the sixth king of Rome.
The account of the early life and death of Servius Tullius is full of marvels, and cannot be regarded as possessing any title to a real historical narrative.
According to the general tradition, he was of servile origin, and owed his elevation to the favour of the gods, and especially to the protection of the goddess Fortune, with whom he was always a favourite. During his life-time she used to visit him secretly in his chamber as his spouse; and after his death, his statue was placed in her temple, and remained unhurt when the temple itself was once destroyed by fire (Ov. Fast. 6.573
, foll., 625; V. Max. 1.8.11
The future greatness of Servius was announced by a miracle before his birth. His mother Ocrisia, a female slave of the queen's, and one of the captives taken at Corniculum, was offering cakes to the Lar or the household genius, when she saw in the fire on the hearth an apparition of the deity. Tanaquil, who understood the portent, commanded her to dress herself as a bride, and to shut herself up in the chamber.
There she became pregnant by the god. whom some Romans maintained to be the household genius, and others Vulcan; the former supporting their opinion by the festival which Servius established in honour of the Lares, the latter by the deliverance of his statue from fire (Ov. Fast. 6.625
, foil.; Dionys. A. R. 4.2
There are two other legends respecting the birth of Servius, which have more of an historical air, and may therefore be regarded as of later origin. One related that his mother was a slave from Tarquinii, that his father was a client of the king, and that he himself was brought up in the palace with the other household slaves, and waited at the royal table (Cic. de Rep.
The other legend, which gives Servius a nobler origin, and which is therefore preferred both by Dionysius and Livy, states that his father, likewise called Servius Tullius, was a noble of Corniculum, who was slain at the taking of the city, and that his mother, then in a state of pregnancy, was carried away captive to Rome where she gave birth to the future king in the royal palace.
The prodigies which preceded the birth of Servius accompanied his youth. Once as he was sleeping at mid-day in the porch of the palace, his head was seen surrounded with flames. Tanaquil forbade their being extinguished, for her prophetic spirit recognised the future destiny of the boy : they played around him without harming him, and when he awoke, the fire vanished. From this time forward Servius was brought up as the king's child with the greatest hopes. Nor were these hopes disappointed.
By his personal bravery he gained a battle which the Romans had nearly lost; and Tarquinius placed such confidence in him, that he gave him his daughter in marriage, and entrusted him with the exercise of the government. His rule was mild and beneficent ; and so popular did he become, that the sons of Ancus Marcius, fearing lest they should be deprived of the throne which they claimed as their inheritance, procured the assassination of Tarquinius [TARQUINIUS]. They did not, however, reap the fruit of their crime, for Tanaquil. pretending that the king's wound was not mortal, told the people that Tarquinius would recover in a few days, and that he had commanded Servius meantime to discharge the duties of the kingly office. Servius forthwith began to act as king, greatly to the satisfaction of the people; and when the death of Tarquinius could no longer be concealed, he was already in firm possession of the royal power. Servius thus succeeded to the throne without being elected by the senate and the curiae; but the curiae afterwards, at his own request, invested him with the imperium. (Cic. de Rep.
2.21; Dionys. A. R. 4.12
The reign of Servius Tullius is almost as barrel of military exploits as that of Numa.
The only war which Livy mentions (1.42) is one against Veii, which was brought to a speedy conclusion.
This war is magnified by Dionysius (4.27
) into victories over the whole Etruscan nation, which is said to have revolted after the death of Tarquinius Priscus; and these pretended triumphs have found their way into the Fasti, where they are recorded, with the year and date of their occurrence.
But the great deeds of Servius were deeds of peace ; and he was regarded by posterity as the author of all their civil rights and institutions, just as Numa was of their religious rites and ordinances. Three important events are assigned to Servius by universal tradition. First he established a constitution, in which the plebs took its place as the second part of the nation, and of which we shall speak more fully below. Secondly, he extended the pomoerium, or hallowed boundary of the city (Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Pomoerium
), and completed the city by incorporating with it the Quirinal, Viminal and Esquiline hills.
