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p927 Plebiscitum

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp927‑928 of

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

PLEBISCI′TUM, a name properly applied to a law passed at the Comitia Tributa on the rogation of a Tribune. According to Laelius Felix (Gellius, XV.27, and the note in the edition of Gronovius), he who had authority to convene not the universus populus, but only a part, could hold p928a Concilium, but not Comitia; and as the Tribunes could not summon the Patricii nor refer any matter to them, what was voted upon the proposal of the tribunes was not a Lex, but a Scitum. But in course of time Plebiscita obtained the force of Leges, properly so called, and accordingly they are sometimes included in the term Leges [Lex.]

The progress of change as to this matter appears from the following passages. A Lex Valeria, passed in the comitia centuriata B.C. 449 (Liv.III.55, 67) enacted that the Populus should be bound (teneretur) by that which the Plebs voted tributim; and the same thing is expressed in other words thus: "Scita plebis injuncta patribus." A Lex Publilia, 339 B.C. (Liv. VIII.12), was passed to the effect that Plebiscita should bind all the populus (universus populus) as Gaius (I.3) expresses it; or, "ut eo jure, quod plebes statuisset, omnes Quirites tenerentur," according to Laelius Felix, as quoted by Gellius; and this latter is also the expression of Pliny (Hist. Nat. XVI.10).º The Lex Hortensia is referred to as the Lex which put Plebiscita as to their binding force exactly on the same footing as Leges. The effect of these Leges is discussed in Lex under the several heads of Valeriae, Publiliae, Hortensia.


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