The Roman Senate was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome, it survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, 7th centuries. During the days of the kingdom, it was little more than an advisory council to the king; the last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was overthrown following a coup d'état led by Lucius Junius Brutus, who founded the Roman Republic. During the early Republic, the Senate was politically weak, while the various executive magistrates were quite powerful. Since the transition from monarchy to constitutional rule was most gradual, it took several generations before the Senate was able to assert itself over the executive magistrates. By the middle Republic, the Senate had reached the apex of its republican power.
The late Republic saw a decline in the Senate's power, which began following the reforms of the tribunes Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. After the transition of the Republic into the Principate, the Senate lost much of its political power as well as its prestige. Following the constitutional reforms of the Emperor Diocletian, the Senate became politically irrelevant; when the seat of government was transferred out of Rome, the Senate was reduced to a purely municipal body. This decline in status was reinforced when the emperor Constantine the Great created an additional senate in Constantinople. After Romulus Augustulus was deposed in 476 the Senate in the West functioned under the rule of Odovacer, 476–489 and during Ostrogothic rule, 489–535, it was restored after the reconquest of Italy by Justinian I. However, the Senate in Rome disappeared at some point after AD 603. Despite this, the title "senator" was still used well into the Middle Ages as a meaningless honorific. However, the Eastern Senate survived in Constantinople, until the ancient institution vanished there, c. 14th century.
The senate was a political institution in the ancient Roman Kingdom. The word senate derives from the Latin word senex, which means "old man"; the prehistoric Indo-Europeans who settled Italy in the centuries before the legendary founding of Rome in 753 BC were structured into tribal communities, these communities included an aristocratic board of tribal elders. The early Roman family was called a gens or "clan", each clan was an aggregation of families under a common living male patriarch, called a pater; when the early Roman gentes were aggregating to form a common community, the patres from the leading clans were selected for the confederated board of elders that would become the Roman senate. Over time, the patres came to recognize the need for a single leader, so they elected a king, vested in him their sovereign power; when the king died, that sovereign power reverted to the patres. The senate is said to have been created by Rome's first king, Romulus consisting of 100 men; the descendants of those 100 men subsequently became the patrician class.
Rome's fifth king, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, chose a further 100 senators. They were chosen from the minor leading families, were accordingly called the patres minorum gentium. Rome's seventh and final king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, executed many of the leading men in the senate, did not replace them, thereby diminishing their number. However, in 509 BC Rome's first and third consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus and Publius Valerius Publicola chose from amongst the leading equites new men for the senate, these being called conscripti, thus increased the size of the senate to 300; the senate of the Roman Kingdom held three principal responsibilities: It functioned as the ultimate repository for the executive power, it served as the king's council, it functioned as a legislative body in concert with the people of Rome. During the years of the monarchy, the senate's most important function was to elect new kings. While the king was nominally elected by the people, it was the senate who chose each new king.
The period between the death of one king and the election of a new king was called the interregnum, during which time the Interrex nominated a candidate to replace the king. After the senate gave its initial approval to the nominee, he was formally elected by the people, received the senate's final approval. At least one king, Servius Tullius, was elected by the senate alone, not by the people; the senate's most significant task, outside regal elections, was to function as the king's council, while the king could ignore any advice it offered, its growing prestige helped make the advice that it offered difficult to ignore. Only the king could make new laws, although he involved both the senate and the curiate assembly in the process; when the Republic began, the Senate functioned as an advisory council. It consisted of 300–500 senators, who were patrician and served for life. Before long, plebeians were admitted, although they were denied the senior magistracies for a longer period. Senators were entitled to wear a toga with a broad purple stripe, maroon shoes, an iron ring.
The Senate of the Roman Republic passed decrees called senatus consulta, which in form constituted "advice" from the senate to a magistrate. While these decrees did not hold legal force, they were obeyed in practice. If a senatus consultum conflicted with a
The epulones arranged feasts and public banquets at festivals and games They constituted one of the four great religious corporations of ancient Roman priests. The college was founded in 196 BCE; the need for such a college arose as the elaborate festivals required experts to oversee their organization. There were four great religious corporations of ancient Roman priests; the third college was the epulones. The College of Epulones was established long after civil reforms had opened the magistracies and most priesthoods to plebeians, who were thus eligible from its beginning. There were three epulones, but their number was increased to seven. Julius Caesar expanded the college to ten; the patera was the sacred bowl used by the epulones. It was shallow with a raised center so that when held in the palm, the thumb could be placed on the raised centre without profaning the libation, as it is poured into the focus, or sacred fire; the patera was the special emblem of the epulones. The paten used today by Roman Catholic priests, omits the raised center.
