Talk:Senate of the Roman Republic

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Good article Senate of the Roman Republic has been listed as one of the Social sciences and society good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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Organization[edit]

The history of the senate needs to be laid out into sections:

==Early Republic==
==Late Republic==
==Early Empire==
==Middle Empire==
==Late Empire==
==Byzantine== (?)

I can't do it justice -- my knowledge is rusty and I'm away from my Roman Senate primary material. But the point is the Senate went from an iron grip on the Republic, to an old boy's club, to a rubber stamp, to an irrelevant body of old men in Rome, to an even less relevant body of old men in Constantinople.

Reid 07:09, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)

When was the Roman Senate revived in the Middle Ages? Wetman 01:37, 20 Feb 2004 (UTC)

"Revived"? Never heard of that. In the Middle Ages the Pope ruled Rome, he wouldn't have wanted any help. :-) Stan 04:10, 20 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Colas de Rienzi. I know there was some kind of symbolic Roman Senate in the 1300s. I better check... Wetman 04:14, 20 Feb 2004 (UTC)

What do you mean by "old boy's club?" My Latin teacher refered to it as that.

Here's this, from http://www.factmonster.com/:

"Papal authority was challenged in the 12th cent. by the communal movement. A commune was set up (1144–55), led by Arnold of Brescia, but it was subdued by the intervention of Emperor Frederick I. Finally, a republic under papal patronage was established, headed by an elected senator. However, civil strife continued between popular and aristocratic factions and between Guelphs and Ghibellines. The commune made war to subdue neighboring cities, for it pretended to rule over the Papal States, particularly the duchy of Rome, which included Latium and parts of Tuscany. Innocent III controlled the government of the city, but it regained its autonomy after the accession of Emperor Frederick II. Later in the 13th cent. foreign senators began to be chosen; among them were Brancaleone degli Andalò (1252–58) and Charles I of Naples."

This needs looking into... Wetman 04:26, 20 Feb 2004 (UTC)

This article needs breaking up into subsections, at the moment it's one long chunk of prose and it's badly presented.

Style of dress[edit]

Are modern scholars sure that the purple stripe was on the right shoulder and not down the front of the tunic? I thought there was debate over that. Certainly the popular conception is down the front of the tunic.Binabik80 05:44, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Pedarii[edit]

In what way were the pedarii "like parliamentary backbenchers"? It's true that neither pedarii nor backbenchers are currently out of magisterial/ministerial office, but the key fact about pedarii is that they had never held office. And in context, the article seems to be implying that pedarii are similar to backbenchers because they had no speaking rights, which is a bizarre claim to make about backbenchers. Furthermore, the primary purpose of a backbencher is to vote the way his party wants him to vote, while of course the pedarius, like everyone else in the political party-less Roman Senate, voted his conscience.

If no one responds in two days I'll remove the reference.Binabik80 05:50, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Having seen no objections, I've deleted the clause.Binabik80 02:39, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I think I would have to disagree that they were non-office holding Senators. From my understanding, the Senate consisted of ONLY former and current office holding magistrates, at elast until the times of Sulla and his heirs (when appointments became common). Anyway, I have transcribed this entry from the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Roman Law:

Senatores Pedarii. The term is not quite clear; its origin was obscure to ancient writers, as related by Gellius (Noct. Att. 3.18). Senatores Pedarii were either senators who had held a lower, non-curule magistracy or ex-magistrates who had not yet been enrolled into the list of senators by the censors. The term pedarii was perhaps connected somehow with the senate's way of voting by a division of the voters (pedibus in sententiam ire, see DISCESSIO). The senatores pedarii could participate only in this form of voting and were excluded from taking part in discussion. - O'Brien-Moore, RE Suppl. 6, 680; M. A. De Dominicis, Il ius sententiae senato rom., 1932.

So, as we can see, one way or another, they were former magistrates. But, as today, there were lesser civil service types in Rome. These were the vigintisexviri and such. Managers of sewage, street-sweeping, etc etc. But nevertheless magistrates. Of course, I think these were not what brought men into the Senate, but were considered stepping-stones. But surely there were enough quaestors and quaestores-elect to create a good deal of pedarii. After all, due to the nature of the republican beast, only so many would ever reach higher office. There were simply not enough offices to go around.

Of course, what this article does not mention is the possibility that these pedarii were in fact these lesser magistrates who were not even quaestorial. And thus were relegated to standing on the sides, so to speak.Cjcaesar

Last Mention[edit]

Can anyone tell me the source for the last known act(s) of the Roman Senate? The preceding unsigned comment was added by Cjcaesar (talk • contribs) 19:58, 26 January 2006 (UTC).

  • Senators (of Rome) are referenced quite late, even after 476 (I can't give you a reference sorry). There should be something about this in the article. Also there were synkletai of Constantinople much later; I'm not sure how much this title could be considered comparable though. m.e. (talk) 16:35, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Membership[edit]

How did one become a senator? By appointment? (By whom?) By election? (By which assembly?) What were the requirements for membership? Age? Wealth? Class? Presumably one had at least to be a Roman citizen (at least until the appointments made in the time of Julius Caesar). None of this seems to be mentioned under "Membership".


