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their own choice. But the law was in fact nothing but a proof of the want of wisdom of the time. It remained a dead letter, just like the old prohibition of whitened togas. Growth of As with the extension of the Roman dominion public bribery and undue offices became more lucrative, they were more and more influence. sought after, and to the former means of securing the

popular votes were added new ones far more objectionable. Candidates now no longer limited themselves to persuasion and entreaty, to recommendation and promises, but proceeded to purchase votes. We are not informed how long this evil practice had already existed when, in the year 181 B.C., energetic measures were adopted to prevent it. It must have been difficult to discover the first instances of bribery.' Evils of this kind are at first so bashful and secret, they increase so gradually and imperceptibly, that they are not noticed before some amount of mischief has been done, and until they have grown so formidable that it is no longer possible to grapple with them successfully. Thus the Lex Cornelia Bæbia, which was passed in the year 181 B.C., at the instigation or at least with the co-operation of Marcus Porcius Cato,2 was utterly useless, although the punishment which it threatened for bribery was ten years' incapacity for holding office. The same fate attended a law of the year 159.3

That bribery and corruption must have been rife at the time may be inferred from Livy, xxxvii. 57, 9. In the year 189 B.C. there were no less than six candidates for the censorship, and among them Manius Acilius Glabrio, in quem, quod multa congiaria habuerat, quibus magnam partem hominum obligaverat, favor populi se inclinabat.' The congiaria were not only presents of oil, such as are mentioned by Livy (xxv. 2, 8) as having been distributed by P. Scipio, 218 B.C., on the occasion of his election to the ædileship, but they included presents of money, corn, and wine to the electors. Acilius Glabrio lost his election, in spite of the favour which his congiaria had secured him, by a criminal prosecution instituted against him by his rivals, who charged him with embezzlement in the war with Antiochus. The criminal law was thus called in to decide the chances of contested elections. See below, chap. xvi.

2 Lange, Röm. Alterth. ii. p. 241. That this law was directed against bribery may be inferred from Polybius (vi. 56), in whose time, as is apparent from the passage in question, bribery was very well understood in Rome. Comp. Lange, Röm. Alterth. ii. p. 618. Becker, Röm. Alterth. ii. p. 41.

The Lex Cornelia Fulvia. Liv. epit. 47.



Modes of



One especially dangerous mode of influencing elections which is altogether incompatible with public order had not at that time made its appearance in Rome. Actual force was not yet employed instead of persuasion or bribes. popular When it became customary for one party to belabour their opponents with cudgels and swords in order to make sure of a majority of votes, then not only the freedom of election was lost, but there soon was an end of elections altogether and of the republican constitution. But there was yet another method of gaining the favour of the electors, a method that could not be attacked by penal laws, because it formed an essential part in the organization of the Roman state and the Roman religion. The magistrates were charged with celebrating at the public expense the solemn games that took place every year on the occasion of several religious and national festivals. After the creation of the ædileship the ædiles had the management of these games. As public funds were voted but sparingly for such purposes, the magistrates saw themselves called upon to supply at their own charge means for the more splendid exhibition of the games. They thus rendered a service to the gods and the community, and naturally no one could find fault with them if they obtained the favour of their fellow-citizens by such acts of liberality in a public cause. The ædileship was the preliminary step to the prætorship and the consulship, and the custom became gradually introduced that those men who aspired to the posts of honour were obliged to purchase their chance of success by the splendour of the spectacles they offered to the people.

Nor were such spectacles restricted to the ædiles or to Gradual the public festivals which came round periodically every of the civic lowering year. Other occasions were found. Funerals offered character. opportunities for the games of gladiators and theatrical representations to be given by the heir of the deceased. A general engaged in war might make a solemn vow, and in consequence of such a vow he could hope not only to obtain military advantages, but he could also parade his


The art of obtaining


merits before the eyes of the people by cclebrating votive games for their amusement. If on such occasions the people were entertained, or if oil and meat were distributed among the poor,' this could hardly be looked upon as an open bribe; but it served to gain precisely the same object and contributed together with a thousand other causes to undermine the independence of the Roman citizens, to lower the right of citizenship to the level of a claim to public support, and to hasten the time when the Roman citizens were glad to exchange their birthright for bread and games.