He surrounded the whole with a stone wall called after him the wall of Servius Tullius; and from the Porta Collina to the Esquiline Gate where the hills sloped gently to the plain, he constructed a gigantic mound, nearly a mile in length, and a moat, one hundred feet in breadth and thirty in depth, from which the earth of the mound was dug. Rome thus acquired a circumference of five miles, and this continued to be the legal extent of the city till the time of the emperors, although suburbs were added to it. Thirdly, Servius established an important alliance with the Latins, by which Rome and the cities of Latium became the members of one great league.
As leagues of this kind were always connected among the ancients with the worship at some common temple, a temple of Diana or the Moon was built upon the Aventine, which was not included in the pomoerium, as the place of the religious meetings of the two nations.
It appears that the Sabines likewise shared in the worship of this temple.
There was a celebrated tradition, that a Sabine husbandman had a cow of extraordinary beauty and size, and that the soothsayers had predicted that whoever should sacrifice this cow to Diana on the Aventine, would raise his country to rule over the confederates. The Sabine, anxious to secure the supremacy of his own people, had driven the cow to Rome, and was on the point of sacrificing her before the altar, when the crafty Roman priest rebuked him for daring to offer it with unwashed hands. While the Sabine went and washed in the Tiber, the Roman sacrificed the cow.
The gigantic horns of the animal were preserved down to very late times, nailed up in the vestibule (Liv. 1.45
). From the fact that the Aventine was selected as the place of meeting, it has been inferred that the supremacy of Rome was acknowledged by the Latins; but since we find it expressly stated that this supremacy was not acquired till the reign of Tarquinius Superbus, this view is perhaps not strictly correct. (Comp. Niebuhr, Lectures on the History of Rome,
p. 118, London, 1848.)
After Servius had established his new constitution, he did homage to the majesty of the centuries, by calling them together, and leaving them to decide whether he was to reign over them or not.
The body which he had called into existence, naturally ratified his power, and declared him to be their king.
The patricians, however, were far from acquiescing in the new order of things, and hated the man who had deprived them of their exclusive rule, and had conferred such important benefits upon the plebeians.
In addition to his constitutional changes in favour of the second order in the state, tradition related, that out of his private wealth, he discharged the debts of those who were reduced to indigence; that he deprived the creditor of the power of seizing the body of his debtor, and restricted him to the seizure of the goods of the latter; and that he assigned to the plebeians allotments of lands out of the territories which they had won in war (Cic. de Rep.
2.21 ; Dionys. A. R. 4.9
; Liv. 1.46
The king had good reasons for mistrusting the patricians. Accordingly, when he took up his residence on the Esquiline, he would not allow them to dwell there, but assigned to them the valley, which was called after them the Patricius Vicus, or Patrician Street (Festus s. v.
). Meantime, the long and uninterrupted popularity of the king seemed to deprive L. Tarquinius more and more of the chance of regaining the throne of his father.
The patricians, anxious to recover their supremacy, readily joined Tarquinius in a conspiracy to assassinate the king.
The legend of his death is too celebrated to be omitted here, although it perhaps contains no further truth than that Servius fell a victim to a patrician conspiracy, the leader of which was the son or descendant of the former king.
The legend ran as follows. Servius Tullius, soon after his succession, gave his two daughters in marriage to the two sons of Tarquinius Priscus. L. Tarquinius the elder was married to a quiet and gentle wife; Aruns, the younger, to an aspiring and ambitious woman.
The character of the two brothers was the very opposite of the wives who had fallen to their lot ; for Lucius was proud and haughty, but Aruns unambitious and quiet.
The wife of Aruns, enraged at the long life of her father, and fearing that at his death her husband would tamely resign the sovereignty to his elder brother, resolved to destroy both her father and her husband. Her fiendish spirit put into the heart of Lucius thoughts of crime which he had never entertained before. Lucius murdered his wife, and the younger Tullia her husband; and the survivors, without even the show of mourning, were straightway joined in unhallowed wedlock. Tullia now incessantly urged her husband to murder her father, and thus obtain the kingdom which he so ardently coveted.
It was said that their design was hastened by the belief that Servius, in order to complete his legislation, entertained the thought of laying down his kingly power, and establishing the consular form of government.
