When, perhaps after several generations of a separate existence, the two states became united, the towns ceased to be towns, and the collective body of the burghers of each became tribes, so that the nation consisted of two tribes.
Continuing The Foundation of Rome,
our selection from Roman History by Barthold Georg Niebuhr published in 1848. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in nine easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in The Foundation of Rome.
Time: 753 BC
The tradition that the Sabine women were carried off because there existed no connubium, and that the rape was followed by a war, is undoubtedly a symbolical representation of the relation between the two towns, previous to the establishment of the right of intermarriage; the Sabines had the ascendancy and refused that right, but the Romans gained it by force of arms. There can be no doubt that the Sabines were originally the ruling people, but that in some insurrection of the Romans various Sabine places, such as Antemnæ, Fidenæ, and others, were subdued, and thus these Sabines were separated from their kinsmen. The Romans, therefore, reëstablished their independence by a war, the result of which may have been such as we read it in the tradition–Romulus being, of course, set aside–namely, that both places as two closely united towns formed a kind of confederacy, each with a senate of one hundred members, a king, an offensive and defensive alliance, and on the understanding that in common deliberations the burghers of each should meet together in the space between the two towns which was afterward called the comitium. In this manner they formed a united state in regard to foreign nations.
The idea of a double state was not unknown to the ancient writers themselves, although the indications of it are preserved only in scattered passages, especially in the scholiasts. The head of Janus, which in the earliest times was represented on the Roman as, is the symbol of it, as has been correctly observed by writers on Roman antiquities. The vacant throne by the side of the curule chair of Romulus points to the time when there was only one king, and represents the equal but quiescent right of the other people.
That concord was not of long duration is an historical fact likewise; nor can it be doubted that the Roman king assumed the supremacy over the Sabines, and that in consequence the two councils were united so as to form one senate under one king, it being agreed that the king should be alternately a Roman and a Sabine, and that each time he should be chosen by the other people: the king, however, if displeasing to the non-electing people, was not to be forced upon them, but was to be invested with the imperium only on condition of the auguries being favorable to him, and of his being sanctioned by the whole nation. The non-electing tribe accordingly had the right of either sanctioning or rejecting his election. In the case of Numa this is related as a fact, but it is only a disguisement of the right derived from the ritual books. In this manner the strange double election, which is otherwise so mysterious and was formerly completely misunderstood, becomes quite intelligible. One portion of the nation elected and the other sanctioned; it being intended that, for example, the Romans should not elect from among the Sabines a king devoted exclusively to their own interests, but one who was at the same time acceptable to the Sabines.
When, perhaps after several generations of a separate existence, the two states became united, the towns ceased to be towns, and the collective body of the burghers of each became tribes, so that the nation consisted of two tribes. The form of addressing the Roman people was from the earliest times Populus Romanus Quirites, which, when its origin was forgotten, was changed into Populus Romanus Quiritium, just as lis vindiciæ was afterward changed into lis vindiciaruum. This change is more ancient than Livy; the correct expression still continued to be used, but was to a great extent supplanted by the false one. The ancient tradition relates that after the union of the two tribes the name Quirites was adopted as the common designation for the whole people; but this is erroneous, for the name was not used in this sense till a very late period. This designation remained in use and was transferred to the plebeians at a time when the distinction between Romans and Sabines, between these two and the Luceres, nay, when even that between patricians and plebeians had almost ceased to be noticed. Thus the two towns stood side by side as tribes forming one state, and it is merely a recognition of the ancient tradition when we call the Latins Ramnes, and the Sabines Tities; that the derivation of these appellations from Romulus and T. Tatius is incorrect is no argument against the view here taken.
Dionysius, who had good materials and made use of a great many, must, as far as the consular period is concerned, have had more than he gives; there is in particular one important change in the constitution, concerning which he has only a few words, either because he did not see clearly or because he was careless. But as regards the kingly period, he was well acquainted with his subject; he says that there was a dispute between the two tribes respecting the senates, and that Numa settled it by not depriving the Ramnes, as the first tribe, of anything, and by conferring honors on the Tities. This is perfectly clear. The senate, which had at first consisted of one hundred and now two hundred members, was divided into ten decuries, each being headed by one, who was its leader; these are the decem primi, and they were taken from the Ramnes. They formed the college, which, when there was no king, undertook the government, one after another, each for five days, but in such a manner that they always succeeded one another in the same order, as we must believe with Livy, for Dionysius here introduces his Greek notions of the Attic prytanes, and Plutarch misunderstands the matter altogether.
After the example of the senate the number of the augurs and pontiffs also was doubled, so that each college consisted of four members, two being taken from the Ramnes and two from the Tities. Although it is not possible to fix these changes chronologically, as Dionysius and Cicero do, yet they are as historically certain as if we actually knew the kings who introduced them.
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