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p414 Diribitores

Unsigned article on pp414‑415 of

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

DIRIBITORES, are said by most modern writers to have been the persons who gave to the citizens the tabella with which they voted in the comitia; but Wunder has most distinctly proved, in the preface to his Codex Erfurtensisº (pp. cxxvi‑clviii), that it was the office of the diribitores to divide the votes when taken out of the cistae, so as to determine which had the majority.a He remarks that the etymology of diribere would lead us to assign to it the meaning of "separation" or "division," as it is compounded of dis and habere p415in the same manner as dirimere is of dis and emere; the h disappears as in praebere and debere, which come respectively from prae and habere, and de and habere. In several passages the word cannot have any other signification than that given by Wunder (Cic. Pro Plancio, 20, ad Qu. Fratr. III.4 §1; Varro, De Re Rust. III.2 §1, III.5 §18).

When Cicero says (in Pison. 15), "vos rogatores, vos diribitores, vos custodes tabellarum," we may presume that he mentions these officers in the order in which they discharged their duties in the comitia. It was the office of the rogatores to collect the tabellae which each century gave, as they used, before the ballot was introduced, to ask (rogare) each century for its votes, and report them to the magistrate who presided over the comitia. The diribitores, as has been already remarked, divided the votes when taken out of the cistae, and handed them over to the custodes, who checked them off by points marked on a tablet. [Compare Cista; Situla.]

Thayer's Note:

a Surely the people who dealt out the blank ballots were also those who collected them once filled in; at any rate, for an extended and abased meaning of the word in Late Antiquity, see Ammian, XVIII.5.6 and the editor's note. For the Diribitorium, the place where the votes were counted, see the article in Platner & Ashby.

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Page updated: 18 Oct 07