Roman law and the Religio

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Roman law and the Religio

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Fri Jun 10, 2005 3:38 pm

Salvete comreligiones

I was asked to make a couple of posts to a class on Roman law at Academia Thules concerning how the religio Romana played a part in Roman government and other aspects of Roman law. So I will post them here as well, and may go into some other aspects of Roman law and the religio later.

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Fri Jun 10, 2005 3:39 pm

Salvete

The religious aspects of a comitia’s procedures


In 212 BCE the tribunes Spurius and Lucius Carvilius called the people to assemble as a concilium plebis in order to discuss the case of one M Postumius of Pyrgi, the tax farmer, on the matter of his corruption in supplying the Roman legions during the war. They proposed to fine Postumius 200,000 asses. A concilium plebis was comparable to a contio called by a consul. These were assemblies in which issues could be discussed, and proposals offered for debate. A concilium or contio could then be moved directly into a comitia, although it might be held another day instead. A comitia was where the assembly voted, rather than discussed issues. To transfer from a concilium or contio into a comitia involved placing the assembly into a ritual context.

“When the day came for his appeal, the people attended the assembly in such numbers that the open space on the Capitol was packed to capacity;…”

Prior to an assembly of the comitia centuriata, a consul had to establish a templum in which to conduct the voting. “Templa are ordained, it is said, by augures, they who announce by word what boundaries are set (Varro L.L. 6.53).” Establishing a templum was part of the procedure for taking auspices, and it was through the taking of auspices that a templum was pronounced. Consuls had received the power of auspicium in addition to imperium. That meant that they could take auspices on behalf of the Roman people, but only a public augur could sanctify (ecfari) the templum. The consul would be seated at the center of the selected place, inside a tabernaculum, facing south. The consul would be veiled, capite velato, in his role as the aspex. An augur, who would be off to the consul’s right, due west and facing east, assisted him, so that the auspex and augur were placed to form the cardo. They and other assistants were inside a rectangular space, marked by nine stations; each station dedicated to a different deity. Each station acted as a kind of altar, as the Gods would be invoked in turn, requiring that offerings be made to Them. Inside the pomerium there were permanent auguracula, one on the Arx and another on the collis Latiaris, which was the most southern spur of the Quirinal (Varro L.L. V.5.2). Other auguracula have been found in Roman colonies at Bantia, Banzi, and Cosa, with the permanent stations inscribed so that we can be certain of six of the deities invoked, and additional information indicates the others. For the comitia centuriata, meeting in the Campus Martius outside the pomerium, stones, or turf altars more likely, would have had to have been set up for this preliminary stage. Moving around the stations was similar to a lustratio, as a series of rites were performed invoking the Gods and offering Them sacrifices. These stations, oriented on cardinal points according to the stars, were used then to divide the celestial templum into parts, since the direction in which signs were observed determined whether they were favorable to the question. The auspex, guided by the augur, pronounced the boundaries of the templa he proposed to “erect.” Varro gives us one such formula that was used in the auguraculum located on the Arx, although there were other formulae used as well.

“Let the boundaries of my templa and the wild lands (tesca) be as I declare them with my words. That tree of whatever kind it is which I deem myself to have named, let it be the boundary of my templum and the wild land to the right. That tree, of whatever kind it is, insofar as I deem myself to have named it, let it be the boundary of my temple and the wild land on the left. Between these points I have established the templa and the wild lands by means of directing (conregione), viewing (conspicione), reflecting (cortumiones) as far as I have been most rightly aware of it within this limit.” (Varro L. L. 7.8)

There were other steps to the ritual of taking auspices. The whole procedure of establishing the stations beginning just after midnight, then the taking of auspices at dawn, followed by additional offerings made in thanks to the Gods for attending, and then the signs (auspicia imperitiva) called for during the rite would have to be confirmed by additional signs (auspicia oblativa). In addition, the consul would perform another rite, offering a propitiatory sacrifice prior to the comitia assembling, in case any ritual requirement was not made properly on the following day when the comitia was actually held. It was a long, drawn out process just to establish the place of an assembly.

