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The Alternative Augustan Age$
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Josiah Osgood, Kit Morrell, and Kathryn Welch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190901400

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190901400.001.0001

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Rebuilding Romulus’ Senate

Rebuilding Romulus’ Senate

The Lectio Senatus of 18 BCE

Chapter:
(p.46) 4 Rebuilding Romulus’ Senate
Source:
The Alternative Augustan Age
Author(s):

Andrew Pettinger

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190901400.003.0004

In 18 BCE the ancient procedure for revising Senate membership, the lectio senatus, was radically changed. Thirty specially chosen senators were to nominate five individuals, with one of the five chosen by lot to become a senator; these thirty would in turn nominate five individuals. In this way, a Senate of perhaps 850 was to be reduced to its ancient size of 300. But a Senate of 300 never emerged, with 600 eventually chosen by Augustus himself amid acrimony and threats. Moreover, Augustus, trumped by Antistius Labeo’s legal auctoritas, was unable to exclude his rival Lepidus from the new Senate. By examining the lectio process and seeking to recover the legal minds behind it, this chapter shows that in 18 BCE Augustus’ hold of the res publica was not absolute, and that others, who did not know the future, had something meaningful to say about the shape of their political life.

Keywords:   Senate, Augustus, lectio senatus, sortition, Marcus Antistius Labeo

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