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Source: The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 51, Parts 1 and 2 (1961), pp. 71-83 Published by: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies

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THE

LEX

VALERIA

CORNELIA

By P. A. BRUNT

I

The Lex Valeria Cornelia of A.D. 5, known to us only from the Tabula Hebana of I9, provided that the senators and those Equites who were enrolled in the judicial decuries should henceforth vote in ten centuries, named after the dead princes, C. and L. Caesar, for the ' destinatio ' of consuls and praetors. In I9 these same voters were redistributed into

fifteen centuries, and in 23 into twenty centuries ; the Germanicus and Drusus respectively.

new units were named after

Professor Tibiletti

has virtually established that these ' destining ' centuries were an

integral part of the comitia centuriata. Candidates who received the majority of their votes were credited with all of them, before the remaining centuries voted. Furthermore, the ' destining ' centuries must have taken over the role of the old centuria praerogativa; before A.D. 5 the vote of that century, composed of iuniores of the first class, was declared before

the proceedings were carried further and the Comitia had been apt to follow its lead.2

If the evidence

of the

Tabula Hebana and Tabula Ilicitana

stood alone, we should

naturally suppose that the Comitia still elected consuls and praetors as late as A.D. 23, guided but not predetermined by the ' destining' centuries. We know, indeed, that in the time of Pliny or Dio the comitial proceedings had been reduced to a formality and that in so far as magistrates were not simply nominees of the emperor, they were elected in fact by the Senate itself; the assembly was presented with a single list of candidates.3 It is indeed attested by Dio 4 and epigraphically confirmed 5 that this practice went back to Tiberius' reign. It might, however, have been supposed that its origin was later than A.D. 23, but for Tacitus' statements that in the praetorian elections of A.D. I4 'tum primum e campo

comitia ad patres translata sunt'

and that in I7 the Senate chose a suffect praetor.6

' His

express testimony,' says Sir Ronald Syme, ' ought never to have been doubted or infringed.' Some may think this goes too far. Granted that in general Tacitus is accurate and well-

informed, granted that as a consular he would have taken special interest in elections and that he had access to the acta senatus, does not the authority of contemporary documents stand higher than his ? It is, however, not the documents that contradict him, but only modern inferences from them ; and these inferences his testimony ought to exclude. A law

of A.D. I9 tells us nothing directly about procedure in 14 or I7; as Syme

has suggested, the

procedure revealed in the Tabula Hebana could have been suspended or revived in different

years, till at last it lapsed into oblivion. Again, nothing in the law assures us that the

' destining

' centuries

still

retained an effective

function;

it

is

plausible to hold with

Professor

A. H4. M.

Jones that

as

' destinatio ' was itself

a preliminary part of ' creatio '

and as the comitial elections had been reduced on Tacitus' evidence to a formality in A.D. 14, ' destinatio ' too had become an unreal form and that the redistribution of the senators and Equites in I9 or 23 was effected, merely as one of many honours then decreed to Germanicus or Drusus, an honour too trivial and transient for Tacitus to record.7 Thus the Lex Valeria Cornelia was not a measure of lasting importance. It does not

1 On

the

Tabula

Hebana

and

Tabula

Ilicitana

(Ehrenberg

and

Jones,

Reigns

of Augustus and

Documents illustrating

Tiberius,2

nos

94a-b)

the

see

5 ILS

944.

I agree with

Jones (p.

I2)

that com-

mendatio was at this time exercised informally and not

in virtue

of

a legal

right such

as was conferred on

especially G. Tibiletti, Principe e Magistrati Repubbli-

Vespasian.

       

cani, Roma, I953 (with bibliography);

A.

H.

 

M.

G Ann. I,

I5

;

II,

51

Jones, JRS XLV,

1955,

9 ff.

=

St. in Rom. Govern-

7 Of the honours voted to Germanicus Tacitus says

ment and Law, Oxford, I960,

27 if. (a valuable essay,

(Ann. ii, 83): 'pleraque manent; quaedam statim

to most of which I assent) ; R. Syme, Tacitus,

omissa sunt aut vetustas obliteravit.' The procedure

Oxford, I958, 756 ff.

             

of destinatio continued at least till 23 (as shown by the

2

Cic. Planc. 49;

Phil.

II,

8z;

cf. Appendix

II,

3.

Tabula Ilicitana), but if it had already become a mere

3 e.g.

Plin. Ep.

95 ;

for

comitial

II,

9,

2;

III,

formalities

LVIII,

20.

4 Dio

LVIII,

20.

20;

IV,

Paneg.

25;

63-4;

Paneg.

Dio

formality, few senators or Equites will have attended ; acclamation probably soon replaced voting, and Tacitus can reasonably ignore as unimportant this

part of the law honouring Germanicus.

72

P.

A.

BRUNT

follow that it had little political significance at the time when it was passed. Such significance Jones has attributed to it. He has proved that the new centuries must have been mainly

composed

of Equites.

He

supposes

that Equites

were

likely to favour

candidates

of

equestrian origin and that Augustus, who in his view was more reluctant than is sometimes believed openly to gerrymander the elections, created the new centuries with the very purpose of increasing the proportion of ' novi homines ' who rose to the consulate. He finds confirmation for this conjecture in the alleged fact that after A.D. 5 the proportion of such men does rise in the consular Fasti. Admittedly, they are no less prominent in the Fasti in Tiberius' reign, when elections had been transferred to the Senate. But this does not surprise him, since the Senate too was preponderantly composed of men of a modest origin. The purpose of this paper is to contest Jones' explanation of the law and to substitute

another.

