the Roman senate was up to the end of the republic the most important institution of the Roman state. Not only the senate as a committee was responsible for this meaning, alsothe senators were actually always important and respected persons in the realm. Despite actually never somewhere the written down rights of the senate and the validity in law one of its resolutions to Augustus the Roman policy was determined by the senate.
Table of contents
to history of the senate
The senate in the Königtum
the information about the senate was controlled in the time, as Rome still of kings is very meagerly sown. Probably the committee corresponded still another to crowning advice, that advised the king in its politics, even however no course of action possessed at that time. The statementmany antique authors that legendary Stadtgründer Romulus called up the first senate, it may be doubted.
The senate, who might have possessed at the beginning of about 100 members, sat down according to Cicero from senes, thus older and experienced men, as well as patres, to the heads of the Roman aristocracytogether. Additionally to the consulting function the senators provided also still, i.e. the highest manager to the Interrex for the time between the death of the earlier and the summoning of a new king.
Besides were the tasks of the senate of probably to a large extent sakraler function. Only about underKing Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, which let the senate extend by one hundred members, was gradually given up that function by the brightistic influence at that time.
the senate in the republic
after end of the king time took over the senate the role of legislator andGovernment in still small Rome. In the following system of municipal authorities, which crystallized soon, was the senate the only institution, which was real from duration - finally the officials were annually again selected.
Considering the long tradition, those the senate already tooBeginning of the republic held, was given the role of the controlling and leading committee to it, although these actual customary laws were never legally embodied (auctoritas senatus). In the centuries of the republic, which followed now, the senate regulated the foreign policy, issued laws and created her alsooff, certain Magistraturen appointed, could also set the officials off and administered the finances of the state. Connected with the old-venerable tradition these important tasks made the senate clearly the heart of the state. The senate to respect, was not called for simple Romans not to respect the state. ThisSolidarity settled also in the many times sworn to formula SPQR, senatus populusque romanus (the senate and the Roman people).
After the condition fights 4. Century v. Chr. it was also possible for the simple Plebejern to occur the senate but into thosehigh Kaiser era inside was always firm the senate in the hand of the Nobilität, to which beside the Patriziern (patres) also the plebejischen families belonged, which had brought it up to the consulate. The official address for the senators became after the condition fightsto patres conscripti (fathers and (again) registrations) extends, but sharp controls of the entrance to the senate, to 313 v. Chr. by the consuls, later by the Censoren , made very heavy it was exercised for a Nichtadeligen to become senator.
A possibility existed however forthe Plebejer still in cursus honorum, the traditional office career. It already was from very early at tradition to take up the two consuls at expiration of its term of office to the senate. This custom was step by step expanded, to last even the Quaestoren, thosea lowest official within the career leaders was accepted.
But the origin of the candidates did not only decide on the success of his application: The minimum age for a senator, who was quite highly set for antique conditions with 46, those on 300 specified maximum's number of all senators and not leastcrucial obstacles could represent the disfavor of the responsible Censors. Only under Sulla the minimum age was lowered to 30 and the senate on 600 members was extended. Later Caesar increased the number again to approximately 1000.
Also among themselves the senators had their own hierarchy, itselfafter the origin (so the Patrizier had an extended right to vote for example opposite the Plebejern), which oriented exercised office and the age before. Additionally that senator, who registered itself during a senate conference as the first into the list, was called princeps senatus (first of the senate).However an official, who had called up the senate always, led the presidency of the conference. The consuls, the Praetoren had the right in addition and after the condition fights also the people grandstands.
As already said, the senate exercised his administrative tasks after customary law. The fewexisted into laws seized tasks among other things in the assignment of certain tasks to the different field gentlemen in the war. The senate was additional due to his long tradition and the associated authority guardian of custom and order and Bewahrer of the traditions. Altogether the republic stood completelyin the indication of the senatorischen force.
the senate in the empire
after the “century of the civil wars” most senators had accepted that the era of nearly unrestricted senate power past was. The last attempt, the republic with the murder Caesars in their old form tooreceived, ended in a bloody disaster, which ended for many senators deadly. As Oktavian after its victory with Actium 31 v. Chr. a re-organization of the Roman state system accomplished, carried out only the few senators for serious resistance. In the following system of the Prinzipats, that formally thoseRepublic to continue left, many senatorische rights however to princeps, thus first of the state transferred, did not only lose the senate much its power of decision; also the number of senators was reduced 600.
