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THE FIVE-DAY INTERREGNUM IN THE ROMAN REPUBLIC

  • Aleksandr Koptev (a1)
Extract

In the Roman Republic, in the case of the death of both consuls or a situation which made it impossible to proceed with the election of their successors, the Senate would decide to establish an interregnum. For that the senators chose several persons of patrician dignity from among their midst, and awarded them the auspices and the signs of magisterial power. The interreges had the task of preparing for the elections of new consuls and hold the electoral assembly. Although the interreges had been chosen by the Senate, rather than elected by the People, and were in power for a short period, they resembled extraordinary magistrates. The interrex was appointed by the senator with auspices; likewise, the magistrate was elected in accordance with the will of the gods (auspicato). As well as the auspices and the attributes of magisterial power (lictores, fasci, sella curulis), the interreges were provided with an ius agendi cum patribus et cum populo and could summon the People to the centuriate assembly. In an epistle to C. Trebatius Testa (Fam. 7.11.1), written in January 53 (all dates are b.c.), Cicero ironically said that, with such a large number of interreges, an experienced lawyer could use them to prepare a defence in civil suits by asking each interrex for two adjournments to obtain legal assistance. Interreges, albeit as part of a jest, were seen here as holders of some civil jurisdiction. Referring to Asconius' clarification that a certain M. Lepidus was appointed interrex because he had been elected as a curule magistrate, Theodor Mommsen concluded that every interrex was regarded as magistrate. In fact, Asconius means here that Lepidus held a curule magistracy in addition to his being interrex (or, more precisely, the magistracy entitled him to this role). Nevertheless, the notion of extraordinary magistrate has been frequently applied to the interrex by modern scholars. When interreges periodically appeared at the head of the Republic as holders of auspices and of the signs of the highest power for five days, the Romans became accustomed to thinking that the interreges received supremacy for that period.

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1 Cic. Leg. 3.9; Livу 4.7.7; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 11.62.

2 Varro, Ling. 6.93; Cic. Leg. 3.4.10; Gell. NA 14.7.4.

3 As the law courts were closed during an interregnum, no legal business could be transacted. For adjournments, see A.D.E. Lewis, ‘Advocatio: a postponement in iure’, in R. van der Bergh (ed.), Ex Iusta Causa Traditum: Essays in Honour of Eric H. Pool (Pretoria, 2005), 215–28.

4 Cf. Livy 41.8.6, 9.11.

5 Asc. Mil. p. 33 Clark: M. Lepidi interregis is enim magistratus curulis erat creatus.

6 See T. Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht (Leipzig, 18762), 1.10 n. 2, 626–7.

7 See Staveley, E.S., ‘The conduct of elections during an interregnum’, Historia 3 (1954), 193211 , at 196–7; A. Magdelain, ‘Auspicia ad patres redeunt’, in M. Renard, R. Schilling (edd.), Hommages à J. Bayet (Brussels, 1964), 427–73 = A. Magdelain, Ius imperium auctoritas. Études de droit romain (Rome, 1990), 341–83, at 352 n. 28.

8 See Herzog, E., ‘Das Institut des Interregnums im System der Staatsverfassung’, Philologus 34 (1876), 497515 , at 504, 513; Friezer, E., ‘Interregnum and patrum auctoritas’, Mnemosyne 12 (1959), 301–29, at 301; J. Jahn, Interregnum und Wahldiktatur (Kallmünz, 1970), 26–7; J. Bleicken, Zum Begriff der römischen Amtsgewahlt. Auspicium – potestas – imperium (Göttingen, 1981), 263; J. Linderski, ‘The auspices and the struggle of the orders’, in W. Eder (ed.), Staat und Staatlichkeit in der frühen römischen Republik (Stuttgart, 1990), 34–48, at 38.

9 See Mommsen (n. 6), 624–38; Bianchi, E., ‘L’ interregnum fuori di Roma: origine e funzione dell'istituto nelle città italiche’, Storia antica e antichità classiche 145 (2011), 5778 .

10 CIL II², 5 (1998), 287–324, at 306 (ch. cxxx.50). Cf. Fernández, J. González, ‘Los Municipia civium Romanorum y la Lex Irnitana’, Habis 17 (1986), 221–42, at 222–3.

