offices were made salable, and there was a new office created to manage the business. This went on, varying in degree and kind, until the French Revolution drove, into the world of the past, all the traditions that had made public office venal, hereditary, and corrupt, as it was almost proof against any reform or change.

It was not until eight centuries after the foundation of Rome that republican simplicity had been so far destroyed as to make way for the sale of public offices. The empire was almost near its end when the appointments in its service were made both salable and hereditary. In the history of the republic, merit was the only condition for appointment. Afterward, by slow and almost insensible progress downward, but steadily going on from bad to worse, the primitive character was lost, and, toward the fourth century of the Christian era, some of the officers enjoyed the privilege of disposing of their places during their life-time, and of transmitting them to their heirs after their death.

Under the republic there were innumerable offices; consuls, tribunes, pretors, censors, questors, curule ediles, and plebeian ediles were the most familiar. All were the gift of the people, except in times of great public difficulty, when a dictator was chosen, who appointed them.

Cicero, in his fourth oration against Verres, distinguishes the magistratus and the curationes,—the one extraordinary and temporary,

the other ordinary and permanent,--the latter a sort of special commission, the former the regular channel.

The election (“designatio) once over, the officer took his place, without appointment, commission, or confirmation. Suspension, and, in the most cases, removal with disability were the punishments for violations or neglect of duty. Once out of office at the expiration of the term of service, there was no choice or influence used to secure a friend as successor, until Cæsar gave the example, and by doing so violated doubly the laws of the country, in giving up an office which he had engaged to execute, and in substituting as his successor a person of his own, and not of the general, popular choice.

A scrupulons observance of these rules for many ages made Rome great, and its fame eternal. Unfortunately, the con


quest of the world brought wealth into the capital, and wealth brought corruption.

Intrigue and bribery gained suffrages which used to be given to merit. Ruinous expenses signalized the nominations and the elections. Cicero (De Off., 1. ii., 17) comments on the unbought advancement of L. Philippus.* Lucan describes the ordinary contest for office :

"Huic rapti fasces pretio sectorque favoris
Ipse sui populus, letalisque ambitus urbi,
Annua venali referens certamina campo.”

-[De Bello Civili, 1. i. Seneca is even more explicit : “Hæc res ipsa quæ tot magistratus et judices facit pecunia, ex quo in lionore esse cepit, rebus honor cecidit; mercatoresque et venales invicem facti quærimus non quale sit quidque sed quanti."-[Epistol., 115.

Quintilian forcibly and pithily says :

“Ad summam in republica nostra honorem non animus, non virtus, non manus mittit, sed arca et dispensator.”—[Decl., 345.

When it was sought to remedy the mischief, the roots had taken too strong hold to be easily loosened. In the effort to do so there were ten laws passed in rapid succession—LI. Protelia, Emilia, Maria, Fabia, Calpurnia, Tullia, Aufidia, Licinia, Pompeia, and Julia—all given at length in Rozinus, Antiq. Roman., l. xviii., c. 19, and in Alexander, Genial. Dier., 1. iii., c. 17.

It was after these efforts that the people of Rome, wearied

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Causa igitur largitionis est, si aut necesse est aut utile. In his autem ipsis mediocritatis regula optima est. L. quidem Philippus, Q. f., magno vir ingenio in primisque clarus, gloriari solebat se sine ullo munere adeptum esse omnia, quæ haberentur amplissima. Dicebat idem Cotta, Curio: Nobis quoque licet in hoc quodammodo gloriari. Nam pro amplitudine honorum, quos cunctis suffragiis adepti sumus nostro quidem anno, quod contigit eorum nemini, quos modo nominavi, sane exiguus sumptus ædilitatis fuit. Atque etiam illae impensæ meliores, muri, navalia, portus, aquarum ductus, omniaque, quæ ad usum reipublicæ pertinent. Quamquam quod præsens tamquam in manum datur jucundius est: hæc tamen in posterum gratiora. Theatra, portica, nova templa verecundius reprehendo propter Poinpeium: sed doctissimi non probant, ut et hic ipse Pænatius

.. et Phalereus Demetrius, qui Periclem, principem Græciæ, vituperat, quod tantam pecuniam in præclara illa propylæa conjecerit. Tota igitur ratio talium largitionum genere vitiosa est, temporibus necessaria ; et tamen ipsa et ad facultates accommodanda et mediocritate moderanda est.-[ Cic. de Of., 1. ii., 17.


[ocr errors]

of civil war, put into the hands of Octavius, after his victory at Actium, the right of appointing to public offices.

The accession of Augustus to the empire was signalized by the creation of many new offices: lientenants and attorneys of the emperor, legati et procuratores Cæsaris, prefect of the city, præfectus urbi, prefects of the pretors, quæstores candidati principis, præfectus annonum, and even præfectus vigilum, a sort of Dogberrys of the watch.

Augustus was employed during the whole of his reignwhich was a period of transition—in reforms, aptly conceived and well executed, and he left the people in the enjoyment of their right to nominate to public office.