Under the Republic it was the first and most important duty of the censors to choose the senators. This was called the lectio senatus, when the whole membership was listed in a strict order of seniority according to office-holding seniority and social status (patricians outranking plebeians of the same ex officio seniority). This was the order in which the presiding magistrates who summoned a meeting of the Senate were required to ask for opinions on every matter. The first man on the list was called princeps senatus (= First Lord of the Senate). Sulla appears to have done away with the lectio and ordained the quaestorship as the qualification for automatic entry into the Senate. But the evidence is controversial. He certainly increased the number of annual quaestors to 20, and it is also certain that the censorship itself lapsed for a decade after Sulla's dictatorship (most of its functions being taken over by the consuls of 80 and 75 BC), and that when it resumed (70-69 BC) the lectio no longer determined the speaking order; a new custom had arisen (probably first established by Sulla in 81 or 80) according to which the senior consul chose the order of the consulars for the year.
--Appietas 06:40, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Member for life ?[edit]

According to the section Membership, "A Senator's membership was for his lifetime" But since the most Republican offices have only one-year term, how can an office-holder remains senator after he left the office ?

--Siyac 08:56, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Magistrate and senator were different offices. As I understand it, the Senate was originally made up of the heads of the families whose wealth put them into the senatorial class of the the census. It wasn't exactly for life - a senator could be struck off the roll by the censors for falling below the property qualification, or for some kind of moral disgrace. Cato the Elder is supposed to have removed a senator on the grounds that he kissed his wife in public. As time went on new rules were introduced linking a seat in the senate with the holding of magistracies - I think under Sulla anyone who had reached the rank of praetor became a senator for life - but originally the two offices were separate. --Nicknack009 (talk) 10:15, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Notable practices[edit]

The quorum required for formal enactment of senatorial resolutions (senatus consulta) is very well known to have been 100 or more, when the Senate numbered 300 members. I don't have all the evidence with me but the key and earliest text is the Letter of the consuls (of 186 BC) to the Teurani On Bacchanales (CIL i² 581), where the formula not less than 100 (C[entum]) senators appears three times. I'm not sure that the evidence is so clear after Sulla doubled the size of the Senate to 600, but logically the quorum should have remained the same or else been doubled to 200. --Appietas 06:06, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

When was the current building built?[edit]

I'm certain the building now standing in the Roman Forum dates from the reign of Diocletian, but the article claims that its from the first century. Can anyone clarify this? I know this information is in Amanda Claridge's Archaeological Guide to Rome, but I won't have access to a research library in the near future. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.100.44.11 (talk) 14:33, August 28, 2007 (UTC)

I have moved and reorganized this page[edit]

This page appears to have fallen into neglect. I moved this page from Roman Senate to Senate of the Roman Republic. Since the article was mostly about the Senate of the Roman Republic (with almost nothing about the imperial senate), I moved this so that I could integrate it into my series on the Constitution of the Roman Republic. RomanHistorian (talk) 01:59, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I for one object to this and think it should be moved back. Either that, or the person who did the move needs to do a page on the senate of the Empire. If he is unable or unwilling to do so then I'm going to move it back. Kuralyov (talk) 04:02, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
Other than the paragraph under "Decline of the Senate (1st century BC – 6th century AD)" (which I have moved to my entry on the History of the Constitution of the Roman Republic here), there was almost no information on this entry regarding the senate of the Roman Empire before I made my changes. The information that it did include was historical, and said nothing about the powers or structure of the senate after the fall of the republic. This entry has been neglected for some time. The only substantive differences between the entry before my changes and the entry after, is that now it has more information and more citations.RomanHistorian (talk) 03:10, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Well it's no good just objecting to moving a page. You need to think up ideas why it shouldn't; and there is no good reason if everything on the Roman Senate page is subsumed by better material on the Senate of the Roman Republic page.
On the other hand, RomanHistorian, Kuralyov is correct that you need a page which would cover the Senate in Imperial times. The RS page should have a subsection which describes in summary what the SotRR page says. The page as a whole ought to describe in brief how it changed, and what it did post Augustus. I think that the RS page can be substantially shortened. You can have 4 parts: one for an overview of what it did, one for what its historical origins and time in the Kingdom, one during the republic, and one for its history was after the Republics fall. It's hard work, but that's what you've got to do, and you're good at it (unlike people who just object to stuff!). Wikidea 17:47, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Update on the Roman constitution series[edit]

I just wanted to mention my plans for my series on the Roman constitution. There was simply too much information to put on my original page, Constitution of the Roman Republic. There is also a significant amount of information available on the constitutions of the Roman kingdom and empire. Therefore, I am going to give this series somewhat of a matrix structure. Roman Constitution will be the main page of the series. Underneath this page will be Constitution of the Roman Kingdom, Constitution of the Roman Republic and Constitution of the Roman Empire. It surprised me, but apparently there actually was a constitution during the time of the kingdom and then again during the time of the empire.

Underneath the constitution pages, I will have pages on the Senate of the Roman Kingdom, Senate of the Roman Republic, Senate of the Roman Empire, Legislative Assemblies of the Roman Kingdom, Legislative Assemblies of the Roman Republic, Legislative Assemblies of the Roman Empire, Executive Magistrates of the Roman Kingdom, Executive Magistrates of the Roman Republic, and Executive Magistrates of the Roman Empire.

When this is done, I will create a new page called Roman Executive Magistrates, and then populate this page, along with Roman senate and Roman assemblies. All three pages will be condensed versions of their respective sub-pages. Right now, Roman senate and Roman assemblies consist almost exclusively of facts about the republic. Neither page has many citations. They also use a discussion format, and my revisions to these pages will use more of a discussion and analysis format. I am going to be more cautious with my revisions of these pages, because I assume that people will want to restore the original versions for whatever reason.

My hope is to use a discussion and analysis format for the entire series. My overall goal will be to produce a series that doesn't just discuss the facts associated with these offices and institutions. I want the series to tie everything together, and illustrate how everything operated under the overall constitutional system. Right now, the entries on these individual topics (such as roman consul and praetor) simply list facts without providing any deeper analysis or context. It is difficult to truly understand these topics unless you know how they all worked together under the constitutional system.