Tribuni plebi did not have the power of auspicium. They did perform private auspicia prior to attending an assembly, as in the story of Tiberius Gracchus. Much of what we know about what a consul had to perform prior to an assembly comes to us from stories about the famed tribune’s father, consul Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, because of an error that was made in forming the templum used in an election. There were also plebeian augures. Tiberius Gracchus, both father and son, were plebeian public augures. Things had to be done differently for a comitia plebis, because a tribune, without auspicium, could not form a templum just anywhere. The comitia plebis met in an established templum, and probably it was then sanctified for the specific assembly by the plebeian public augures. What you find, as for the concilium plebis called in the case of Postumius above, or with the comitia plebis called by Tiberius Gracchus, is that plebeian assemblies met inside the temple precinct (templum) of the Capitolium, or in similar places, such as the Forum Romanorum. The Forum was itself a templum, although it was not consecrated in the same way as was the Capitolium. The plebeians began to hold their assemblies at the Capitolium, during the Middle Republic, because then the religious context there was much greater than in the Forum, and thus any plebiscita passed by a comitia plebis at the Capitolium had greater weight, because it was sanctioned by the highest God, Jupiter.

Location was only part of the religious context of any assembly of the Roman people. Assembly procedures were themselves conducted as a ritual, so that everything done by any comitia had a ritual context. The first ritual was the matter of transferring from the consilium plebis or a contio into a comitia.

“The other tribunes produced witnesses to watch the balloting (testibus datis tribuni), and cleared the crowd (populum summoverunt); then an urn was brought forth (sistellaque lata est) that they should determine by lots (ut sorti rentur) in which tribe any Latins present should vote (ubi Latini suffragium ferrent).” (Livy 25.3.14-17)

The sistella used for drawing lots were not just any urns. These were sacred articles, specially stored inside a temple. They had to be “brought forth” as with any ritual tools. They were unpacked, cleansed, ritually purified, before they were set up. In one particular case, the minority party in the Senate that opposed the initiatives of tribunus Tiberius Gracchus tried to prevent a vote being taken on his proposals by stealing the urns used for the adsortes. Without those special and sacred sistella, a comitia could not be called. Timing was another concern since comitia could only be assembled on certain days in accordance with the religious aspects of the civil calendar. Also the manner in which any assembly was called, was pronounced by ritualistic formulae. For a comitia called by a consul, the consul would declare Hoc agete! “Give your attention to this.” One of his lictores would then pronounce the formula for calling silentium. Hostis vinctus mulier virgo exesto; scilicet interesse prohibebatur. "Depart, foreigners, unmarried women, and all those who are known to be forbidden to be amongst us here. Depart.” The assembled would then act as witnesses to the setting up of the sistella while adopting the proper decorum (silentium) for any religious rite. It is at this point, with the sistella properly set up that the comitia began. Once begun only the officiating magistrate or tribune could disband a comitia. In the event that an inauspicious sign was observed, and accepted by the officiating official to be such an omen, then it might be required to call an end to the assembly. In the case of a comitia plebis there was only one sign that could bring it to a halt. That was the observance by the tribuni plebis of a thunderbolt in an inauspicious direction. Remember that the comitia plebis is assembled at the Capitolium, thus under the auspices of Jupiter, and only Jupiter could therefore send an omen that would end the comitia. “The only sign considered to vitiate a comitia is a lightning bolt (Cicero, De Divinatio 2.18.43).” If the lightning appeared on the left it was a favorable sign; if in the northeast it meant that Jupiter Himself gave full approval to anything decided by the comitia. If however the lightning appeared in the southwest it was unfavorable, indicating the approach of danger and possibly war, while if due west, and especially if in the northwest , then it indicated the disapproval of the Gods for the assembly to continue. Lightning in the southwest would almost certainly bring a call for a council of war, and it was considered religiosum, that is, forbidden, “where laws are carried before the people in violation of adverse auspices, or to propose laws in a council of war, or on a prohibited day (nefas) (GRF Aelius 18; Fest. p.278b.15).”

Voting procedures were then conducted in a ritual manner. A question had to be put to a comitia by a special formula. Velitis iubeatisne haec sic fieri? “Is it your will and pleasure that this be done so?” (Livy 22.10.2). In the case of Postumius’ prosecution, the question was worded in a traditional formula pronouncing exile. videri eum in exilio esse, bonaque eius venire ipsi aqua et igni placere interdici

“The question was put to the people, who returned a decision to the following effect: ‘If Postumius fails to appear before the kalends of May, and, being summoned on that day, does not reply and is not excused, then it shall be understood that he is an exile; his property shall be sold and he shall be refused water and fire’ (Livy 25.4.9-10).”