11 M.H. Crawford, Roman Statutes (London, 1996), 1.398, 1.453; id., Arranging seating’, Athenaeum 81 (1997), 613–18, at 614. Cf. de Quiroga, P.M. López Barja, ‘Estructura compositiva de la “Lex Ursonensis”’, Studia Historica. Historia Antigua 15 (1997), 4761 , at 58–9; Jurewicz, A.R., ‘La lex Coloniae Genetivae Iuliae seu Ursonensis – rassegna della materia. Gli organi della colonia’, RIDA 54 (2007), 293–325, at 309 n. 127.

12 See Bianchi (n. 9), 61, 63, 66–7, 71.

13 For the Latin origin of the interregnum in Fondi and Formia, see also S. Mazzarino, Dalla monarchia allo stato repubblicano. Ricerche di storia romana arcaica (Milan, 1992²), 143.

14 E. Bianchi, Il rex sacrorum a Roma e nell'Italia antica (Milan, 2010), 35–87, esp. 64–70 for Fondi e Formia; other Italian pieces of evidence of reges sacrorum are presented for Boville, Lanuvio, Velletri, Tarquinia and Fiesole.

15 For the Roman origins of the institution, see Cic. Rep. 2.23: prudenter illi principes nouam et inauditam ceteris gentibus interregni ineundi rationem excogitauerunt (‘the nobles then prudently resolved to establish an interregnum, a new political form, almost unknown to other nations’, trans. F. Barham).

16 See S.D. Oakley, A Commentary on Livy Books VI-X (Oxford, 2005), 3.492–3.

17 Magdelain (n. 7), 341–4, 367–8; Guarino, A., ‘Il vuoto di potere nella “libera respublica”’, AAN 82 (1971), 288312  = A. Guarino, Le origini quiritarie: Raccolta di scritti romanistici (Naples, 1973), 129–51, at 145; Jahn (n. 8), 14–19; Linderski (n. 8), 38–9; Gusso, M., ‘Politica, istituzioni e interregnum nel 77 A.C.’, RCCM 43 (2001), 5166 , at 65. For a discussion, see T.C. Brennan, The Praetorship in the Roman Republic (Oxford, 2000), 16–17.

18 Sall. Hist. 1.77.22.

19 Twyman, B., ‘The Metelli, Pompeius and prosopography’, ANRW 1.1 (1972), 816–74, at 841–2.

20 For Pompey's office, see Hillman, T., ‘Pompeius’ imperium in the war with Lepidus’, Klio 80 (1998), 91110 , at 92–6, 102, 109–10; Girardet, K.M., ‘Imperia und prouinciae des Pompeius 82 bis 48 v. Chr.’, Chiron 31 (2001), 153209 , at 166 = K.M. Girardet, Rom auf dem Weg von der Republik zum Prinzipat (Bonn, 2007), 1–67, at 16; Vervaet, F.J., ‘Pompeius’ career from 79 to 70 b.c.e: constitutional, political and historical considerations’, Klio 91 (2009), 406–34, at 407–17.

21 Similarly, enumerating the recipients of the senatus consultum ultimum in 52, Asconius (Mil. p. 34 Clark) put in the first place the interrex, then the tribunes and after them the proconsul Pompey, who alone among them had military imperium and troops in command.

22 Livy 6.41.6: nos quoque ipsi sine suffragio populi auspicato interregem prodamus et priuatim auspicia habeamus, quae isti ne in magistratibus quidem habent.

23 Linderski (n. 8), 35–8.

24 For the difference between interreges and magistrates, see Coli, U., ‘Regnum’, SHDI 17 (1951), 54–9, 156–7; Staveley (n. 7), 194–7. R.M. Ogilvie, A Commentary on Livy, Books 1–5 (Oxford, 1965), 409; F. Wieacker, Römische Rechtsgeschichte. I: Einleitung, Quellenkunde, Frühzeit und Republik (Munich, 1988), 224.

25 Staveley (n. 7), 195.

26 Livy 1.17.6; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2.57.1-2.

27 Livy 31.50.7; App. B Civ. 1.29-30. Mommsen (n. 6), 598–9.

28 A. Heuss, Gedanken und Vermutungen zur frühen römischen Regierungsgewalt (Göttingen, 1982), 415–18.

29 See Cic. Rep. 2.16; Div. 1.107, 2.80; Vat. 20.7; Plut. Rom. 22. For the kingship and augury, see D. Sabbatuci, Il mito, il rito e la storia (Rome, 1978), 418–30; B. Liou-Gille, Une lecture ‘religieuse’ de Tite-Live I. Cultes, rites, croyances de la Rome antique (Paris, 1998), 20–4.

