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The Senate

The Senate has first of all the control of the treasury, and regulates the receipts and disbursements alike. For the Quaestors cannot issue any public money for the various departments of the state without a decree of the Senate, except for the service of the Consuls. The Senate controls also what is by far the largest and most important expenditure, that, namely, which is made by the censors every lustrum for the repair or construction of public buildings; this money cannot be obtained by the censors except by the grant of the Senate. Similarly all crimes committed in Italy requiring a public investigation, such as treason, conspiracy, poisoning, or wilful murder, are in the hands of the Senate. Besides, if any individual or state among the Italian allies requires a controversy to be settled, a penalty to be assessed, help or protection to be afforded,—all this is the province of the Senate. Or again, outside Italy, if it is necessary to send an embassy to reconcile warring communities, or to remind them of their duty, or sometimes to impose requisitions upon them, or to receive their submission, or finally to proclaim war against them,—this too is the business of the Senate. In like manner the reception to be given to foreign ambassadors in Rome, and the answers to be returned to them, are decided by the Senate. With such business the people have nothing to do. Consequently, if one were staying at Rome when the Consuls were not in town, one would imagine the constitution to be a complete aristocracy: and this has been the idea entertained by many Greeks, and by many kings as well, from the fact that nearly all the business they had with Rome was settled by the Senate.

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hide References (8 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 34.31
  • Cross-references to this page (7):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), AERA´RIUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CENSOR
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CONSUL
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LUSTRUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SENATUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TRIUMPHUS
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