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Bill Thayer

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 p373  Ovile

Article on p373 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Ovile (Ovilia): an enclosed area in the campus Martius, where the comitia centuriata met to vote. It derived its name from its likeness to a sheepfold (Serv. ad Ecl. i.33), and ovile may have been the original designation for this enclosure (Iuv. VI.529 and Schol.: ovile quia ibi Romulus et pastores adsueverunt pecora pascere — a fanciful explanation), but it was also called Saepta (saepio, enclose); cf. Cic. pro Mil. 41; Ov. Fast. I.53. After the building of the republic was replaced by the Saepta Iulia (q.v.) the name ovile continued to be used (Liv. XXVI.22; Lucan II.197; Auson. Grat. act. iii.13). The ovile was an inaugurated templum (Cic. pro Rab. 11) and probably occupied the same area as the later Saepta Iulia, on the west side of the via Lata, but extended considerably farther to the west, a square with sides of about 1000 Roman feet (HJ 479‑480; BC 1893, 120‑122; RE I. A. 1724).

This enclosed space was divided by barriers of some sort into aisles and sections, corresponding in number to the curiae, tribus or centuriae of the different assemblies, and through these the people passed to deposit their votes on the pons or raised platform at the side (Mommsen, Staatsrecht III.399‑402).a

Thayer's Note:

a For the pons suffragiorum and the Roman voting process in general, see this passage of Smith's Dictionary and the further references given in my note there.

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