Also, I am not surprised that there hasn't been more work done on Wikipedia on this topic. It seems as though there are very few books on this subject, and many of those books are quite old. This is unfortunate because this subject is actually quite relevant to modern politics. Many modern governments are designed around a similar constitutional superstructure as was the Roman government. The government strengthened the entire Roman Empire.RomanHistorian (talk) 07:22, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Changes to the page[edit]

I have redone this entry, and integrated it into my series on the Roman Constitution. Before my change, 95% of this entry was about the senate of the Roman Republic. There was nothing on the senate of the Roman Kingdom, and hardly anything on the senate of the Roman Empire.RomanHistorian (talk) 07:53, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Removal of 'conscript fathers' section[edit]

I removed the conscript fathers section. It was highly repetitive and lacking in context. Everything mentioned in it that was accurate is already mentioned elsewhere (under descriptions about Roman senators, since Roman senators and 'conscript fathers' are one in the same).RomanHistorian (talk) 04:07, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

As long as we are including this much Latin, we could also mention patres conscripti as a formal term, and even the ancient dispute about its precise meaning under the kings. But it would be even more useful to remind the reader how little we are sure of about the Roman kingdom. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:08, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Despite the translations of classicists, it did not mean "Conscript Fathers", a nonsense since the "Fathers" part were the original patricians. It was a formula meaning "Fathers" (patricians, and especially the clan chiefs) and "Conscripts" (all the others added). See Pompeius Festus Festus p.304 (ed.Lindsay):
"Who were called the Fathers and who the Conscripts in the Curia? At the time when the Kings had been driven from the City, the consul P.Valerius, owing to a lack of patricians, chose 164 men from the plebs to add to the number of Senators in order to fill up the ranks of the Three Hundred Senators, and he gave two distinct titles.". . Appietas (talk) 22:44, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

RELIGION OF THE FIFTH CENTURY SENATE[edit]

I read the following sentence with some surprise. "The dominant religion of the senate in the years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 was Chalcedon Christianity. This was different from both the dominant religion of the Ostrogoths (Arianism) and the official religion of the papacy and Constantinople (Nicene Christianity)."

Could this be expanded and a reference given? If it is correct. The adjective coming from Chalcedon is of course 'Chalcedonian'. Since the Catholic Church has always so far as I know recognized the Council of Chalcedon and most fifth century Emperors did so too, with some obvious exceptions such as Anastasius, the claim is likely to be incorrect. This section of the article generally seems to fall short of professional historical standards. We know the names of quite a lot of late fifth century and early sixth century senators for example. The fourth century section would benefit from more detail on the social and economic base of the senate and could perhaps consider whether senatorial aristocrats were to be found in all provinces or simply Rome and Gaul, where there is abundant evidence. There should also be some consideration of links between the Roman Senate and other late Roman municipal councils across the empire. Despite the unique prominence of the local bishop, the Roman Senate seems to have fared much better than its smaller counterparts in (say) Anatolia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Barchard (talkcontribs) 17:03, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

One question dealing with Lictors[edit]

Perhaps this is just my curiosity. Lictors followed the magistrates who held imperium wherever they went, including the Forum, his house, temples and the baths, but... were lictors allowed to be beside the magistrates inside the meeting place of the Senate? -- Pichote (talk) 14:28, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

The lictors followed the magistrates everywhere. They were not bodyguards as much as they were symbols of magisterial power. I will just add, however, that no magistrate had imperium inside the city. Any magistrate with imperium had to surrender that imperium before entering the city. Whereas the rod of the fasces (which each lictor held) represented state power (specificaly, the power of coercitio or Coercion, and thus the power to punish), the blade represented imperium (thus, the power to execute). Therefore, any magistrate without imperium at any given instant (such as a Consul while inside the city) would have their lictors remove the axes from their fasces. Since Dictators were the only magistrates who did not have to surrender their imperium while inside the city, their lictors would not remove their axes (although the dictator could break with this tradition, as I believe Cincinnatus did). RomanHistorian (talk) 06:30, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
Perfectly explained, thanks. -- Pichote (talk) 12:17, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Senate of the Roman Republic/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.
  • References required, for:
    • "The senate was only allowed to meet in a building of religious significance, such as the Curia Hostilia."
    • "individuals usually sought to become a senator only if they were independently wealthy."
    • "Many of these laws were enacted in the last century of the republic, as public corruption began reaching unprecedented levels."
    • "It is known, for example, that the senator Cato the Younger once filibustered in an attempt to prevent the senate from granting Julius Caesar the military command of a province after his Consulship in 59 BC."
    • "were senators voted by taking a place on either side of the chamber."
  • En dashes for page ranges
  • "Further reading" should be alphabetical order by last name
  • Both navigation boxes at the bottom of the article should be collapsed (they should be collapsed when there is two or more)

Gary King (talk) 05:44, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

All of these items now have references. "Further reading" has been alphabetized, and the navigation boxes have been collapsed. RomanHistorian (talk) 06:51, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Where do you see page ranges? Besides that? Nergaal (talk) 01:36, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

