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tribunes out of mischief. It was not enough that a senatus auctoritas should be required for any bill that they might bring forward. He determined that they should for the future be nonentities, men unlikely to disturb the state by their personal ascendency or ambition.
This end was secured by the ingenious law which provided that for the future the acceptance of the tribunate should be a complete bar to the holding of any subsequent magistracy in the state. The man who chose to be a tribune would put himself out of the running for any further political promotion. But in spite of this disability, it was conceivable that an ambitious man might become tribune with the intention not of sacrificing any external career, but of being perpetually re-elected to this office like Caius Gracchus of old. Sulla provided against this possibility by repealing the law of B.C. 129, which had made it legal for a man to hold the tribunate in successive years. He enacted that tribunes (and, as we shall see, other magistrates also) should not be chosen again without an interval of ten years between their two tenures of the post. Thus it was secured that for the future no man of more than fifth-rate ambition would become a tribune, since by putting in for a nomination he cut himself off from all hope of a brilliant and continuous public career.
But even the nobodies who would now hold the office were not to be left shackled only by their own nothingness. Sulla gave the Senate a power of fining the tribunes for any conduct that it might consider illegal or unbecoming, so that they had to live in awe of the governing body all their days. If they held too many noisy public meetings or dared to use their veto freely, they might find themselves saddled with a crushing penalty and reduced to poverty. The only power, in short, which remained untouched among the tribune's SULLA'S LEX ANNALIS
151 privileges, was that which he had been given when the office was first invented in the days of the early Republic, the jus auxilii ferendi, or right to intervene in behalf of the individual Roman citizen who might be suffering oppression.
Having dealt thus with the tribunes and the assembly, Sulla had next to take in hand the second power in the state which was dangerous to the sovereignty of the Senate-that of the individual magistrates. According to the theory of the Roman constitution, the consul or praetor, deriving his authority directly from the people because he had been elected by them in the Comitia Centuriata, had a very independent position in face of the Senate. That body, indeed, had in early days been nothing more than the band of advisers chosen by the consul, whose monitions he was equally free to accept or to reject. Even in these latter times a headstrong consul could practically disregard the voice of the Senate for his whole term of office : and if he was chosen for several years in succession, he could go on administering things much as he pleased, without being restrained to any appreciable extent. Such had been the position of Marius during the years of the Cimbric war, and of Cinna in B.C. 86–84.
Sulla therefore had to guard against the ambition of the magistrates of the future. His main weapon for this end was his les annalis : this law provided that all the officers of the state must be taken in strict rotationfirst the quaestorship, then the praetorship, and lastly the consulate. No one was to hold two offices in successive years; and the different limits of age prescribed for each secured that à considerable time must elapse between the tenure of them, otherwise, of course, an ambitious politician might, by taking aedileship, praetorship, and consulate in successive years, get a long spell of con
tinuous power, and make himself permanently disagreeable to the Senate. Much less was it to be permitted that any magistrate should hold the same office continuously : one of Sulla's ordinances was to the effect that there must be a gap of no less than ten years before a man could be re-elected to the same post. We have already come across this provision when dealing with the tribunate. There would, therefore, no longer be any place in the constitution for a Marius or a Cinna: but, in the true oligarchic style, each man would get his turn, and no man more than his turn. Every politician would be able to calculate with precision when he ought to hold each office, without the danger arising that some interloper of genius might sweep down and monopolise the series of praetorships or consulships that ought to have been divided among half-a-dozen minor persons.
It is curious to note that Sulla, with all his acuteness, overlooked one fact—that an ambitious proconsul in a province, at the head of an army, might be quite as troublesome to the Senate as an ambitious consul at Rome proposing laws to the people. Yet his own career ought to have taught him that a governor in Greece or Gaul with half-a-dozen faithful legions was the greatest danger of all. He did realise the peril, as it would seem, but merely provided against it by enacting that any imperator who crossed the frontier of his province at the head of an army, or refused to quit it within a month of his successor's arrival, should become ipso facto a public enemy. This, no doubt, clearly defined high treason, but it gave no sufficient security against it. The Republic was ultimately to be overthrown by an adventurer of this kind-by a provincial governor who dared to cross the Rubicon, whatever might be the legal consequence, because he was well aware that his legions would follow him against any enemy whom he might choose to indicate to SULLA AND THE MAGISTRATES 153 them. The real remedy against this peril would have been to separate the military from the civil command in each province—to have a governor who was merely an administrator, and a commander-in-chief who reported directly to the Senate. But this plan does not seem to have entered into the dictator's mind.
Sulla made a large increase in the number of the annual magistrates, raising the praetors to eight and the quaestors to twenty; but it is improbable that he intended, as some have supposed, to decrease the importance of each office by multiplying the numbers of those who held it. Incidentally this result might follow, but it is probable that the dictator was merely studying the convenience of the state, for till his day the administration was decidedly undermanned. Nor, again, does it seem to be true that he deliberately deprived the consuls of their military power for their year of office, by arranging that they should stay in Rome, where no legions would be at their disposal, and only utilise their imperium when they went out as proconsuls to their provinces in the succeeding year. The usage that the consul should remain at home, unless urgent military affairs drew him out of Italy, had already begun to grow up before Sulla’s time. And on the other hand there are a few cases after his death in which the consul left the city and assumed command of an army before his year had expired—e.g., this was certainly done by Cotta and Lucullus in the first year of the third Mithradatic war.
It would seem that Sulla made the quaestorship qualify its holder for a seat in the Senate, so that the governing body of the state was no longer filled up by the censors, but recruited automatically by the influx of young magistrates. In this way he abolished the necessity for a censorship, and made the Senate independent of the likes and dislikes of individual holders of that office.
Having thus muzzled the tribunes and curbed the consuls, Sulla had next to deal with the third enemy of the Senate, the Equestrian Order. It will be remembered that a disproportionate share of the massacre of the fourth proscription had fallen upon them—no less than 1600 had been put to death, so that the Democratic wing of the knighthood had been almost exterminated. At the other end of the line Sulla had promoted a very large number of Equites of Optimate views to a seat in the Senate, so that in legislating against the body he was not striking at his own friends. His object was to loosen the bonds which held together the rather heterogeneous classes which formed the Equestrian Order. These bonds were, firstly, their honorary privileges,—the augusticlave toga, the gold ring, and the rows of reserved seats in circus and theatre; secondly, their monopoly of the control of the Jury Courts, which they had used so unscrupulously as a weapon against the Senate and the provincial magistrates ; thirdly, their tax-farming privileges, especially that most profitable enactment of Caius Gracchus, which handed over the collecting of the tithes of Asia to the Societates.
Sulla, therefore, launched a whole series of measures against the Equestrian Order. One bill took away the entire control of the law-courts from ther, and restored it to the senators. Once more the latter became the only persons eligible as jurymen, as in the days before Caius Gracchus; they could look forward to being tried by a friendly instead of a hostile court if they incurred prosecution, and were able to audit their own accounts inside the family. The Equites suffered, but not the empire, for the previous state of things had been so bad that any change must have profited the