3. Q. Publilius
Philo, Q. F. Q. N., a distinguished general in the Samnite wars, and the author of one of the great reforms in the Roman constitution.
He was consul B. C. 339, with Ti. Aemilius Mamercinus, and defeated the Latins, over whom he triumphed.
In the same year he was appointed dictator by his colleague Aemilius Mamercinus, and, as such, proposed the celebrated Publiliae Leges,
which abolished the power of the patrician assembly of the curiae, and elevated the plebeians to an equality with the patricians for all practical purposes.
It would seem that great opposition was expected from the patricians, and that Philo was therefore raised to the dictatorship, that the proposed reforms might be carried with the authority of the highest magistracy in the state.
As he could not have been appointed dictator without the sanction of the senate, it has been inferred by Niebuhr, with much probability, that the Publilian laws were brought forward with the approbation of the senate, which was opposed to the narrow-mindedness of the great body of the patricians.
According to Livy (8.12
) there were three Publilian laws.
The first is said to have enacted "that plebiscita should bind all Quirites" (ut plebiscite omnes Quirites tenerent
), which is to the same purpose as the subsequent lex Hortensia. Niebuhr, however, supposes that the effect of the lex Publilia was to render a senatusconsultum a sufficient confirmation of a plebiscitum, and to make the confirmation of the curiae unnecessary; and that the effect of the Lex Hortensia
was to render unnecessary even the confirmation of the senate, and to give to the tributa comitia complete legislative force (comp. Dict. of Ant. s.v. Plebiscitum
The second law enacted, "ut legum, quae comitiis centuriatis ferrentur, ante initum suffragium patres auctores fierent." By patres
Livy here means the curiae,
that is, the assembly of the patricians; and accordingly this law enacted that the curiae should confirm (auctoresfieri ;
comp. Dict. of Ant. s. v. Auctor
) the results of the votes respecting all laws brought before the comitia centuriata, previous to the commencement of the voting : in other words, the veto of the curiae in the enactment of laws by the centuriae, was abolished.
The third law enacted that one of the two censors should necessarily be a plebeian; and Niebuhr conjectures that there was also a fourth law, which applied the Licinian law to the praetorship as well as the consulship, and which provided that in each alternate year the praetor should be a plebeian. (Comp. Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. iii. pp. 146, &c., 154, 418, &c.; Arnold, Hist. of Rome,
vol. ii. p. 154, &c.)
In B. C. 337 Philo was the first plebeian praetor ; in B. C. 335 he was magister equitum to the dictator L. Aemilius Mamercinus; and in B. C. 332 he was censor with Sp. Postumius Albinus : during this censorship the Maecian and Scaptian tribes were added, and the Roman franchise was given to the Acerrani. (Liv. 8.15
; Vell. 1.14
In B. C. 327 Philo was consul a second time, with L. Cornelius Lentulus.
He was sent against Palaepolis in southern Italy, to which he laid siege ; but as he was unable to take the town before the expiration of his year of office, his imperium was prolonged, with the title of proconsul, by means of a senatusconsultum and a plebiscitum : this is the first instance in Roman history in which a person was invested with proconsular power. Philo succeeded in taking Palaepolis in the following year, B. C. 326, in consequence of the treachery of two of its chief citizens, Charilaus and Nymphius, who enticed the Samnite garrison out of the town, and opened the gates to the Romans. Philo obtained a triumph on his return to Rome. (Liv. 8.22
In B. C. 320 Philo was consul a third time, with L. Papirius Cursor. They were elected to the consulship as being two of the most distinguished generals of their time, in consequence of the great defeat which the Romans had sustained in the previous yearnear Caudium. Both consuls marched into Samnium. Papirius, who had laid siege to Luceria, was shut up in his fortified camp by the Samnite army, which had come to the relief of Luceria, and was reduced to great extremities.
He was, however, relieved from his difficulties by the advance of the other army under Philo, who defeated the Samnites and took their camp. (Liv. 9.7
; comp. Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. iii. p. 224, &c., who points out various improbabilities in Livy's account.)
In B. C. 315 Philo was consul a fourth time, with L. Papirius Cursor (Fast. Capit.; Diod. 19.66
The consuls of this year are not mentioned by Livy, who simply says (9.22) that the new consuls remained at Rome, and that the war was conducted by the dictator Q. Fabius.