30 Dovere, E., ‘“Nec diuturno rege esset uno”. Rilievi sull'interregno d'età arcaica’, Latomus 68 (2009), 319–39 interprets the early interregnum as a means of preventing the usurpation of the kingship by any one of the patres, whom he assumes to be great landlords. Because the death of a king or consuls led to the termination of their power (potestas), not to the passing of it to the patres, the archaic interregnum was rather the religious custom of holding auspices by the patres during the king's five-day absence from Rome at the end of February, as Elmer Merrill and André Magdelain argued. See Merrill, E.T., ‘The Roman calendar and the regifugium ’, CPh 19 (1924), 2039 ; Magdelain, A., ‘Cinq jours épagomènes à Rome?’, REL 40 (1962), 201–27 = Magdelain (n. 7 [1990]), 279–303.

31 Livy 7.28.9-10, 10.5.14, 27.6.8; Plut. Marcel. 6.

32 Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 8.90.5, 9.14.1; Livy 6.1.8, 7.22.2, 8.3.5, 9.7.15, 10.11.10, 22.34.1.

33 Livy 5.17.4, 5.31.8, 6.5.6.

34 Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 3.1.1, 4.76.1; Livy 1.32.1, 3.55.1, 4.7.7-10, 5.1.1, 6.36.3; Cic. Att. 9.15.2, Leg. agr. 3.5, Rosc. 125; App. B Civ. 1.98; Plut. Sulla 33.1.

35 Livy 3.8.2; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 9.69.1.

36 Livy 4.7.7-10.

37 Friezer (n. 8), 306–7; Magdelain (n. 7), 361; Jahn (n. 8), 17–18.

38 However, K.J. Beloch, Römische Geschichte bis zum Beginn der punischen Kriege (Berlin, 1926), 28, following Livy, counts eight interreges here.

39 Livy 7.21.2, 8.17.5, 8.23.17.

40 Livy 4.43.8: cum pars maior insequentis anni per nouos tribunos plebi et aliquot interreges certaminibus extracta esset.

41 Livy 1.17.6: ab re quod nunc quoque tenet nomen interregnum appellatum.

42 Paul. Fest. p. 98 L: interregnum appellatur spatium temporis, quousque in loco regis mortui alius ordinetur.

43 See Volkmann, H., ‘Das römische Interregnum und die persische Anomia’, RhM 110 (1967), 7683 .

44 A. Magdelain, ‘De l’“austoritas partum” à l“auctoritas senatus”, in Magdelain (n. 7 [1990]), 385–403, at 388.

45 U. von Lübtow, Das römische Volk, sein Staat und sein Recht (Frankfurt, 1955), 180–92.

46 Asc. Mil. p. 37 Clark: non fuit autem moris ab eo qui primus interrex proditus erat comitia haberi (‘It was not, however, the custom that the electoral assembly should be summoned by the man who was first selected as interrex’, trans. J.P. Adams).

47 Mommsen (n. 6), 631–4. Also see O. Karlowa, Römische Rechtsgeschichte (Leipzig, 1885), 1.45.

48 See Magdelain (n. 7), 346–7, 350–1, 356–8.

49 Cf. Friezer (n. 8), 311, 316–17; Jahn (n. 8), 11–32, at 23–4.

50 Varro ap. Non. p. 131 L: de caelo auspicari ius nemini sit praeter magistratum; Fest. p. 446 L s.v. spectio: ut ipsi [sc. the magistrates] auspicio rem gererent.

51 For the decree of the Senate de patridis conuocandis qui interregem proderent (Asc. Mil. p. 30 Clark), see Magdelain (n. 7), 360; Herzog (n. 8), 502–3.