Lacus Curtius website: Epulones from William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875. Roman Magistrates religio Romana: Patera Epulones
In ancient Roman religion, the Arval Brethren or Arval Brothers were a body of priests who offered annual sacrifices to the Lares and gods to guarantee good harvests. Inscriptions provide evidence of their oaths and sacrifices. Roman legend held that the priestly college was originated by Romulus, first king of Rome, who took the place of a dead son of his nurse Acca Laurentia, formed the priesthood with the remaining eleven sons, they were connected with the Sabine priesthood of Sodales Titii who were originally their counterpart among the Sabines. Thus it can be inferred. There is further proof of the high antiquity of the college in the verbal forms of the song with which, down to late times, a part of the ceremonies was accompanied, and, still preserved, they persisted to the imperial period. Arval Brethren formed a college of twelve priests, although archaeologists have found only up to nine names at a time in the inscriptions, they were appointed for life and did not lose their status in exile.
According to Pliny the Elder, their sign was a white band with the chaplet of sheaves of grain. The Brethren assembled in the Regia, their task was the worship of Dea Dia, an old fertility goddess an aspect of Maia or Ceres. On the three days of her May festival, they offered sacrifices and chanted secretly inside the temple of the goddess at her lucus the Carmen Arvale; the magister of the college selected the exact three days of the celebration by an unknown method. The celebration began in Rome on the first day, was transferred to a sacred grove outside the city wall on the second day and ended back in the city on the third day, their duties included ritual propitiations or thanksgivings as the Ambarvalia, the sacrifices done at the borders of Rome at the fifth mile of the Via Campana or Salaria. Before the sacrifice, the sacrificial victim was led three times around a grain field where a chorus of farmers and farm-servants danced and sang praises for Ceres and offered her libations of milk and wine.
Archaic traits of the rituals included the prohibition of the use of iron, the use of the olla terrea and of the sacrificial burner of Dea Dia made of silver and adorned with grassy clods. The importance of Arval Brethren dwindled during the Roman Republic, but emperor Augustus revived their practices to enforce his own authority. In his time the college consisted of a master, a vice-master, a priest, a praetor, with eight ordinary members, attended by various servants, in particular by four chorus boys, sons of senators, having both parents alive; each wore a wreath of a white fillet and the toga praetexta. The election of members was by co-optation on the motion of the president, with a flamen, was himself elected for one year. After Augustus' time emperors and senators frequented the festivities. At least two emperors, Marcus Aurelius and Elagabalus, were formally accepted as members of the Brethren; the first full descriptions of their rituals originate from this time. It is clear that, while the members were themselves always persons of distinction, the duties of their office were held in high respect.
And yet no mention of them occurs in the writings of Cicero or Livy, that literary allusions to them are scarce. On the other hand, we possess a long series of the acta or minutes of their proceedings, drawn up by themselves, inscribed on stone. Excavations, commenced in the 16th century and continued to the 19th, in the grove of the Dea Dia, yielded 96 of these records from 14 to 241 AD; the last inscriptions about the Arval Brethren date from about 325 AD. They were abolished along with Rome's other traditional priesthoods by 400 AD
Collegium (ancient Rome)
A collegium was any association in ancient Rome with a legal personality. Such associations had various functions. Collegia could function as social clubs, or burial societies; the organization of a collegium was modeled on that of civic governing bodies, the Senate of Rome being the epitome. The meeting hall was known as the curia, the same term as that applied to that of the Roman Senate. By law, only three people were required in order to create a legal collegium; the Roman Emperor Aurelian imposed state control over collegia in the late 3rd Century AD. There were four great religious colleges of Roman priests, in descending order of importance: Pontifices, headed by the Pontifex Maximus, Quindecimviri, Epulones. College of Aesculapius and Hygia List of Ancient Roman Collegia Media related to Ancient Roman collegia at Wikimedia Commons
The Tribal Assembly was an assembly consisting of all Roman citizens convened by tribes. In the Roman Republic, citizens did not elect legislative representatives. Instead, they voted themselves on legislative matters in the popular assemblies. Bills were proposed by magistrates and the citizens only exercised their right to vote. In the Tribal Assembly, citizens were organized on the basis of 35 tribes: four urban tribes of the citizens in the city of Rome, 31 rural tribes of citizens outside the city; each tribe one after the other. In each tribe, decisions were made by majority vote and its decision counted as one vote regardless of how many electors each tribe held. Once a majority of tribes voted in the same way on a given measure, the voting ended and the matter was decided; the Tribal Assembly was chaired by a magistrate a consul or a praetor. The presiding magistrate who made all decisions on matters of procedure and legality, his power over the assembly could be nearly absolute. The only check on his power came in the form of vetoes by other magistrates.