The patricians were no less alarmed at this scheme, as it would have had the effect of confirming for ever the hated laws of Servius. Their mutual hatred and fears united them closely together ; and when the conspiracy was ripe, Tarquinius entered the forum arrayed in the kingly robes, seated himself in the royal chair in the senate-house, and ordered the senators to be summoned to him as their king.
At the first news of the commotion, Servius hastened to the senate-house, and standing at the door-way, ordered Tarquinius to come down from the throne. Tarquinius sprang forward, seized the old man, and flung him down the stone steps. Covered with blood, the king was hastening home; but, before he reached it, he was overtaken by the servants of Tarquinius, and murdered. Tullia drove to the senate-house, and greeted her husband as king; but her transports of joy struck even him with horror.
He bade her go home; and as she was returning, her charioteer pulled up, and pointed out the corpse of her father lying in his blood across the road.
She commanded him to drive on; the blood of her father spirted over the carriage and on her dress ; and from that day forward the street bore the name of the Vicus Sceleratus,
or Wicked Street.
The body lay unburied, for Tarquinius said scoffingly, " Romulus too went without burial ;" and this impious mockery is said to have given rise to his surname of Superbus (Liv. 1.46
; Ov. Fast. 6.581
, foll.). Servius had reigned forty. four years. His memory was long cherished by the plebeians, and his birth-day was celebrated on the nones of every month, for it was remembered that he was born on the nones of some month, but the month itself had become a matter of uncertainty.
At a later time, when the oppressions of the patricians became more and more intolerable, the senate found it necessary to forbid the markets to be holden on the nones, lest the people should attempt an insurrection to restore the laws of their martyred monarch. (Macr. 1.13
The Roman traditions, as we have seen, were unanimous in making Servius Tullius of Latin origin.
He is universally stated to have been the son of a native of Corniculum, which was a Latin town; and Niebuhr, in his Lectures, supposes that he may have been the offspring of a marriage between one of the Luceres and a woman of Cornienlum, previously to the establishment of the connubium, and that this may be the foundation of the story of his descent. His name Tullius also indicates a Latin origin, since the Tullii are expressly mentioned as one of the Alban gentes which were received into the Latin state in the reign of Tullus Hostilius. (Liv. 1.30
.) His institutions, likewise, bear all the traces of a Latin character.
But the Etruscan tradition about this king was entirely different, and made him a native of Etruria. This Etruscan tradition was related by the emperor Claudius, in a speech which he made upon the admission of some Lugdunensian Gauls into the senate; and the fragments of which are still preserved on two tables discovered at Lyons in the sixteenth century, and since the time of Lipsius have been printed in most editions of Tacitus.
In this speech Claudius says " that, according to the Tuscans, Servius was the faithful companion of Caeles Vibenna, and shared all his fortunes : that at last being overpowered by a variety of disasters, he quitted Etruria with the remains of the army which had served under Caeles, went to Rome, and occupied the Caelian Hill, calling it so after his former commander : that he exchanged his Tuscan name Mastarna
for the Roman one of Servius Tullius, obtained the kingly power, and wielded it to the great good of the state." This Caeles Vibenna was well known to the Roman writers, according to whom he came himself to Rome, though the statements in whose reign he came differed greatly. All accounts, however, represent him as a leader of an army raised by himself, and not belonging to any state, and as coming to Rome by the invitation of the Roman kings, to assist them. [CAELES.] There can be no question that the emperor Claudius drew his account from Etruscan annals; and there is no reason for disbelieving that Caeles Vibenna and Mastarna are historical personages, for, as Niebuhr observes, Caeles is too frequently and too distinctly mentioned to be fabulous, and his Etruscan name cannot have been invented by the Romans.
