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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


II. From the Abolition of the Monarchy in Rome to the Union of Italy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

CHAPTER II - The Tribunate of the Plebs and the Decemvirate


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The tribune might in virtue of this his judicial office call to account any burgess, especially the consul in office, have him seized if he should not voluntarily submit, place him under arrest during investigation or allow him to find bail, and then sentence him to death or to a fine. For this purpose the two plebeian aediles appointed at the same time were attached to the tribunes as their servants and assistants, primarily to effect arrest, on which account the same inviolable character was assured to them also by the collective oath of the plebeians.

Moreover the aediles themselves had judicial powers like the tribunes, but only for the minor causes that might be settled by fines. If an appeal was lodged against the decision of tribune or aedile, it was addressed not to the whole body of the burgesses, with which the officials of the plebs were not entitled at all to transact business, but to the whole body of the plebeians, which in this case met by curies and finally decided by majority of votes.

This procedure certainly savoured of violence rather than of justice, especially when it was adopted against a non-plebeian, as must in fact have been ordinarily the case. It was not to be reconciled either with the letter or the spirit of the constitution that a patrician should be called to account by authorities who presided not over the body of burgesses, but over an association formed within it, and that he should be compelled to appeal, not to the burgesses, but to this very association. This was originally without question Lynch justice; but the self-help was doubtless carried into effect from early times in form of law, and was after the legal recognition of the tribunate of the plebs regarded as lawfully admissible.

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