Under the first emperor Augustus, that itselfeven still as princeps , could the senate designated still another relatively friendly relationship to the new ruling power develop, which itself also in the award of the title Augustus (about: the raised one) expressed. Augustus trachtete always to govern with the senate in peaceful coexistence.
Thatfirst conflict came however already with Augustus' death in the year 14. Neither its successor Tiberius nor the senate knew to deal with this completely new situation and met each other with sharp distrust. Finally organized Tiberius its seizure of power and did without the official Huldigung throughthe senate, even if it cooperated closely in the later years of its rule with the senate and regarded it than not only advisory, but also crucial committee.
After Tiberius the senate always tried, him further entrusted right of the appointment as the emperor for itself tookept. An emperor rule was formally legitimized actually only by an appropriate senatorial decree, but gave it in the Roman history of enough cases, in those new emperors not therefore jokes and alone with the putting ions in the back, supporting it, governed itself. On the other hand was the senate powerlessly, alsoif it every now and then tried to represent a Gegenpol to the constantly growing influencing control to that of military. This argument probably reached the high point 238, when the senate used fermenting DIANE after the death of the two arbitrarily emperors new with Pupienus and Balbinus two. Only 99 days later became thoseboth zerstrittenen rulers however of the Prätorianern murders.
The influence of the senate depended in the future strongly on the respective emperor. Still many rulers (as for example Vespasian or also Trajan) sought, to prevail in agreement with the committee in the first centuries of the empire,became the senate particularly starting from that 3. Century and in the time of the soldier emperors more and more marginally. The few ranges, within which the senate with legal right was allowed to decide, were not under any circumstances for the large policy of importance. However the legislation was incumbent on further thatSenate, although the emperor could introduce actually also without agreement laws (however usually not as lex were then designated).
the senate in late ancient times
Diokletian gave the Senatscuria its shape received today. Throughthe constant absence of most emperors in late ancient times - at the latest since approximately 400 Rome was no more emperor residence - was at first sometimes capable the senate of creating itself in such a way again a larger political free space. Nevertheless the steady fall of the senate meaning could not altogetherare stopped; the senate lost rapidly also the last remainders at material power. The emperors required no more the acknowledgment by the senate, and the right on legislation did not continue to insist, however any longer one did not use. Actually only the privilege remained remaining, over condition comrades tooarrange, if these of the high treason were accused. However the senators enjoyed further enormous reputation, and isolate offered the meeting at least a stage for political decisions.
With the handing hurrying in the year 395 the senate was actually actually no longer much more than the town councillor von Rom, because since Konstantin a senate, since Constantius II. sat also in Konstantinopel.the same privileges possessed as the westRoman. However the eastRoman senators were obviously never as extremely wealthy as their italischen “colleagues”, and the Roman senate was considered further as the embodiment to thatSize of Rome. Some powerful senatorische sexes like the Anicier were present in both realm halves and formed thereby a connecting member. Into east and west the senators were divided into the rank classes clarissimi, spectabiles and illustres; as their number around 450 too largelyhad become, took one clarissimi and the spectabiles right to the participation in senate meetings. Thus the senate became actually a meeting of the highest active and former imperial officials, he counted from now on hardly more than 100 “real” members.
Remarkably was not it like that that alsoto the end of the westRoman realm 476 also the senate his end would have found. Instead the western senate continued to exist still through the whole sixth century, even if its meaning is unclear in the Germanic rule following after the realm end. One obviously cooperated however successfully alsothe new gentlemen. Still under Odoaker or Theoderich the privileges of the senators were confirmed, one coined/shaped coins with the legend “sports club” (Senatus consultum) and further consuls - per one in the east and one were appointed in Italy. After 534 - in the followingYear began the attack of the eastRoman troops on the Ostgotenreich - no consul is listed more, the senate however continued to exist for the west. However the war between the Goten and east Rome, and as emperors Justinian ruined the senators after its victory 554 nearly allthe meaning of the senate abolished, sank senatorischen offices of Italy (only the city prefecture remained) rapidly, and with that idea of the Langobarden was finally sealed its fate. The last surely well-known action existed in the delegation of two Ambassadors to the realm court in Konstantinopel in the years 578 and 580. Also with the collection of Pope Gregor the large one it is to have played still another role.
