Therefore, senate literally means "board of old
men." The content of this article provides
interesting history, facts and information about life in
Ancient Rome including Senators.
Clothing of the Roman Senators
The clothing worn by Senators was distinguished by
an oblong stripe of purple sewed on the forepart of their
Senatorial gown, and black buskins, or high boots, reaching to the middle of
the leg, with the letter C in silver on the top of the foot.
Privileges of the Roman Senators
The chief privilege of the Senators was their having a
particular place at the public spectacles, called the orchestra.
It was next the stage in the theatre, or next to the arena or
open space in the amphitheatre at the Roman Colosseum.
Selection of Roman
The people who would act as
Senators were first chosen into the Senate by the kings, and
after their expulsion, by the consuls and by the military
tribunes and from 310BC by the censors. At first the
Senators were chosen only from the
Patricians, but eventually from the
Plebeians, chiefly from the
Roman Senate -
Qualification of Senators
To qualify for the role of
Senator the person had to meet certain criteria:
Senatorshad to be rich - with
an an estate worth 400, or after Augustus, 1200 sestertia
No person could become a
Senator unless they had already served in some form of some
magistracy in the Commonwealth
No person under the age of 30
years could become a Senator
The forum was the center of
Roman political life and the curia (senate house) was part
of it. More specifically, in the forum was the comitium, an
area where the Senators met. It was originally a rectangular
space aligned with the cardinal points (North, South, East
Roman Senators who
neglected their Duty
If a Senator refused or
neglected to attend, he was punished by a fine, and by
seizing his goods, unless he had a just excuse. The fine was
imposed by him who held the Senate, and pledges were taken
till it was paid, but after 60 years of age, Senators might
attend or not, as they pleased.
Religious Ceremony of the Roman Senator
The magistrate who was to preside over the Senate offered a
sacrifice, and took the auspices before he entered the
Senate house. If they were not favorable, or not rightly
taken, the business was deferred to another day. The Emperor
Augustus ordered that each Senator, before he took his seat,
should pay his devotions with an offering of frankincense
and wine, at the altar of that god in whose temple the
Senate were assembled, that they might discharge their duty
the more religiously.
In the Senate
The Roman Senators
delivered their opinions standing; but when they only
accepted the opinion of another they continued sitting. It
was not lawful for the consuls to interrupt those who spoke.
The Roman Senators usually addressed the house by the title
of “patres conscripti:” sometimes to the consul, or person
who presided, sometimes to both.
Power of the Roman Senator
The decrees of the Roman
Senate had not properly the force of the law but they were
always understood to be binding and were therefore obeyed by
all orders. Decrees could be annulled or cancelled only by
the Roman Senate itself. The power of the Roman Senators
emcompassed the following areas:
The Senators assumed the guardianship of the public religion; so
that no new god could be introduced, nor altar erected, nor the
Sybiline books consulted without their order.
The Roman Senators had the direction of the treasury, and
distributed the public money at their pleasure. The Roman Senators
appointed the salary or allowance to their generals and officers,
and provisions and clothing to the armies.
The Roman Senators settled the provinces which were annually
assigned to the consuls and praetors, and when it seemed fit, they
prolonged their command. The Roman Senators nominated all
ambassadors sent from Rome, and gave to foreign ambassadors what
answers they thought proper.
Honors and Enemies
The Roman Senators decreed all public thanksgivings for victories
obtained, and conferred the honor of an ovation or triumph with the
title of imperator on their victorious generals. The Roman Senators
could decree the title of king to any prince whom they pleased, and
declare any one an enemy by a vote.
Crime and Punishment
The Senators inquired into all public crimes or treasons, either
in Rome or other parts of Italy; and adjusted all disputes among the
allied and dependent cities. The Roman Senators exercised a power
not only of interpreting the laws, but of absolving men from the
obligation of them. They could postpone the assemblies of the
people, and give orders in cases of any imminent danger or calamity.
In instances of civil dissension or dangerous tumults within the
city absolute power was granted to Senators to punish and put
to death whom they pleased without a trial; to raise forces and
carry on war, without the order of the people.