II

Jones appealed to the prosopographical authority of F. B. Marsh 8 and of Syme.9 Both had noted the influx of new names into the later Fasti of Augustus' reign. This phenomenon they explained, however, in different ways. Marsh held that new men were advanced especially between A.D. 3 and io; he thought that they owed their elevation to Augustus, and that Tiberius, who favoured the old nobility,

put a stop to

the process when he returned to Rome in IO; Germanicus indeed headed a

party of new men and, for a short time (A.D. i6-i8), Tiberius sought to conciliate him by

promoting them. This theory has no support in the literary evidence. Tacitus says (Ann. iv,

6) that Tiberius impartially rewarded with the consulate both merit and high birth.10 According to Marsh the new men were the heirs of the Populares, who had aimed at breaking

down aristocratic exclusiveness.

It may be doubted if the Populares had ever been a party

with a programme of any kind, but they are most commonly associated not with ideas such as Marsh imputes to them but with measures designed to enhance the power of the people or to benefit the poor.11 In the Republic rival factions had embraced nobles and new men alike. Factions persisted in the Principate, but in this respect their composition is unlikely to have been different. Sejanus numbered among his adherents and enemies men of the most varied antecedents.12 In social origin Germanicus' 'party' was probably no less composite. Like Marsh, Syme supposed that men owed the consulate to the overt favour of the Emperor. But he considered that in Augustus' later years the influence of Tiberius was dominant and that from A.D. 4 the consuls must have been Tiberius' partisans. Again, there is no direct testimony. Only a few of the consuls elected after A.D. 4, or indeed after A.D. I4, can be shown to have enjoyed the special trust and consideration of Tiberius and neither the nobles nor the new men returned in these years have, as a class, any common characteristics which mark them off from other nobles or other new men elected earlier. All emperors had their trusted counsellors or favourites, but all had to allow consular status

to many nobles, whose lineage was their only claim; imperial suspicion or contempt might bar such men from subsequent employment. Probably new men always found it hard to rise without imperial patronage, but we cannot decide whether in Augustus' last decade they owed their promotion to the old emperor or his heir. Jones is, of course, not tied to either of these theories; on the contrary, he holds that Augustus was less prone to intervene in the elections than they assume. On his view it was the natural propensity of the reformed Comitia to support new men which explains the facts adduced by Marsh and Syme. Augustus, he thinks, gave the electors a free choice, with a shrewd notion of the manner in which they would exercise it. But an analysis of the Fasti does not bear out the contention that there was any

8Reign

9

of Tiberius, Oxford, 1931,43;

62 ff.;

" Roman Revolution, Oxford, 1939, 372-3

86-7.

; 434 ff.

Tibiletti

o.c.

(n.

I)

247

n.

2

refutes another

12 For his aristocratic friends

Tacitus 384;

his

uncle,

Junius

and kin

Blaesus

see Syme,

(cos. suff.

A.D.

io),

and other partisans (Ann. v, 8;

VI, 3, 7,

14;

view, that Tiberius favoured new men at the expense

XIII, 45) were new men. Opponents and victims came

of nobles.

Libertas as a Political

39 ff. gives a sound account.

from both categories (Syme, l.c.;

Ann.

iv,

I8-I9,

Stewart,

11 Ch. Wirszubski, Rome, Cambridge, 1950,

Idea at

68;

VI,

2,

48,

etc.).

The

article by

Z.

AYP LXXIV, 1953, 70 ff. is highly speculative.

THE LEX VALERIA CORNELIA

73

significant change after the Lex Valeria Cornelia was passed. Certainly there were more new men who rose to the consulate in Augustus' later years, but the change begins, not in A.D. 5, but in 5 B.C., with the practice of appointing suffecti almost every year and it is the suffect, not the ordinary consulship to which such men usually attain. The reason for the change is not hard to conjecture. The Fasti from I7 B.C. onwards show that as a new generation of nobles grew up after the civil wars and proscriptions, Augustus sought to conciliate it and lend effulgence to the restored Republic' by allowing it almost to monopolize the consulship. Few of these men 'quibus omnia populi Romani beneficia dormientibus deferuntur' (Cic. Verr. II, 5, i8o) were necessarily competent to discharge the increasing number of tasks that naturally devolved on men of consular rank and experience; and some whose talents were beyond question may have been uncertain in loyalty. 13 For the time this mattered little ; Augustus could call on Agrippa and then on his stepsons, and on trusted new men of an earlier generation. But by 5 B.C. Agrippa and Drusus were dead and Tiberius was in retirement; there was a need for younger generals and administrators, to take their places and those of Augustus' older partisans. Yet Augustus did not wish to alienate the older aristocracy by denying them the honours which were thought due to their birth. Competition for the consulate was now all the more intense, since the sons of his earlier marshals and advisers were reaching consular age. The appointment of more suffect consuls solved the problem. With few exceptions the greater honour of the ordinary consulate is reserved for men of consular lineage, a practice Tiberius continued,14 but places for humbler, reliable men of solid merit are found among the suffect consuls. The effect of this new policy and the irrelevance of the Lex Valeria Cornelia can be

seen by classifying the consuls for three periods. For the

first the starting point may be

Augustus' demission of the consulate in 23 B.C. ; it includes the suffect consuls of that year.