Voting in any comitia was done by separating the people into different voting groups. In the comitia centuriata they were divided into centuries. In the comitia tributa plebis they were instead organized into voting tribes. The order of voting was made by drawing lots, and this procedure was conducted as a ritual onto itself, with a series of formulae spoken, special individuals selected to draw the lots, and a special way to draw the lot. Drawing lots was a form of augury, and everything pertaining to it had to be conducted according to augural prescriptions. The voting order determined by the lots could itself be taken as an omen. In 310 BCE magister populi L. Papirius delayed voting in the comitia curiata because the lot for the first to vote fell to curia Faucia. This particular curia was notorious for having voted first in two previous elections. One that elected the consules responsible for the defeat of Rome by the Samnites at the Caudine Forks, the other time electing the consules defeated by the Gauls, which led to the sack of Rome in 390 BCE. Recalling these earlier votes, Papirius accepted the lot as an omen, and thus was able to halt the voting and disband the assembly he had called. Other magistrates and some priests might be so bold as to point out other omens, and the officiating magistrate or tribune might acknowledge it or not. Only the officiating officer, however, could call a halt to the proceedings at this point.

Assuming that everything was done properly, the officiating magistrate or tribune would then pronounce a prayer to begin voting.

Quod Senatus populusque Romanus de re publica deque…in animo haberet, ea res ut populo Romano sociisque ac nomini Latino bene ac feliciter eueniret. May whatever the Senate and the people of Rome shall resolve for the common good of the Republic, and with reference to (whatever the proposal), may this decision turn out well and happily for the people of Rome, for their allies, and for the Latins (Livy 31.5.4).”

There were of course variations on what was said. Comparing examples from Livy and Cicero, and again from inscriptions from the imperial eras, the basic formula for beginning and concluding assemblies of the Senate or any comitia was Quod bonum faustum felixque sit. Roman formulae were not, however, fixed as statements that must be read exactly. Rather, formulae refer to a manner of speaking. Just as modern historians have been quick to characterize Roman prayers as contractual, because their wording is couched in a kind of “legalese,” Roman legal procedures tended to employ ways of phrasing that used archaic expressions that were drawn from religious rituals. At one time there was no distinction between religious and civil proceedings, and the pontifices were said to have kept the formulae needed by magistrates to perform their duties. A praetor had to initiate a civil suit with the phrase do, dico, addico. The pontifices also defined the terms of a suit that could be brought before a praetor and how the law could apply in such suits, so that a praetor’s role in a court was primarily to recite pontifical formulae in the formal and public announcement of a suit. A praetor did not act as a judge or jury in our modern understanding. A praetor’s court had to take place in a templum, had to be conducted only at certain times defined by the religious aspects of the civil calendar, had to conform to any number of augural prescriptions, and further, whatever authority a praetor had went back to his election in a comitia with all of its ritualistic procedures and its religious context.

The prayer spoken by a consul at the beginning of a vote in comitia was used in the same way as the praecatio of a sacra publica. You can see in Cato’s lustratio invoking Mars that the praecatio was said twice, once before and once after the actual sacrifice (De Agricultura 141). Also the praecatio was said in two different ways, once in a negative statement and again in a positive statement. While defending Murena, Cicero refers to his procedure in conducting the election of Murena.

“On that day on which, after taking the auspices, I announced the election of Lucius Murena to the People’s Assembly, I prayed, gentlemen of the jury, to the Gods according to traditional usage of our ancestors that his election would bring every good fortune to me, my good name, my office, and to the people of Rome…

“But if that customary election prayer, consecrated by the auspices taken by a consul, has the force and religious power that the dignity of the state demands, I prayed too that the elections over which I presided should bring all good fortune and success to the elected candidates. (Cicero Pro Murena 1).”

