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Clodius and the Lex Aelia Fufia

  • Stefan Weinstock

Extract

In speeches delivered during the years 57–55 B.C. Cicero frequently mentions the events and transactions immediately preceding his banishment. Clodius, the tribune of the year 58, was the author of all the trouble, and Clodius is the target of his passionate attacks. Here as elsewhere Cicero shows himself a virtuoso in the technique of variation, ever changing the venue of his accusations. Yet one complaint is constantly reiterated—Clodius's abrogation of the Lex Aelia Fufia. The following pages are devoted to an investigation of the fate of that law, for lack of which many of the events of this crowded period remain incomprehensible.

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2 L. Lange, De legibus Aelia et Fufia commentatio, Progr. Giessen, 186l = Kl. Schriften i, 274–341. Cf. also Greenidge, A. H., CR vii, 158 ff.

3 Staatsrecht i3, 112 n.: ‘Wie weit sie die Obnuntiation regelten und was sie festsetzten und nicht festsetzten, werden vorsichtige Forscher nicht zu wissen sich bescheiden.’

4 JRS xix, 164 ff.

5 Mommsen (Staatsrecht i3, 110 ff.) draws a generic distinction between the nuntiatio of augurs and the obnuntiatio of magistrates. He assumes that only magistrates were qualified to watch for auspicia impetrativa, only augurs to announce auspicia oblativa. This distinction does not find adequate support in the recorded evidence (cf. P-W, s.v. ‘obnuntiatio’).

6 Gellius 13, 15, 1 : ‘in edicto consulum quo edicunt, quis dies comitiis centuriatis futurus sit scribitur ex vetere formula perpetua : ne qui magistratus minor de caelo servasse velit.’

7 Cicero, In Pisonem 10 : ‘centum prope annos legem Aeliam et Fufiam tenueramus.’

8 O.c. 341.

9 O.c. 303; 309 ff.

10 Schol. Bob. on Cicero, In Vatinium 23, p. 148 Stangl.

11 O.c. 337 ff.

12 Dio 36, 39, 1 : ὲπεὶ δὲ αἵ τε ἀρχαιρεσίαι προεπηγγελμέναι ἦσαν καὶ κατὰ τοῦτ᾿ οὐδὲν προνομοθετηθῆναι πρὸ αὐτῶν ἐξῆν (67 B.C.): cf. Cicero, In Valinium 5. Cicero, Ad Att. 1, 16, 13 : ‘Lurco autem tribunus plebis qui magistratum simul cum lege Aelia iniit, solutus est et Aelia et Fufia, ut legem de ambitu ferret, quam ille bono auspicio claudus homo promulgavit. ita comitia in a.d. vi Kal. Sext. dilata sunt.’

13 Cicero, Pro Sestio 56.

14 Zonaras 7, 19, 2.

15 Asconius, In Pis. 11, p. 16 St. (p. 8, Clark): ‘obnuntiatio enim qua permciosis legibus resistebatur, quam Aelia lex confirmaverat, erat sublata.’

16 Cicero, De prov. cos. 46 : ‘quare ant vobis statuendum est legem Aeliam manere, legem Fufiam non esse abrogatam, non omnibus fastis legem ferri licere; cum lex feratur, de caelo servari, obnuntiari, intercedi licere …’

17 JRS xix, 178.

18 I cannot, however, discover any evidence to prove this transference of meaning. Lange (o.c., 301 ff.) assumes the suspension of the tribunician ius intercessions. Mommsen's compromise (Staatsecht ii3, 308, n. 3) helps here : ‘Cicero's Vorwurf, dass Clodius u.a. auch das tribunicische Intercessionsrecht zerstört habe …, ist nach dem Zusammenhang wahrscheinlich so zu verstehen, dass es nicht gestattet sein solle, die durch das Gesetz untersagte Obnuntiation durch Intercession zu stützen.’

19 But only in so far as concerns the problem here at issue. For a full account see E. Meyer, Caesars Monarchies,2 108 ff, or Cary, M., CAH ix, 522 ff.