The last year of this period is 6 B.C. Within these years there were

few suffect consuls,

mostly new men. All but two of the new men, who secured the ordinary consulate, did so in 23-I7 B.C., when in all probability few nobles had reached the requisite age and there was less competition for the office. The second period begins in 5 B.C. and ends in the middle of

A.D. 5, selected for the purpose of testing Jones' theory; the suffect consuls of that year were presumably elected under the Lex Valeria Cornelia and with them the third period begins. It ends with the ordinary consuls of A.D. I 5, who had been chosen before Tiberius' accession and therefore were still elected by the Comitia. Classification requires some explanatory words. Gelzer showed 15 that in the Republic 'nobilis', strictly construed, designates a man descended in the direct male line from one who had held the consulate (or equivalent office) and ' novus homo ' anyone else, even a man of praetorian descent. However, the latter term is sometimes restricted to denoting a man who numbered among his forbears none who had held any curule offiCce; 16 it is implied in this usage that a man of praetorian family would not be so described. In every generation and almost every decade of the Republic men of praetorian origin rose to the

'3ButJones,JfRSXLI,

 

1951,

II2

(=

Studies,

p.

3)

that such nobles

enjoyed a far lower

proportion

of

is wrong in saying that Augustus did not employ men

military commands than of consulships;

thus

of

Note

(i)

M.

eight known legates of Syria,

13

B.C.-A.D.

14

they

of Republican nobility as legates. Aemilius Lepidus in Pannonia, A.D.

8-9,

 

Tarra-

provide only three. Syme, Roman Rev.

329-30

conensis,

c.

14;

(2)

Q.

 

Caecilius

Metellus,

Syria,

documents

 

neglect

of this

class in 27-3

B.C.,

cf. also

C. A.D.

12-17;

(3) Cn. Calpurnius Piso (cos. 7 B.C.),

396-40I.

But there are large gaps in provincial Fasti

Tarraconensis,

ann. inc.;

 

(4)

L.

Calpurnius

Piso,

under Augustus, and some places for other such

who commanded in Homonadensian

and Thracian

nobles could thus be conjecturally found.

wars, c. 15-10

B.C.,

and was perhaps later legate of

Syria (Syme, YRS L, 17, n. 68); (5) P. Cornelius

14

15

Tibiletti,

o.c.

(n.

I),

239

f.

Die Nobilitdt der r. Rep., Berlin, I9I2,

2

i f.;

 

Dolabella in Dalmatia at Augustus' death;

 

(6) Cn.

cf. Syme, Roman Rev. ch. II; H. Strasburger in

Cornelius Lentulus (the consul of either I8 or 14 B.C.)

P-W s.v. Nobilis and Novus homo.

   

who commanded in a Dacian war of unknown date;

16

Cicero, ' equestri

ortus

loco

' (de leg. agr. I,

27),

(7) L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, on Danube and Rhine,

claims that he was the first new man, almost in living

c.

6 B.C.-A.D.

I;

(8)

Paullus

Fabius

Maximus

in

memory,

to

reach the

consulate

(ibid.

II,

3), i.e.,

Tarraconensis, 3-2

B.C.;

 

(9) M. Licinius Crassus

probably

the

first

of

non-senatorial

origin

since

Frugi, probably in Tarraconensis,

c.

IO

B.C.

(Syme,

C. Coelius Caldus (cos. 94) ; cf. Comm. Pet. Iii.

Men

YRS

6-4

L,

B.C.,

13-14);

(io)

Rhine, A.D. 7-9

P.

;

Quinctilius

(i i)

M.

Varus,

Syria,

Valerius Messalla

4;

of praetorian family could be styled ' novi ' (Phil.

Veil. I,

I3,

2),

ix,

but there had been many such in

Messalinus,

Illyricum,

A.D.

6.

It

is

no

doubt

true

the few years before Cicero made his boast, cf. n. 17.

74

P.

A.

BRUNT

consulate 17 and were sometimes admitted to the most intimate circles of the aristocracy; 18 it is plain that their elevation did not evoke the same snobbish repugnance as that of a mere parvenu like Cicero. Since the Fasti of offices lower than the consulate are very incompletely known, it is often uncertain whether a person of non-consular descent belongs to this class or not. It is fairly certain that some of the triumviral and Augustan new men, perhaps many more than we can document, had such respectable antecedents. It seems indeed that this may be less true of those new men who reached the consulate in his later years, but in this respect no distinction can be drawn between the second and third periods in the following tables. In these tables I have not tried to separate the new men of these two classes (though some indications will be found in Appendix I). But I doubt whether the elevation of all of them would have been shocking to the old aristocracy. Some (such as C. Sentius Saturninus in I9 B.C. or M. Plautius Silvanus in 2 B.C.) would probably have made their way even under the old regime. Indeed in all periods since the fifth century old families had been dying out and new ones inevitably took their place. Civil wars and proscriptions only accelerated this

process. To some extent the rise of new men (of all kinds) was not so much due to the deliberate policy of Caesar, the triumvirs or the emperors as to necessity ; they were needed

to fill the ranks. The inscription on gravestones, ' last of his

line ' (Marcus Aurelius VIII,

3I), will not have been unfamiliar in this period (cf. n. 2I). Gelzer also maintained that the consulship ceased to bestow nobility after the fall of the Republic, though descendants of Republican consuls could now claim nobility, even if it were transmitted only through the female line.19 But when did the Republic fall? Cicero sometimes complained in the 5os that it was no more.20 In 28-27 it was officially

restored. In fact, if not in form, the free choice of the electorate was limited by the will of

dynasts from 49 B.C.