Cicero had to have begun the voting with a prayer, and he states that the same customary election prayer was said again after the election. Implied, too, is that Cicero had to have made a sacrifice at both times. Sallustius wrote, “Prayers offered without sacrifices are only words, with sacrifices they are live words.” Prayer and sacrifice were indispensable of one another as we also find with Pliny. “Moreover, the slaughter of victims is thought to be ineffectual without prayer, and without a prayer the Gods are considered not to have been properly consulted (Pliny NH 28.10).” Whether a consul, a tribune, or a praetor, officiating over a comitia in a templum where the Gods were called as witnesses to any proceedings meant that they were at the same time conducting a religious ritual by an altar where oaths could be sworn and where the Gods could be called to lend their favor to any decisions made by the comitia. The reason for all of this is very clear. It was the Gods who decided through the auspices when and where a comitia could assemble, They who determined the voting order, They who placed Their sanction on the voting procedures by not sending disapproving omens, They who also guarded over any vow spoken, and therefore anything decided by a vote in a comitia was automatically assumed to be the “will of the Gods.”

“If what specifically makes temples sacrum is present, then the same can be said of laws and institutions put forward by the ancestors as sanctum, in order that they cannot be violated without punishment (GRF Aelius 18; Fest. p.278b.15).”

The religious context of any comitia and the ritual procedures by which it was conducted bestowed religious sanctity on all of its decisions. Once passed, a civil law was divine law, and only by following the same religious procedures could it be overruled. No senatus consultus and no magisterial edictum could come close, and not even any pronouncements of the pontifices had anything near the divine authority of the people of Rome when assembled in a comitia.
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Fri Jun 10, 2005 3:40 pm

Salvete

Consules and the religio Romana


Under the Old Republic took office on the kalendae Martiae, and yet was not fully install into office until the Idus Martiae, which was considered to be the beginning of the New Year. There was a process by which a consul received his auctoritas in stages. Each stage consisted of two parts, first an authority being placed upon him by a religious rite and the exercise of that authority within a ritual context.

The Comitia Centuriata first elected a consul, authorizing that he was eligible then to receive the powers of imperium and auspicium. As we have already seen, conduct of the election was that of a ritual, performed by the current consul or an interrex, or rarely a magister populi. The Senate confirmed the election result through the passage of an auctoritas patrum that granted the consul auspicium (authorization to take auspices on behalf of the people of Rome). The Comitia Curiata next passed a lex curiata de imperium, by which a consul received his imperium (authority to command legions). He next had to exercise his powers in order to have full auctoritas. He began with auspicium. First the consul would take auspices in accordance with his own cultus genialis. There he needed to be confirmed by his Lares. Auspicia privita could be quite different from the rites used in auspicia publica. Different birds might be included among the oscines and alites – such as swans, doves and geese, and other animals for the ex quadrupedibus such as horses (Servius Aeneid 1.398; 3.537). The directions considered favorable or unfavorable could be reversed in auspicia privata from those used in auspicia publica (GRF Nigidius Figulus; Gellius, A. N. 7.6.10). The deities called upon to provide auspices could include Picumnus, Faunus, Mars and Feronius, where in the auspicia publica Jupiter alone was asked to provide auspices. With the approval of his Lares to assume office, he then consulted the public augurs for an auspicia consiliarium. These initial stages followed the example of the election and inauguration of Numa Pompilius (Cicero De Re Publica II.xii.24-xiii.25; Livy 1.8.6-10; Plutarch Numa).