In the references Gary King (talk) 01:55, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
Check again. Nergaal (talk) 02:25, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
Remove bold formatting per MOS:BOLD. Gary King (talk) 02:35, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
going at a snail's speed... Nergaal (talk) 03:06, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Are the Primary and Secondary sources in "Further reading" actually used as sources?
I believe that both primary sources are used as references in two of the references of this article.
  • Are the references in the lead really necessary? If the statements are mentioned again in the body – which they should be – then the references are unnecessary in the lead
My personal opinion: presence of refs in lead does not really matter, especially since since it is not a FAC. anyways, the 4-5 cases where I see them, they reference possibly debatable statements so I see no problem in keeping them there.
I went ahead and removed them. I don't think they are important enough to delay the GA nomination. RomanHistorian (talk) 06:58, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
  • The images are extremely big and the article would probably benefit if they were smaller; if someone wants to see them at full size to read them, then they can click on them to expand them. They currently squish the text between one of the images and the infobox, on my screen.
this depends on the res. I will let you decide what width they should be since on my screen they appear to be fine. Nergaal (talk) 06:34, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
I have corrected this issue. RomanHistorian (talk) 06:58, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Gary King (talk) 04:13, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

  • If "Primary sources" and "Secondary source material" are used as sources then shouldn't they be used in " Notes" or " References"? Also, they need a publisher and access date if they are used as references.
  • Republic is sometimes capitalized and sometimes not; I suggest always capitalizing it.
  • Perhaps "Senate" should always be capitalized too?
  • "U.S." → "US"

Gary King (talk) 21:46, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

I have made the changes for your last three points. As for the first, I believe that all references point to items in the "References" section. A couple of items (Cicero and Polybius in particular) are listed in both "References" and either "Primary Sources" or "Secondary Source material". RomanHistorian (talk) 00:49, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
I believe these have been solved now. Nergaal (talk) 01:57, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Gary King (talk) 03:41, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

I have made these changes. RomanHistorian (talk) 04:06, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
  • The following requires references:
    • "Senators who had held magisterial office always spoke before those who had not, and if a Patrician (an individual of aristocratic ancestry) was of equal seniority as a Plebeian (an individual not of aristocratic ancestry), the Patrician would always speak first."
    • "which are bills, usually enacted by a single vote, that contain a large volume of often unrelated material. Today, the United States Senate has similar rules, which are called the "Byrd Rules"."
    • "Quorums were required for votes to..." paragraph
    • "Any motion that had the support of the Senate but was vetoed was recorded..." paragraph

Gary King (talk) 13:57, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

I have added the references. RomanHistorian (talk) 22:25, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

tried to fix some more MOS's... Nergaal (talk) 06:43, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

bumpiest bump! Nergaal (talk) 18:26, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Passing Gary King (talk) 18:30, 26 September 2008 (UTC)


This is not a good article and should remain under review, at least until RomanHistorian can be persuaded to stop reversing out the changes I have made en bloc. My additions and reorganization hardly bring it up to GA status either, but at least it's a start, and would be nice if others contributed as well. The problem with self styled RomanHistorian is that he isn't one, and while enthusiastic enough his knowledge includes serious gaps and misinformation. So for example he ridicules the statement that all the senior magistrates had powers of veto, and uses it as a prime justification for reversing my changes. It is just a basic fact of the Roman constitution (i. e. the formal civic powers or potestates belonging to the senior magistracies). Similarly he persists in reinserting his misinformation that the Senate appointed dictators. The Senate had no powers to appoint any magistracies whatsoever, and all dictators had to be nominated by the consuls at some place within the ager Romanus. Again a fundamental fact of the constitution which ought to be known (very quickly) by any introductory level student.
He persists in returning to his bad organization of the article. I've grouped vetoes and obstructionist tactics under the same header. Makes sense no? No, according to RomanHistorian. I had to add the whole section on the secrecy of Senatorial meetings because he had them open to the public at all times, another gross error. Worst of all he cited as a reason for reversing my changes the lack of references. This is not error but an outright lie. All of my changes have been accompanied by a lot more references, and usually primary sources references (sometimes even translated quotations of primary evidence), than his own efforts as any fair minded reader can see who bothers to compare the two versions. In fact the article needs a lot more changes with citations but I have refrained from doing so until I can spare the time to collect the appropriate substantiating refs. Again, changes and additions by others with genuine knowledge of the topic would be appreciated. Unfortunately for all his enthusiasm RomanHistorian does not have this knowledge, nor apparently any acquaintance with primary evidence. He should have the decency to contribute according to his level and not interfere with what he doesn't know.. Appietas (talk) 00:03, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

I don't know what the current situation is, but if you feel that the article no longer meets the good article criteria, then feel free to bring it to WP:GAR for a reassessment. Gary King (talk) 00:44, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

I had assumed from the title of this page that it was currently under review for GA status. If so that's fine. Having taken time and effort to improve what I consider serious errors and organizational arrangement in the article, I don't like having everything I did reversed for reasons that are false, and serious errors reinstated. There's quite a serious issue in that RomanHistorian has stooped to ridiculing corrections of his errors. I. e. he doesn't know and refuses to check when he is in error even over basics, and for reasons best known to himself assumes that his limited knowledge is spot-on factual. I've not encountered this attitude before and find it bizarre. It certainly condemns the article to an embarrassing level if he is permitted to have editorial control by dint of persistence and enthusiasm. I wish I had the time to keep up, but don't. A good solution would be to get Roman experts on the ancient projects list involved. There seem to be some academics or at least post grad. students there. Appietas (talk) 03:16, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Okay, well I'm going to butt out of whatever the issue is right now. I reviewed the article for its good article status, passed it, but have not kept myself up-to-date with what has been going on with it. I recommend continuing this discussion on the article's talk page rather than on this good article subpage, which not as many people are watching. Gary King (talk) 03:27, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Edits[edit]

