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Encyclopedia > Roman senate

The Roman Senate (Latin: Senatus) was the main governing council of both the Roman Republic, which started in 509 BC, and the Roman Empire. Although the West Roman Empire ended in the 5th century (in 476), the Roman Senate continued to meet until the latter part of the 6th century. The word Senatus is derived from the Latin word senex, meaning old man or elder; thus, the Senate is, by etymology, the Council of Elders. The senate was one of the three branches of government in the constitution of the Roman Republic. For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... This article refers to the state which existed from the 6th century BC to the 1st century BC. For alternate meanings, see Roman Republic (18th century) and Roman Republic (19th century). ... Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 550s BC - 540s BC - 530s BC - 520s BC - 510s BC - 500s BC - 490s BC - 480s BC - 470s BC - 460s BC - 450s BC Events and Trends 509 BC - Foundation of the Roman Republic 508 BC - Office of pontifex maximus created... For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation). ... The Western Roman Empire is the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 286. ... Europe in 450 The 5th century is the period from 401 to 500 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... Events August - The usurper Basiliscus is deposed and Zeno is restored as Eastern Roman Emperor. ... The 6th century is the period from 501 - 600 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... The Council of Elders is the name given by several organizations to a group of people entrusted in some way with the organizations direction. ... Motto Senatus Populusque Romanus Roman provinces on the eve of the assassination of Julius Caesar, c. ...

Contents

History

Tradition held that the Senate was first established by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome, as an advisory council consisting of the 100 heads of families, called Patres ("Fathers"). Later, when at the start of the Republic, Lucius Junius Brutus increased the number of Senators to three hundred (according to legend), they were also called Conscripti ("Conscripted Men"), because Brutus had conscripted them. From then on, the members of the Senate were addressed as "Patres et Conscripti", which was gradually run together as "Patres Conscripti" ("Conscript Fathers"). This page describes the ancient heroes who founded the city of Rome. ... This article refers to the state which existed from the 6th century BC to the 1st century BC. For alternate meanings, see Roman Republic (18th century) and Roman Republic (19th century). ... This article is about the founder of the Roman Republic . ...


The Roman population was divided into two classes: the Senate and the People (as seen in the famous abbreviation for "Senatus Populusque Romanus", SPQR). The People consisted of all Roman citizens who were not members of the Senate. Domestic power was vested in the Roman People, through the Centuriate Assembly (Comitia Centuriata), the Tribal Assembly (Comitia Tributa) and the Plebeian Council (Concilium Plebis). The two Assemblies passed new laws, as did the Council, which also elected Rome's magistrates. The Senate proposed new legislation to the Assemblies and the Plebeian Council, which then voted on it without debate. The Assemblies and Plebeian Council could not propose legislation of their own. The Senate's dominance over Roman legislative matters is clear. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For the series of murder mystery novels, see SPQR series. ... The Roman Republic (Latin: Res Publica Romanorum) vested formal governmental powers in four separate assemblies — the Comitia Curiata, the Comitia Centuriata, the Comitia Tributa, and the Concilium Plebis. ... The Roman assemblies were the Comitia Curiata, the Comitia Centuriata, and the Comitia Tributa and posessed ultimate legislative and judicial powers in the Roman Republic and were also responsible for the election of magistrates. ... ... A magistrate is a judicial officer. ...

The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum, the seat of the Roman Senate.
The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum, the seat of the Roman Senate.

The Senate held considerable clout (auctoritas) in Roman politics. It was the official body that sent and received ambassadors, and it appointed officials to manage public lands, including the provincial governors. It conducted wars and it also appropriated public funds. It was the Senate that authorized the city's chief magistrates, the consuls, to nominate a dictator in a state of emergency. In the late Republic, the Senate chose to avoid setting up dictatorships by resorting to the so-called senatus consultum ultimum, which declared martial law and empowered the consuls to "take care that the Republic should come to no harm". Image File history File linksMetadata Curia_Iulia. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Curia_Iulia. ... The reconstructed Curia is the large building on the right of this panorama The Curia Hostilia (Latin, Hostilian Court) was the favourite meeting place of the Roman Senate in the Forum Romanum at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, near the well of the Comitia. ... Part of the Roman Forum. ... This article is about the Roman rank. ... Ordinary Magistrates Extraordinary Magistrates Titles and Honors Emperor Politics and Law Dictator was a political office of the Roman Republic. ... A Senatus consultum ultimum (Ultimate decree of the Senate), or more properly, senatus consultum de re publica defendenda (Decree of the Senate on defending the Republic) was a decree of the Roman Senate during the late Roman Republic passed in times of emergency. ...