On his first day of March the consul assumed office with due ceremony. He had to visit Capitolium where he made solemn vows on behalf of the State, that if all went well during his tenure in office, sacrifices would be offered. He then entered the aedes Capitolium to visit with Jupiter Optimus Maximus. This was a special honor for a consul to hold, as the Temple of Jupiter O. M. was not opened to just anyone. The consul’s state visit to Jupiter was comparable to the Prime Minister of the UK visiting the Queen in his first days of office. Scipio Aficanus Maior made the most of this honor, visiting Jupiter each morning before he entered the Forum, acquiring a certain religious authority in everything he said by these consultations. He proceed from the Capitolium to the Forum, and then onto the Senate, paying the patres a visit and formally asking for their advice. The Senate determined what provinciae were available in which a consul could exercise his imperium. Then was held the adsortes as a form of augury, assigning the consul his provincia (area of responsibility). His next duty was to announce the date on which the Feriae Latinae would be held and would have to perform an immolatio for Jupiter Latinus on Mount Alban. He was joined these rites by representatives of other Latin cities offering their own sacrificationes, and by the end of the fourth century other Latin rites were performed as a kind of parentatio to Aeneas at the Heroon outside Lavinium. Returning to Rome, the consul then performed sacrifices on the Capitolium, resolving the vows made by his predecessor. He also could have been required to perform rites in response to the prodigiae reported in the previous year. It was only after completing all of his required religious duties that a consul could then don the paludamentum and this is when he received his lictores (GRF Veranius 2). He had still then to exercise his imperium by announcing when a levy would be held, and calling the Comitia Centuriata to assemble in order to hold the levy. This would take place on the idus Martiae in the Campus Martius with all due ceremony in accordance with augural prescriptions. Conducting the assembly of the Comitia Centuriata involved another series of rites – the erection of the templum and the taking of auspices, the propitiatory sacrifice on the day prior to the comitia, calling the assembly, administering the levy by lots, and dictating the oath by which the milites promised to return in a set number of days fully equipt (Livy 21.63).

The religious context of the transition into office meant that a consul had to perform all his duties properly. An impropriety in his election, even when discovered after he was fully installed in office, could lead to a demand that he resign. Between in first taking office and the time he was fully installed in office (1-15 March), any ill omen could be declared by public augeres that there had occurred a defect in his election (Livy 23.31.13). Incorrectly performing the sacrifices he was required to make could also remove him from office. Once he was fully installed with auctoritas and had arrived at his provincia, his imperium gave him absolute command over his army. He still had religious duties to perform, not the least of which was the purification of the army upon its return to Rome. None of the consul’s milites could enter the pomerium until the consul had perform this purification. At one point in the Civil War, at a moment when Caesar was cut off from his base of operations and isolated in northern Africa, Caesar spent a whole day performing a purification of his army. This he did in spite of the fact that he then opposed by two superior Republican armies, and in a period of Roman history when religious rites were commonly postponed and often neglected entirely. Tradition, embodied in the religio Romana, was the one limiting factor placed on a consul’s authority. It defined his auctoritas and defined how he exercised auctoritas.
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Fri Jun 10, 2005 3:54 pm

Salvete comreligiones

The following is a post I originally sent to the class that I teach at Academia Thules on Roman ritual.

Religious authority in the religio Romana

Auctoritas is the authority to take some action or to make some decision. It is an authority that comes through the will of the people, in accordance with the will of the Gods, Who are Themselves the ultimate source of all authority. There was a process through which auctoritas was passed on to an individual, whether a magistrate or a member of one of the priestly collegia, and in that process his auctoritas was limited to a provincia. A provincia can mean a region of land with set boundaries, from whence our own term of 'province' derives. Provincia can also mean an 'area of responsibility' in a more abstract sense, as when a dictator was selected "for the expressed purpose" of performing the rite "of hammering in the nail" on 13 Sept. (Livy 7.3.4-5), or when duumviri were appointed to dedicate a temple edifice (Livy 23.21.7).