Any decision made by a presiding magistrate could be vetoed by the plebeian tribunes. The Tribal Assembly elected the quaestors, the curule aediles, it conducted trials for non-capital punishment cases. However, the Roman Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla reassigned this to special jury courts in 82 BC. There are disagreements among modern historians regarding the number and nature of the tribal assembly; the Romans distinguished between two types of the comitia and the contio. The word comitia, the plural of comitium, referred to assemblies convened to make decisions on legislative or judicial matters or to hold elections; the word contio referred to meetings where'nothing was enacted'. They were convened to hear public announcements and pronouncements and debates, witness the interrogation of someone accused of in a trial and to watch executions. Opinions expressed in a contio did not have any legal validity; the tribal assembly was a comitia. Private citizens who did not hold political office could make speeches in a contio, but not before a comitia or a concilium.
Voters always assembled first in a contio to hear debates or to enable canvassing by electoral candidates before voting. The actual voting took place in a concilium. Gellius wrote about a further distinction between comita and concilium, which he based on a quote from a passage written by Laelius Felix, an early second century AD jurist: He who orders not the entire people but some part thereof to be present ought to proclaim not a comitia, but a concilium. Moreover, the tribunes neither have the power to propose anything to them. Thus, measures which were accepted on the proposal of the plebeian tribunes are not properly called laws but plebiscites. Patricians were not bound by these bills until the dictator Quintus Hortensius carried that law whereby all the Quirites were bound by whatever the plebs had determined; this has been taken as referring to the assembly, reserved for the plebeians, thus excluding the patricians, and, convened by the tribunes of the plebs – see plebeian council. Since the meetings of the plebs excluded the patricians, they were not considered as representing the whole of the Roman people and because of this, according to Laelius Felix, the term concilium applied to them.
By contrast, the term comitia applied to assemblies. Measures passed by assemblies of the whole citizen body were called leges, whereas those passed only by the plebeians were called plebiscites; until the lex Hortensia passed by Quintus Hortensius in 287 BC, the patricians refused to accept the plebiscites as being binding on them on the ground that, because of their exclusion, did not apply to the whole of the people. Andrew Lintott notes that many modern historians follow Theodor Mommsen's view that during the Roman Republic there were two assemblies of the tribes and that the ancient sources used the term comitia tributa with reference both of them. One was the assembly by the tribes, used for plebeian meetings to which the patricians were excluded and, convened by the plebeian tribunes; the other assembly based on the tribes was convened by the Roman consuls or the praetors and was an assembly of the whole of the Roman people. However, the ancient sources did not have a differentiation in terminology for the two of them and used the term comitia tributa for both.
Many modern historians use the term comitia tributa or comitia populi tributa to indicate meetings by the tribes which involved the whole of the Roman people and the term concilium plebis or concilium plebis tributum for assemblies based on the tribes which were for the plebeians. However, they are not found in the ancient Roman literature related to the Roman Republic. Therefore, they denote a distinction, it is based on the text by Gellius quoted above. Lintott notes that some modern historians reject the comitia tributa/concilium plebis distinction and the use of the quote by Gellius as its basis, they argue that this terminology is a convention established by modern historians which ancie
In ancient Rome, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being were regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome, they cultivated the sacred fire, not allowed to go out. The Vestals were freed of the usual social obligations to marry and bear children and took a 30-year vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were forbidden to the colleges of male priests. Livy and Aulus Gellius attribute the creation of the Vestals as a state-supported priestesshood to king Numa Pompilius, who reigned circa 717–673 BC. According to Livy, Numa assigned them salaries from the public treasury. Livy says that the priestesshood of Vesta had its origins at Alba Longa; the 2nd century antiquarian Aulus Gellius writes that the first Vestal taken from her parents was led away in hand by Numa. Plutarch attributes the founding of the Temple of Vesta to Numa, who appointed at first two priestesses.