Like the Comitia Centuriata and the Comitia Tributa, but unlike the Concilium Plebis, the Senate operated under certain religious restrictions. It could only meet in a consecrated temple, which was usually the Curia Hostilia, although the ceremonies of New Year's Day were in the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and war meetings were held in the temple of Bellona. Its sessions could only proceed after an invocation prayer, a sacrificial offering and the auspices were made. The Senate could only meet between sunrise and sunset, and could not meet while any of the assemblies were in session. The Curia, inside the Forum The Curia Hostilia (Latin, Hostilian Court) was the favorite meeting place of the Roman Senate in the Forum Romanum at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, near the well of the Comitia. ... In Roman mythology, Jupiter (sometimes shortened to Jove) held the same role as Zeus in the Greek pantheon. ... In Greek mythology, Enyo (horror) was an ancient goddess known by the epithet Waster of Cities and frequently depicted as being covered in blood and carrying weapons of war. ...


Membership

Representation of a sitting of the Roman Senate: Cicero attacks Catilina, from a 19th century fresco
Representation of a sitting of the Roman Senate: Cicero attacks Catilina, from a 19th century fresco

The Senate had around 300 members in the middle and late Republic. Customarily, all popularly-elected magistrates — quaestors, aediles (both curulis and plebis), praetors, and consuls — were admitted to the Senate for life, though the inclusion of tribunes in the senate varied historically. Senators who had not been elected as magistrates were called senatores pedarii and were not permitted to speak. Their number was increased dramatically by Sulla, and around half (49.5%) of the pedarii from 78-49 BC were homines novi ("new men"), that is, those whose families had never attained higher magistracy. Outside the pedarii, the number of homines novi was lower, with about 33% of tribunes, 29% of aediles, 22% of praetors, and only 1% of consuls being true novi (see E. S. Gruen, 1974, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, for a full breakdown on the family background of senators from 78-49 BC) . Image File history File links Download high resolution version (962x600, 100 KB)Painting by Cesare Maccari (1840-1919), Cicero Denounces Catiline. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (962x600, 100 KB)Painting by Cesare Maccari (1840-1919), Cicero Denounces Catiline. ... For other uses, see Cicero (disambiguation). ... Catiline (Lucius Sergius Catilina) (108 BC-62 BC) was a Roman politician of the 1st century BC who is best known for the Catiline (or Catilinarian) conspiracy, an attempt to overthrow the Roman Republic, and in particular the power of the aristocratic Senate. ... Quaestores were elected officials of the Roman Republic who supervised the treasury and financial affairs of the state, its armies and its officers. ... Aedile (Latin Aedilis, from aedes, aedis temple, building) was an office of the Roman Republic. ... Ordinary Magistrates Extraordinary Magistrates Titles and Honors Emperor Politics and Law Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, either before it was mustered or more typically in the field, or an elected... This article is about the Roman rank. ...


Although membership to the Senate was largely determined by popular election after Sulla's enlargement, membership in the Senate could be stripped by the censors if a Senator had been found guilty of disregard of the mores maiorum (public morals, literally: the ways of the forefathers), e.g. corruption, disregard of a colleague's veto, abuse of capital punishment, severe domestic violence, improper treatment of clients or slaves, and bankrupts or adultery, or if auspices demanded to. Censor was the title of two magistrates of high rank in the Roman Republic. ... The mos maiorum were the ancestral traditions, an unwritten code of laws and conduct, of the Romans. ... An auspice (Latin: auspicium[1]) is a type of omen. ...


Late Republican Senate

In the late Republic, an archconservative faction emerged, led in turn by Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, Quintus Lutatius Catulus, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus and Cato the Younger, whom Cicero called the boni ("The Good Men") or Optimates. The Late Republic was characterised by the social tensions between the broad factions of the Optimates and the newly wealthy Populares. This struggle became increasingly expressed by domestic fury, violence and fierce civil strife after the formation of the triumvirate of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. Examples of Optimates include Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Pompey the Great, whereas Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Cinna and Julius Caesar were Populares. The labels Populares and Optimates were not, however, as fixed as sometimes assumed, and politicians often changed factions to support specific bills or personalities. Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (born circa 163 BC – died 88 BC) was a Roman politician. ... Quintus Lutatius Catulus Caesar was a Roman general and was consul with Marius in 102 BC. He was originally Sextus Julius Caesar, son of Sextus Julius Caesar (brother of Gaius Julius Caesar, who was father of Gaius Julius Caesar, who was in turn father of Julius Caesar) and brother of... Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus (d. ... Marcus Porcius Catō Uticensis (95 BC–46 BC), known as Cato the Younger (Cato Minor) to distinguish him from his great-grandfather Cato the Elder), was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy. ... Optimates (Good Men) were the aristocratic faction of the later Roman Republic. ... Populares (Favoring the people, singular popularis) were aristocratic leaders in the late Roman Republic who tended to use the peoples assemblies in an effort to break the stranglehold of the nobiles and optimates on political power. ... Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (Latin: L•CORNELIVS•L•F•P•N•SVLLA•FELIX)[1] (ca. ... This article refers to the Roman General. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Lucius Cornelius Cinna[1] (d. ... For other uses, see Julius Caesar (disambiguation). ...


