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[53] In a most elegant and fluent manner did Lucius Crassus, by far the most eloquent of all men, a little before we came into the forum, defend this opinion in a trial before the centumviri; 1and with great ease, too, though that very sagacious man, Quintus Mucius, was arguing against him, did he prove to every one that Marcus Curius, who had been left a certain person's heir in the case of the death of a posthumous son who was expected, ought to be the heir, though the son was not dead, never, in fact, having been born. What? was this case sufficiently provided for by the terms of the will? Certainly not. What was the thing, then, that influenced the judges? The intention; and if it could be understood though we were silent, we should not employ words at all: because it could not, words have been invented, not to hinder people's intentions, but to point them out.

1 The origin, constitution, and powers of the centumviri are exceedingly obscure; they were judges, but they differed from other judges in being a definite body or collegium. According to Festus three centumviri were chosen out of each tribe, so that their actual number must have been a hundred and five. Their powers were probably limited to Rome, and at all events to Italy. It appears that they had cognisance of both civil and criminal matters. It was the practice to set up a spear in the place where the centumviri were sitting, and accordingly the word hasta or hasta centumviralis, is sometimes used as equivalent to judicium centumvirale. Vide Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 212, v. Centumviri.

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