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He corrected many ill practices, which, to the detriment of the public, had either survived the licentious habits of the late civil wars, or else originated in the long peace. Bands of robbers shewed themselves openly, completely armed, under colour of self-defence; and in different parts of the country, travellers, freemen and slaves without distinction, were forcibly carried off, and kept to work in the houses of correction.1 Several associations were formed under the specious name of a new college, which banded together for the perpetration of all kinds of villany. The banditti he quelled by establishing posts of soldiers in suitable stations for the purpose; the houses of correction were subjected to a strict superintendence; all associations, those only excepted which were of ancient standing, and recognised by the laws, were dissolved. He burnt all the notes of those who had been a long time in arrear with the treasury, as being the principal source of vexatious suits and prosecutions. Places in the city claimed by the public, where the right was doubtful, he adjudged to the actual possessors. He struck out of the list of criminals the names of those over whom prosecutions had been long impending, where nothing further was intended by the informers than to gratify their own malice, by seeing their enemies humiliated; laying it down as a rule, that if any one chose to renew a prosecution, he should incur the risk of the punishment which he sought to inflict. And that crimes might not escape punishment, nor business be neglected by delay, he ordered the courts to sit during the thirty days which were spent in celebrating honorary games. To the three classes of judges then existing, he added a.fourth, consisting of persons of inferior order, who were called Ducenarii, and decided all litigations about trifling sums. He chose judges from the age of thirty years and upwards; that is five years younger than had been usual before. And a great many declining the office, he was with much difficulty prevailed upon to allow each class of judges a twelve-month's vacation in turn: and the courts to be shut during the months of November and December.2
1 Ergastulis. These were subterranean strong rooms, with narrow windows, like dungeons, in the country houses, where incorrigible slaves were confined in fetters, in the intervals of the severe tasks in grinding at the hand-mills, quarrying stones, drawing water, and other hard agricultural labour in which they were employed.
2 These months were not only "the Long Vacation" of the lawyers, but during them there was a general cessation of business at Rome; the calendar exhibiting a constant succession of festivals. The month of December, in particular, was devoted to pleasure and relaxation.
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