Hierarchy

The consuls alternated monthly as president of the Senate, while the princeps senatus functioned as leader of the house, the senatorial office assumed by the Emperors during the Imperial Period. If both consuls were absent (usually because of a war), the senior magistrate, most often the Praetor Urbanus, would act as the president. Originally, it was the president's duty to lay business before the Senate, either his own proposition or a topic by which he would solicit the senators for their propositions, but this soon became the domain of the princeps. Among the senators with speaking rights a rigid order defined who could speak when, with a patrician always preceding a plebeian of equal rank, and the princeps speaking first. This article is about the Roman rank. ... The princeps senatus (plural principes senatus) was the leader of the Roman senate. ... This article is about the Roman rank. ... Ordinary Magistrates Extraordinary Magistrates Titles and Honors Emperor Politics and Law Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, either before it was mustered or more typically in the field, or an elected...


The consulares were among the most influential members of the Senate. The consulares were those senators who had held the position of consul. Since only two consuls were elected yearly with the minimum age of 40 for patricians and 42 for plebeians, there were unlikely to be more than 40 consulares in the Senate at any given time. This article is about the Roman rank. ... This article is about the Roman rank. ... This article is about the social and political class in ancient Rome. ... In Ancient Rome, the plebs was the general body of Roman citizens, distinct from the privileged class of the patricians. ...


Notable practices

There was no limit on debate, and the practice of talking out debate (which is now sometimes called a filibuster) was a favoured trick (a practice which continues to be accepted in Canada and the United States today). Votes could be taken by voice vote or show of hands in unimportant matters, but important or formal motions were decided by division of the house. A quorum to do business was necessary, but it is not known how many senators constituted a quorum. The Senate was divided into decuries (groups of ten), each led by a patrician (thus requiring that there would be at least 30 patrician senators at any given time). As a form of obstructionism in a legislature or other decision making body, a filibuster is an attempt to extend debate upon a proposal in order to delay or completely prevent a vote on its passage. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Division (vote). ... Look up quorum in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Style of dress

All senators were entitled to wear a senatorial ring (originally made of iron, but later gold; old patrician families like the Julii Caesares continued to wear iron rings to the end of the Republic) and a tunica clava, a white tunic with a broad stripe of Tyrian purple 13 cm (5.12 in) wide (latus clavus) on the right shoulder. A senator pedarius wore a white toga virilis (also called a toga pura) without decoration excluding those explained above, whereas a senator who had held a curule magistracy was entitled to wear the toga praetexta, a white toga with a broad Tyrian purple border. Similarly, all senators wore closed maroon leather shoes, but senators who had held curule magistracies added a crescent-shaped buckle. This article is about the color. ... Maroon is a color related to dark red. ...


The Equestrian class

Until 123 BC, all senators were also equestrians, frequently called "knights" in English works. That year, Gaius Sempronius Gracchus legislated the separation of the two classes, and established the latter as the Ordo Equester ("Equestrian Order"). These equestrians were not restricted in their business ventures and were a wealthy and powerful force in Roman politics. Sons of senators and other non-senatorial members of senatorial families continued to be classified as equestrians and were entitled to wear togas with narrow purple stripes 7.5 centimeters wide as a reminder of their senatorial origins. An equestrian (Latin eques, plural equites - also known as a vir egregius, lit. ... Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (Latin: C·SEMPRONIVS·TI·F·P·N·GRACCVS) (154 BC-121 BC) was a Roman politician of the 2nd century BC. He was the younger brother of Tiberius Gracchus and, like him, pursued a popular political agenda that eventually got him killed by the conservative faction of...


