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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: April 2013

1 - The charge and the court

from Introduction

Summary

The first tribunal de ui at Rome was enacted by the consul Q. Lutatius Catulus in 78 as a tool for suppressing the revolt led by his colleague M. Aemilius Lepidus; it was evidently a quaestio extraordinaria rather than a permanent institution. M. Caelius Rufus was charged under the lex Plautia de ui, which was probably enacted in 70 by the plebeian tribune M. Plautius Silvanus (MRR II 128), the man who also introduced the lex Plautia de reditu Lepidanorum; possibly the lex de ui was a concession to those who feared new unrest if the exiles were allowed to return. Certainly the lex Plautia de ui was in effect by 63, since in that year Catiline was prosecuted under it (TLRR 223). Perhaps Plautius proposed this legislation, rather than rely on the existing quaestio maiestatis, since the latter was better adapted to prosecuting the ringleaders of armed violence than the rank and file. The lex Plautia outlawed any act of violence that was directed contra rem publicam and established a standing court (quaestio perpetua) to hear relevant charges; it also provided that that court meet daily, even during festivals (dies festi), and that its cases receive priority over other pending trials.