In the election of a consul a ritual procedure would assemble the people of Rome into the Comitia Centuriata. A current consul that already possessed his auctoritas of office and was assigned by the Senate to his provincia of conducting the election initiated this procedure. He began by first taking the auspices to see whether the Gods approved of the assembly, and in the process he would also establish the templum in which the assembly would take place. So just in setting up the place here an election was held, augural strictures had to be followed (Livy 41.18.7-8). Care was taken on how the people could asemble, passing over the pontes leading into the templum, the width of which could be determined by passage of a plebiscitum. A lictor would be assigned by the consul to announce the silentium, which was a ritual formula for ordering away any who did not belong in the assembly. Hostis vinctus mulier Virgo exesto (Festus p. 83M). "Foreigners, slaves and unmarried women, be gone!" The assembly passed from a contio, in which matters could be discussed, to a comitia that conducted a vote, by announcement of the silentium and the call to bring forward the cista onto the podium in which the voting order among the centuries or tribes would be determined. This was done by drawing lots. The procedure for drawing lots was itself performed as a ritual, a form of augury. In the first place, such a casting of lots was performed inside a templum determined by the auspices. Sometimes the comitia's templum would be erected in the precinct of a temple adding greater sanctity to its procedures. The vessels used in drawing lots were consecrated and ritually stored in the Capitolium, and thus they were specially treated as religious articles. The Gods and Manes were called upon as testori to witness the procedures. The actual order in which the lots were drawn from the cista was believed to have been determined by the Gods Themselves through the intercession of the Tenitae (Festus p505: Tenitae credebantur esse sortium deae, dictae quod tenendi haberent potestatem). The selected order could be an omen in itself. In 310 BCE dictator L. Papirius delayed passage of his curiata law, because the lot assigning the privilege of voting first fell to curia Faucia, notorious for two disasters when previously they had voted first in an election: the capture of Rome by the Gauls, and the Battle of the Caudine Forks (Livy 9.38.15). Any matter put before a comitia, including an election, was worded in a traditional formula determined by the pontifices. "Is it your will and pleasure that this be done so?" (Livy 22.10.2: Velites iubeatisne haec sic fieri?) Even before that point a ritual sacrifice was performed, calling on the Gods to watch over the procedures and provide success for any of the comitia's decisions. "May the Gods in Heaven," said consul Publius Sulpicius, "prosper with good success, for the Romans people, the Quirites, and their allies and the Latins, all the measures that the Senate and people intend to take for the good of the commonwealth in this undertaking (Livy 31.52-4)." Once the comitia had been called to vote, the only auspice that could end its procedures was an unfavorable flash of lightning sent from Jupiter (Cicero Div. 2.18.43), and thus any vote of a comitia was taken under the auspices and auctoritas of the highest God. The Senate had its own auctoritas derived from the Gods, and it too followed certain ritual procedures in the conduct of its business. However, a comitia had a higher auctoritas because of all the rituals conducted at each stage of its voting procedure, and because each stage was conducted under auspices, unlike Senate procedures. Theoretically the Senate had to approve a vote of a comitia, but its auctoritas was passed onto any decision of the Comitia Plebis Tributa before a vote was taken (339 BCE Leges Publilia). Every measure of a comitia, whether a lex or a plebiscitum, was thereby jointly passed by the Senate and the people, and thereby combined the auctoritas of the Senate, of the magistrate conducting the vote, and of the comitia itself, all under the auspices of the Gods. Thus the voting results of a comitia was considered to be the will of the Gods as much as it was the will of the people.

This entire voting procedure under the auspices took on additional meaning after 300 BCE when the lex Ogulnia expanded the collegia pontificum and augurium through election, later in the third century when the pontifex maximus began to be elected in the Comitia Tributa, and then in 104 BCE when all of the pontifices were elected in comitia as well. This entailed an additional procedure inserted into the voting process. From among the 35 tribes, eighteen were selected by lot to conduct the vote. All of the ritual procedures required for drawing lots was then used twice, to form the truncated Comitia Tributa, and then to determine the voting order among the selected tribes. In a sense this increased the auctoritas of those elected by this procedure. Simply because a man was elected for the position of consul did not mean he had then received auctoritas. Just as Numa Pompilius submitted his own election as rex to the will of the Gods by insisting on the augures taking the auspices, a consul had to take the auspices in his own cultus gentilis and then by auspicia publica. He could not do so however without first going through a second election in the Comitia Curiata. Only the curiones, all being plebians after 209 BCE, could confer imperium and auspicium on a consul, by which he was entitled to hold command and take public auspices, but even there he first had to perform several other religious rites and duties before he was fully installed as a consul. The same we should expect happened with those elected in comitia to priestly offices, that they would have to conduct the auspicia privata of their cultus gentilis at the very least and probably an auspicia assisted by public augures, then pass the formality of election by their respective collegium, and conduct rites in their priestly station before they fully invested and held religious authority.