I am reverting this article back to how it was before the edits by Appietas. It was a Good Article before. If Appietas' changes stand, it will lose that status. Appietas has demonstrated a poor understanding of Wikipedia policies and rules. A "Good Article" is one that satisfies the Good article criteria, not one where everyone necessarily agrees with the facts. I did remove his inaccurate edits, mostly because they were uncited (in addition to being wrong). As for his point about the veto, see below. As for the matter of the dictators, the senate authorized the Consuls to appoint a dictator (and could specify who the Consul was to appoint). Giving Consuls the power to appoint dictators whenever they wished would have been, to say the least, dangerous. Appietas may have more sources, but I have more citations and reliable sources. Given how narrow this topic is, there aren't many good books covering it. I used a couple of recent scholarly books to cite from. Appietas uses many dubious sources, strange websites, and contemporary authors who did not know the difference between historical fact and legend. Appietas needs to understand the difference between truth and fact on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia of facts, not "truth". If he thinks I am wrong about something, then change what I wrote and use a substantive source (something Appietas has not yet found apparently). Deleting most of the article because he doesn't like it, adding whatever 'facts' he thinks sounds right, and providing a few dubious sources, is not on par with Wikipedia standards.

My citations are in line with Wikipedia's policy on Verifiability in that

In general, the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers.

My citations are also in line with Wikipedia's preference for more recent publications, as well as its preference for Secondary sources.

Wikipedia articles should rely mainly on published reliable secondary sources and, to a lesser extent, on tertiary sources. All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source, rather than original analysis of the primary-source material by Wikipedia editors.

Primary sources (such as Livy or Cicero) are more prone to (Pro-Roman, Pro-aristocratic) bias, and without the advantage of 2,000 years of hindsight and scrutiny of the original works.

Ignoring the fact that Appietas' edits contain numerous factual errors, and ignoring the fact that his edits are very hard to read, lengthy, and thus make it less likely that non-experts would want to (or be able to) read this article, there are some obvious points that make this article less than that of GA status with his edits. First, the grammar is poor and difficult to understand. I see numerous run-on sentences, as well as strange and somewhat confusing terms I have never seen before such as "Caesar monarch" or "all military personnel were considered man-slayers" or "Gang of Three to overturn the Republic" (the 'Triumvirate' was not meant to overturn the republic, even if it did ultimately contribute to it). One example of a run on sentence (not to mention strange wording) comes from the beginning of the article:

The Senate gradually exerted more and more authority and in the 2nd century BC its authority reached a crisis and cross-roads point when by consensus of the ruling aristocracy the office of the Dictator was put to sleep and replaced by normal Senatorial decrees for external affairs and wars and by the enormously controversial Senatus consultum de re publica defendenda to meet internal crises and seditions, known better in modern discussions as senatus consultum ultimum ("Final Decree of the Senate"), which was a slang term in antiquity.

This violates the first criteria for GA, that it be well written. Second, and most importantly, there are few citations, which itself violates the second criteria for GA, that it be verifiable. The section on "The Secrecy of Senatorial Meetings", for example, contains what looks like about 7 paragraphs (difficult to tell due to his disordered grouping style) and only 3 citations. All three appear to come from contemporary (Appietas uses the term "primary") sources, which means that even these may be more legendary than historical. If Appietas disagrees with the facts I cited from reliable sources, then he should find reliable sources to contradict them. The fact that he doesn't like the facts I cite is irrelevant. The GA-version of this article contained numerous citations. Almost every paragraph had several citations. As for Appietas' interest in "primary sources", this is a dubious methodology for a Roman history article. It is similar to citing the Iliad for an article regarding Greek history. Many of these "primary sources" were based at least partly on legend (as most of Livy's first 10 books are, for example). The sources I used, such as Lintott, are recent sources, which explain things in line with the modern scholarly consensus, filtering out the legend.

In addition, I see scope issues, where Appietas is mentioning facts that belong on other articles, which itself makes this article unnecessarily long and difficult to read. One example is the paragraph he devotes to Triumphs, which should go in the article on Triumphs, not this article. Another is a mention of an incident between a mother and son in the 4th century (BC??). Another example is his discussion of the patronage system regarding the structure of Roman society. Maybe that has some indirect relationship to the senate, but this series isn't about Roman society, but rather Roman government. This goes to something else. Appietas treats this article almost like his personal blog. Some of what he adds was already on the article, only now with his changes has no citation (or a dubious one). Some of what he adds that does have reliable cites could easily be added to the article as it was before he came in and messed it up. One good example would be the meeting places of the senate, which might go well in the article as it was before, only not in the distracting and messy listing format that he uses.

I see numerous factual errors in Appietas' edits.

  • Consuls and Praetors could not enter the city without surrendering their imperium. The article suggests this is false, and cites no source, dubious or otherwise, to back it up. The same paragraph also says that the Curiate Assembly had to vote on the surrendering of imperium. This probably comes from the mistaken belief that the law that the Curiate Assembly passed granting a magistrate imperium had any legal basis. It did not, and was simply a symbolic custom from the time of the kings. The legal imperium powers were voted on by the Century Assembly. This is irrelevant though because, as I said, there is no citation for this claim.
  • I don't know how Appietas knows that when a general "eulogize[d] themselves" that "All of which was accepted with a grain of salt and a good deal of good humour and enjoyment." Again, no citation, dubious or otherwise.
  • I don't believe the Roman senate had senatorial committees, but again, no citation. Actually I think I could cite a statement in one of the books I use that said the senate did not have committees, but I am not going to cite a negative. I also don't know what the (uncited) paragraph on senatorial committees has to do with senate secrecy.
  • One edit says that senators could not be forced to attend senate meetings. Not only could they be forced to do so, but I mentioned and cited this fact in the prior version of the article, which was apparently deleted by Appietas. This particular edit of Appietas, as usual, has no citation.
  • Only Tribunes could veto the senate. Magistrates could not veto the senate. Lintott in particular mentions this. But Tribunes could not veto a law after it was passed, only before it was passed. The basis for the Tribuncian veto was their ability to interpose the sacrosanctity of their person to force someone to obey. Resistance against this was a capital offense. Thus they could use this power to stop the senate from voting on a bill, but once it passed (or if the Tribune left the room and the senate tried again) he couldn't do anything. The magistrate's veto derived from their legal rank, and thus they could only veto those whom they outranked. Since the senate had no magisterial rank, it could not be vetoed by any magistrate. RomanHistorian (talk) 23:13, 3 January 2009 (UTC)



