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p1091 Tabellariae Leges

Unsigned article on p1091 of

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

TABELLARIAE LEGES, the laws by which the ballot was introduced in voting in the comitia. As to the ancient mode of voting at Rome, see Suffragium. There were four enactments known by the name of Tabellariae Leges, which are enumerated by Cicero (de Leg. III.16). They are mentioned below according to the order of time in which they were passed.

1. Gabinia Lex, proposed by the tribune Gabinius B.C. 139, introduced the ballot in the election of magistrates (Cic. l.c.); whence Cicero (Agr. II.2) calls the tabella "vindex tacitae libertatis."

2. Cassia Lex, proposed by the tribune L. Cassius Longus B.C. 137, introduced the ballot in the "Judicium Populi," with the exception of cases of Perduellio. The "Judicium Populi" undoubtedly applies to cases tried in the comitia by the whole body of the people [Judex, p649], although Ernest (Index Leg.) wishes to give a different interpretation to the words. This law was supported by Scipio Africanus the younger, for which he was censured by the aristocratical party (Cic. de Leg. III.16, Brut. 25, 27, pro Sextio, 48; Ascon. in Cornel. p78, ed. Orelli).

3. Papiria Lex, proposed by the tribune C. Papirius Carbo B.C. 131, introduced the ballot in the enactment and repeal of laws (Cic. de Leg. III.16).

4. Caelia Lex, proposed by C. Caelius Caldus B.C. 107, introduced the ballot in cases of Perduellio, which had been excepted in the Cassian law (Cic. l.c.).

There was also a law brought forward by Marius B.C. 119, which was intended to secure freedom and order in voting (Cic. de Leg. III.17; Plut. Mar. 4).


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