Decline of the Senate (1st century BC – 6th century AD)

Julius Caesar introduced viri clarissimi (singular vir clarissimus, literally very distinguished man), with equestrians becoming viri egregii (vir egregius), "outstanding man". During the Principate and the Dominate, the Senate gradually lost its powers, including the right to confer imperial power.[1] While supreme power was in fact vested in the Imperator, the Senate remained a very powerful force as it saw to many of the more mundane aspects of governing. New senators were chosen by the Emperor based on wealth, administrative skill and ties to the ruler. New senators were given vast amounts of land, if they did not already possess them. Much of the surviving literature from the imperial period is written by senators, thus demonstrating their strong cultural influence. The institution survived the end of the Empire in the West, even enjoying a modest revival as imperial power was reduced to a government of Italy only. The senatorial class was severely affected by the Gothic wars. The Senate's last recorded acts are the dispatch of two ambassadors to the Imperial court of Tiberius II Constantine at Constantinople in 578 and 580. For other uses, see Julius Caesar (disambiguation). ... The Principate is, according to its etymological derivation from the Latin word princeps, meaning chief or first, the political regime dominated by such a political leader, whether or not he is formally head of state and/or head of government. ... The Dominate was the despotic last of the two phases of government in the ancient Roman Empire between its establishment in 27 BC and the formal date of the collapse of the Western Empire in AD 476. ... Motto Senatus Populusque Romanus The Western Roman Empire in 395. ... See Gothic War (376-382) for the war on the Danube. ... Flavius Tiberius Constantinus Augustus or Tiberius II Constantine (c. ... This article is about the city before the Fall of Constantinople (1453). ... Events Tiberius II Constantine succeeds Justin II as Byzantine Emperor Births Deaths July 30 - Jacob Baradaeus, bishop of Edessa October 5 - Justin II, Roman emperor Northern Zhou Wu Di, Chinese ruler John Malalas, Byzantine chronicler Categories: 578 ... Ethelbert becomes king of Kent. ...


Eastern Roman Senate

Main article: Byzantine Senate

Meanwhile a separate Senate had been established by Constantine I in Constantinople, which survived, in name if not importance, for centuries afterwards. The Byzantine Senate was a nominal continuation of the Roman Senate, established in the 4th century by Constantine I. It survived for centuries but was increasingly irrelevant until its eventual disappearance in the 13th century. ... For other uses, see Constantine I (disambiguation). ...


Revival in the Middle Ages

In the 12th century a commune was briefly established in Rome in an effort to reestablish the old Roman Republic. In 1145 the revolutionaries set up a Senate on the lines of the ancient one. See Commune of Rome. The Commune of Rome was briefly established by Arnold of Brescia in the Middle Ages. ...


Although the republican movement was defeated in 1155 by Pope Hadrian IV, the Roman city council has been called "Senate" since that time, and this old tradition has survived to the present day. The seat of the Senate of the comune di Roma is the Palazzo Senatorio on the Campidoglio. Pope Adrian IV (c. ... The Capitoline Hill (Capitolinus Mons), between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the most famous and smallest of the seven hills of Rome. ... The Capitoline Hill (Capitolinus Mons), between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the famous seven hills of Rome, the site of a temple for the Capitoline Triad: the gods Jupiter, his wife Juno and their daughter Minerva. ...


Original Roman Senate Building

An original building in which the Roman Senate met, a stone structure with a double slanted tiled roof, still exists in Rome. This building is not the same one where Cicero, for example, delivered his famous orations against Catiline, but one that was constructed after the original was burned by a mob that supported the populist agitator Publius Clodius Pulcher in 52 BC. Publius Clodius Pulcher (born around 92 BC, died January 18, 52 BC), was a Roman politician, chiefly remembered for his feuds with Titus Annius Milo and Marcus Tullius Cicero and introducing the grain dole. ...


Footnotes

  1. ^ At his accession in 282, the emperor Carus informed the Senate of the fact that he had been acclaimed emperor by his soldiers and hence possessed full imperial authority. His example of disregarding the role of the Senate in the confirmation of new emperors was followed by Diocletian. (W.G. Sinnigen and A.E.R. Boak, A history of Rome to A.D. 565 (New York-London 1977), p. 399)

Events Carus becomes Roman emperor A new city was constructed in Fuzhou slightly south of the original city Ye. ... Marcus Aurelius Carus (c. ... Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (c. ...

References

  • The Histories by Polybius
  • Cambridge Ancient History, Volumes 9–13.
  • A. Cameron, The Later Roman Empire, (Fontana Press, 1993).
  • M. Crawford, The Roman Republic, (Fontana Press, 1978).
  • E. S. Gruen, "The Last Generation of the Roman Republic" (U California Press, 1974)
  • F. Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World, (Duckworth, 1977, 1992).
  • A. Lintott, "The Constitution of the Roman Republic" (Oxford University Press, 1999)

Polybius (c. ...

See also


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