It was a vain attempt that was made, in the year 139 B.C., by the Lex Gabinia to neutralise by a process of secret voting the influence that bribes and other devices. had upon the electors. All the evils connected with elections continued unabated in spite of the ballot laws (the leges tabularia), and we find that the art of electioneering in the latter period of the republic was brought to such perfection that no manner of persuasion, bribery, deception and intimidation was excluded. The laws on secret voting were as powerless to produce honesty of electors and candidates in Rome as ballot laws are at present. The object of direct bribery by means of money, as well as indirect bribery in the shape of games and public largesses, was to recommend the person of a candidate to the people. But this alone was not sufficient to defeat candidates of the opposite party. One might, it is true, hope to oust an opponent by offering a higher price for the votes of the electors, but this process often presented difficulties and was always very expensive. Another method was therefore invented for securing an election. It became customary to bring legal actions

A visceratio is mentioned by Livy, viii. 22, as early as 328 B.C. for political purposes: Et populo visceratio data a M. Flavio in funere matris. Erant qui per speciem honoran læ parentis meritam mercedem populo solutam interpretarentur, quod eum die dicta ab ædilibus crimine stupratæ matris familiæ absolvissent. Data visceratio in præteritam iudicii gratiam honoris etiam ei causa fuit, tribunatuque plebei proximis comitiis absens petentibus præfertur.

against opposing candidates, which in case of condemnation would put them out of the way, or even in case of failure might discredit them and diminish their chances of success. The administration of law was thus degraded to serve the rival ambition of political partisans, and unfortunately opportunities presented themselves often and easily for serving this purpose. Every Roman had the right of coming forward as a prosecutor, and few statesmen were so upright in their dealings or so fortunate that they offered no handle for an impeachment. Was not even Cato, the model of a true Roman of the old type, prosecuted no less than forty times? It was precisely in Cato's time that prosecutions of public men were in vogue, not for the purpose of punishing offences, but in order to gain political objects. We shall see, when we come to speak of this subject in detail, to what extent the administration of justice was interfered with and injured by suits of this kind.2



If we examine the position of the Roman magistrates Dignity of in general, especially of the supreme magistrates, the magisconsuls, and if we compare them with the magistrates of trates. other republics of antiquity, we can fully understand how Polybius recognised in the Roman magistracy a monarchical element. They were distinguished from their fellow-citizens by the dignity and splendour that surrounded them, by an escort of official attendants, the consuls especially by the much-feared lictors. They had precedence in all public and private assemblies; through the auspices they were supposed to have constant communica

1 It seems that even during the progress of a criminal trial the accused was debarred from presenting himself as a candidate for election. This happened in the case of Catiline. Asconius in Orat. in Toga Cand. p. 89: Professus est Catilina petere se consulatum. L. Volcatius Tullius consul consilium publicum habuit, an rationem Catilinæ habere deberet, si peteret consulatum: nam quærebatur repetundarum. Catilina ob eam rem destitit a petitione. So also M'. Acilius Glabrio retired from his candidature for the censorship in 189 B.C., when a charge of embezzlement was brought against him by the party of the rival candidates. Liv. xxxvii. 57. See above, p. 92, n. 1.

2 See below, chap. v.


Legislative power of Roman magis


tion with the gods. Being presidents in the assemblies of the senate and the people in public festivals and games, they appeared especially as the men invested with the majesty of the Roman people. Their formal independence of the senate was more conspicuous than their actual dependence, and the latter they could cast off if they had the courage to do so. By their criminal jurisdiction they kept the citizens in awe, still more the soldiers through their military command. With regard to subjects and allies they were permitted to act almost entirely as they chose; they had the right to reward the soldiers, to distribute booty, and to give dispensation from service. They were responsible rather to their party than to the laws. The bare idea that the people as such and of their own accord should call a magistrate to account probably seemed preposterous to the Romans. The people were appealed to only when a member of a powerful party thought fit to venture on the impeachment of a magistrate. In ordinary times the political fluctuations on the surface did not disturb the popular masses in the depths below.

One thing that contributed considerably to assure to the Roman magistracy a high position was the apparent freedom with which they determined the passing of new laws and changes in the constitution. Not only did they invariably make the proposals for all real acts of legislation, and not only were the laws called by their name, but a great number of administrative reformsnay, of actual changes in the law and constitution--were accomplished by mere magisterial proclamations.1 Thus the prætorial edicts developed the civil law; the censorial measures with regard to the census gradually reformed the constitution; and the consuls changed the military service and the organisation of the army. Naturally these innovations were usually discussed in the senate; they were far from being arbitrary acts of individual men, yet they plainly proved the power of the office in virtue

By virtue of the ius edicendi possessed by the magistrates. See Lange, Röm. Alterth. i. p. 386. Mommsen, Röm. Staatsr. i. p. 151.

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