Tiberius suppressed the comites, and made all the appointments himself, and in place of election gave the new officers certificates, codicilli imperiales or diplomata—a word with a meaning given it by Seneca: “Video isthic diplomata, vacua honorum simulacra, umbram quamdam ambitionis laborantis quæ decipiat animos inanium opinione gaudentes; humanæ cupiditatis extra naturam quæsita nomina; in quibus nihil est quod subjici oculis.”

The word suffragium began then to be used, and it meant originally the inoney given to obtain public office. There were two sorts of suffragia—those received by the courtiers, the other by the emperors themselves. “Privatum scilicet suffragium, quod suffragatoribus aulicis dabatur; et dominicum suffragium quod imperialibus rationibus inferebatur" (Nov. 161). According to Suetonius, Vespasian made no scruple abont accepting, and even requiring, small sums from those who solicited him for offices.

Suffrage did not, perhaps, mean the price of the office, but it did as much harm as if it had been an avowed sale for a stipulated sum.

The new officer was not warm in his place, before he did his best to get back all his outlays, and hence, particularly in the case of governors of provinces, who were least under restraint, exactions without number. “ Provincias spoliari et numerariuin tribunal, audita utrinque licitatione, alteri addici, mirum non est, quia quæ emeris vendere jus gentium est." What Seneca thus describes, became in the reign of Heliogabalus so public, that the judges' places were sold openly to the highest bidder.

Alexander Severus announced, on his accession, his intention to repress this disorder: “Necesse est ut qui emit vendat, at ego non patiar mercatores potestatum quos, si patiar, punire non possum; erubesco enim punire qui emit et vendit;” and his efforts were partially successful, but brief as his reign. Constantine vainly forbade his courtiers to accept presents from those who solicited office under hiin (Cod. Theod., De muner. et honor. 1. ad hon. Cod. Just., De præfect. Dignitate 1. Unica). Julian, the Apostate, refused a suitor who wanted to recover the moneys so paid, and Theodosius made a law to enforce contracts of this kind, certi conditio pro suf: fragio (Amm. Marcellin., lib. 22: Cod. Theod. 1. 1, si certum pet. de suffragio). Zozimus says that this prince created new offices, which he sold for cash, although it is known that he forbade raising contributions from those who aspired to become governors of the provinces, under a fourfold penalty. “Ad ejusmodi honoris insignia non ambitione vel pretio sed probatæ vitæ testimonio accedendum esse.” To enforce this wise measure, the emperor prescribed for them an oath that they had not given and would not give any thing as an inducement, “neque se dedisse quicquam, neque daturo postmodum fore, sive per se, sive per interpositam personam, in fraudem legis sacramentique, aut venditionis donationisque titulo, aut alio velament ocujusmodo contractûs ” (Code Ad. leg., Jul. Repet. l. ult.). This oath has in substance served even in modern times, at least, as a proof of the good intentions of the law-makers.

But while it is easy to modify the laws, it is difficult to improve the morals of a nation. In spite of these prohibitions, the traffic in public offices kept steadily on its downward progress. Eutropius is called by Claudian, " caupo famosus

сапро honorum ;” and Justinian repeated the prohibition against the sale of judicial offices in terms that are worth weighing. (Nov. 8, Præf. s. 1.) Unfortunately this praiseworthy effort failed too, and the history of the eastern empire is full of edicts vigorously, but vainly, denouncing the violations of the law, and only serving to show more effectively the practice. It spread

[ocr errors]


too, beyond the precincts of the court. Just as the people had lost the power of choosing their own officers, which were bought by courtiers of the emperors, so the officers of various grades sold their subordinate places, and even the municipal offices were sold for the price of the expenses of the public games, or for a round sum paid into the treasury. In Rome the senators were rated at a fixed amount called the aurum oblatitium, and the consuls, under Valentinian and Zeno, were obliged to contribute a certain share of the repairs of the aqueducts. The new officers were obliged, too, to pay something to their older colleagues, called sportulæ, “Qui magistratum ineunt solent totum Bulen vocare vel binos denarios singulis dare” (Plin., lib. x. Epist.).

Still there was always a clearly-defined understanding that these payments were gifts, elegantly described by Trojan as honoraria, to the people or the emperor, in return for the distinction conferred, and not the price of the office itself.

No officer could stipulate for a round sum as a condition of yielding to his successor, nor did his place pass upon his death, as of right, to his heirs. These two distinguishing qualities, the sale, and the inheritance of offices, even in this time of Roman decline, were found only in that class of officers known as militia. The Emperor Constantine celebrated his accession by multiplying the dignities and creating officers for his new position. There were already places filled by nobilissimi, illustres, spectabiles, clarissimi, perfectissimi, and egregii; to these were added cubicularii, castrensiani, ministeriani, silentiarii, all under the common naine of palatini.

It was at this time too, that militia became the general designation for all holding public place. The thirty-fifth and fifty-third Novellæ, the three last books of the Code, and the Commentaries of Lazius Reip. Rom., show that at first the name was limited to the officers of the household of the emperor. It was soon extended, first to the subaltern officers employed by the gor nors of the provinces, and finally to all civil employments, and particularly that of advocates.

There were two classes, the militia armata and the militia civilis; the latter was subdivided into militia palatina, militia togata seu forensis, and militia literata, corresponding to the

« ElőzőTovább »