The value of the tradition about Mastarna would very much depend upon the date of the Etruscan authorities, from whom Claudius derived his account; but on this point we are entirely in the dark. Niebuhr, in the first edition of his history, inclined strongly to the opinion that Rome was of Etruscan origin, and in his lectures, delivered in the year 1826, he adopted the Etruscan tradition respecting the origin of Servius Tullius, on the ground " that Etruscan literature is so decidedly more ancient than that of the Romans, that he did not hesitate to give preference to the traditions of the former." (Lectures,
In the second edition of his history, however, Niebuhr so completely abandoned his former idea of the Etruscan origin of Rome, that he would not even admit the Etruscan origin of the Luceres, a point in which most subsequent scholars dissent from him; and in his Lectures of the year 1828, he strongly maintains the Latin origin of Servius Tullius, and asserts his belief that " Etruscan literature is mostly assigned to too early a period, and that to the time from the Hannibalian war down to the time of Sulla, a period of somewhat more than a century, most of the literary productions of the Etruscans must be referred." (Lectures,
But the fact is that whether we are to follow the Etruscan or the Roman tradition about Servius is one of those points on which no certainty can be by any possibility obtained. So much seems clear, that Servius usurped the throne : he seized the royalty upon the murder of the former king, without being elected by the senate and the comitia, and he introduced great constitutional changes, apparently to strengthen his power against a powerful faction in the state.
It is equally clear that his reign came to a violent end : he was dethroned and murdered by the descendants of the previous king, in league with his enemies in the state, who sought to recover the power of which they had been dispossessed. Now if we are right in our supposition that Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus were both of Etruscan origin, and represent an Etruscan sovereignty at Rome [TARQUINIUS], it seems to follow that the reign of Servius Tullius represents a successful attempt of the Latins to recover their independence, or in any case the sovereignty of an Etruscan people different from the one to which the Tarquins belonged. Further than this we cannot go; and it seems to us impossible to determine which supposition has the greatest preponderance of evidence in its favour. K. O. Miller adopted the latter supposition.
He believed that the Etruscan town of Tarquinii was at the head of the twelve cities of Etruria at this time, that it conquered Rome, and that the reign of Tarquinius Priscus represents the supremacy of the state of Tarquinii at Rome.
He further supposed that the supremacy of Tarquinii may not have been universally acknowledged throughout Etruria, and that the army of Caeles and of his lieutenant Mastarna perhaps belonged to the town of Volsinii, which wished to maintain its independence against Tarquinii; that it was with the remains of this army that Mastarna eventually conquered Rome, and thus destroyed the dominion of Tarquinii in that city. (Müller, Etrusker,
vol. i. p. 121.)
Constitution of Servius Tullius
The most important event connected with the reign of Servius Tullius is the new constitution which he gave to the Roman state.
The details of this constitution are stated in different articles in the Dictionary of Antiquities,
and it is therefore only necessary to give here a general outline, which the reader can fill up by references to the work just mentioned.
The two main objects of the constitution of Servius were to give the plebs political independence, and to assign to property that influence in the state which had previously belonged to birth exclusively; and it cannot be questioned that the military and financial objects, which he secured by the changes he introduced, were regarded by him as of secondary importance.
In order to carry his purpose into effect Servius made a two-fold division of the Roman people, one territorial, and the other according to property.
He first divided the whole Roman territory into Regiones,
and the inhabitants into Tribus,
the people of each region forming a tribe.
The city was divided into four regions or tribes, and the country around into twenty-six regions or tribes, so that the entire number of Tribus Urbanae
and Tribus Rusticae,
as they were respectively called, amounted to thirty. (Liv. 1.43
; Dionys. A. R. 4.14
.) Livy does not mention the number of the country tribes in his account of the Servian constitution, and we are indebted to Fabius Pictor, the oldest of the Roman annalists (Dionys. l.c.
), and to Varro (ap. Non. p. 43), for the number of twenty-six. Moreover Livy, when he speaks of the whole number of the tribes in B. C. 495, says that they were made twenty-one in that year. (Liv. 2.21
; comp. Dionys. A. R. 7.64
.) Hence the statements of Fabius Pictor and Varro might appear to be doubtful.
But in the first place their account has the greatest internal probability, since the number thirty plays such an important part in the Roman constitution, and the thirty tribes would thus correspond to the thirty curiae; and in the second place Niebuhr has called attention to the fact that in the war with Porsena, Rome lost a considerable part of her territory, and thus the number of her tribes would naturally be reduced. When, however, Niebuhr proceeds to say that the tribes were reduced in the war with Porsena from thirty to twenty, because it was the ancient practice in Italy to deprive a conquered nation of a third part of its territory, he seems to have forgotten, as Becker has remarked, that the four city tribes could not have been taken into account in such a forfeiture, and that consequently a third part of the territory would not have been ten tribes. Into this question, however, it is unnecessary further to enter.