Self-styled Roman Historian here exhibits clearly why he's not competent to write a good article on a complex historical topic. He may well be able to fuss up a style which accords with Wiki GA guidelines, but that's something other than a reliable and accurate historical article. I'd ask others with some expertise on Roman history to get involved to help prevent his many clangers remaining in place. I'll keep rewriting and reversing when I can spare the time.
His distinction between truth and fact is comical, and he has no competence whatsoever to adjudicate between ancient sources which contain legendary elements and those which don't. As he himself confesses clearly enough, his knowledge is based solely on very limited secondary sources and English translations of one small fraction of Polybius, and what looks like a hasty and still immature understanding of their contents.
The question of the appointment of Dictators is as good a case in point as any. His version I corrected stated quite simply that the Senate appointed Dictators. Now he seems to be reversing that a little and recognizes that the Consuls appointed the Dictators. But asserts they didn't really but had to be authorized by the Senate. No they didn't have to be at all. This is seriously misleading, and underlines the mentioned incompetence. The Senate had no right of appointment or authorization, it advised the magistrates and all powers of governance actually resided in the popular Assemblies and such executive powers as were delegated to the magistracies by election.

It's certainly important to understand how influential the Senate became, and make some attempt to explain why (he doesn't and cannot, I've just begun elements of this explanation), but the argument that the Senate's "authorization" of a Consul to appoint a Dictator equates with a senatorial appointment is entirely bogus, and could be applied to any other aspect of government where the Senate's advice amounted to its de facto control. In all cases it is important to be clear where the actual powers lay, however much influenced by de facto social and political customs, of which the Senate's increasing influence and authority was one of the most important. Again the Senate had no right whatsoever to name the Dictator in advance, and never did. This was the Consul's right and responsibility. He may consult the Senate over this, or not. When both consuls were dead or absent from the ager Romanus and it was decided that there was a need for a Dictator, a constitutional crisis arose. Which was resolved, as always, by reference to the sovereign powers of the voting Assemblies of the (male) population.
In all cases my comments and additions are based on reading the ancient sources in combination with expert modern texts. Despite RH's ignorant statement to the contrary there are many good modern texts covering the topic. His world view is that what he doesn't know doesn't exist, and anyone attempting to correct him is an enemy. I probably should and could add further citations, but in every case I have included many more of these than RH. As it is I see my additions as an ongoing work which can always be improved upon and I'm quite content for others to get involved and do so. But RH doesn't do this. He reverts and removes en bloc, and restores his own worst inaccuracies and mistakes.

I accept there are problems with my wording which could always be improved, but ditto RH does not seek to improve, but removes and restores his own verbiage in the apparent belief he is some sort of Hemingway. Which he isn't. One of the main problems with expression is that I've tried to retain as much of the existing article as I found it as possible. This often results in poor expression or repetition which should be correct. Yesterday I spent some time improving the opening section in this respect. Now all removed en bloc in accordance with RH's megalomaniac method.
A few final comments in response to issues raised by RH.
  • In general the secondary sources he cites are very good ones, or at least well reviewed and written by respected authors. There is a serious problem and gap between what they say and what RH reports them as saying.
  • The "Triumvirate" is a modern term coined by extreme pro-Caesarian apologists to make the entirely private compact between the three princes look respectable and pseudo-official. Gang of Three or more is an increasingly used modern term which recognizes the basic fact that the compact was formed to suppress the effective operation of the institutions of the free state or Republic and to divert its powers and resources to their personal and mutually allied ends. Today the continued use of Triumvirate is a sure sign of an autodidact or Caesarian apologist.
  • Per information given RH's version has far less references than my own, and none from ancient sources of which he is entirely ignorant, yet has the arrogance and foolishness to pass sweeping comment and judgment about them because the valuable ancient sources I cite do not agree with his incomplete and erroneous understanding from secondary source readings. This is the attitude of a witch-doctor rather than an historian.
  • The listing formats I occasionally use are not messy and distracting. They provide simplicity and clarity. It is RH's individual mind that is messy and distracted.
  • the comments on imperium are entirely erroneous and show an ignorance of the workings of the constitution. No imperia were attached to magistrates in the election by comitia, only civic potestates.
  • The arrogance and foolishness of his quote of a single sentence and request for a reference is beyond measure, and entirely at odds with the amount of his drivel goes unreferenced because it cannot be. Read Livy books 21-45 on the reception of returning generals from their provinces.
  • The senatorial committees are attested by the most important and immediately contemporary sources we have on Roman history, the contemporary inscriptions. Also occasionally but rarely in Livy's detailed history in bks.21-45. Only an ignorant autodidact could make this a point of objection.
  • Senators might be compelled to attend the Senate in the sense that a magistrate could abuse or coerce any citizen irregularly or illegally on the basis of their great powers. But in the sense RH gave that the senators were somehow legally obliged to attend and were threatened with some form of due punishment when they did not is a nonsense which had to be removed. All in all RH takes too much semi- and mis-information from the period of the overthrow of the Republic when civic traditions were suppressed and violence ruled as if the norm. He also extracts out of context in such a way as to show his analytical incompetence or dishonesty.
  • In the matter of the powers of veto over senatorial acta by the magistrates, this is a simple constitutional fact inherent in the civic potestates of the magistrates, and attested by a 1st century BC senator and nobleman writing expressly from a constitutional point of view, Marcus Varro.

