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ORDO “properly ‘the row,’ appears most clearly in its original concrete signification in the banks of oars in a ship, in the tiers of tiles on a roof, or in the benches of a theatre” (Mommsen, Staatsrecht, iii. p. 459).

In a military sense the word ordo (or its Greek equivalent τάγμα, Plb. 6.24, 5) is used of the manipulus of two centuries (see Liv. 8.8); ordinem ducere means “to be a centurion,” two of whom held joint command in each maniple (Cic. Phil. 1.8, 20; cf. Liv. 42.34, 5), and ordinarius is said (Festus, s. v.) to be equivalent to manipularis in the sense of “a man in the ranks.” From this military usage is doubtless derived the phrase in ordinem cogere, which must originally have meant “to reduce a man to the ranks,” but which is generally used of one who treats with contempt the person or office of a magistrate (Liv. 25.3, 19; 43.16, 9). It is doubtful whether the word ordo in Cicero's descriptions of the Servian Comitia Centuriata ( “pecunias aevitates ordines partiunto equitum peditumque,” “descriptis ordinibus classibus aetatibus,” “omnium aetatum ordinumque suffragiis” ) is to be explained with Mommsen (Staatsr. iii. p. 253, n. 1) as meaning “century,” or whether it is to be taken (as seems more probable) merely to indicate the two great categories of horse and foot.

In a less technical sense the word is used of any distinct class of persons, as by Cicero (Cic. Ver. 2.6, 17), “si cuiquam ordini sive aratorum sive pecuariorum sive mercatorum probatus sit,” especially when, as in these cases (ib. 55, 137), the class has a common interest and habits of common action. But it seems to have been felt that it was an improper use of the word, when the category so designated had nothing else in common save the single characteristic indicated in its appellation. Cicero, for instance (in the passage last referred to), seems to deny that the term can be correctly applied to the collective censors of the Sicilian states, or again (Phil. 6.5, 14) to all the persons who have ever served as military tribunes. It is possibly on this ground that the word does not appear to signify the Roman magistrates taken collectively, nor the various grades in the senate,--consulares, praetorii, &c.; though, in a more general sense, Livy (23.23, 4) can use it of the categories of persons chosen into the senate--“ut ordo ordini, non homo homini praelatus videretur.” It seems improbable that we can speak of the Roman priests collectively as ordo sacerdotum; if these words had habitually borne any such meaning, Festus (s. v.) would hardly have used them in an entirely different sense ( “.the table of precedence among the priests” ). The inscription [p. 2.296]C. I. L. 6.2010) in which ordo sacerdotumn occurs merely shows that certain officials of the imperial household formed themselves into a religious guild which they thought fit to call by this name. It is very rare again to find ordo designating either of the great classes of “patrician” and “plebeian,” though there are exceptions, as where Capito (in Aul. Gel. 10.20) implies it of the patriciate, “quoniam in populo omnis pars civitatis omnesque ejus ordines contineantur, plebs vero ea dicitur in qua gentes civium patriciae non insunt,” or where Pliny (Plin. Nat. 33.29) says, “anuli plane tertium ordinem mediumque plebi et patribus inseruere.”

On the other hand, the word is constantly applied to the two great dominant classes in the Roman state, the Senate and the Equites, and likewise to the corresponding classes in the municipia, the ordo decurionum and the ordo Augustalium. At Rome the senate and equites are not unfrequently called uterque ordo, just as if no other portion of the state had a claim to this designation. The senate having no fixed meeting-place, a Roman senator did not refer to a speech made therein as being delivered “in this house,” but in hoc ordine (Sall. Cat. 52, 13). While the word ordo, as applied to the Roman senate, requires a qualifying pronoun, as hic or noster, or a qualifying adjective, as amplissimus, in the municipia ordo written alone indicates the town-council, and is its distinctive appellation as contrasted with the senatus of Rome, just as the local decurio is distinguished from the Roman “senator” (Mommsen, Staatsr. iii. p. 842).