The conquest of Porsena had undoubtedly broken up the whole Servian system; and thus it was all the easier to form a new tribe in B. C. 504, when the gens Claudia migrated to Rome. (Liv. 2.16
It would appear that an entirely new distribution of the tribes became necessary, and this was probably carried into effect in B. C. 495, soon after the battle of the lake of Regillus.
In fact the words of Livy (2.21
) already referred to state as much, for he does not say that before this year there were twenty tribes, or that the twenty-first was then added for the first time, but simply that twenty-one tribes were then formed (Romae tribes una et viginti factae
The subsequent increase in the number of the tribes, till they reached that of thirty-five, is related in the Dictionary of Antiquities (s. v. Tribus
But to return from this digression to the Servian constitution. Each tribe was an organised body, with a magistrate at its head, called Φυλάρχος
by Dionysius (4.14
), and Curator Tribus
by Varro (L. L.
6.86), whose principal duty appears to have consisted in keeping a register of the inhabitants in each regio,
and of their property, for purposes of taxation, and for levying the troops for the armies. Further, each country tribe or regio
was divided into a certain number of Pagi,
a name which had been given to the divisions of the Roman territory as early as the reign of Numa (Dionys. A. R. 2.76
); and each Pagus
also formed an organised body, with a Magister Pagi
at its head, who kept a register of the names and of the property of all persons in the pagus, raised the taxes, and summoned the people, when necessary, to war. Each pagus had its own sacred rites and common sanctuary, connected with which was a yearly festival called Paganalia,
at which all the Pagani took part. Dionysius says that the Pagi were fortified places, established by Servius Tullius, to which the country people might retreat in case of an hostile inroad ; but this is scarcely correct, for even if Servius Tullius established such fortified places, it is evident that the word was used to indicate a local division, and must have been given to the country adjoining the fortified place as well as to the fortified place itself. (Dionys. A. R. 4.15
; Varr. L. L.
6.24, 26 Macrob. Saturn.
1.16; Ov. Fast. 1.669
; Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Pagi.
) As the country tribes were divided into Pagi, so were the city tribes divided into Vici,
with a Magister Vici
at the head of each, who performed duties analogous to those of the Magister Pagi. The Vici in like manner had their own religious rites and sanctuaries, which were erected at spots where two or more ways met (in compitis
); and consequently their festival, corresponding to the Paganalia, was called Compitalia.
(Dionys. A. R. 4.14
; Dict. of Antiq. s. vv. Vicus
The main object which Servius had in view in the institution of the tribes was to give an organisation to the plebeians, of which they had been entirely destitute before; but whether the patricians were included in the tribes or not, is a subject of great difficulty, and has given rise to great difference of opinion among modern scholars, some regarding the division into tribes as a local division of the whole Roman people, and consequently of patricians and their clients as well as of plebeians, while others look upon it as simply an organisation of the second order.
The undoubted object of Servius Tullius in the institution of the tribes led Niebuhr to maintain that the patricians could not possibly have belonged to the tribes originally ; but as we find them in the tribes at a later period (Liv. 4.24
), he supposed that they were admitted into them by the legislation of the decemvirs.
But probable as this might appear, all the evidence we possess goes the other way, and tends to show that the tribes were a local division of the whole Roman people.
In the first place, if Servius had created thirty local tribes for the plebs alone, from which the patricians were excluded, it is not easy to see why the three ancient tribes of the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres, should not have continued in existence.
