He was a ruler of Rome, who I’ve suddenly become interested in. I shall be pasting in a mess of notes culled from various sites on the interweb soon.

This long excerpt is from the delightful Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, assembled in 1870 by one William Smith.


The most important event connected with the reign of Servius Tullius is the new constitution which he gave to the Roman state. The details of this constitution are stated in different articles in the Dictionaty of Antiquities., and it is therefore only necessary to give here a general outline, which the reader can fill up by references to the work just mentioned. The two main objects of the consti­tution of Servius were to give the plebs political independence, and to assign to property that in­fluence in the state which had previously belonged to birth exclusively ; and it cannot be questioned that the military and financial objects, which he secured by the changes he introduced, were re­garded by him as of secondary importance. In order to carry his purpose into effect Servius made a two-fold division of the Roman people, one ter­ritorial, and the other according to property. He first divided the whole Roman territory into Re-gioneS) and the inhabitants into 7h’fo/s, the people of each region forming a tribe. The city was divided into four regions or tribes, and the country around into twenty-six regions or tribes, so that the entire number of Tribus Urbanav and Tribus Rusticae, as they were respectively called, amounted to thirty. (Liv. i. 43 ; Dionys. iv. 14, 15.) Livy does not mention the number of the country tribes in his account of the Servian constitution, and we are indebted to Fabius Pictor, the oldest of the Roman annalists (Dionys. 1. c.), and to Varro (ap. Non. p. 43), for the number of twenty-six. More­over Livy, when he speaks of the whole number of the tribes in b. c. 495, says that they were made twenty-one in that year. (Liv. ii. 21 ; comp. Dionys. vii. 64.) Hence the statements of Fabius Pictor and Varro might appear to be doubtful. But in the first place their account has the greatest in­ternal probability, since the number thirty plays such an important part in the Roman constitution, and the thirty tribes would thus correspond to the thirty curiae ; and in the second place Niebuhr has called attention to the fact that in the war with Porsena, Rome lost a considerable part of her ter­ritory, and thus the number of her tribes* would naturally be reduced. When, however, Niebuhr proceeds to say that the tribes were reduced in the war with Porsena from thirty to twenty, because it was the ancient practice in Italy to deprive a conquered nation of a third part of its territory, he seems to have forgotten, as Becker has remarked, that the four city tribes could not have been taken into account in such a forfeiture, and that conse­quently a third part of the territory would not have been ten tribes. Into this question, however, it is unnecessary further to enter. The conquest of Porsena had undoubtedly broken up the whole Servian system ; and thus it was all the easier to form a new tribe in b. c. 504, when the gens Claudia migrated to Rome. (Liv. ii. 16.) It would appear that an entirely new distribution of the tribes became necessary, and this was probably carried into effect in b. c. 495, soon after the battle of the lake of Regillus. In fact the words of Livy (ii. 21) already referred to state as much, for he does not say that before this year there were twenty tribes, or that the twenty-first was then added for the first time, but simply that twenty-one tribes were then formed (Romae tribus una et mginti factae). The subsequent increase in the num­ber of the tribes, till they reached that of thirty-five, is related in the Dictionary of Antiquities (s. v. Tribus). But to return from this digression to the Servian constitution. Each tribe was an organised body, with a magistrate at its head, called *u-Aapxos by Dionysius (iv. 14), and Curator Tribus by Varro (L. L. vi. 86), whose principal duty ap­pears to have consisted in keeping a register of the inhabitants in each regio, and of their property, for purposes of taxation, and for levying the troops for the armies. Further, each country tribe or regio was divided into a certain number of Pagi9 a name which had been given to the divisions of the Roman territory as early as the reign of Numa (Dionys. ii. 76) ; and each Pagus also formed an organised body, with a Magister Pagi at its head, who kept a register of the names and of the pro­perty of all persons in the pagus, raised the taxes, and summoned the people, when necessary, to war. Each pagus had its own sacred rites and common sanctuary, connected with which was a yearly fes­tival called Paganalia, at which all the Pagani took part. Dionysius says that the Pagi were fortified places, established by Servius Tullius, to which the country people might retreat in case of an hostile in­road ; but this is scarcely correct, for even if Servius Tullius established such fortified places, it is evident that the word was used to indicate a local division, and must have been given to the country adjoining the fortified place as well as to the fortified place itself. (Dionys. iv. 15; Varr. L. L. vi. 24, 26; Macrob. Saturn, i. 16 ; Ov. Fast. i. 669 ; Diet, of Antiq. s. v. Pagi.} As the country tribes were divided into Pagi, so were the city tribes divided into Vici, with a Magister Vici at the head of each, who performed duties analogous to those of the Magister Pagi. The Vici in like manner had their own religious rites and sanctuaries, which were erected at spots where two or more ways met (in compitis) ; and consequently their festival, cor­responding to the Paganalia, was called Compitalia. (Dionys. iv. 14 ; Diet, of Antiq. s. vv. Vicus and Compitalia.)

