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senatus consultum


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Was the advice of the senate to the magistrates, and was expressed in the form of a resolution or decree. In republican times it had no legal force, but in practice it was always obeyed and, except when vetoed, it acquired the force of law when implemented. During the empire senatus consulta were at first implemented by a clause in the praetor's edict; after Hadrian certain senatus consulta had immediate legal force. The senatus consultum was drafted after the session of the senate in the presence of the presiding magistrate and some witnesses, usually including the proposer. If necessary, it was translated into Greek. Many senatus consulta are preserved in Greek translations.

A senatus consultum usually contained: (1) the name of the presiding magistrate; (2) a statement by the proposing magistrate, ending with the formula d(ē) e(ā) r(ē) i(ta) c(ensuērunt) (‘concerning the matter in hand they [i.e. the senators present] decreed as follows’); (3) the decree itself, often expressed in the form of advice to the magistrates: s(ī) e(īs) v(idēbitur) (‘if it shall seem right to them’); (4) the mark of approval, indicated by the letter C (censuerunt, ‘they decreed’).The texts of senatus consulta were deposited in the aerarium, and from an early date the plebeian aediles were allowed to keep copies in the temple of Ceres (see aventine). The documents were classified, but not sufficiently to prevent losses and falsifications.

(1) the name of the presiding magistrate; (2) a statement by the proposing magistrate, ending with the formula d(ē) e(ā) r(ē) i(ta) c(ensuērunt) (‘concerning the matter in hand they [i.e. the senators present] decreed as follows’); (3) the decree itself, often expressed in the form of advice to the magistrates: s(ī) e(īs) v(idēbitur) (‘if it shall seem right to them’); (4) the mark of approval, indicated by the letter C (censuerunt, ‘they decreed’).

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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