Ambrose alludes to a seventh in late antiquity. Numa appointed the pontifex maximus to watch over the Vestals; the first Vestals, according to Varro, were named Gegania, Veneneia and Tarpeia. Tarpeia, daughter of Spurius Tarpeius, was portrayed as traitorous in legend; the Vestals became a influential force in the Roman state. When Sulla included the young Julius Caesar in his proscriptions, the Vestals interceded on Caesar's behalf and gained him pardon. Augustus included the Vestals in all major ceremonies, they were held in awe, attributed certain magical powers. Pliny the Elder, for example, in Book 28 of his Natural History discussing the efficacy of magic, chooses not to refute, but rather tacitly accept as truth:At the present day, too, it is a general belief, that our Vestal virgins have the power, by uttering a certain prayer, to arrest the flight of runaway slaves, to rivet them to the spot, provided they have not gone beyond the precincts of the City. If these opinions be once received as truth, if it be admitted that the gods do listen to certain prayers, or are influenced by set forms of words, we are bound to conclude in the affirmative upon the whole question.
The urban prefect Symmachus, who sought to maintain traditional Roman religion during the rise of Christianity, wrote: The laws of our ancestors provided for the Vestal virgins and the ministers of the gods a moderate maintenance and just privileges. This gift was preserved inviolate till the time of the degenerate moneychangers, who diverted the maintenance of sacred chastity into a fund for the payment of base porters. A public famine ensued on this act, a bad harvest disappointed the hopes of all the provinces... it was sacrilege which rendered the year barren, for it was necessary that all should lose that which they had denied to religion. The College of the Vestals was disbanded and the sacred fire extinguished in 394, by order of the Christian emperor Theodosius. Zosimus records how the Christian noblewoman Serena, a niece of Theodosius, entered the temple and took from the statue of the goddess Rhea Silvia a necklace and placed it on her own neck. An old woman appeared, the last of the Vestals, who proceeded to rebuke Serena and called down upon her all just punishment for her act of impiety.
According to Zosimus, Serena was subject to dreadful dreams predicting her own untimely death. Augustine would be inspired to write The City of God in response to murmurings that the capture of Rome and the disintegration of its empire was due to the advent of the Christian era, its intolerance of the old gods who had defended the city for over a thousand years; the chief Vestal oversaw the efforts of the Vestals, was present in the College of Pontiffs. The Vestalis Maxima Occia presided over the Vestals according to Tacitus; the last known chief vestal was Coelia Concordia, who stepped down in 394 with the disbanding of the College of the Vestals. The Vestalium Maxima was the most important of Rome's high priestesses. Although the Flaminica Dialis and the regina sacrorum each held unique responsibility for certain religious rites, each came into her office as the spouse of another appointed priest, whereas the vestals all held office independently. According to Plutarch, there were only two Vestal Virgins when Numa began the College of the Vestals.
This number increased to four, to six. It has been suggested by some authorities that a seventh was added but this is doubtful; the Vestals were committed to the priestesshood before puberty and sworn to celibacy for a period of 30 years. These 30 years were divided in turn into decade-long periods during which Vestals were students and teachers. After her 30-year term of service, each Vestal was replaced by a new inductee. Once retired, a former Vestal was allowed to marry; the Pontifex Maximus, acting as the father of the bride, would arrange a marriage with a suitable Roman nobleman. A marriage to a former Vestal was honoured, – more in ancient Rome – thought to bring good luck, as well as a comfortable pension. To obtain entry into the order, a girl had to be free of physical and mental defects, have two living parents and be a daughter of a free-born resident of Rome. From at least the mid-Republican era, the pontifex maximus chose Vestals between their sixth and tenth year, by lot from a group of twenty high-born candidates at a gathering of their families and other Roman citizens.
