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p845 Ordo

Unsigned article on p845 of

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

ORDO is applied to any body of men, who form a distinct class in the community, either by possessing distinct privileges, pursuing certain trades or professions, or in any other way. Thus Cicero (Verr. II.6) speaks of the "Ordo aratorum, sive pecuariorum, sive mercatorum." In the same way the whole body of sacerdotes at Rome is spoken of as an ordo (Festus, s.v. Ordo sacerdotum), and separate ecclesiastical corporations are called by the same title (Ordo collegii nostri, Orelli, Inscr. n. 2417; Ordo Seviralium, Id. n. 2229). The libertini and scribae formed separate ordines (Suet. de Grammat. 18; Cic. Verr. I.47, III.79). The Senate and the Equites are also spoken of respectively as the Ordo Senatorius and Ordo Equestris [Senatus; Equites]; but this name is never applied to the Plebes. Accordingly, we find the expression "Uterque Ordo" used without any further explanation to designate the Senatorial and Equestrian ordines (Suet. Aug. 15; Vell. Pat. II.100). The Senatorial Ordo, as the highest, is sometimes distinguished as "amplissimus Ordo" (Plin. Ep. X.3; Suet.  Otho, 8, Vesp. 2).

The senate in colonies and municipia was called Ordo Decurionum (Dig. 50 tit. 2 s2 § 7; Orelli, Inscr. n. 1167; Colonia, p318A), and sometimes simply Ordo (Tac. Hist. II.52; Dig. 50 tit. 2 s2 § 3; Orelli, n. 3734), Ordo amplissimus (Cic. pro Cael. 2), or Ordo splendidissimus (Orelli, n. 1180, 1181).

The term Ordo is also applied to a company or troop of soldiers, and is used as equivalent to Centuria: thus centurions are sometimes called "qui ordines duxerunt" (Cic. Phil. I.8; Caes. Bell. Civ. I.13), and the first centuries in a legion "primi ordines" (Caes. Bell. Gall. V.28, 44). Even the centurions of the first centuries are occasionally called "Primi Ordines" (Caes. Bell. Gall. V.30, VI.7; Liv. XXX.4; Gronov. ad loc.) [Comp. Exercitus, p501B.]

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Page updated: 21 Oct 13