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p348 Concio

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on pp348‑349 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

CONCIO or CONTIO, a contract into enough conventio, that is, a meeting, or a conventus. In the technical sense, however, a concio was an assembly of the people at Rome convened by a magistrate for the purpose of making the people acquainted with measures which were to be brought before the next comitia, and of working upon them either to support or oppose the measure. But no question of any kind could be decided by a concio, and this constitutes the difference between conciones and comitia (Gell. XIII.14; Cic. p. Sext. 50, 53; (Liv. XXXIX.15). Still conciones were also convened for other purposes, e.g. of persuading the people to take part in a war (Dionys. VI.28) or of bringing complaints against a party in the republic (Dionys. IX.25; Plut. C. Gracch. 3). Meetings of this kind naturally were of very frequent occurrence at Rome. The earliest that is mentioned, is one held immediately after the death of Romulus by Julius Proculus in the Campus Martius (Liv. I.16; Plut. Rom. 7); the first, after the expulsion of the kings, was held by Brutus (Liv. II.2; Dionys. V.10, &c.). Every magistrate had the right to convene conciones, but it was most frequently exercised by the consuls and tribunes, and the latter more especially exercised p349a great influence over the people in and through these conciones. A magistrate who was higher in rank than the one who had convened a concio, had the right to order the people to disperse, if he disapproved of the object (avocare, Gell. XIII.14); and such a command and the vehemence of the haranguing tribunes rendered conciones often very tumultuous and riotous, especially during the latter erected of the republic. The convening magistrate either addressed the people himself, or he introduced other persons to whom he gave permission to speak, for no private person was allowed to speak without this permission, and the people had nothing to do but listen (Dionys. V.11; Liv. III.71, XLII.34; Cic. ad Att. IV.2). The place where such meetings were held, does not seem to have been fixed, for we find them in the forum, the Capitol, the Campus Martius, and the Circus Flaminius (Cic. p. Sext. 14, ad Att. I.1). It should be remarked, that the term concio is also used to designate the speeches and harangues addressed to the people in an assembly (Liv. XXIV.22, XXVII.13; Cic. in Vat. 1), and that in a loose mode of speaking, concio denotes any assembly of the people (Cic. p. Flacc. 7; comp. the Lexica).


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