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COMITIUM 100.00%

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The name of a small space in Rome, bounded on the north by the senate-house (see CURIA), and on the south by the rostra (see ROSTRA). Down to the 2nd century B.C. it was used for the meetings the assemblies and of the courts of law. After the removal of the rostra it became part of the Forum. See Plan under FORUM, No. 18.
 
FORUM 24.38%

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An open space used for political meetings, judicial proceedings, and traffic. In Rome the oldest forum was the Forum Romanum, afterwards the Campo Vaccino, a long and irregular four-sided space, lying between the Capitol and the Palatine, in the direction of WNW. and ESE (see plan, p. 241). In the course of time it was surrounded with temples, public buildings, and basilicas. It was originally used as a market place, but was early monopolised for public purposes. There were, however, shops and stalls along the northern and southern sides, where an active trade was carried on. Here, in particular, the money-changers carried on their business. The Forum was divided into the Comitium with the Rostra or speaking platform, and the Forum proper, where the Romans habitually spent much of their morning transacting private or public business. (See COMITIUM and ROSTRUM .) Under the Empire a number of other fora sprang up in its neighbourhood, which were used for legal and other business. They were adorned with great magnificence, having a temple in their midst, and colonnades round them, which were open for ordinary traffic. There were thus Fora of Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva, and Trajan, the last the largest and most splendid of all (see plan, p. 241). There were, besides, several fora for market business, as the Forum boarium or cattle-market, piscarium or fish-market, holitorium, or vegetable-market, and so on. The word forum was also applied to any place which formed the local centre of commerce and jurisdiction: so that such local names as Forum Iulii (now Frejus) were very common.
 
REGIFUGIUM 23.80%

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A Roman festival celebrated on Feb. 24th, to commemorate the expulsion of the kings. At this festival the rex sacrorum offered sacrifice on the comitium, and then hastily fled. (See REX SACRORUM.) [Probably in this case, as in many others, the sacrifice was originally regarded as a crime. The fact that the Salii were present is recorded by Festus (s.v. Regifugium). Possibly their presence had the same significance as the ceremony of leaping, etc., performed by them in March, presumably with a view to driving evil demons away from the city (Classical Review, v 51 b).]
 
VOLCANUS 13.98%
The Italian god of fire and of the art of forging and smelting; corresponding to, and identified with, the Greek Hephaestus. As god of the forge, he also bears the name Mulciber, the softener or smelter of metal. As a beneficent god of nature, who ripens the fruit by his warmth, he is the husband of the Italian goddess of spring, Maia or Maiesta, who shared the sacrifices offered by his priest, the flamen Volcanalis, after he had become identified with Hephaestus. Venus, who is identified with Aphrodite, was regarded as his wife. Among his shrines in Rome the most noteworthy is that called Volcanal, a level space raised above the surface of the Comitium, and serving as the hearth of the spot where the citizens' assemblies were held. His chief festival, the Volcanalia, was kept on August 23rd, when certain fish were thrown into the fire on the hearth, and races were held in the Circus Flaminius. Sacrifices were offered to him as god of metal-working on May 23rd, the day appointed for a cleansing of the trumpets used in worship (tubilustrium). As lord of fire he was also the god of conflagrations; hence his temples were built outside the city, while his temple in Rome was situated in the Campus Martius. Juturna (q.v.) and Stata Mater, who causes fires to cease, were worshipped with him as goddesses who protect from fires, and a public sacrifice was offered to them and him at the festival of the Volcanalia. (Cp. HEPHAeSTUS.)
 
