32
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 9
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 28
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 20
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 17
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 32
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 28
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 30, 44
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 44
    • Cicero, De Legibus, 3.1
    • Cicero, De Legibus, 3.4
    • Cicero, De Republica, 2.36
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 14.2
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 14.7
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 3.18
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 4.10
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 14.8
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 1.23
    • Plutarch, Sulla, 30
    • Ovid, Tristia, 4.10
    • Statius, Silvae, 5.2
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 2.1
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 2.3
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