Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/488

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to a modern mind to have called aloud for such a modification. It was never made.[1]

The method of assembling the comitia tributa[2] (one of the three main forms of the Popular Assembly) was by the proclamation of a herald, who was necessarily inaudible to most of Italy, seventeen days before the date of the gathering. The augurs, the priests of divination whom Rome had inherited from the Etruscans, examined the entrails of sacrificial beasts on the night before the actual assembly, and if they thought fit to say that these gory portents were unfavourable, the comitia tributa dispersed. But if the augurs reported that the livers were propitious, there was a great blowing of horns from the Capitol and from the walls of the city, and the assembly went on. It was held in the open air, either in the little Forum beneath the Capitol or in a still smaller recess opening out of the Forum, or in the military exercising ground, the Campus Martius, now the most crowded part of modern Rome, but then an open space. Business began at dawn with prayer. There were no seats, and this probably helped to reconcile the citizen to the rule that everything ended at sunset.

After the opening prayer came a discussion of the measures to be considered by the assembly, and the proposals before the meeting were read out. Is it not astonishing that there were no printed copies distributed? If any copies were handed about, they must have been in manuscript, and each copy must have been liable to errors and deliberate falsification. No questions seem to have been allowed, but private individuals might address the gathering with the permission of the presiding magistrate.

  1. The point raised here that Rome never developed representation is a very interesting one. There was a golden chance in the Social War (90 B.C.). The allies of Rome (socii) revolted, and set up a counter Rome in Corfinium. Now, to our minds, the obvious thing for them to do was (1) to make Corfinium just a capital; (2) to set up a parliament there, consisting of representatives drawn from the allies, who lived, of course, all over Italy. Not a bit of it. They made Corfinium a city state (not a capital), and feigned themselves all to be citizens of it, meeting in a primary assembly there. They also set up, it is true, a senate of 500; but this was just a copy of the Roman senate, and not a representative body (see Mommsen, vol. iii. pp. 237-8, Eng. trans.). Under the Roman Empire there were germs of representation in provincial assemblies: see Bury, Student's Roman Empire, on the concilium Lugdunense in Gaul and τἁ κοιγἁ in Asia Minor.—E. B.
  2. Seyffert's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. (Nettleship Sandys.)