Yet it is certain that men

still claimed nobility, whose title to it was

derived from consuls of a later date. E. Stein argued that the consulate ennobled men till A.D. I4, when popular elections were abolished, and Syme, approving this view, holds that it was precisely then that 'the Principate was recognized as a permanent form of govern- ment' and that 'the Republic ended, openly and legally'. Perhaps the dispute is barren. Even if it were not attested that families were ennobled after 49 B.C., and indeed up to A.D. 9 at least, we should have to posit a sharp distinction between scions of families which had risen to riches and dignity under Caesar, the Triumvirate or in Augustus' own reign and men who were the first of their line to gain the consulate. An Asinius or Statilius of the the second generation or later might possess or lack capacity, as might a Calpurnius or

 

17

e.g.

from

94

to

49 :-P.

Rutilius

Lupus

(go),

Controv. II, 4, I2:

' erat M. Agrippa inter eos qui non

Cn. Pompeius

Strabo

(89),

since

he was

not

nati sunt nobiles sed facti.' (Gelzer explained away

descended from the consul of 141,

C. Norbanus (83),

the nobility of Q. Volusius,

attested in Ann. XIV, 46,

C.

Scribonius Curio (76), L. Volcacius Tullus (66),

by supposing that he inherited it from his mother, a

L.

Licinius Murena (62),

M. Calpurnius Bibulus (59)

Cornelia, Pliny NH vii, 62.) Even Stein's moderate

who is not known to have been descended from Calpurnii with different cognomina, A. Gabinius (58),

theory cannot be regarded as definitive. Pliny, Paneg. 69, 5-70, 2 seems to support Otto's contention

and perhaps M. Herennius

(93)

and

M.

Tullius

that the consulate always conferred nobility,

 

though

Decula (8i),

since their descent from earlier bearers

gradations of nobility were recognized (Otto, pp. 82-

of the

same

nomen is

unattested

and improbable.

3). It may be difficult for both Gelzer and Stein that

L.

Afranius (6o) and perhaps Norbanus may have

Sextius Africanus (COS.A.D. 59) was nobilis (Ann. xiii,

been upstarts to the same extent as Cicero.

Of the

19; XIV, 46); he was presumably descended from

rest some were certainly and all probably of praetorian families.

T. Sextius, a Caesarian governor of Africa, never consul and not known to have been of consular

 

18

e.g. Curio, whose son ranked as ' princeps

family; a perhaps fictitious descent of the Sextii

iuventutis ' (Cic.

Vatin. 24,

cf. Fam. II,

7, 4, ' nobilis-

Laterani (COSS.A.D.

94,

154,

197)

from L. Sextius

simo adulescente et gratiosissimo '), and Bibulus.

 

Lateranus cOs. 366 B.C. might be surmised, but no

 

19

Hermes L,

1915,

399 ff.;

cf.

W.

Otto,

ibid.

LI,

connection

between them and the consul of 59 is

I9I6,

73

f.

(dissenting);

E. Stein,

ibid. LII,

I9I7,

established

; and nobility on the mother's side is mere

564 ff.;

Syme,

Tacitus 654 (cf.

369), who

accepts

conjecture. This case may fit the view of

E. Groag,

Stein's

modification

of Gelzer's

thesis.

Consulates

Strena Buliciana 1924,

253 ff. that in the Principate

down to A.D. 9

certainly conferred nobility,

since

all descendants of families which had been senatorial

nobility

is ascribed to descendants

of L. Munatius

in the Republic ranked as noble.

(If that were granted,

Plancus

cOs. 42

B.C.

(Ann. II,

43,

3),

L.

Scribonius

the tables in the text would require much amend-

Libo cOs. 34 (Suet.

Tib.

25),

M.

Lollius

cos.

2zI

ment.) But Sextius Africanus' nobility could be

(Ann. xii,

 

i),

P. Silius

Nerva,

COS. 20

B.C.

(Ann. xi,

explained, if T. Sextius were among the men to

28),

L. Volusius

Saturninus, cos. suff. 12

(ibid. XIV,

whom

Caesar gave consular

ornamenta (Dio

XLIII,

46) and Poppaeus Sabinus, cos. A.D. 9 (ibid. XIII,

46),

47;

Suet.

Caes.

76).

 

all of whom were in some sense new men. Cf. Sen.

20 e.g. Att.

II,

2I,

I

(59

B.C.)

;

Qu.fr.

III,

5,

4 (54).

THE LEX VALERIA CORNELIA

75

Cornelius; he must have shared in some degree their pride of birth and their hereditary claim to the highest honours.21 There is no evidence that such men were not recognized as nobles, as the sons of Republicanconsulars had been. Like the older nobility, they too tend to secure ordinaryconsulships.

None the less, in the tables below I have distinguished them from the

Republican

nobility.

Column A represents the latter, B the new nobility, C the ' novi homines'.

Figures in brackets refer to consulates held by Augustus or members of his family.

 

TABLE

I .-ORDINARY

CONSULS

 

A

B

C

22-6 B.C.

 

23 (3)

2-3

8-9

5B.C.-A.D.5

13

(3)

4

3

A.D. 6-15

I2

(2)

7

I

TABLE

2.-SUFFECT

CONSULSHIPS

 

A

B

C

23-6

B.C.

.

.

I

I

5

5 B.C.-A.D.

4

.

4

6

7

A.D.

5-A.D.

I4

.

2

I

9

Total

34

20

20

Total

7

I7

12

Detailed justifications for these figures are given in Appendix I. In the last period two suffect consuls in A.D. I3 are omitted, as their identity has not been fixed with certainty.

Of the nine new men who held the ordinary consulate in the first period all but two

were consuls in 23-I7, a period

in which there was probably less competition from nobles.

