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T. I, Vol. 1
p1
Abacti Magistratus

Article by G. Humbert in

Daremberg & Saglio,
Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines,
Librairie Hachette et Cie., Paris, 1877‑1919.

translation and © William P. Thayer

Abacti Magistratus. The namea given to Roman magistrates who had been compelled to abdicate their sovereign authority or their right to command1 [imperium, abdicatio]. Cases of forced abdication were rather rare during the Roman republic; and from a strict legal standpoint, they are not removals from office. In general, it was the tribunes who used their inviolability, sometimes in accordance with the wish of the senate to achieve the abdication of a magistrate. If necessary, they threatened him with having his imperium abrogated by the sovereign people2 [abrogatio]. But if a consul or a praetor had been guilty of high treason [perduellio], according to ancient traditions of primitive public law, by that very act he lost his citizenship, and along with it all the prerogatives consequent upon it [sacratio capitis]. The praetor Lentulus, however, embroiled in the Catilinarian conspiracy, was forced to abdicate by a decree of the senate;3 to achieve that the consul's jus majoris imperii may have been used.4 Under the Empire, the ruler had the power to depose all magistrates.


The Author's Notes:

1 Paul Deacon s.v. Abacti, p23, ed. Müller.

2 Liv. XXVII.20; XXIX.19; Epit. LVII.

Thayer's Note: Although I've included the link here, I've been unable to find a reference to this practice in the Epitome of Livy.

3 Cic. Cat. III.6; Sall. Cat. 47; º Dion Cass. XXXVII.34.

4 Plut. Cic. 19.


Thayer's Note:

a Literally, "magistrates that have been led away". Beginning Latin students, beware: abacti magistratus, the title of the article in Daremberg, is a plural (magistratus is of the 4th declension); the singular is of course abactus magistratus as in the title of the browser window.


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Page updated: 19 Apr 08