As soon as he was nominated, all the other magistrates were by right subject to his authority. On the other hand the duration of the dictator's office was limited in two ways: first, as the official colleague of those consuls, one of whom had nominated him, he might not remain in office beyond their legal term; and secondly, a period of six months was fixed as the absolute maximum for the duration of his office. It was a further arrangement peculiar to the dictatorship, that the "master of the army" was bound to nominate for himself immediately a "master of horse" (-magister equitum-), who acted along with him as a dependent assistant somewhat as did the quaestor along with the consul, and with him retired from office--an arrangement undoubtedly connected with the fact that the dictator, presumably as being the leader of the infantry, was constitutionally prohibited from mounting on horseback. In the light of these regulations the dictatorship is doubtless to be conceived as an institution which arose at the same time with the consulship, and which was designed, especially in the event of war, to obviate for a time the disadvantages of divided power and to revive temporarily the regal authority; for in war more particularly the equality of rights in the consuls could not but appear fraught with danger; and not only positive testimonies, but above all the oldest names given to the magistrate himself and his assistant, as well as the limitation of the office to the duration of a summer campaign, and the exclusion of the -provocatio- attest the pre-eminently military design of the original dictatorship.

On the whole, therefore, the consuls continued to be, as the kings had been, the supreme administrators, judges, and generals; and even in a religious point of view it was not the -rex sacrorum- (who was only nominated that the name might be preserved), but the consul, who offered prayers and sacrifices for the community, and in its name ascertained the will of the gods with the aid of those skilled in sacred lore. Against cases of emergency, moreover, a power was retained of reviving at any moment, without previous consultation of the community, the full and unlimited regal authority, so as to set aside the limitations imposed by the collegiate arrangement and by the special curtailments of jurisdiction. In this way the problem of legally retaining and practically restricting the regal authority was solved in genuine Roman fashion with equal acuteness and simplicity by the nameless statesmen who worked out this revolution.

Centuries And Curies

The community thus acquired by the change of constitution rights of the greatest importance: the right of annually designating its presidents, and that of deciding in the last instance regarding the life or death of the burgess. But the body which acquired these rights could not possibly be the community as it had been hitherto constituted--the patriciate which had practically become an order of nobility. The strength of the nation lay in the "multitude" (-plebs-) which already comprehended in large numbers people of note and of wealth. The exclusion of this multitude from the public assembly, although it bore part of the public burdens, might be tolerated as long as that public assembly itself had no very material share in the working of the state machine, and as long as the royal power by the very fact of its high and free position remained almost equally formidable to the burgesses and to the --metoeci-- and thereby maintained equality of legal redress in the nation. But when the community itself was called regularly to elect and to decide, and the president was practically reduced from its master to its commissioner for a set term, this relation could no longer be maintained as it stood; least of all when the state had to be remodelled on the morrow of a revolution, which could only have been carried out by the co-operation of the patricians and the --metoeci--. An extension of that community was inevitable; and it was accomplished in the most comprehensive manner, inasmuch as the collective plebeiate, that is, all the non-burgesses who were neither slaves nor citizens of extraneous communities living at Rome under the -ius hospitii-, were admitted into the burgess-body. The curiate assembly of the old burgesses, which hitherto had been legally and practically the first authority in the state, was almost totally deprived of its constitutional prerogatives. It was to retain its previous powers only in acts purely formal or in those which affected clan-relations --such as the vow of allegiance to be taken to the consul or to the dictator when they entered on office just as previously to the king,(9) and the legal dispensations requisite for an -arrogatio- or a testament--but it was not in future to perform any act of a properly political character. Soon even the plebeians were admitted to the right of voting also in the curies, and by that step the old burgess-body lost the right of meeting and of resolving at all. The curial organization was virtually rooted out, in so far as it was based on the clan-organization and this latter was to be found in its purity exclusively among the old burgesses. When the plebeians were admitted into the curies, they were certainly also allowed to constitute themselves -de jure- as--what in the earlier period they could only have been -de facto-(10)--families and clans; but it is distinctly recorded by tradition and in itself also very conceivable, that only a portion of the plebeians proceeded so far as to constitute -gentes-, and thus the new curiate assembly, in opposition to its original character, included numerous members who belonged to no clan.

All the political prerogatives of the public assembly--as well the decision on appeals in criminal causes, which indeed were essentially political processes, as the nomination of magistrates and the adoption or rejection of laws--were transferred to, or were now acquired by, the assembled levy of those bound to military service; so that the centuries now received the rights, as they had previously borne the burdens, of citizens.

From the Abolition of the Monarchy in Rome to the Union of Italy Page 06

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