Once a new generation of nobles had attained the requisite age, it was evidently hard for

new men to secure this honour and even rarerafter A.D.5 than before. On the other hand,

such men had at all times a disproportionateshare of suffect consulates. This share does grow after A.D. 5, but it is even in the last decade no greaterthan in 5-I B.C., in which years fall six of the seven suffect consulates they held during the second period. It is then likely that the increasedproportion of suffect consulatesthat went to new men after A.D. 5 is to be

ascribed to the accidents of

birth and availability,and perhaps to the fact that after A.D. 5

there were fewer suffectiin all, rather than to the operation of the Lex Valeria Cornelia. The most markedchange in the Fasti after A.D. 5 is patently the increasednumber of consuls from the new nobility. But their names multiply on the list, as they came of age. The first is C. CaniniusRebilus (cos.suff. I 2), son of a suffect consul of 45 ; next comes Asinius Gallus

in 8 B.C., at the age of thirty-two or thirty-three; he could not have held the office earlier.22 Even if the newer nobility are regarded (without warrant)as resembling ' novi homines',

their

increased representationis gradual, begins before A.D. 5 and is to be correlatedwith

their

ages, and not with any legislation or shift in policy.

Thus the Fasti do not support Jones' theory, nor is there any other evidence in its

raised.

' Omnes boni semper nobilitati

senators and Equites whose voting

favour. Indeed subsidiary objections may be

favemus ' (Cic. Sest. 2I) ; was this really less true of the

guided the Comitia after A.D. 5 than of the old

centuriapraerogativa and the upper class

centuries that had followed it ? (In Appendix II I shall argue that the organization of the comitiacenturiata had not previously been altered by Augustus.) Jones has to suppose that a political measure of some moment was inserted into legislation probably concerned with honours to the dead princes.23 Yet this notable change is ignored by Dio, whose accountof events in A.D. 5 is extant; in our other sourcestoo no whisper of it. Surely another explanationis required of the institution of the ten centuries, one which may offend those

21

Observe the pride of birth in ILS 935:

'

[Sex.]

Appuleio

Sex.

f.

Gal.

Sex.

n.

Sex.

pron.

Fabia

nato, ultimo

gentis suae'

;

presumably

Numantina son of the

consul

of

A.D.

14,

grandson of the novus

homo, consul

in

29

B.C.,

and

great-grandson

of

Augustus' elder sister (PIR 1,2 I86-7),

he is

' nobilis

utrimque ', his mother being a Fabia (PIR 111, 2 112).

 

Cf. Ann. XIV,40,

2 (Asinius Marcellus).

 

22

Mommsen, StR I,3

574;

for a higher

average

age see

Syme,

Tacitus 652-6.

On Gallus'

age see

PIR 1,2

247.

 

23 Little is known of the posthumous honours paid

to C. and L. Caesar (cf. V. Gardthausen, Augustus u.

seine Zeit, Leipzig, 1904, I 127, 1146-7), but I

assume,

in view of Tiberius' well-known

habit of following

Augustan precedents (n. 53), that they provided the model for those voted to Germanicus and Drusus, and that the institution of the ten centuries was part of a context similar to that of the Tabula Hebana.

76

P.

A.

BRUNT

who have with much learning made out of a chance discovery of the spade a new keystone for the understanding of the Augustan constitution or of Augustan politics but which, by virtue of its apparent triviality, will also account for the total silence of the literary tradition.

III

Under the Principate senators and Equites are contrasted with the Populus or Plebs.24 Mommsen spoke of a formal distinction between the two ruling orders and the masses.25 This distinction was already symbolized in the Republic in various outward forms, a development carried further by the emperors. In their dress senators and Equites were

marked off from humbler citizens by the right to wear the

latus 26i or angustus 27 clavus, the

golden bulla 28 and the golden ring,29 and senators by the calceus mullus or solea.30 When

the populace received a congiarium in money, the higher orders dined in state at public banquets.31 In the theatre at Rome senators had enjoyed special seats since I94 B.C.32 and in 67 the Lex Roscia,33 apparently re-enacted by an Augustan law,34 restored to free-born

citizens with the equestrian property qualification of 400,000 HSS

the exclusive right of

occupying fourteen reserved rows.

Similar rights belonged to senators or their sons when

they visited municipal theatres; the rule was strengthened or re-affirmed under Augustus.35 Dio tells us 31 that in the circuses separate seats were allotted for senators and Equites in A.D. 5, the very year of the Lex Valeria Cornelia. It was a privilege not (I suggest) different in motive from that which this law conceded to them, but one which merited Dio's attention, because, unlike the ten centuries, it had survived to his own time. All such privileges gratified the taste of the higher orders for comfort and display; they also made manifest to a hierarchically organized society their superiority of status. Special seats in the theatre separated them from the common herd.37 Yet at elections most

of them, if they were to vote, had to rub elbows with men far below their degree.

Only those

Equites who were enrolled in the eighteen centuries of holders of the public horse voted apart, and in the late Republic they seem to have numbered only i,8oo men.38 Even these centuries had lost their ancient primacy in the Comitia (Appendix ii, sections 2-4). Before Augustus the great majority of Equites in a broad sense of the term, men of the requisite birth and census, and all the senators, who had apparently lost the right to the public horse in the Gracchan age,39 had to vote in the first class, ' promiscuously.'

 

24

StR iii,2

46I,

n. 3, citing Hor. ep. I,

I,

58 ;

Ovid,

the third decury; Cic. Phil. I, 19-20, shows only that

Fasti

25

26

II,

StR

RG

I98

;

111,2 894.

35,

ibid. 887-8.

I,

etc.

   

Antony proposed to admit ex-centurions to the panels

of iudices, even if they lacked the census qualification

the law still required.)

 

27

ibid.

513-4.