REX SACRORUM 13.26%
the "king of sacrifice." The name given by the Romans to a priest who, after the abolition of the royal power, had to perform certain religious rites connected with the name of king. He resembles the archon basileus of the Athenian constitution. He was always a patrician, was elected for life by the pontifex maximus with the assistance of the whole pontifical college (of which he became a member), and was inaugurated by the augurs. Although he was externally of high rank and, like the pontifex maximus, had an official residence in the Regia, the royal castle of Numa, and took the chair at the feasts and other festivities of the pontifices, yet in his religious authority he ranked below the pontifex maximus, and was not allowed to hold any public office, or even to address the people in public. His wife (like the wives of the flamens) participated in the priesthood. Our information as to the details of the office is imperfect. Before the knowledge of the calendar became public property, it was the duty of the rex sacrorum to summon the people to the Capitol on the calends and nones of each month, and to announce the festivals for the month. On the calends he and the regina sacrificed, and at the same time invoked Janus. Of the other sacrifices known to us we may mention the regifugium on Feb. 24th, when the rex sacrorum sacrificed at the comitium, and then fled in haste. This has been erroneously explained as a commemoration of the fight of Tarquinius Superbus, the last of the Roman kings; but it is much more probably one of the customs handed down from the time of the kings themselves, and perhaps connected with the purificatory sacrifice from which the month of February derived its name. At the end of the Republic the office, owing to the political disability attaching to the holder, proved unattractive, and was sometimes left unfilled: but under Augustus it appears to have been restored to fresh dignity, and in imperial times it continued to exist, at any rate, as late as the 3rd century.
 
CURIA 11.29%
The name of the thirty divisions into which the three tribus of the Roman patricians were divided for political and religious objects. Every curia contained a number of gentes, supposed to be exactly ten, and a president, curio, whose duty it was to look after its secular and religious business. At the head of all the curioe stood the Curio Maximus, who was charged with the notification of the common festivals Fordicidia and Fornacalia (see these words). The separate curiones were chosen by their respective curive, and the Curio Maximus was elected by the people in special comitia out of the number of curiones. For its special sacrifices every curia had its place of meeting, bearing the same name, with a hearth and dining-hall where the members met to feast and sacrifice. The plebeians seem to have been admitted to the sacrifices, which were offered on behalf of the whole people, and were paid for at the expense of the state (see further, COMITIA CURIATA). The term curia was also applied to certain houses intended for holding meetings, as, for instance, the official residence of the Salli on the Palatine, and especially the senate-house, Curia Hostilia, built by king Hostilius on the comitium, and burnt down 52 B.C. In its place Faustus Sulla, the son of the Dictator, erected the Curia Cornelia. Caesar interrupted the progress of this work to set up the Curia Iulia in its place. Then the senate met in the Curia Pompei, in the entrance-hall of Pompey's theatre, where Caesar was murdered. The Curia Iulia was not begun till 44 B.C., shortly before Caesar's death, and was consecrated in 29 by Augustus. (See plan of Roman Fora, under FORUM.)
 
ROSTRA 10.93%
(properly the ships' prows, from rostrum, the iron-Lund prow, lit. "beak," of a ship). The orators' platform in the Forum at Rome, so called because it was embellished wil the bronze prows of the ships of the Latin fleet captured at Antium in 338 B.C. [Livy, viii 14]. Besides these it was also decorated with other monuments of the greatness of Rome, such as the Laws of the Twelve Tables, the columna rostrata of Duilius, and numerous statues of men of mark. Originally it stood between the part of the Forum called the Comitium and the Forum proper, opposite the Curia [no. 18a in Plan s.v. FORUM]; but in 44 B.C. Caesar moved it to the north end of the Forum under the Capitol [no. 6 in same Plan; cp. Cic., Phil. ix 2], and here built up part of it by the employment of the old materials. It was not completed until after his death, by Antonius. This now platform, which was afterwards repeatedly restored, appears by the existing remains to have consisted of an erection 11 feet higher than the pavement of the Forum, about 78 feet in length, and 33 feet in depth. [Cp. Middleton's Remains of Ancient Rome, 244, 246.] The front was decorated with two rows of ships' prows. The way up to the platform was at the back. This platform also was used down to the latest times of the Empire as a place for setting up honorary statues. [The Rostra Iulia, so called to distinguish it from the other rostra, was the projecting podium of the heroon of Julius Coesar, built by Augustus, (no. 21 in plan). Affixed to this were the prows of the vessels captured at Actium: Dion Cassius, li 19 (Middleton, l.c., pp. 262-8).]
 