It is more difficult to decide what, exactly, is meant in each passage by the equester ordo. It is undoubtedly used in some places of the eighteen centuries of Knights, as by Cicero in Phil. 6.5, 13, “altera ab equitibus Romanis equo publico, qui item adscribunt ‘patrono.’ Quem unquam iste ordo patronum adoptavit?” Under the Principate this is its common meaning; it is the only sense which will serve in any passage where we find the ordo taking action as a formal and legally constituted corporation (e. g. Tac. Ann. 2.83, 5). If Mommsen be correct in his supposition that the right of sitting on juries was confined to these equites equo publico [see EQUITES], then the phrase is very frequently applied to them in republican times, for the jury-courts are repeatedly said to have been in the possession of the equester ordo. This interpretation is, however, more than doubtful. In very many cases, on the other hand, ordo is used of the equites Romani in the wider sense; of all, that is, who not being senators possessed the qualifying property of 400,000 H. S., and were therefore eligible for the eighteen centuries. We know from Horace (Hor. Ep. 1.1, 62) and from Juvenal (3.159) that it was a pecuniary qualification which gave a man the right, under Roscius Otho‘s law, to sit in the front rows of the theatre: but Cicero says of Roscius (Mur. 19, 40), “equestri ordini restituit non solum dignitatem sed etiam voluptatem.” The wider sense is also far more probable in passages where Cicero speaks of the policy or temper of the order, as (Verr. 3.41, 94) “quum aliquid contra utilitatem ejus ordinis fecisset,” and again, “qui unum equitem Romanum contumelia dignum putasset, ab universo ordine malo dignus judicaretur.” Quintus Cicero (de Pet. Cons. 8), speaking of the young men who composed the equestrian centuries, distinguishes them from the ordo in its wider sense--“quod equester ordo tuus est, sequentur illi auctoritatem ordinis.” (See against this Mommsen, Staatsrecht, iii. pp. 484 and 497.)

The other classes to which the term is applicable can be ascertained only by observing the practice in books and in inscriptions. The expression is very frequently used of the tribuni aerarii, of the libertini (e.g. in Cic. Ver. 1.47, 124, and repeatedly in Livy) and of the publicani (e.g. Liv. 25.3, 12). We have likewise occasionally mentioned an ordo lictorum and an ordo scribarum in Rome (see ref. in Mommsen, Staatsr. i. p. 342, n. 4), and in the municipia an ordo Seviralium (Orelli, Inscr, 2229). In later times men of any calling who choose to unite themselves into a guild seem to adopt this appellation. Two such guilds are described (C. I. L. 14.251 and 252) with different adjectives of uncertain meaning (tabu lariorum and pleromariorum), but both as “ordo corporatorum lenunculariorum auxiliarium (lighter-men) Ostiensium.” In C. I. L. 14.2408 we have an ordo adlectorum at Bovillae, referring apparently to the adlecti scaenae, who seem to have been “licensed” or “certificated” actors. An ordo haruspicum is mentioned in C. I. L. 6.2161 and 2162: from the first of these we should infer that the order was not strictly localised; for while the donees appear to be at Rome (where the tablet was found), the donor is not only haruspex Augustorum and magister publicus haruspicum, but likewise Pontifex and Dictator of Alba.

It remains to notice some peculiar uses of the words extra ordinem. “Praeturae extra ordinem” are said by Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 2.32, 1) to have been granted to certain informers. This may mean that extra praetorships were specially invented to suit them, or more probably (as. Nipperdy supposes) that these persons were allowed to anticipate their regular turn for holding that office. In the Lex de Imperio Vespasiani we find that the recommendation of candidates by the emperor is made effective, by the privilege granted them that “eorum extra ordinem ratio habeatur;” that is to say, they are not to take their chance among the general list of candidates, but to have their case considered specially and first of all [see NOMINATIO]. In criminal procedure, a trial which was to have precedence of all others is said to be taken extra ordinem, and the accused in such a case is extraordinarius reus (Cic. ad Fan. 8.8, 1). In civil procedure, judicia ordinaria are those tried under the formulary system, where the points at issue are referred to a single juror subject to instructions given him by the praetor. When the praetor himself decides without this; reference to a judex, we have a cognitio extra ordinem (Tac. Ann. 13.51); and when (as frequently happened under the principate) such suits became too numerous for the personal attention of the magistrate, the substitute to whom he delegated the task without binding him down by a formula was called judex extra ordinem datus. (See Mommsen, Staatsrecht, ii.3 p. 980, n. 1.)


hide References (23 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (23):
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.24
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.5
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.124
    • Cicero, Philippics, 1.20
    • Cicero, Philippics, 1.8
    • Tacitus, Annales, 13.51
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.1
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.32
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.5
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.83
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.29
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 43, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 43, 9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 23
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 34
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 5
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 10.20
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.1
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