RH's objections by anaylsis are embarassing. He fails to grasp that magistrates presided over and directed the meetings of the Senate, and that everything done under their competence, including the passage of senatorial acts and resolutions could be nullified by the intercession of any other magistrate(s) with equal or greater civic powers. I cite the source, he doesn't like it, he removes and cites Lintott contra. Lintott is a great historian so I doubt that he would slip up over this issue. More likely RH has misunderstood Lintott according to his custom. But I guess I can't quote the ipsa verba of the source which would be inadmissible foreign language content by the wiki rules. So are we reduced to accepting any twerp who misquotes modern texts as ultimate arbiter of serious historical fact?

One final point. RH's reply here is too long, and he's repeated the entire tract below. This is perhaps a result of a need for grouped comment because he doesn't ever improve he simply slashes out my edits en bloc. It is also probably a deliberate tactic to prevent clear and easy to follow objection and reply, so that a minimum of members will wish to follow this dispute. Henceforth I'll endeavour to address individual matters in dispute under separate headers on this Talk page, which seems to be the practice elsewhere on wiki..Appietas (talk) 01:21, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Edits[edit]

Self-styled Roman Historian here exhibits clearly why he's not competent to write a good article on a complex historical topic. He may well be able to fuss up a style which accords with Wiki GA guidelines, but that's something other than a reliable and accurate historical article. I'd ask others with some expertise on Roman history to get involved to help prevent his many clangers remaining in place. I'll keep rewriting and reversing when I can spare the time.
His distinction between truth and fact is comical, and he has no competence whatsoever to adjudicate between ancient sources which contain legendary elements and those which don't. As he himself confesses clearly enough, his knowledge is based solely on very limited secondary sources and English translations of one small fraction of Polybius, and what looks like a hasty and still immature understanding of their contents.
The question of the appointment of Dictators is as good a case in point as any. His version I corrected stated quite simply that the Senate appointed Dictators. Now he seems to be reversing that a little and recognizes that the Consuls appointed the Dictators. But asserts they didn't really but had to be authorized by the Senate. No they didn't have to be at all. This is seriously misleading, and underlines the mentioned incompetence. The Senate had no right of appointment or authorization, it advised the magistrates and all powers of governance actually resided in the popular Assemblies and such executive powers as were delegated to the magistracies by election.

It's certainly important to understand how influential the Senate became, and make some attempt to explain why (he doesn't and cannot, I've just begun elements of this explanation), but the argument that the Senate's "authorization" of a Consul to appoint a Dictator equates with a senatorial appointment is entirely bogus, and could be applied to any other aspect of government where the Senate's advice amounted to its de facto control. In all cases it is important to be clear where the actual powers lay, however much influenced by de facto social and political customs, of which the Senate's increasing influence and authority was one of the most important. Again the Senate had no right whatsoever to name the Dictator in advance, and never did. This was the Consul's right and responsibility. He may consult the Senate over this, or not. When both consuls were dead or absent from the ager Romanus and it was decided that there was a need for a Dictator, a constitutional crisis arose. Which was resolved, as always, by reference to the sovereign powers of the voting Assemblies of the (male) population.
In all cases my comments and additions are based on reading the ancient sources in combination with expert modern texts. Despite RH's ignorant statement to the contrary there are many good modern texts covering the topic. His world view is that what he doesn't know doesn't exist, and anyone attempting to correct him is an enemy. I probably should and could add further citations, but in every case I have included many more of these than RH. As it is I see my additions as an ongoing work which can always be improved upon and I'm quite content for others to get involved and do so. But RH doesn't do this. He reverts and removes en bloc, and restores his own worst inaccuracies and mistakes.

I accept there are problems with my wording which could always be improved, but ditto RH does not seek to improve, but removes and restores his own verbiage in the apparent belief he is some sort of Hemingway. Which he isn't. One of the main problems with expression is that I've tried to retain as much of the existing article as I found it as possible. This often results in poor expression or repetition which should be correct. Yesterday I spent some time improving the opening section in this respect. Now all removed en bloc in accordance with RH's megalomaniac method.
A few final comments in response to issues raised by RH.
  • In general the secondary sources he cites are very good ones, or at least well reviewed and written by respected authors. There is a serious problem and gap between what they say and what RH reports them as saying.
  • The "Triumvirate" is a modern term coined by extreme pro-Caesarian apologists to make the entirely private compact between the three princes look respectable and pseudo-official. Gang of Three or more is an increasingly used modern term which recognizes the basic fact that the compact was formed to suppress the effective operation of the institutions of the free state or Republic and to divert its powers and resources to their personal and mutually allied ends. Today the continued use of Triumvirate is a sure sign of an autodidact or Caesarian apologist.
  • Per information given RH's version has far less references than my own, and none from ancient sources of which he is entirely ignorant, yet has the arrogance and foolishness to pass sweeping comment and judgment about them because the valuable ancient sources I cite do not agree with his incomplete and erroneous understanding from secondary source readings. This is the attitude of a witch-doctor rather than an historian.
  • The listing formats I occasionally use are not messy and distracting. They provide simplicity and clarity. It is RH's individual mind that is messy and distracted.
  • the comments on imperium are entirely erroneous and show an ignorance of the workings of the constitution. No imperia were attached to magistrates in the election by comitia, only civic potestates.
  • The arrogance and foolishness of his quote of a single sentence and request for a reference is beyond measure, and entirely at odds with the amount of his drivel goes unreferenced because it cannot be. Read Livy books 21-45 on the reception of returning generals from their provinces.
  • The senatorial committees are attested by the most important and immediately contemporary sources we have on Roman history, the contemporary inscriptions. Also occasionally but rarely in Livy's detailed history in bks.21-45. Only an ignorant autodidact could make this a point of objection.
  • Senators might be compelled to attend the Senate in the sense that a magistrate could abuse or coerce any citizen irregularly or illegally on the basis of their great powers. But in the sense RH gave that the senators were somehow legally obliged to attend and were threatened with some form of due punishment when they did not is a nonsense which had to be removed. All in all RH takes too much semi- and mis-information from the period of the overthrow of the Republic when civic traditions were suppressed and violence ruled as if the norm. He also extracts out of context in such a way as to show his analytical incompetence or dishonesty.
  • In the matter of the powers of veto over senatorial acta by the magistrates, this is a simple constitutional fact inherent in the civic potestates of the magistrates, and attested by a 1st century BC senator and nobleman writing expressly from a constitutional point of view, Marcus Varro.