     

30

31

StR ibid.

III,3

894-5.

887-92.

     
 

28

ibid. 525.

             
 

29

ibid. 514-9

;

892,

cf. A.

Stein,

Der r6m. Ritter-

32

ibid. 893,

n.

3.

   

stand, Miunchen,2927,

31-41,

 

who

shows (a) that the

33

Stein o.c.

(n.

29),

23,

n.

I

'restored

', Cic.

gold ring was originally a senatorial privilege, but

Mur. 40.

       

that (b) in the late Republic

 

it was

extended to men

3

Pliny NH

 

XXXIII,

32.

Augustus

let

men

of

of equestrian census (Cic. Verr. II,

3,

I87

;

Fam. x,

equestrian birth retain their right, even if they had

32,

 

3 ;

Hor. Sat.

II,

7,

53, etc.),

provided that they

lost their property, Suet. Aug. 40,

I;

for a parallel,

were of free birth (Dio XLVIII 45, 8, which also proves

cf.

35,

2

;

Dio

LIV,

14,

4.

   

that it was still worn by senators).

It is characteristic

3

Lex Ursonensis 127; Suet. Aug. 44.

   

of the social views of the imperial government

that

36

See next note,

cf. Dio

LX,

7, 3-4;

Suet. Claud.

by a SC of A.D. 22, it confined the right to men of

21,

3.

       

free birth for three generations (Pliny NH XXXIII 32);

cf. also the Lex Visellia of 23 (CY IX, 2I, I ; 3I, I).

Contra E. Staveley, Rh. Mus. I953,

20I

ff., it

seems to

37

Dio

LV,

22,

4:

Kml

Ta

iT-rr-ro8poi'as xcopls

PEv

ol

POV;E1JTalXcopls 8U ol

r1Tijs

&Tr6

TroOT oITroU

i<ai

VOVyiyvETat;

Pliny NH

alterum ordinem

a plebe

XXXIII,

...

29:

ITeOVS

ETOVo,8

'anuli distinxere

me clear that Pliny (NH XXXIII, 29-30)

is denying

that in Augustus'

time all Equites were entitled

to

the gold ring, if by Equites we mean citizens

birth and equestrian

name of Equites

of free

census ; in Pliny's view even the

was reserved for holders of the public

horse, and even iudices of equestrian census were only

entitled to iron rings. But Pliny is refuted by

contemporary evidence

and the right

;

the use of the term' equites '

to the gold ring were not so restricted.

(I also cannot accept Staveley's contention that

tribuni aerarii lacked equestrian census, see contra

sicut tunica ab anulis 'discrimina ordinum';

senatum ' ; Ann. XIII, 54, 3:

Livy

XXXIV,

54,

5 :

' discrimina talia quibus ordines

discernerentur'; 44, 5: ' (censores) aedilibus curulibus imperarunt ut loca senatoria secernerent a populo;

nam antea in promiscuo (cf. Val. Max. IV,

Claud. 2I, 3) spectabant.' Roscius' the Equites 'dignitatem' (cf. Val.

5,

I ; Suet.

law restored to

Max. l.c.)

and

'voluptatem

38

Cato,

' (Mur.

ORF,2

fr.

40).

85

;

Comm. Pet. 33.

J. L. Strachan-Davidson, Problems of Rom. Crim. Law, Oxford, I9I2, II, 90 ff., or that Caesar abolished

"' Stein,

Rep. IV,

2,

o.c.

(n.

29),

I-3

;

for the change, cf. Cic.

with Plut. Pomp. 22,

4-5.

THE LEX VALERIA CORNELIA

77

One changethat is relevantAugustus had indeed made before 7 B.C., when Dionysius of

Halicarnassuspublished his history.40 That authortells us that in his day

5,ooo

equitesequo

publico might appearin martialarray at the annual review each July.41 Thus Augustus had enlarged the numbers enrolled in the eighteen centuries. But many otherwise qualified persons were unfitted by age or infirmity for a military parade. Suetonius says that at one

time Augustus allowed such men to appear on foot, but that later he permitted men over thirty-five to give up their public horses, if they did not wish to retain them.42 The significanceof this age limit is probablyto be inferred from an indication in Dio 43 that in Augustus' view citizens had a special liability to army service till they were thirty-five.

In principle, though of course not in practice, the equitesequo publico were part

of the

' exercitus '. But a man who had surrenderedhis public horse was surely eo ipso no longer

entitled to vote in the eighteen centuries. However this may be, Jones should have put it beyond doubt that in the Principate, as in the Republic, not all those who could be designated Equites were holders of the public horse,44even though Pliny pedanticallyyet

wrongly thought that the name belonged only to this class till A.D.

22.45

It thus remained

true that many, or most, Equites, and all senators, were not separatedfrom the Plebs in the assembly at the time when the Lex Valeria Cornelia was passed.

Even that law, it is true, conceded a privileged position in the Comitia only to Equites enrolled in the judicial decuries.46But of the younger men domiciled near enough to Rome to be interested in voting rights (for which residents in Gades or Pataviumwould care little) most, if not all, were probably registered in the eighteen centuries. The new law then provided a privilege (even more distinguished) chiefly for the older men. This separation of younger and older Equites in the Comitia correspondedto a distinctionthat was probably observed in the theatre.47 Jones states that for membership of the decuries ' the minimum age limit was

thirty-five, later reduced to thirty'. That agrees well with

the practice of allowing Equites

to give up the public horse at thirty-five. It might be said that until they reached that age

they were (in principle) availablefor militaryservice and thereafterfor civil. Unfortunately there is a difficulty. It has been held with strong reasons that Suetonius, on whom Jones relies, either wrote or should have written that the minimum age for judicial duty, previously

 

40

Ant.

