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p700 Leges Valeriae et Horatiae

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp700‑701 of

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

VALERIAE ET HORATIAE LEGES were proposed by the consuls L. Valerius and M. Horatius B.C. 449 (Liv. III.55). One of these Leges which was passed at the comitia centuriata was "ut quod tributim plebes jussisset populum p701teneret," the import of which is not easy to distinguish from the later Publilia Lex (Liv. VIII.12), "ut plebiscita omnes Quirites tenerent" [Plebiscitum; Publilia Lex.]

A second Lex was intended to secure the principle of the Lex Valeria De Provocatione; "that if any person appointed (creasset) a magistratus without appeal, it was lawful to kill such person." Creasset has here a technical meaning (Liv. III.55, IV.13; Cic. de Rep. II.31; "ne qui magistratus sine provocatione crearetur"). This Lex was enacted again B.C. 300 (Liv. X.9) on the proposal of M. Valerius, consul; and the sanction of the Lex was more carefully expressed (diligentius sanctam). This, says Livy, was the third time that this Lex was enacted since the expulsion of the kings: "the cause of its being enacted several times I take to be no other than this, that the power of a few was greater than the liberty of the plebs". This is a plain and intelligible account of the matter, and may be safely accepted. The Great Charter of England was ratified more than once. A Lex Duilia (Liv. III.55) which immediately followed these Valeriae, again enacted, among other things, severe penalties against him "qui magistratum sine provocatione creasset." The plebs thought they were never safe enough against the nobility, and they had good grounds to be suspicious.

A third Lex of these consuls was to protect the persons of the tribuni plebis, aediles, judices, decemviri. Any person who violated their personality was sacer, "devoted," and his familia, liberi liberaeque, were to be sold. It is not known who are meant by judices and decemviri in this passage. The context shows that they were persons of the plebeian class or in the plebeian interest. Niebuhr's conjecture that the judices may be the Centumviri is ingenious and probable. All conjectures about the decemviri are vague.


Thayer's Note:

These Leges Valeriae et Horatiae should not be confused with the Leges Valeriae, although they are related.


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