COMITIA 6.40%

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The popular assemblies of the Romans, summoned and presided over by a magistratus. In the comitia the Roman people appeared as distributed into its political sections, for the purpose of deciding, in the exercise of its sovereign rights, upon the business brought before it by the presiding magistrate. The comitia must be distinguished from the contiones. The contiones were also summoned and presided over by a magistrate, but they did not assemble in their divisions, and they had nothing to do but to receive the communications of the magistrate. In all its assemblie at Rome, the people remained standing. The original place of meeting was the comitium, a part of the forum. There were three kinds of comitia, viz.: (1) The Comitia Curiata. This was the assembly of the patricians in their thirty curice, who, until the change of the constitution under Servius Tullius, constituted the whole populus Romanus. During the regal period they were summoned by the rex or interrex, who brought before them questions to be decided Aye or No. The voting was taken first in each curia by heads, and then according to curiae, in an order determined by lot. The business within the competence of this assembly was: (a) to elect a king proposed by the interrex; (b) to confer upon the king the imperium, by virtue of the lex curiata de imperio; (c) to decide on declarations of war, appeals, arrogationes (see ADOPTION), and the reception of foreign families into the body of the patricians. The Servian constitution transferred the riaht of declaring aggressive war, and the right of deciding appeals, to the Comitia Centuriata, which, from this time onward, represented the people, now composed of both patricians and plebeians. After the establishment of the Republic, the Comitia Curiata retained the right (a) of conferring, on the proposal of the senate, the imperium on the magistrates elected by the Comitia Centuriata, and on the dictator elected by the consuls; (b) of confirming, likewise on the proposal of the senate, the alterations in the constitution decided upon by the Comitia Centuriata, and Tributa. The extinction of the political difference between Patricians and Plebeians destroyed the political position of the Comitia Curiata, and the mere shadow of their rights survived. The assembly itself became an unreality, so much so that, in the end, the presence of the thirty lictores curiati, and three augurs, was sufficient to enable legal resolutions to be passed (see LICTORS). But the Comitia Curiata retained the powers affecting the reception of a non-patrician into the patrician order, and the powers affecting the proceeding of arrogatio, especially in cases where the transition of a patrician into a plebeian family was concerned. Evidence of the exercise of these functions on their part maybe traced down the imperial period. The Comitia Calata were also an assembly of the patrician curioe. They were so called because publicly summoned (calare). The pontifices presided, and the functions of the assembly were: (a) to inaugurate the flamines, the rex sacrorum, and indeed the king himself during the regal period. (b) The detestatio sacrorum, previous to an act of arrogatio. This was the formal release of a person passing by adoption into another family from the sacra of his former family (see ADOPTION). (c) The ratification of wills twice a year; but this applies only to an early period. (d) The announcement of the calendar of festivals on the first day of every month. (2) Comitia Centuriata. The assembly of the whole people, patrician as well as plebeian, arran ged according to the centurioe established by Servius Tullius. The original founder of the comitia centuriata transferred to them certain political rights which had previously been exercised by the comitia curiata. It was not, however, until the foundation of the Republic, when the sovereign power in the state was transferred to the body of citizens, that they attained their real political importance. They then became the assembly in which the people, collectively, expressed its will. The right of summoning the comitia centuriata originally belonged to the king. During the republican period it belonged, in its full extent, to the consuls and the dictator alone. The other magistrates possessed it only within certain limits. The interrex, for instance, could, in case of there being no consuls, summon the comitia centuriata to hold an election, but he could summon them for this purpose only. The censors could call them together only for the holding of the census and the lustrum; the praetors, it may be conjectured, only in the case of capital trials. In all other instances the consent of the consuls, or their authorisation, was indispensable. The duties of the comitia centuriata during the republican period were as follows: (a) To elect the higher magistrates, consuls, censors, and praetors. (b) To give judgment in all the capital trials in which appeal to the people was permitted from the sentence of the magistrate sitting in judgment. This popular jurisdiction was gradually limited to political trials, common offences being dealt with by the ordinary commissions. And in the later republican age the judicial assemblies of the comitia centuriata became, in general, rarer, especially after the formation of special standing commissions (quoestiones perpetuoe) for the trial of a number of offences regarded as political. (c) To decide on declaring a war of aggression; this on the