52 Vervaet, F.J., ‘The lex Valeria and Sulla's empowerment as dictator (82-79 b.c.e)’, CCG 15 (2004), 3784 , at 78–9.

53 Linderski (n. 8), 35–8.

54 Merrill (n. 30), 20–39; Magdelain (n. 30), 201–27 = Magdelain (n. 7 [1990]), 279–303.

55 Cf. Guarino (n. 17), 134–5.

56 Jahn (n. 8), 23–4.

57 Plut. Quaest. Rom. 84; Gell. NA 3.2.7–10; Dig. 2.12.8.

58 See the quotations from Varro's Human Antiquities, Book 16, fr. 2, cited by Aulus Gellius (NA 3.2.2-10) and Macrobius (Sat. 1.3.2-7): post mediam noctem auspicantur et post exortum solem agunt.

59 Cic. Dom. 38: auspiciaque populi Romani, si magistratus patricii creati non sint, intereant necesse est, cum interrex nullus sit.

60 Cic. Brut. 1.5.4: dum enim unus erit patricius magistratus, auspicia ad patres redire non possunt (‘for as long as there is a single patrician magistrate left the auspices cannot revert to the Senate’). The notion ‘patrician magistrate’ was usually applied to consuls, praetors and censors; Cicero means a consul here.

61 Cic. Leg. 3.9: ast quando consules magisterue populi nec erunt, auspicia patrum sunto, ollique ec se produnto qui comitiatu creare consules rite possit.

62 Livy 1.17.5-6: decem imperitabant: unus cum insignibus imperii et lictoribus erat.

63 See T.P. Wiseman, ‘The prehistory of Roman historiography’, in J. Marincola (ed.), A Companion to Greek and Roman Historiography (Malden, MA, 2002), 1.67-75, at 70.

64 See A. Kaplan, Dictatorship and ‘Ultimate’ Decrees in the Early Roman Republic 501-202 b.c. (New York, 1977), 169–73.

65 For a more detailed account of the interregna of the third century, see Jahn (n. 8), 109–11, 115–16, 119–24, 135–6.

66 CIL XI 1828 (p. 1274) = I2 p. 193 n. XIII = ILS 56 = Inscr. It. XIII 3 no. 80.

67 Livy 22.33.9-22.35.7; T.R.S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (New York, 1951–86), 1.250.

68 Vervaet (n. 52), 78. Cf. Livy 5.31.7–9, 6.5.6, 7.22.2, 8.3.5, 9.7.15, 10.11.10 for a few examples of the procedure in which the first interrex appoints a successor (prodere interregem); after this procedure this second interrex or one of his successors actually organizes the election of high magistrates.

69 For the minimal number of two interreges, see also Magdelain (n. 7), 351; Heuss (n. 28), 424.

70 Livy 5.31.7; 6.5.6: auspicia renouare; R. Bunse, Das römische Oberamt in der frühen Republik und das Problem der “Konsulartribunen” (Trier, 1998), 143–4.

71 Cic. QFr. 2.2.1; Nat. D. 2.4.11; Div. 1.33.36, 2.62.74; Livy 29.38.7.

72 Broughton (n. 67), 1.442; Jahn (n. 8), 150–9.

73 Cf. Friezer (n. 8), 320; Jahn (n. 8), 29.

74 Cic. Div. 1.28, 1.77, and cf. Livy 22.3.11; Val. Max. 1.6.6.

75 Cic. Att. 9.15.2; Leg. agr. 3.5; Rosc. 125; App. B Civ. 1.98; Plut. Sulla 33.

76 For the interregnum of 82 b.c., see M. Castello, ‘Intorno alla legitimità della lex Valeria de Sulla dictature’, Studi in onore de Pietro de Francisci (Milan, 1956), 3.39-60; Jahn (n. 8), 161–5; F. Hinnard, ‘De la dictature à la tyrannie. Réflexions sur la dictature de Sylla’, in F. Hinnard (ed.), Dictatures, Actes de la table ronde, Paris, 27–28 février (Paris, 1988), 87–92 = F. Hinnard, Rome, la dernière République. Recueil d'articles (Bordeaux, 2011), 39–48; F. Hurlet, La dictature de Sylla: monarchie ou magistrature republicaine? (Brussels / Rome, 1993), 29–50; Vervaet (n. 52), 37–84; F. Hinnard, Syllana varia. Aux sources de la première guerre civile (Paris, 2008), 44–9.

77 App. B Civ. 1.98; Plut. Sulla 33.1.

78 On the same idea, see Magdelain (n. 7), 351; Hurlet (n. 76), 45–7. Vervaet believes that, since Flaccus is mentioned by Appian as the only interrex in 82, the centuriate assembly was convened by him, despite the fact that it was not customary for the first interrex to convene the Comitia. See Vervaet (n. 52), 77–8.

