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(1,183 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] The name patricii was given to the descendents of the patres, who were the heads of the great Roman families represented in the senatus ; the patriciate then formed the hereditary estate of the nobility in Rome. The historiographic tradition traces the origins of the patriciate back to Rome's foundation: Romulus himself is said to have formed the Senate (Cic. Rep. 2,23), with the original number of senators given as 100 (Liv. 1,8,7; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2,8,3; Plut. Romulus 13,2). At f…


(958 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] L. Sergius C. came from a patrician gens that had been politically unsuccessful for a relatively long time. Born in 108 at the latest, he appears on 17. Nov. 89 BC in the consilium of the consul Pompeius Strabo as L. Sergi(us) L. f. Tro(mentina) [1. 160ff.]. At the end of the 80s he was legate to Sulla (Sall. Hist. 1,46) [2. 110ff.]. He probably did not murder his brother [3. 1688], but he probably killed M. Marius Gratidianus (Q. Cic. comm. pet. 10; Ascon. 84; 90C), the brother of his wife Gratidia (Schol. Bern.…


(626 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] Hostis originally referred to the foreigner ( peregrinus), i.e. the enemy ( perduellis) as well as the guest ( hospes), as Cicero (Off. 1,37) correctly concludes from the provisions in the XII Tables (  tabulae duodecim ) ( aut status dies cum hoste: 2,2; adversus hostem aeterna auctoritas: 6,4). At the same time they show that even a foreigner without   commercium could bring a lawsuit before the Roman magistrate. In the same way, with regard to the sphere of international relations, the older view that a ‘permanent stat…

Grain laws

(1,372 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] ( leges frumentariae). Laws for the handing out of grain at a reduced price or free of charge in the city of Rome. Supply crises and attempts to eliminate these are recorded already for the first century of the Republic although these are based only on vague recollection [16. 25f.]. A praefectus annonae in 440 BC (Liv. 4,12,8) is anachronistic, and even the grain purchase by the aediles in 299 BC (Liv. 10,11,9) is very doubtful [3. 31ff.]. For the 2nd cent. BC an increase of the state's interference with matters concerning the supply sector is a…


(1,535 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] I. Meaning of the term The Latin term denoted politicians of the late Roman Republic who declared themselves to act with the assistance, and in the interests of, the people ( populus ); however, terminological and not infrequently factual blurring arose from the fact that the root adjective popularis at first meant 'belonging to the people', 'concerning the people', then concurrently 'popular' and 'in the interests of the people'. By definition, agitation by populares before the multitude in opposition to the established elite ( pauci; 'the few') was almost de rigueur,…


(1,435 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] I. Meaning of the word The word plebs initially simply meant 'multitude' (from the root ple; cf. plenus, 'full' and Greek πλῆθος/ plȇthos, 'multitude'). As a collective term for all Roman citizens, excluding the Patricians ( patricii ), it can be conceived (disparagingly) only by the latter and in both its meaning and its historical development can be understood only as a correlate of the concept of patriciate. When this had been transformed by the elevation of leading plebeian families to the nobility ( nobiles ) and the ordo equester ( equites Romani

Emergency, state of

(674 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] is the extreme form of an internal crisis, to which state authorities respond with extraordinary, i.e. unlawful measures. A similar response to internal crises by state authorities did not arise in the Greek city states. As responses to crisis-like situations there, we find trials against individual citizens, instigated by other individual citizens (see  Herms, mutilation of the); or on occasion groups sought to resolve a crisis by means of a putsch (see  Oligarchy), or conditions developed similar to a civil war (  Stasis ). In Rome the state…


(306 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] ( assiduus, from adsideo) meaning ‘settled’. As a technical term in legal language it was considered a synonym of locuples, the opposite term was proletarius (Varro in Non. p. 67 M.). Therefore, it described ‘someone who was settled on his property’. The XII Tables decreed: Adsiduo vindex adsiduus esto. Proletario iam civi (or civis) qui volet vindex esto (Gell. NA 16,10,5). Adsiduus and proletarius are one of the pairs of opposites so frequently encountered in the archaic legal language of Rome [4.182]. As their etymological discussion suffi…


(588 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] Roman tradition terms as secessio (from Latin secedere, 'to go away, to withdraw') the remonstrative exodus of the Roman plebeians from the urban area delimited by the pomerium on to a neighbouring hill. This action was on a number of occasions the culmination of confrontation between the patricians ( patricii ) and the plebs . The first secessio in particular may have been instrumental in the formation of a self-conscious plebeian community under the leadership of at first two, later apparently five people's tribunes ( tribunus plebis ), to whose…

Senatus consultum ultimum

(295 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] This modern term derives from Caesar (B Civ. 1,5,3) and Livy (3,4,9), and means the 'final' or 'highest' decree of the Senate, by which the Senate declared a state of emergency at Rome and charged the senior magistrate(s) present in the city at the time to act against the emergency. The commission was usually given to one or both of the consuls, and occasionally to other officials ( interrex; praetores; magister equitum). The crux of the decree, the wording of which probably varied, was the formula ( consules) dent operam or videant, ne quid detrimenti res publica capiat. The…


(336 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] The Latin word proletarii, derived from proles ('descendant'), describes people without property, who mattered only for their progeny (Cic. Rep. 2,40), i.e. were liable neither to military service nor to taxation. Cato [1] Censorius says clearly: expedito pauperem plebeium atque proletarium (fr. 152 Orf). The contrast between proletarius and adsiduus is encountered as early as in the Twelve Tables (Gell. NA 16,10,5); the word proletarii is still attested in some 2nd-cent. BC authors and finally in Varro (De vita Populi Romani, fr.9), and was t…


(618 words)

Author(s): von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle)
[German version] Cicero defines seditio, perhaps by analogy with the Greek term stásis, as “dissensio civium, quod seorsum eunt alii ad alios” ("discord among citizens who separate and go different ways": Cic. Rep. 6,1). Normally, however, seditio designates a serious disturbance of public order, in other words 'rebellion', in the military domain also 'mutiny' (Frontin. Str. 1,9). Attempts at a legal precaution against seditio can be traced back to the Twelve Tables, which forbade coetus ( nocturni) ('night-time gatherings') (Lex XII tab. 8,26-27 Bruns = 14 f. Crawford)…