proposal of the consuls, with the approval of the senate. (d) To pass laws proposed by the higher magistrates, with the approval of the senate. This right lost much of its value after 287 B.C., when the legislative powers of the comitia tributa were made equal to those of the comitia centuriata. After this time the legislative activity of the latter assembly gradually diminished. The comitia centuriata were originally a military assembly, and the citizens accordingly, in ancient times, attended them in arms. On the night before the meeting, the magistrate summoning the assembly took the auspices on the place of meeting, the Campus Martius. If the auspices were favourable, signals were given, before daybreak, from the walls and the citadel by the blowing of horns, summoning the citizens to a contio. The presiding magistrate offered sacrifice, and repeated a solemn prayer, and the assembly proceeded to consider the business which required its decision. Private individuals were not allowed to speak, except with the consent of the presiding magistrate. At his command the armed people divided themselves into their centurioe, and marched in this order to the Campus Martius, preceded by banners, and headed by the cavalry. Arrived at the Campus, they proceeded to the voting, the president having again put the proposal to the people in the form of a question ("Do you wish?" "Do you command?") While the voting was going on, a red flag stood on the Janiculum. The equites, who in ancient times used to begin the battles in war, opened the voting, and their eighteen centuries were therefore called proerogativoe. The result of their vote was immediately published, and, being taken as an omen for the voters who were to follow, was usually decisive. Then came the 175 centuries, 170 of which composed the five classes of infantry in their order. Each centuria counted as casting one vote; this vote was decided by a previous voting within the centuria, which was at first open, but in later times was taken by ballot. If the 18 centuries of equites, and the 80 centuries of the first class, with whom went the two centuries of mechanics (centuroe fabrum), were unanimous, the question was decided, as there would be a majority of 100 centuries to 93. If not, the voting went on until one side secured the votes of at least 97 centuries. The lower classes only voted in the rare cases where the votes of the higher classes were not united. The proceedings concluded with a formal announcement of the result on the part of the presiding magistrate, and the dismissal of the host. If no result was arrived at by sunset, or if unfavourable omens appeared during the proceedings, or while the voting was going on, the assembly was adjourned until the next convenient occasion. This form of voting gave the wealthier citizens a decided advantage over the poorer, and lent an aristocratic character to the comitia centuriata. In the 3rd century B.C. a change was introduced in the interest of the lower classes. Each of the thirtyfive tribus, or districts, into which the Roman territory was divided, included ten centurioe, five of iuniores and five of seniores. (For the five classes, see CENTURIA.) Thus each of the five classes included 70 centurioe, making 350 centurioe in all. To this number add the eighteen centurioe equitum, and the five centurioe not included in the propertied classes; namely, two of fabri (mechanics), two of tubicines (musicians), and one of proletarii and liberti (the very poor and the freedmen), and the whole number of centurioe amounts to 373. The centurioe, it must be remembered, had by this time quite lost their military character. Under this arrangement the 88 votes of the equites and the first classis were confronted with the 285 votes of the rest. Besides this, the right of voting first was taken from the equites and given to the centuria proerogativa chosen by lot from the first classis. The voting, it is true, was still taken in the order of the classes, but the classes were seldom unanimous as in former times; for the interests of the tribus, which were represented in each classis by two centurioe respectively, were generally divergent, and the centuries voted in the sense of their tribe. The consequence was that it was often necessary indeed, perhaps that it became the rule, at least at elections to take the votes of all the classes.[1] In old times the military arrangement was sufficient to secure the maintenance of order. But, after its disappearance, the classes were separated, and the centurioe kept apart by wooden barriers (soepta), from which the centurioe passed over bridges into an open inner space called ovile (sheep-fold). On the position of the comitia centuriata during the imperial age, see below. (3) Comitia Tributa. This was the collective assembly of the people arranged according to the local distribution of tribes (see TRIBUS). It must be distinguished from the concilium plebis, which was an assembly of the tribes under the presidency of plebeian magistrates, i.e., the tribuni and the oediles plebeii. As these magistrates had no right to summon patricians, the resolutions passed by a concilium plebis were (strictly speaking) only plebi scita. It was a lex centuriata of some earlier date than 462 B.C. that probably first made these resolutions binding on all the citizens, provided they received the approval of the senate. This approval was rendered unnecessary by the lex Hortensia of 287 B.C., and from that date onward the concilia plebis became the principal organ of legislation. The