The girl ha
Religion in ancient Rome
Religion in Ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome that the Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became followed in Rome and Italy. The Romans thought of themselves as religious, attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety in maintaining good relations with the gods; the Romans are known for the great number of deities they honored, a capacity that earned the mockery of early Christian polemicists. The presence of Greeks on the Italian peninsula from the beginning of the historical period influenced Roman culture, introducing some religious practices that became as fundamental as the cult of Apollo; the Romans looked for common ground between their major gods and those of the Greeks, adapting Greek myths and iconography for Latin literature and Roman art, as the Etruscans had. Etruscan religion was a major influence on the practice of augury.
According to legends, most of Rome's religious institutions could be traced to its founders Numa Pompilius, the Sabine second king of Rome, who negotiated directly with the gods. This archaic religion was the foundation of the mos maiorum, "the way of the ancestors" or "tradition", viewed as central to Roman identity. Roman religion was practical and contractual, based on the principle of do ut des, "I give that you might give". Religion depended on knowledge and the correct practice of prayer and sacrifice, not on faith or dogma, although Latin literature preserves learned speculation on the nature of the divine and its relation to human affairs; the most skeptical among Rome's intellectual elite such as Cicero, an augur, saw religion as a source of social order. As the Roman Empire expanded, migrants to the capital brought their local cults, many of which became popular among Italians. Christianity was in the end the most successful of these, in 380 became the official state religion. For ordinary Romans, religion was a part of daily life.
Each home had a household shrine at which prayers and libations to the family's domestic deities were offered. Neighborhood shrines and sacred places such as springs and groves dotted the city; the Roman calendar was structured around religious observances. Women and children all participated in a range of religious activities; some public rituals could be conducted only by women, women formed what is Rome's most famous priesthood, the state-supported Vestals, who tended Rome's sacred hearth for centuries, until disbanded under Christian domination. The priesthoods of public religion were held by members of the elite classes. There was no principle analogous to separation of state in ancient Rome. During the Roman Republic, the same men who were elected public officials might serve as augurs and pontiffs. Priests married, raised families, led politically active lives. Julius Caesar became pontifex maximus; the augurs read the will of the gods and supervised the marking of boundaries as a reflection of universal order, thus sanctioning Roman expansionism as a matter of divine destiny.
The Roman triumph was at its core a religious procession in which the victorious general displayed his piety and his willingness to serve the public good by dedicating a portion of his spoils to the gods Jupiter, who embodied just rule. As a result of the Punic Wars, when Rome struggled to establish itself as a dominant power, many new temples were built by magistrates in fulfillment of a vow to a deity for assuring their military success; as the Romans extended their dominance throughout the Mediterranean world, their policy in general was to absorb the deities and cults of other peoples rather than try to eradicate them, since they believed that preserving tradition promoted social stability. One way that Rome incorporated diverse peoples was by supporting their religious heritage, building temples to local deities that framed their theology within the hierarchy of Roman religion. Inscriptions throughout the Empire record the side-by-side worship of local and Roman deities, including dedications made by Romans to local gods.
By the height of the Empire, numerous international deities were cultivated at Rome and had been carried to the most remote provinces, among them Cybele, Isis and gods of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus, found as far north as Roman Britain. Foreign religions attracted devotees among Romans, who had ancestry from elsewhere in the Empire. Imported mystery religions, which offered initiates salvation in the afterlife, were a matter of personal choice for an individual, practiced in addition to carrying on one's family rites and participating in public religion; the mysteries, involved exclusive oaths and secrecy, conditions that conservative Romans viewed with suspicion as characteristic of "magic", conspiratorial, or subversive activity. Sporadic and sometimes brutal attempts were made to suppress religionists who seemed to threaten traditional morality and unity, as with the senate's efforts to restrict the Bacchanals in 186 BC; because Romans had never been obligated to cultivate one god or one cult only, religious tolerance was not an issue in the sense that it is for competing monotheistic systems.
The monotheistic rigor of Judaism posed difficulties for Roman policy that led at times to compromise and the granting of special exemptions, but sometimes to intractable conflict. For example, religious disputes helped cause the First Jewish -- the Bar Kokhba revolt. In the wake of the Republic's collapse, state religion had adapted to support the new reg