The main object which Servius had in view in the institution of the tribes was to give an organi­sation to the plebeians, of which they had been entirely destitute before; but whether the patricians were included in the tribes or not, is a subject of great difficulty, and has given rise to great differ­ence of opinion among modern scholars, some regarding the division into tribes as a local division of the whole Roman people, and consequently of patricians and their clients as well as of plebeians, while others look upon it as simply an organisation of the second order. The undoubted object of Servius Tullius in the institution of the tribes led Niebuhr to maintain that -the patricians could not possibly have belonged to the tribes originally ; but as we find them in the tribes at a later period (Liv. iv. 24, v. 30, 32), he supposed that they were admitted into them by the legislation of the de­cemvirs. But probable as this might appear, all the evidence we possess goes the other way, and tends to show that the tribes were a local division of the whole Roman people. In the first place, if Servius had created thirty local tribes for the plebs alone, from which the patricians were excluded, it is not easy to see why the three ancient tribes of the Raranes, Tities, and Luceres, should not have continued in existence. This we know was not the case ; for it is certain, that the three ancient tribes disappear from the time of the Servian constitution, and that their names alone were retained by the Equites, and that henceforward we read only of the division of the patricians into thirty curiae: indeed it is expressly said that the (j>v\al ysviKal were abolished by Servius, and that the v\al toth-Kal were established in their place. (Dionys. iv. 14-) Secondly, it is certain that all the tribes of the year b. c» 495, with the exception of the Cmstu-mina, take their names from patrician gentes. Thirdly, the establishment of the Claudian tribe, consisting as it did mainly of the patrician Claudia gens, is almost of itself sufficient to prove that patricians were included in the Servian tribes. Niebuhr lays great stress upon the fact that in no instance do we find the patricians voting in the Comitia Tributa before the time of the decemvirs ; but as Becker very justly remarks, this does not prove any thing, as we have no reason for supposing that the Comitia Tributa were established by Servius along with the tribes. Such an assembly would have had no meaning in. the Servian consti­tution, and would have been opposed to its first principles. The Comitia Tributa were called into existence, when the plebs began to struggle after independence, and had tribunes of their own at their head ; and it is certainly improbable that patricians should have been allowed to vote in assemblies summoned by plebeian magistrates to promote the interests of the plebs. The Comitia Tributa must not therefore be regarded as assem­blies of the tribes, as Becker has justly remarked, but as assemblies of the plebeians, who voted according to tribes, as their natural divisions. Hence as the same writer observes, we see the full force of the expression in the Leges Valeria Horatia, Publilia and Hortensia : ” quod tributim plebes jussisset.”

The tribes therefore were an organisation of the whole Roman people, patricians as well as plebeians, according to their local divisions ; but they were instituted, as we have already remarked, for the benefit of the plebeians, who had not, like the patricians, possessed previously any political organi­sation. At the same time, though the institution of the tribes gave the plebeians a political organi­sation, it conferred upon them no political power, no right to take any part in the management of public aflkirs or in the elections. These rights, however, were bestowed upon them by another institution of Servius Tullius, which was entirety distinct from and had no connection with the thirty tribes. He made a new division of the whole Roman people into Classes according to the amount of their property, and he so arranged these classes that the wealthiest persons, whether patri­cians or plebeians, should possess the chief power and influence. In order to ascertain the property of each citizen, he instituted the Census, which was a register of Roman citizens and their property, and enacted that it should be taken anew from time to time. Under the republic it was taken afresh, as is well known, every five years, Lists of the citizens were made out by the curator tribus or magistrate of each tribe, and each citizen had to state upon oath the amount and value of his pro­perty. According to the returns thus obtained a division of the citizens was made, which determined the tax (iributum\ which each citizen was to pay, the kind of military service he was to perform, and the position he was to occupy in the popular assembly. The whole arrangement was of a mili­tary character. The people assembled in the Campus as an army (exercitus, or, according to the more ancient expression, classis\ and was therefore divided into two parts, the cavalry (equites)^ and infantry (pedites). The infantry was divided into five Classes. The first class contained all those persons whose property amounted at least to 100,000 asses: the second class those who had nt least 75,000 asses: the third those who had at least 50,000 asses: the fourth those who had at least 25,000 asses: and the fifth those who had at least 10,000 asses, according to Bockh’s pro­bable conjecture, for Dionysius makes the sum necessary for admission to this class 12,500 asses (12£ minae) and Livy 11,000 asses. It must be recollected, however, that these numbers are not the ancient ones, when the as was a pound weight of copper, but those of the sixth century of the city. The original numbers were probably 20,000, 15,000, 10,000, 5000, and 2000 asses respectively, which were increased fivefold, when the as was coined so much lighter. (Bockh, Metrologische Untersuchungen^ c. xxix.) Further, for military purposes each of the five classes was divided into elder (Seniores) and younger (Juniores) men : the former consisting of men from the age of 46 to 60, the latter of men from the age of 17 to 45. It was from the Juniores that the armies of the state were levied: the Seniores were not obliged to serve in the field, and could only be called upon to defend the city. Moreover, all the soldiers had to find their own arms and armour; but it was so arranged that the expense of the equipment should be in proportion to the wealth of each class.

