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Roman Law Glossary

Abrogatio: Repeal of a previously established law.

Agraria: A standard term applied to laws dealing with public land and/or its distribution (generally to plebes).

Ambitu: A standard term applied to laws dealing with bribery.

Civitate, Civilibus, Civium: Standard terms applied to laws dealing with citizenship.

Comitia: An assembly. The Curiata was made up of patrician families and was rarely used for legislative purposes. The Centuriata was made up of the entire citizen body divided by social class and voting power was weighted heavily towards the wealthy. The Plebis or Tributa constituted the plebeian citizen class and eventually became the most commonly used and most powerful legislative assembly.

Comitia (Lex): A law passed in the assembly, a plebiscite

Contra Auspicia: Literally, counter to the auspices or religious omens. This was a legal action applied in order to prevent the proposition of potentially incendiary proposals or legislation.

Conubium: Marriage.

Curule Magistrate: A magistrate with imperium (Aedile, Praetor, Consul) or the authority over the citizenship to enforce the law.

Decemviri Legibus Scribendis: Literally the commission of ten to write laws, they published the Duodecim Tabularum (twelve tables).

Decretum: A decree of the senate.

Edictum: An edict of a magistrate.

Equestri: Relating to the equestrian citizen class.

Exsilium: Exile.

Formulae: Roman formulary litigation procedure introduced in the 2nd century BC. Replaced the Legis Actiones system.

Frumentaria: A standard term applied to laws dealing with the grain dole.

Intercalando: A standard term applied to laws dealing with the interjection of the intercalary month or the adjustment of the calendar.

Imperium: The authority over all of the citizenship to enforce the law.

Iudiciara: A standard term applied to laws dealing with the courts or judges.

Iustitium: A cessation of judicial and all public business. Generally this was due to an emergency of some form, but this, like the contra auspicial, could be used as an attempt to block legislation.

Latinitas or Ius Latii: The Latin rights. Allowed privileges such as inter-marriage and the right to commerce with Romans to certain communities as a stepping stone to citizenship. It did now allow for the right to vote.

Leges: A collection of laws passed by the same magistrate(s) or a generic description of similar laws passed over time (ie Leges Agraria).

Legis Actiones: Archaic form of Roman trial litigation. Replaced by the Formulae system in the 2nd century BC.

Lex: A law. Generally laws were named for the magistrate who proposed it and what it pertained to (ie a law proposed by tribune T. Sempronius Gracchus related to the distribution of public land would be entitled Lex Sempronia Agraria).

Multis, Multarum: Related to fines.

Obnuntiatio: The right of curule magistrates or plebeian tribunes to announce a bad omen, thereby disbanding citizen assemblies or preventing attempted legislation.

Plebis: Relating to the plebian citizen class.

Plebiscitum/Plebiscite: A law passed at the Comitia Tributa (Tribal Assembly).

Privitas: A private citizen. In cases of law or constitutional circumstances this term is generally related to special circumstances where non magistrates were appointed to special commands.

Provinciis: Related to the provinces.

Provocatione: Laws related to provocatio, or the right of a citizen to appeal capital sentences (death or exile).

Publicando: Public property.

Repetundis or Repetundarum: In cases of law, it generally refers to the recovery of extorted money.

Revocando: Recall from exile.

Rogatio: A proposed bill or law. Any entry thusly labeled as Rogatio in the chronology chart should be understood as having not been passed into law.

Sacrata: A law dealing with something sacred, generally the sacrosanctitas (protection from physical harm) of the tribunes plebis.

Senatus, Senatum, Senatoribus: Relating to the senate or senators.

Senatus Consulta: An authorization of the Senate. A Sen. Cons. Ultimum granted authority to the magistrates or specially appointed individuals to use force in the defense of the city.

Sumptuaria: Laws with the intention of regulating social behavior especially as it relates to extravagance (dress, expenditures on entertainment, etc.).

Tabellaria: A standard term applied to laws associated with election and the tabulation of ballots.

Triumviris: A council of 3 men.

Vi or Vis: Violence.

Did you know?

Roman Law provided the following concept for its citizens."What the law says, is right." And from the law alone, we get the idea of right and wrong. What the law says to be done, that is right. What the law prohibits, that is wrong and that is the reason why it is right or wrong."

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Roman Law Glossary - Related Topic: Legal and Institutional Chronology of the Roman Republic


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