Rom. I,

3,

2;

7,

2.

41

ibid.

vi,

13.

42

nollent.' Mommsen,

StR

III,3

492,

' nollent' to ' mallent ', holding

is

well

authenticated,

cf.

Thes.

cf. Dio LIV,

43

26,

 
 

Dio LVI,

23,

 

2.

 

44"Jones,

15-I6.

 

The conclusion

Patavium (Str.

iII,

5, 3 ;

V,

I,

annual reviews

at Rome.

Aug. 38: 'mox reddendi equi gratiam fecit eis

qui maiores annorum quinque et triginta retinere eum

n. x, amended

 

'

permitted '

LL,

s.v. gratia.

does not

depend

nor

turn out at

that ' gratiam fecit '

must mean ' exempted ' ; but the sense

as interpreted by Jones, 9-IO.

on a doubtful supplement in the Tabula Hebana, even on ILS 6747 (where the words may be garbled). It is obvious that the 500 Equites of Gades and

7) did not

Gaius sent for men of good

birth and wealth from the provinces and enrolled them in the -rAos of Equites, Dio LIX, 9, 5. In a broad sense, these men were clearly Equites before they came to Rome (like those mentioned by Strabo); the -rAoS must denote the 'turmae equorum publicorum ', to whom Pliny with archaic correctness

reserved the name of Equites. The distinction thus

persisted

between equites equo publico and Equites in

a broader sense, men who did not actually possess the public horse, though qualified by birth and wealth. Stein, o.c. (n. 29), 57, taking the view that all Equites were now equo publico, remarks that from Augustus

there is no trace of equites equo privato.

But when do

we hear of this class, as such, even in the time of

Cicero ? The fact that in countless inscriptions some describe themselves simply as Equites and others as

equo publico

(ILS

Index

III,

pp.

361-3)

is

best

explained

by

assuming

that

the

old

distinction

continued (cf. especially ILS 6630:

'eq.

Rom., patri

duorum eq. pub.').

The public horse was an honour

that only some Equites enjoyed (ILS Index III, p. 362,

for such phrases

as ' equo publico

ornatus

') ;

later,

indeed, it did not imply presence at the review, since

it could be bestowed

on children (e.g. ILS

6305).

45

cf.

n.

29.

Stein should never have cited Pliny's

statement that under Augustus 'equitum nomen

subsistebat

in

turmis

equorum

publicorum'

to

sustain

the view

that throughout the

Principate

all

Equites were equo publico,

since on Pliny's own view

(mistaken about the time

of Augustus)

in A.D.

22

'in

unitatem

venit

equester

ordo',

and the

term then

came to embrace men who had previously been

correctly

described not as Equites (since they lacked

the public horse), but as tribuni aerarii, selecti, iudices

or nongenti (NH XXXIII, 31-2).

In reality, both

before

and after A.D. 22,

Equites included all citizens of the

requisite birth and wealth, and not just the members

of all these classes.

46

' Equites

omnium decuriarum ' shows that they

could be

enrolled even in that decury for which the

minimum property qualification of 200,000 HSS

(Suet. Aug.

32, 3) was less than equestrian.

47

Ann.

II,

83:

' equester ordo cuneum Germanici

appellavit, qui iuniorum dicebatur.' Stein o.c. (n. 29),

24, n. 2, supposes

that this

was one

of

the

cunei

equestresin the theatre, Stat. Silv. III, 3, I43, cf. Suet. Domit. 4, 5.

78

P.

A.

BRUNT

the thirtieth year, was reduced by five years by Augustus.48 Perhaps this does not matter much. It was the emperor or his agents who drew up the lists both of centuries of equites equo publico and of decuries of equestrian iudices,49 and they could take care that a man did not appear on both lists. That indeed must be assumed on any view of the Lex; obviously no one can have been entitled to vote both in the ten centuries and later in other centuries. It is probable that on the whole the older Equites were registered in the ten new centuries and the younger in the eighteen. It is of course clear that enrolment in the ten centuries might have done more than enhance the dignity of the senators and Equites concerned. Their votes were bound to count for more in free elections, because the new voting units were presumably exceptionally small and still more because the preferences they expressed were likely to influence the centuries that voted later. Although it has been shown that the change had no effect at all on the type of men henceforth returned to the consulate, that does not mean that the electors in the ten centuries had not a more potent voice than formerly in determining whether this or that individual should be returned. But even the belief that the voting strength of the higher orders was substantially increased in this way depends on the assumption that the Comitia had real freedom to choose. I doubt if this was often true. It might be that in a particular year the emperor cared little which of the qualified candidates was successful; thus in A.D. 7 Augustus presumably observed neutrality until the disorder compelled him to intervene and 'appoint' all the magistrates.50 But, whenever he made his wishes known,

the men he favoured were surely elected. Dio explicitly states that from A.D.