This we know was not the case; for it is certain, that the three ancient tribes disappear from the time of the Servian constitution, and that their names alone were retained by the Equites, and that henceforward we read only of the division of the patricians into thirty curiae : indeed it is expressly said that the φυλαὶ γενικαὶ
were abolished by Servius, and that the Φυλαὶ τοπικαὶ
were established in their place. (Dionys. A. R. 4.14
.) Secondly, it is certain that all the tribes of the year B. C. 495, with the exception of the Crustumina, take their names from patrician gentes. Thirdly, the establishment of the Claudian tribe, consisting as it did mainly of the patrician Claudia gens, is almost of itself sufficient to prove that patricians were included in the Servian tribes. Niebuhr lays great stress upon the fact that in no instance do we find the patricians voting in the Comitia Tributa
before the time of the decemvirs ; but as Becker very justly remarks, this does not pros e any thing, as we have no reason for supposing that the Comitia Tributa were established by Servius along with the tribes. Such an assembly would have had no meaning in the Servian constitution, and would have been opposed to its first principles. The Comitia Tributa were called into existence, when the plebs began to struggle after independence, and had tribunes of their own at their head; and it is certainly improbable that patricians should have been allowed to vote in assemblies summoned by plebeian magistrates to promote the interests of the plebs. The Comitia Tributa must not therefore be regarded as assemblies of the tribes, as Becker has justly remarked. but as assemblies of the plebeians, who voted according to tribes, as their natural divisions. Hence as the same writer observes, we see the full force of the expression in the Leges Valeria Horatia, Publilia and Hortensia : " quod tributim plebes
The tribes therefore were an organisation of the whole Roman people, patricians as well as plebeians, according to their local divisions; but they were instituted, as we have already remarked, for the benefit of the plebeians, who had not, like the patricians, possessed previously any political organisation.
At the same time, though the institution of the tribes gave the plebeians a political organisation, it conferred upon them no political power. no right to take any part in the management of public affairs or in the elections.
These rights, however, were bestowed upon them by another institution of Servius Tullius, which was entirely distinct from and had no connection with the thirty tribes.
He made a new division of the whole Roman people into Classes
according to the amount of their property, and he so arranged thee classes that the wealthiest persons, whether patricians or plebeians, should possess the chief power and influence.
In order to ascertain the property of each citizen, he instituted the Census,
which was a register of Roman citizens and their property, and enacted that it should be taken anew from time to time. Under the republic it was taken afresh, as is well known, every five years, Lists of the citizens were made out by the curator tribus
or magistrate of each tribe, and each citizen had to state upon oath the amount and value of his property.
According to the returns thus obtained a division of the citizens was made, which determined the tax (tributum
), which each citizen was to pay, the kind of military service he was to perform, and the position he was to occupy in the popular assembly.
The whole arrangement was of a military character.
The people assembled in the Campus as an army (exercitus,
or, according to the more ancient expression. classis
), and was therefore divided into two parts, the cavalry (equites
), and infantry (pedites
The infantry was divided into five Classes.
The first class contained all those persons whose property amounted at least to 100,000 asses : the second class those who had at least 75,000 asses : the third those who had at least 50.000 asses : the fourth those who had at least 25,000 asses : and the fifth those who had at least 10,000 asses, according to Böckh's probable conjecture, for Dionysius makes the sum necessary for admission to this class 12,500 asses (12 1/2 minae) and Livy 11
It must be recollected, however, that these numbers are not the ancient ones. when the as was a pound weight of copper, but those of the sixth century of the city.
The original numbers were probably 20.000, 15.000, 10,000, 5000. and 2000 asses respectively, which were increased fivefold, when the as was coined so much lighter. (Böckh, Metrologische Untersuchungen,
c. xxix.) Further, for military purposes each of the five classes was divided into elder (Seniores
) and younger (Juniores
) men : the former consisting of men from the age of 46 to 60, the latter of men from the age of 17 to 45.
It was from the Juniores that the armies of the state were levied : the Seniores were not obliged to serve in the field. and could only be called upon to defend the city. Moreover, all the soldiers had to find their own arms and armour; but it was so arranged that the expense of the equipment should be in proportion to the wealth of each class.
Servius however did not make this arrangement of the people for military purposes alone.
He had another and more important object in view, namely, the creation of a new national assembly, which was to possess the powers formerly exercised by the Comitia curiata, and thus become the sovereign assembly in the state. For this purpose he divided each classes
into a certain number of centuriae.
each of which counted as one vote.
