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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 VIII - Law, Religion, Military System, Economic Condition, Nationality


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Page 8

These police-magistrates or aediles had, of course, a certain jurisdiction at the same time assigned to them. On the one hand, they were the ordinary civil judges for sales concluded in open market, for the cattle and slave markets in particular; and on the other hand, they ordinarily acted in processes of fines and amercements as judges of first instance or--which was in Roman law the same thing--as public prosecutors.

In consequence of this the administration of the laws imposing fines, and the equally indefinite and politically important right of fining in general, were vested mainly in them. Similar but subordinate functions, having especial reference to the poorer classes, pertained to the three night--or blood-masters (-tres viri nocturni- or -capitales-), first nominated in 465; they were entrusted with the duties of nocturnal police as regards fire and the public safety and with the superintendence of executions, with which a certain summary jurisdiction was very soon, perhaps even from the outset, associated.(11)

11. The view formerly adopted, that these -tres viri- belonged to the earliest period, is erroneous, for colleges of magistrates with odd numbers are foreign to the oldest state-arrangements (Chronol. p. 15, note 12). Probably the well-accredited account, that they were first nominated in 465 (Liv. Ep. 11), should simply be retained, and the otherwise suspicious inference of the falsifier Licinius Macer (in Liv. vii. 46), which makes mention of them before 450, should be simply rejected.

At first undoubtedly the -tres viri- were nominated by the superior magistrates, as was the case with most of the later -magistratus minores-; the Papirian -plebiscitum-, which transferred the nomination of them to the community (Festus, -v. sacramentum-, p. 344, Niall.), was at any rate not issued till after the institution of the office of -praetor peregrinus-, or at the earliest towards the middle of the sixth century, for it names the praetor -qui inter jus cives ius dicit-.

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