8 he posted up

the names of such candidates; 51 the Comitia then had no choice. It should not be assumed that he normally refrained from influencing the consular elections. It is true that Tiberius early in his reign preferred indirect methods for securing the election to the consulate of the men he favoured, in contrast to the open commendation of some candidates for the praetorship; these methods were none the less effective in Tacitus' opinion.52 But it is unlikely that Tiberius would have ventured on interventions, however discreet, in consular elections if he had not been able to call on the precept and example of Augustus, on which he was ever disposed to lean.53 It might even be suggested that Tiberius carried deference for constitutional forms farther than his predecessor and that Augustus might have more plainly intimated his wishes. Later in Tiberius' reign consulships went by the patronage of Sejanus,54 and after his fall Tiberius openly appointed the consuls.55 (References to ' appointment 'naturally do not imply that the due formalities were not observed.) Of course the choice of an emperor or his minister was limited by the men available'; policy dictated the elevation of many nobles, irrespective of their ability or subservience and thus not all the consuls were loyal adherents of the regime. New men, by contrast, can hardly have reached the highest honour without overt marks of imperial support. Jones' supposition that the Comitia were normally left free to choose in Augustus' reign seems decidedly optimistic. If that be so, it follows that the institution of the ten centuries enhanced the dignity of the

upper classes rather than their political power. This new dignity was linked by the Lex Valeria Cornelia with the glory of the imperial house. The upper classes exercised their new privileges under the names of Augustus' grandsons. The connection was symbolic. The revolution Augustus had consummated, though it had originated in social discontents, was political and not social in its fulfilment. Augustus could almost be classed as one of those ' boni ' who served 'the wishes, interests

48 Suet.

Aug. 3z,

3.

A minimum age of thirty was

 

49

Centuries:

Suet. Aug. 38,

3 ;

37;

prescribed for iudices by the Gracchan repetundae law

89 f.;

541

f.;

ILS

9483, etc.

Decuries,

Ovid, Tr. ii, Suet. Aug.

(FIRA I, no. 7, 13) and for local magistracies under

29,

3;

3Z,

3;

Ann. III,

 

30,

etc.

 

the Republic

(ibid.

no.

13, 89;

Cic.

Verr. ii,

2, 122-3),

but one of twenty-five for iudices in Cyrene by

 

50

Dio LV, cf.

5 1l.C.,

Suet. 34,

2.

Aug.

56,

I.

See n.

5.

 

Augustus (FIRA i, no. 68,

i6)

and also for local

5

Ann. I,

8i

(contrast 15).

 

magistracies

(ibid. no.

24,

LIV;

but in Pliny

Ep.

x,

53

ibid.

I,

7z,

3 ;

77,

3 ;

III,

68;

IV,

37,

3 ;

Agric.

79-80

xxv is a rash correction);

cf. the similar reduc-

 

I3,

2.

For Augustus'

control of consular elections,

tion under Augustus in the legal age for the quaestor-

cf. Ann. III,

75 ; Antistius

Labeo's alleged refusal of

 

See J. Stroux-L.

Wenger, Die

the consulship

in Dig.

I.

2.

2.

47, does not ring true.

ship (StR I,3 569-74). Augustus Inschrift ...

Abh. Bay. Akad. xxxiv,

i928,

 

54

Ann.

iv,

68,

2.

98 ff.;

J. Stroux, SB Bay. Akad.

i929,

I9 ff. (where

"Dio

LVIII,

20,

not contradicting Ann. I, 8i, which

his interpretation of BGU 6ii,

1-7,

must

be con-

refers to an earlier time.

 

sidered uncertain).

Hence we should posit an error

 

by Suetonius, or (better) amend xxx to xxv.

THE LEX VALERIA CORNELIA

79

and opinions ' of men of property and rank; 56 by conserving the social structure, he maintained the ' fundamenta otiosae dignitatis '-except in one point. He destroyed political liberty. In politics he had become, and intended to remain, the arbiter; and to Romans the most essential ingredient of politics was preferment to high office. Neither Augustus, when he adorned the Comitia in A.D. 5 with decorative accretions, nor Tiberius, when in A.D. I4 he transferred elections to a compliant Senate, can have meant to surrender any real control, ' neque alia re Romana quam si unus imperitet.' 57

56

Cic.

Sest. 97-8.

here (Phoenix xv, I96I, 97 ff.) has anticipated some of

57

I am grateful

to Mr.

A.

N.

Sherwin-White

for

discussion of an earlier draft of this paper.

R. Sealey

in an article which appeared too late for consideration

my arguments and conclusions ; I could not accept his main thesis on Sejanus' party.

APPENDIX

I

I give below the names of all the consuls I have placed in classes B and C in the tables on p. 75, but not the names of men in class A (Republican nobiles) except where any doubt may be felt about

their classification;

thus all consuls not named below belong unquestionably to this class. Evidence

will be found in the relevant articles of PIR and P-W; Republican antecedents can be simply verified in the Index of Broughton, MRR. See also A. Degrassi, Inscriptiones Italiae XIII, I, I37 ff., and the index to Syme's Roman Revolution.

F.

The

Fasti are complete

W. Adams, AJA LV, I95I,

for

all years except A.D.

239).

I3

(Degrassi,

Epigraphica VIII,

I946,

34-5

Period I (23-6

B.C.).

Ordinarii.-The twenty-three consuls in class A include (i) P. Quinctilius Varus (I3 B.C.), despite

Velleius II, I I7 (' inlustri magis quam nobili ortus familia '), since (a) he was of an old patrician family;

(b) he may have

been descended from a Quinctilius, cos. 453 B.C.;

I I

B.C.),

though his family is only known to have been praetorian;

and (2)

he seems

Q. Aelius Tubero to be a brother of

(cos.

Sex.

Aelius Q. f. L. n. Catus, cos. A.D. 4, the father or grandfather of Aelia Paetina; the cognomina Catus

and Paetina suggest a connection with Sex. Aelius Paetus Catus, cos. I98 B.C.,

and conceivably the

Tuberones were an offshoot of the noble Aelii Paeti; Q. Aelius Tubero, sister's son of Scipio

Aemilianus, is described as 'nobilissima

in familia

...

natus ' (Cic.