But in accordance with the great principle of his constitution, which, as has been several times remarked, was to give the preponderance of power to wealth, a century was not made of a fixed number of men; but the first or richest class contained a far greater number of centuries than any of the other classes, although they must at the same time have contained a much smaller number of men. Thus the first class contained 80 centuries. the second 20, the third 20, the fourth 20, and the fifth 30, in all 170. One half of the centuries consisted of Seniores, and the other half of Juniores; by which an advantage was given to age and experience over youth and rashness, for the Seniores, though possessing an equal number of votes, must of course have been very inferior in number to the Juniores. Besides these 170 centuries of the classes, Servius formed five other centuries, admission into which did not depend upon the census. Of these the smiths and carpenters (fabri
) formed two centuries, and the horn-blowers and trumpeters (cornicines
) two other centuries : these four centuries voted with the classes, but Livy and Dionysius give a different statement as to which of the classes they voted with.
The other century not belonging to the classes, and erroneously called the sixth class by Dionysius, comprised all those persons whose property did not amount to that of the fifth class.
This century, however, consisted of three subdivisions according to the amount of their property, called respectively the accensi velati,
and capite censi :
the accensi velati
were those. whose property was at least 1500 asses, or originally 300 asses, and they served as supernumeraries in the army without arms, but ready to take the arms and places of such as might fall in battle : the proletarii
were those who had at least 375 asses, or originally 75 asses, and they were sometimes armed in pressing danger at the public expense : while the capite censi
were all those whose property was less than the sum last mentioned, and they were never called upon to serve till the time of Marius. Thus the infantry or Pedites
contained in all 175 centuries.
The cavalry or Equites were divided by Servius Tullius into 18 centuries, which did not comprise Seniores or Juniores, but consisted only of men below the age of forty-six.
The early history and arrangement of the Equites have given rise to much discussion among modern scholars, into which we cannot enter here. (See Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Equites.
) It is sufficient for our present purpose to state that Tarquinius Priscus had divided each of the three ancient centuries of equites into two troops, called respectively the first (priores
) and second (posteriores
) Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres.
These three double centuries Servius Tullius formed into six new centuries, usually called the sex suffragia :
and as they were merely a new organisation of the old body, they must have consisted exclusively of patricians. Besides these six centuries, Servius formed twelve others, taken from the richest and most distinguished families in the state, plebeian as well as patrician.
There can be little question that a certain amount of property was necessary for admission to all the equestrian centuries, as well in consequence of the timocratic principle of this part of the Servian constitution, as on account of the express statement of Dionysius (4.18
) that the equites were chosen by Servius out of the richest and most illustrious families, and of Cicero (de Rep.
2.22) that they were of the highest census (censu maximo
). Neither of these writers nor Livy mentions the property which was necessary to entitle a person to a place among the equites; but as we know that the equestrian census in the later times of the republic was four times the amount of that of the first class, it is probable that the same census was established by Servius Tullius. Niebuhr indeed supposed that the sex suffragia
the patricians, independent of the property they possessed; but this supposition is, independent of other considerations, disproved by the tact, that we have express mention of a patrician, L. Tarquitius, who was compelled on account of his poverty to serve on foot.
The 175 centuries of pedites and the 18 of equities thus made a total of 193 centuries. Of these, 97 forced a majority of votes in the assembly. Although all the Roman citizens had a vote in this assembly, which was called the Comitia Centuriata,
from the voting by centuries, it will be seen at once that the poorer classes had not much influence in the assembly; for the 18 centuries of the equites and the 80 centuries of the first class, voted first; and if they could come to an agreement upon any measure, they possessed at once a majority, and there was no occasion to call upon the centuries of the other classes to vote at all.
This was the great object of the institution, which was to give the power to wealth, and nut either to birth or to numbers.
The preceding account of the centuries has been taken from Livy (1.43
) and Dionysius (4.16
, foll.), who agree in all the main points.
The account of Cicero (de Re Publ.
2.22) cannot be reconciled with that of Livy and Dionysius, and owing to the corruptions of the text it is hopeless to make the attempt.