Servius however did not make this arrangement of the people for military purposes alone. He had another and more important object in view, namely, the creation of a new national assembly, which was to possess the powers formerly exercised by the Comitia curiata, and thus become the sovereign assembly in the state. For this purpose he divided each classis into a certain number of centuriae^ each of which counted as one vote. But in accordance with the great principle of his constitution, which, as has been several times remarked, was to give the preponderance of power to wealth, a century was not made of a fixed number of men ; but the first or richest class contained a far greater number of centuries than any of the other classes, although they must at the same time have contained a much smaller number of men. Thus the first class con­tained 80 centuries, the second 20, the third 20, the fourth 20, and the fifth 30, in all 170. One half of the centuries consisted of Seniores, and the other half of Juniores ; by which an advantage was given to age and experience over youth and rash­ness, for the Seniores, though possessing an equal number of votes, must of course have been very inferior in number to the Juniores. Besides these 170 centuries of the classes, Servius formed five other centuries, admission into which did not depend upon the census. Of these the smiths and carpenters (fabri) formed two centuries, and the hovu-blowers and trumpeters (comicines and tuln-cines) two other centuries : these four centuries voted with the classes, but Livy and Dionysius give a different statement as to which of the classes they voted with. The other century not belonging to the classes, and erroneously called the sixth class by Dionysius, comprised all -those persons whose property did not amount to that of the fifth class. This century, however, consisted of three subdivisions according to the amount of their pro­perty, called respectively the accensi velati> the proletarii and capite censi: the accensi velati were those whose pioperty was at least 1500 asses, or originally 300 asses, and they served as supernu­meraries in the army without arms, but ready to take the arms and places of such as might fall in battle: the proletarii were those who had at least 375 asses, or originally 75 asses, and they were sometimes armed in pressing danger at the public expense: while the capite censi were all those whose property was less than the sum last mentioned, and they were never called upon to serve till the time of Marius. Thus the infantrv or Pedites contained in all 175 centuries.

The cavalry or Equites were divided by Servius Tullius into 18 centuries, which did not comprise Seniores or Juniores, but consisted only of men below the age of forty-six. The early history and arrangement of the Equites have given rise to much discussion among modern scholars, into which we cannot enter here. (See Diet, of Antiq. s. v. Equites.) It is sufficient for our present purpose to state that Tarquinius Priscus had divided each of the three ancient centuries of equites into two troops, called respectively the first (priores) and second (posteriores) Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres. yhese three double centuries Servius Tullius formed into six new centuries, usually called the sex svffragia: and as they were merely a new organi­sation of the old body, they must have consisted exclusively of patricians. Besides these six cen­turies, Servius formed twelve others, taken from the richest and most distinguished families in the state, plebeian as well as patrician. There can be little question that a certain amount of property was necessary for admission to all the equestrian centuries, as well in consequence of the timocratic principle of this part of the Servian constitution, as on account of the express statement of Dionysius (iv. 18) that the equites were chosen by Servius out of the richest and most illustrious families, and of Cicero (de Rep. ii. 22) that they were of the highest census (censu maxima). Neither of these writers nor Livy mentions the property which was necessary to entitle a person to a place among the equites ; but as we know that the equestrian census in the later times of the republic was four times the amount of that of the first class, it is probable that the same census was established by Servius Tullius. Niebuhr indeed supposed that the sex suffragia, comprised all the patricians, independent of the property they possessed; but this supposition is, independent of other considerations, disproved by the fact, that we have express mention of a patrician, L. Tarquitius, who was compelled on account of his poverty to serve on foot.

The 175 centuries of pedites and the 18 of equites thus made a total of 193 centuries. Of these, 97 formed a majority of votes in the as­sembly. Although all the Roman citizens had a vote in this assembly, which was called the Co-mitia Centuriata, from the voting by centuries, it will be seen at once that the poorer classes had not much influence in the assembly ; for the 18 centuries of the equites and the 80 centuries of the first class, voted first ; and df they could come to an agreement upon any measure, they possessed at once a majority, and there was no occasion to call upon the centuries of the other classes to vote at all. This was the great object of the institution, which was to give the power to wealth, and not either to birth or to numbers.

The preceding account of the centuries has been taken from Livy (i. 43) and Dionysius- (iv. 16, foil.), who agree in all the main points. The account of Cicero (de Re Publ. ii. 22) cannot be re­conciled with that of Livy and Dionysius, and owing to the corruptions of the text it is hopeless to make the attempt. The few discrepancies be­tween Livy and Dionysius will be seen by the following table, taken from Becker, by which the reader will also perceive more clearly the census of each class, the number of centuries or votes which each contained, and the order in which they voted.”