The religio Romana, according the John Scheid, "was a religion under no particular authority or leader, even at the level of public cult. Religious authority was always shared (An Introduction to Roman Religion, 2.1.1: Definitions)." Each of the priestly collegia was independent of one another. They each had their own roles and functions. There was a kind of order in status within each collegia and between one another, but the dignity of office did not extend as governing authority. The Senate could refer any matter to whichever collegium they chose, and thus some historians have claimed that the Senate held the highest religious authority. That is not quite true, however, as any judgement of the Senate, or of any priestly collegium, or of any priest, could be appealled to a comitia of the people. The Roman people, assembled in comitia, held the ultimate religious authority in Rome, and this went back to the electoral process used in comitia under the auspices so that their decisions were regarded as the will of the Gods, Who were in fact the source of all religious authority. We will have to go through several examples to see how this worked, how religious authority was exercised over individuals, within the priestly collegia, and between the collegia, and then with regard to the roles of the Senate and the comitia. But what John Scheid has written is essentially correct, "religious authority was always shared," rather than held by any individual or even by a single body of individuals like a priestly collegium. A decision of a pontifex maximus could always be overruled by the full collegium pontificum or by a comitia. While the pontifices oversaw and could make new "laws for the observance of any religious rites," an augur could always declare these to be unjust, unlawful, pernicious or ill-omened and thus declare them null and void. The authority of the pontifices went no further than the five mile limit outside Rome, where the authority of the decimviri extended over certain matters throughout the Roman provinces of Italy. Rites, celebrations and culti deorum introduced to Rome by the decimviri were overseen by their collegium rather than that of the pontifices. In the early Respublica the plebeians had their own culti deorum under their own officers, that was separate from the cultus civile. They could, as they did with the tresviri epulones, create new priestly collegia that were not under the authority of any other priestly collegium. Later the plebeian culti deorum were brought into the cultus civile, and like the patrician their own mos maiorum was accepted as governing those religious institutions. We don't usually think of the aediles as religious officers, but they originated as such and were called in by the Senate to act as such even before they became part of the state government. Their main function afterwards in caring for shrines, temples and celebrations was still primarily religious functions that benefit the state. When they did become official magistrates they may be seen as acting with the advice of the Senate, but something like the complaints of Cicero on how Clodius or Catalina conducted rites and celebrations while they were aediles, may indicate that the aediles remained a separate religious authority from other priestly collegia. Religious authority at Rome was diverse and diffused among several priestly institutions, the interaction of which is not always clear and were never intended to be clearly delineated along hierarchial lines of authority. Each collegia can be said to have held a provincia over certain aspects of the cultus civile, each working their part in turn through Roman rituals, and each could, on some level, check the authority of another. Their disputes were then referred to the Senate or comitia for resolution. Law and custom was consulted. But no one collegia, and not the collegia collectively, held the highest position of religious authority in the religio Romana.
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Fri Jun 10, 2005 4:07 pm

Salvete comreligiones

This one may not be too clear, since it refers to excepts from Livy and Valerius Maximus as examples, which are not quoted here. The post is addressed to the praeceptor conducting the class on Roman law.

Conflicts between the Pontifex Maximus and magistrate Flamines.

Salve Apolloni Corde

Scripsisti:
> Who convened and presided over the assemblies which
> heard these appeals? We simply don't know. One
> possibility is that in cases such as this the
> /pontifex maximus/ himself had the power to convene
> the /comitia/. This is possible: he apparently had the
> power to convene the /comitia curiata/, and there are
> one or two cases in the history of the republic when a
> /pontifex maximus/ apparently convened the /comitia
> centuriata/ to hold elections. Alternatively, since
> Livy mentions the /tribuni plebis/ in 189, perhaps it
> was they who presided.
>

