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‘going round’, is related to ambitiō, the pursuit of public office, but always, unlike ambitio, denotes reprehensible activity which has been declared illegal.

Specifically it refers to obtaining electoral support (see elections and voting, Roman ) through gifts, favours, or the promise of these. In 181 bc a law instituted a system of trials, which was developed in the late republic by further laws about ambitus and related matters—the use of bribery agents, associations, and expenditure on public dinners. These laws seem to have been a response to fiercer competition for office. However, Roman tradition did not discourage the cultivation of voters through material benefits. What established politicians disliked was the stealing of votes by new men (see novus homo) who outbid former patrons and the damage this caused to traditional claims of patronage. In the late republic the distortion of politics by massive expenditure became scandalous in spite of the new legislation. Under the Principate, in so far as genuine competition for office persisted, ambitus remained an issue both in Rome and, perhaps more importantly, in the municipalities (see municipium) throughout the empire. The fact that penalties do not seem to have been very severe suggests toleration of traditional behaviour. See also corruption.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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