Since 542 there were also in Konstantinopel no more consul, the senate in the Byzantine realm existed however still up to its end further - however disappearedalso the eastRoman senate aristocracy after the center 7. Century; it was then replaced during the defense fights against the Arabs by new families, which did not have however no more old condition consciousness or the classical education, which had been typical for the antique senators. ThatSenate central and lateByzantine era reminded only far away of those the antique ones.
Senatori special powers and agenda
the senatorial decree
the senatorial decree (senatus consultum, shortened sports club), occasionally also as decretum or sententia designation, was an instruction,those the senate after discussion and tuning an official gave. Theoretically seen such a resolution was not binding, in the days of the republic dared it however hardly, such an instruction to oppose, there this a revolting against the explicit will of the Nobilitätand thus in all rule the career end would have meant.
After the tuning the senatorial decree was written down and archived in the Saturnstempel, in which also the public treasury rested. Less important documents, for example minutes, not particularly important speeches and so on became in the Tabularium, 78 v.Chr. built public records, keeps. Besides the senators were obligated to publish their resolutions. Since Caesar the resolution lists on the forum Romanum for the entire public were put out.
Sometimes it occurred that constitutional obstacles were put to a senatorial decree into the way. So it could toSeem to example that a Volkstribun inserted its veto. In this case the voting result was down-gradated by one senatus consultum to one senatus auctoritas, thus a will intention of the senate, and had to be submitted again for tuning.
Since that 2. Century v. Chr.existed additionallyso mentioned senatus consultum ultimum, thus an extraordinary senatorial decree, which lent a certain official for a certain length of time extraordinary rights. With this measure the necessity should seem to the appointment of a dictator as rarely as possible. Usually this action consisted of it, the two consuls for theirone year's term of office unrestricted power to lend (right formula „videant consules, ne quid res publica detrimenti capiat “, dt. „the consuls may look on it that the community any damage does not catch itself “). The legal standard of this instrument, with which the senate presented itself openly as the highest decision maker (duringthis the various popular assemblies to be theoretical should), was however always disputed.
In the Kaiser era independently brought in law tunings occurred ever more rarely of the emperor; the latest well-known case of this kind was present, as 178 with senatus consultum the Orfitianum (Latin: orfanus = Waisenkind) by lawthe leaving right in case of the death of a woman in favor of their children was again regulated.
iurisdiction in the senate
as counter measure for the shrinking power of the senate among the emperors became starting from 4 v. Chr. the senate the right granted, in cases of repetundae (processto speak against a province governor because of illegal funds appropriation) as well as maiestas (high treason) in appropriate committees court. With the first case of this kind among Augustus such a customary law developed.
A process de repetundis (thus reference of reclaiming illegaly attained funds) occurred very frequently, there thoseGovernors of a province practically by no law in its greed to be gezügelt could. Most well-known here probably is the accusation described by Plinius in its letters against Marcus Priscus, the governor von Africa. Plinius and Tacitus complained here against the governor and state agreeing,that the accused had to be afraid also criminal consequences.
The procedure was led after generally valid judicial lines: Two senators each were responsible for accusation and/or defense. After a three-day-long process all four concerning gave their conclusion speech. Afterwards different became from the consuls and pro consulsPunishments posed to the debate. Finally with a tuning over the accused one judged.
The accusation because of maiestas is less well well-known. The term of the high treason was extremely far lay outable actually with the Romans; the senate judged as can be prove of cases, their range of an armed Putschup to the taking along of a coin with the imperial Portrait on it on the toilet reached. Theoretically nearly everyone could be accused of high treason, what led among other things to the frights of the high treason processes under Tiberius or Nero, with those hundreds were killed.
In civil affairsthe senate had certain jurisdiction possibilities, which in the Kaiser era a little could be only extended already in the republic. However also a case is well-known in the republic, when before the senate a high treason process was accomplished: When Catilina with its Putschversuch had failed, became inSenate judged of it. Different high politicians prangerten as illegitimately on, thus could not not prevent the execution of the Catilinarier however.
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- yokes Bleicken: The condition of the Roman Republic of, 7. Edition, Paderborn 1995.
- Arnold H. M. Jones: The Later novel Empire 284-602. A Social, Economic and administrative Survey, 3 Bde. continuous, Oxford nummeriert 1964 (lp in 2 Bde., Baltimore 1986). Concerning the senatein late ancient times
- R.J.A. Talbert: The of senates OF imperially Rome, Princeton 1985. Standard work