79 Bellen, H., ‘Sullas Brief an den Interrex L. Valerius Flaccus. Zur Genese der sullanischen Dictatur’, Historia 24 (1975), 555–69.

80 App. B Civ. 1.98: [ὁ Σύλλας] αὐτὸς μέν που τῆς πόλεως ὑπεξῆλθε, τῇ δὲ βουλῇ προσέταξεν ἑλέσθαι τὸν καλούμενον μεταξὺ βασιλέα. ἡ μὲν δὴ Οὐαλέριον Φλάκκον εἵλετο, ἐλπίσασα ὑπάτων προτεθήσεσθαι χειροτονίαν (‘Sulla went out of the city for a time and ordered the Senate to choose an interrex. They chose Valerius Flaccus, expecting that he would soon hold the consular comitia’, trans. H. White).

81 See App. B Civ. 1.100.

82 For the sources and a discussion for these interregna, see Jahn (n. 8), 161–81, 188–90.

83 See Sall. Hist. 1.77.22; Cass. Dio 39.31.2.

84 E.S. Gruen, ‘The consular elections for 53 b.c.’, in J. Bibauw (ed.), Hommages à Marcel Renard (Brussels, 1969), 2.311-21.

85 See Cass. Dio 40.46.3.

86 Cass. Dio 40.45.5-46.1.

87 Broughton (n. 67), 2.229; Bunse (n. 70), 142.

88 Cass. Dio 40.45.3: ἔστι μὲν γὰρ ὅτε καὶ οἱ ὄρνιθες τὰς ἀρχαιρεσίας ἐπέσχον, οὐ βουλόμενοι τοῖς μεσοβασιλεῦσι γενέσθαι.

89 See Asc. Mil. p. 31 Clark. Dio Cassius (40.49.5) records that the senators assembled at once on the Palatine and they voted that an interrex should be chosen.

90 Asc. Mil. p. 43 Clark: post biduum medium quam Clodius occisus erat interrex primus proditus est M. Aemilius Lepidus.

91 Asc. Mil. p. 43 Clark: domum eius per omnes interregni dies—fuerunt autem ex more quinque—obsederunt (‘they besieged his town house the whole term of his interregnumfive days, according to custom’, trans. J.P. Adams).

92 Jahn (n. 8), 14, 178; E.S. Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic (Berkeley, 1974), 103; R.G. Lewis, Asconius: Commentaries on Speeches of Cicero (Oxford, 2007), 248.

93 Staveley (n. 7), 196–7; Magdelain (n. 7), 429–38.

94 On the name of M. Lepidus, see Sumner, G.V., ‘Manius or Mamercus’, JRS 54 (1964), 41–8; B.A. Marshall, A Historical Commentary on Asconius (Columbia, MO, 1985), 64.

95 See Cristofori, A., ‘Note prosopografiche su personaggi di età tardorepubblicana’, ZPE 90 (1992), 137–46, at 139–40.

96 Ruebel, J.S., ‘The trial of Milo in 52 b.c.: a chronological study’, TAPhA 109 (1979), 231–49, at 234 n. 7.

97 Asc. Mil. pp. 33–4 Clark: fiebant interea alii ex aliis interreges, quia comitia consularia propter eosdem candidatorum tumultus et easdem manus armatas haberi non poterant (trans. J.P. Adams).

98 The role of an urban praetor for the appointment of a dictator and of consuls that was discussed in 49 (Cic. Att. 9.15.2, cf. Att. 9.9.3 and Gell. NA 13.15.4; Caes. BCiv. 2.21; Cass. Dio 41.36.1-2, cf. 43.1.1) led us to the suggestion that the magistrate was responsible for arranging the elections in case the highest officers were absent. For a discussion on the matter, see Vervaet (n. 52), 80–2.

99 Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 4.76.1, 4.84.5.

100 Livy 3.55.1, 4.51.1, 6.36.3.

101 See Cic. Att. 9.15. 2.

102 Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 5.71.3.

103 See Broughton (n. 67), 2.334-7.

104 See Cic. Att. 9.9.3; Brut. 1.5.4; Dio Cass. 46.45.3-5 – 46.2.

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