Each comitia had its own area of concern. The comitia curiata weknow was involved in three areas related to the religio Romana.First this comitia oversaw certain rites. The Fornacalia ofFebruary was a festival conducted pro curiis, and did not have afixed date. Each of the curiones conducted their own rites for their respective curiae, but under the direction of the Curio Maximus. It may be that the curio maximus set the date each year for Fornacalia, just as the other movable feasts of the feriae Sementivae and feriae Paganicae, held in January, were set by the pontifex maximus and the praetor urbanus respectively. The Fordicalia of April was likewise held pro curiis, and we hear of other cermonies held in the curiae for Juno. Second the comitia curiata was assembled each year to pass the lex curiata de imperium for the consuls. Third was where, twice a year, the comitia curiata was assembled by the rex sacrorum, later by the pontifex maximus, to hear the pronouncement of wills, and in the related issue of hearing formal pronouncement of adoptions. Wills and adoptions we may think were civil matters, but in point of fact they involved religious issues, since the concern in both types of cases was continuation of culti geniales. The comitia curiata was considered the oldest assembly, founded by Romulus, composed of ten curiae for each of the three original tribes [later antiquarians forcibly assigned these as Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans]. Its function was purely formal by the late Republic, and primarily dealt with religious functions. The examples given, however, come from the Middle Republic before, IIRC, the pontifex maximus was involved in the comitia curiata. The comitia curiata functioned primarily in religious areas, and thus might be thought a good place to consider disputes between a pontifex maximus and flamines maiores (who had to be patricians). Up until 209 BCE all of the curiones were patricians and over the age of 50. It is interesting to note, too, that while in the Late Republic the comitia curiata bestowed only imperium, in the Regal Period a king's auspicia was said to revert to the patres upon the king's death (auspicia ad patres redierunt), and it is highly probable that it was comitia curiata that is implied rather than the Senate. Theoretically the comitia curiata could withdraw imperium and/or auspicium from a magistrate if he did not comply with his religious obligations.

The comitia plebis tributa was of course a plebeian assembly, one that we would not think would be involved with matters dealing with patrician flamines. However one of its areas of concern was to protect the right of citizens to provocatio. In each case we know of, the fines imposed by the pontifex maximus were being appealled through the right of provocatio. The authority of the tribunes was different than other magistrates. They could not command that any action be taken, they could only interpose their power of veto to prohibit an action be taken. However, they also, like the pontifex maximus, could impose fines where a measure passed by the comitia plebis was violated.

Between these two comitia the stronger argument would seem to favor the comitia curiata. However, it may not be the case at all that either of these comitia were involved. Provocatio did not have to be heard before the comitia plebis alone. I would be inclined to think that in each of the examples the case would be heard before the comitia which elected the official. There are some religious grounds for thinking this. The tribunes might pass measures before the comitia plebis and use those measures to impose fines, in order to compel the disputing parties to submit to placing the provocatio before the appropriate comitia. In that case who may have been convening the respective comitia was in fact the magistrate on whom the pontifex maximus had imposed fines, going before his own electorate to plead his case, and the comitia plebis then used to compel the pontifex maximus, through the threat of fines, to make his own case before the respective comitia. In each example it was, after all, the auspicia of the electing comitia that was being challenged by the action of the pontifex maximus. This could explain the confusion Livy alludes to for the year 189 BCE where the comitia centuriata seems to be the assembly in question. The dispute is between two priests, but also between two praetores elected under the same auspicia in the comitia centuriata, and why the Senate would be involved would be because of their role in determining each praetor's provincia, a determination also being challenged by the pontifex maximus.
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Coool

Postby Anonymous on Tue Jun 14, 2005 4:04 am

Salvete Piscinius!

Thanks for posting this here. I'm registered with your class and I feel over my head, I'm just there to read not get a grade. This post sort of answers when and how some of the rituals were used or alt least th implication of Roman religion in the political arena.
Anonymous
 

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Jun 14, 2005 9:06 pm

Salve Numeri Icli

Implications of the religion in politics! Religion and political structure was always intertwined in Rome. Why were some repeatedly elected to office when their records would not indicate that they were outstanding? Why was Valerius Corvus elected consul, although so young? Scipio Africanus starting each day at the aedes of Jupiter before going into the Forum. Cicero's complaint of Clodius being guilty of incestum had nothing to do with his sister Clodia. There is much in Roman history that might be perceived differently if the religio is taken into account.

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Aug 20, 2005 7:00 pm

Salve Cornucane

Yes. After 300 BCE the Collegium Aurgulum was opened to plebeians, so five plebeians and four patricians became public augures. Apparently there were others who acted as augures for private rites, like Naevius originally, but who would not have been public augures. Public augures advised the Senate on certain matters and assisted in sacra publica, i.e. rites performed on behalf of Rome and its people while using public monies.

Auspicia were also taken every time a contract was written, or a marriage proposed. These could be taken by the heads of families. Sometimes haruspices and augures were hired for this purpose, but they would not necessarily have been public augures, just people who were popularly acclaimed as having certain knowledge and skill in taking auspices.

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