The few discrepancies between Livy and Dionysius will be seen by the following table, taken from Becker, by which the reader will also perceive more clearly the census of each class, the number of centuries or votes which each contained, and the order in which they voted.
||CLASSIS.--Census 100,000 asses. |
||CLASSIS.--Census 75,000 asses. |
||CLASSIS.--Census 50,000 asses. |
||CLASSIS.--Census 25,000 asses. |
||CLASSIS.--Census 11,000 asses. |
||Centuriae accensorum, cornicinum, tubicinum
||Centuria capite censorum
|Sum total of the Centuriae
||CLASSIS.--Census 100 minae. |
||CLASSIS.--Census 75 minae. |
||CLASSIS.--Census 50 minae. |
||CLASSIS.--Census 25 minae. |
||Centuriae cornic. et tubic.
||CLASSIS.--Census 121/2 minae. |
||Centuria capite censorum
|Sum total of the Centuriae
There can be little doubt that the number in Dionysius is the correct one.
According to Livy's number cases might have arisen in which it was impossible to obtain a majority, as ninety-seven might have voted for a measure and ninety-seven against it. Moreover, Cicero (de Rep.
2.22) describes ninety-six as the minority.
The other discrepancies between Livy and Dionysius are of no great importance, and need not be discussed further in this place.
The Assembly of the Centuries, or Comitia Centuriata,
was made by Servius, as we have already remarked, the sovereign assembly of the nation, and it accordingly stept into the place formerly occupied by the Comitia Curiata. Servius transferred to it from the latter assembly the right of electing kings and the higher magistrates, of enacting and repealing laws, and of deciding upon war, and jurisdiction in cases of appeal from the sentence of a judge.
He did not, however, abolish the Comitia Curiata, but on the contrary he allowed them very great power and influence in the state.
He not only permitted them to retain the exercise of such rights as affected their own corporations, but he enacted that no vote of the Comitia Centuriata should he valid till it had received the sanction of the Comitia Curiata.
This sanction of the Curiae is often expressed by the words patrum auctoritas
or patres auctores facti,
in which phrase patres
mean the patricii.
In course of time the sanction of the Curiae was abolished, or at least became a mere matter of form; but the successive steps by which this was accomplished do not belong to the present inquiry, and are related elsewhere. (Dict. of Antiq. s. vv. Auctor, Comitia,
p. 333a, Plebs, 2d ed.)
Although Servius gave the plebeians political rights and recognised them as the second order of the Roman people, it must not be supposed that he placed them on a footing of equality with the patricians. From the time of Servius they were cives,
they had the jus civitatis,
but not in its full extent. The jus civitatis
included both the jus publicum
and the jus privatum ;
but of each of these rights they possessed only a portion. Of the jus publicum
Servius gave to them only the jus suffragii,
or right of voting in the comitia centuriata, but not the jus honorum,
or eligibility to the public offices of the state. Of the jus privatum
Servius conferred upon them only the commercium,
by virtue of which they could become owners of land and could appear before the courts without the mediation of a patronus, but he did not grant to them the connubium,
or right of marriage with the patricians. Moreover, they had no claim to the use of the public land, the possessio
of which continued to be confined to the patricians, although the conquered lands were won by the blood of the second order as well as of the first; but, as some compensation for this injustice, Servius is said to have given to the poor plebeians small portions of the public land in full ownership. (Dionys. A. R. 4.9
; Liv. 1.46
; Zonar. 7.9
The laws of Servius Tullius are said to have been committed to writing, and were known under the name of the Commentarii Servii Tullii.
Dionysius says (4.13) that he regulated the commercium between the two orders by about fifty laws; but the commentaries of Servius Tullius, which are cited by later writers, such as Verrius Flaccus, can only have contained the substance of the laws ascribed to him; since the original laws, if they were ever committed to writing, must long since have perished. (Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. i. p. 249.)
The principal modern writers who have treated of the Servian constitution are : Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. i. p. 398, foll.; Göittling, Geschichte der Römischen Staatsverfassung,
p. 230, foil.; Gerlach, Die Verfassung d. Servius in ihrer Entwickelung,
Basel, 1837; Huschke, Die Verfassung d. Kön. Serv. Tull.,
Heidelberg, 1838; Peter, Epochen d. Verfassungsgesch. der Römisch. Republ.,
Leigzig, 1841; Walter, Gesch. d. Römisch. Rechts,
p. 31, foll., 2nd ed.; Becker, Handbuch d. Römisch. Alterthümer,
vol. ii. pt. i. p. 164, foll.