RH's objections by anaylsis are embarassing. He fails to grasp that magistrates presided over and directed the meetings of the Senate, and that everything done under their competence, including the passage of senatorial acts and resolutions could be nullified by the intercession of any other magistrate(s) with equal or greater civic powers. I cite the source, he doesn't like it, he removes and cites Lintott contra. Lintott is a great historian so I doubt that he would slip up over this issue. More likely RH has misunderstood Lintott according to his custom. But I guess I can't quote the ipsa verba of the source which would be inadmissible foreign language content by the wiki rules. So are we reduced to accepting any twerp who misquotes modern texts as ultimate arbiter of serious historical fact?

One final point. RH's reply here is too long, and he's repeated the entire tract below. This is perhaps a result of a need for grouped comment because he doesn't ever improve he simply slashes out my edits en bloc. It is also probably a deliberate tactic to prevent clear and easy to follow objection and reply, so that a minimum of members will wish to follow this dispute. Henceforth I'll endeavour to address individual matters in dispute under separate headers on this Talk page, which seems to be the practice elsewhere on wiki..Appietas (talk) 01:21, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

I am not going to keep wasting time responding to your disordered attacks. Repeating what I already did is pointless. I could try to have you blocked because of your constant personal attacks in calling me "ignorant", although it isn't worth my time. I will just say this: most of what you added was uncited. Most of what was cited came from dubious websites or primary sources, and as I mentioned above, Wikipedia places secondary sources like Lintott above primary sources like Polybius. Therefore, unless you can come up with some secondary source, such as a recent historical book, to back up your factual claims, you have no case. Per Wikipedia policy, anything by Lintott takes precedence over Polybius, and if there is a conflict, Lintott wins. Likewise, anything with a Lintott citation wins against anything with no citation. If you think you are right, you will need the secondary sources to back it up. Your own interpretation of Polybius is original research, and is not permitted on Wikipedia. You seem to have a habit of posting original research on other articles. The fact that you think I am "ignorant" or "not competent" or "immature" is irrelevant unless you can come up with these types of sources to prove that I am wrong. Your own indignation, or what you think is right, means nothing as to what should be on this article. To say nothing for the semi-vandalism you have caused to numerous other Roman history articles.RomanHistorian (talk) 08:31, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Vetoing senatorial decrees[edit]

I think most of this article has been cobbled together by the "Roman Historian" twerp. The discussion of the vetoing of senatorial decrees is ignorant of Roman history and the Republican constitution, which was based fundamentally on an annually changing government of executive officers (magistrates) invested with all civic and military powers in full legal and religiously sanctioned form. The authority of the Senate had a powerful social and political de facto basis, not legal. Its original and continuing role was as the community's supreme advisory council to the annual executive, and all its acta were always couched in language suitable to an advisory body, even when it became the de facto ruling council. It was the presiding magistrates whose powers were legally based (called potestates in the civic area, iura imperii in the military), and these powers of government included the ability to veto any senatorial decree with which they disagreed. This rarely happened because the presiding magistrate summoned and controlled meetings of the senate and directed which proposals should be voted upon in the first place (and when). However it did happen when two or more magistrates of equal rank presided (most commonly the consuls) and one of them disagreed enough with a decree to nullify it. The whole binding force of a senatorial decree passed without veto was based in the de facto situation that the current government (all the senior and most powerful annual magistrates, with all their coercive powers) agreed with it; so it better be obeyed - or else. The bogus claim that consular vetoes were not legally based ought to disqualify the author from writing articles like this one. He's evidently read something about the powers and sacrosanctity of the tribunate plebis in the forum and comitia and decided to introduce them "free form" into the Senate as well on the basis of a limited understanding. The tribunes were not even permitted to enter the senate house until they themselves became magistrates, under the terms of the lex Atinia of c.130 B.C.
Appietas (talk) 23:34, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

clarification requested regarding Tribunes[edit]

The section on the role of the tribunes may be slightly misleading; it implies (unintentionally, I think) that there was a single tribune who was the "chief representative" of the People. I'm pretty sure the editors of this section knew otherwise, but it may not be clear to someone coming to the article with less background on the subject. And because there were multiple tribunes, they could threaten each other or be played off each other. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:38, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Addendum: Although I lack Appietas's vehemence on this subject, I too was given pause about the physical presence of a/the tribune. I see, however, that it is sourced with Lintott. I'm wondering two things, then: is there perhaps some developmental issue here (practice changing over time), or a good-faith skewing of what Lintott said? Cynwolfe (talk) 15:57, 6 October 2009 (UTC)