method of voting resembled that in the comitia curiata, and the regular place of meeting was the Comitium. No auspices were taken. From 471 B.C. the concilia plebis elected the tribuni and the oediles plebeii. Among the other functions of the concilia plebis were the following: (a) To give judicial decisions in all suits instituted by the tribunes and aediles of the plebs, for offences against the plebs or its representatives. In later times these suits were mostly instituted on the ground of bad or illegal administration. The tribunes and aediles had, in these cases, the power of inflicting pecuniary fines ranging up to a large amount. (b) To pass resolutions on proposals made by the tribunes of the plebs and the higher magistrates on foreign and domestic affairs, on the conclusion of peace, for instance, or the making of treaties. Their power was almost unlimited, and the more important because, strictly speaking, it was only the higher magistrates who required the authorization of the senate. Nor bad the senate more than the right of quashing a measure passed without due formalities. The comitia tributa, as distinguished from the concilia plebis, were presided over by the consuls, the praetors, and (in judicial cases) the curule aediles. Until the latter years of the Republic, the assembly usualy met upon the Capitol, and afterwards on the Campus Martius. The functions of the comitia tributa, gradually acquired, were as follows: (a) The election of all the lower magistrates, ordinary (as the tribuni plebis, tribuni militum, aediles plebis, aediles curules) and extraordinary, under the presidency partly of the tribunes, partly of the consuls or praetors. (b) The nomination of the pontifex maximus, and of the co-opted members of the religious collegia of the pontifices, augures, and decemviri sacrorum. This nomination was carried out by a committee of seventeen tribes chosen by lot. (c) The fines judicially inflicted by the concilia plebis required in all graver cases the sanction of the tribes. The comitia tributa were summoned at least seventeen days before the meeting, by the simple proclamation of a herald. As in the case of the comitia centuriata, business could neither be begun nor continued in the face of adverse auspices. Like the comitia centuriata too, the tribal assembly met at daybreak, and could not sit beyond sunset. If summoned by the tribunes, the comitia tributa could only meet in the city, or within the radius of a mile from it. The usual place of assembly was the Forum or the comitium (q.v.). If summoned by other authorities, the assembly met outside the city, most commonly in the Campus Martius. The proceedings opened with a prayer, unaccompanied by sacrifice. The business in hand was then discussed in a contio, (see above, p. 155a); and the proposal having been read out, the meeting was requested to arrange itself according to its thirty-five tribes in the soepta or wooden fences. Lots were drawn to decide which tribe should vote first. The tribe on which this duty fell was called principium. The result of this first vote was proclaimed, and the other tribes then proceeded to vote simultaneously, not successively. The votes given by each tribe were then announced in an order determined by lot. Finally, the general result of the voting was made known. The proposer of a measure was bound to put his proposal into due form, and publish it beforehand. When a measure came to the vote, it was accepted or rejected as a whole. It became law when the presiding magistrate announced that it had been accepted. The character of the comitia had begun to decline even in the later period of the Republic. Even the citizens of Rome took but little part in them, and this is still more true of the population of Italy, who had received the Roman citizenship in 89 B.C. The comitia tributa, in particular, sank gradually into a mere gathering of the city mob, strengthened on all sides by the influx of corrupt elements. The results of the voting came more and more to represent not the public interest, but the effects of direct or indirect corruption. Under the Empire the comitia centuriata and tributa continued to exist, in a shadowy form, it is true, down to the 3rd century A.D. Julius Caesar had deprived them of the right of deciding on war and peace. Under Augustus they lost the power of jurisdiction, and, practically, the power of legislation. The imperial measures were indeed laid before the comitia tributa for ratification, but this was all; and under the successors of Augustus even this proceeding became rarer. Since the time of Vespasian the emperors, at their accession, received their legislative and other powers from the comitia tributa; but this, like the rest, was a mere formality. The power of election was that which, in appearance at least, survived longest. Augustus, like Julius Caesar, allowed the comitia centuriata to confirm the nomination of two candidates for the consulship. He also left to the comitia centuriata and tributa the power of free election to half the other magistracies; the other half being filled by nominees of his own. Tiberius transferred the last remnant of free elective power to the senate, whose proposals, originating under imperial influence, were laid before the comitia for ratification. The formalities, the auspices, prayer, sacrifice, and proclamation, were now the important thing, and the measures proposed were carried, not by regular voting, but by acclamation.
 
SENATE 2.87%
 
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