20 Dio 38, 13, 5: ἐπεὶ οὖν πολλοὶ ἐμποδίζειν ἢ νόμων ἐσφορὰς ἢ ἀρχόντων καταστάσεις ἐς τὸν δῆμον ἐσαγομένας βουλόμενοι προεπήγγελλον ὡς καὶ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην μαντευσόμενοι, ὥστε μηδεμίαν ἐν αὐτῇ κύρωσιν τὸ δῆμον σχεῖν, ϕοβηθεὶς ὁ Κλώδιος μὴ γραψαμένου αὐτοῦ τὸν Κικέρωνα ἀναβολήν τέ τινες ἐκ τοῦ τοιούτου καὶ τριβὴν τῇ δίκῃ ἐμποιήσωσιν, ἐσήνεγκε μηδένα τῶν ἀρχόντων ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐν αἶς ψηϕίσασθαί τι τὸν δῆμον ἀναγκαῖον εἴη, τὰ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γιγνόμενα παρατηρεῖν. I do not think that Lange (o.c., 291 1.; 332) and McDonald, (JRS xix, 166) are justified in suspecting the accuracy of Dio in constitutional matters (cf. Meyer's praise of Dio, Caesars Monarchie, 96, n. 2; 98, n. 2; 611).

21 After his first clash with Caesar, Bibulus shut himself up in his house, informing Caesar that he observed the heavens each and every day. Consequently all ol Caesar's measures would have been invalid if he had bothered about Bibulus's obnuntiatio (Suetonius, Divus Julius, 20, 1; Dio 36, 6, 5; cf. Cicero, De bar. resp. 48 and De domo sua 40 f.).

22 Dio 38, 13, 5: cf. Asconius, p. 16 St. (p. 8, Clark) : ‘ne quis (supply ‘magistratus’ from Dio) per cos dies quibus cum populo agi liceret de caelo servaret.’

32 Gellius, 13, 15, 1, cf. above, p. 216, n. 6.

24 De prov. cos. 45.

25 Pro Sestio 78 : ‘victa igitur est causa rei publicae et victa non auspiciis, non intercessione, non suffragiis, sed vi, manu, ferro. Nam si obnuntiasset Fabricio is praetor qui se servasse de caelo dixerat, accepisset res publica plagam, sed eam quam acceptam gemere posset.’

26 JRS xix. 174.

27 Pro Sestio 79.

28 Pro Sestio 129.

29 Post red. 27.

30 Pro Sestio 78. If this conclusion stands in need of further support, it can be got from an incident of 54 B.c : ‘Nunc ad ea quae quaeris de C. Catone. lege lunia et Licinia scis absolutum; Fufia ego tibi nuntio absolutum iri, neque patronis suis tam libentibus quam accusatoribus.’ (Cicero, Ad Att. 4, 6, 5). This text has been traditionally interpreted as referring to the penal clauses of the Lex Aelia Fufia and thus proving that it was still in force in 54. McDonald (JRS XIX, 179, n. 3) points out that there was also a Lex Fufia iudiciaria and that the text in question is not necessarily to be referred to the Lex Aelia Fufia. Perhaps not : but there is a remarkable parallel passage : ‘orbis hic in re publica est conversus citius omnino quam potuit; id culpa Catonis sed rursus improbitate istorum qui auspicia, qui Aeliam legem, qui Iuniam et Liciniam, qui Caeciliam et Didiam neglexerunt’ (Ad Att. 2, 9, 1, April 59). To be sure, in this passage the famous Cato is meant, in the other C. Cato, tr. pl. 56 : but the similar collocation of the laws seems to give a hint in the right direction. The Lex Iunia Licinia of 62 B.C. provided that legislative proposals should duly be published in advance by being deposited at the Aerarium (Mommsen, Staatsrecht ii3, 546); the Lex Caecilia Didia of 98 was of a similar content (cf., e.g., Cicero, De domo sua 41). Now if these two laws concerned the ‘tempus’ and the ‘ius legum rogandarum’ (to employ the expression already familiar in this context), so did the law that in the one passage is called ‘Aelia,’ in the other ‘Fufia.’ Consequently, the trial of C. Cato proves once again that the Lex Aelia Fufia was still in force after 58 B.C.

31 Cicero, Ad Att. 4, 3, 3; cf. Kroll, , Die Kultur der ciceronischen Zeit i, 42.

32 Cicero, De domo sua 39 : ‘quo die de te lex curiata lata esse dicatur, audes negare de caelo esse servatum ? adest … M. Bibulus : hunc consulem illo ipso die contendo servasse de caelo,’ etc.; De prov. cos. 45c : ‘oblitine erant turn cum ille qui id egerat plebeius est lege curiata factus dici de caelo esse servatum ?’

33 De domo sua 40 f.; De har. resp. 48. Other instances are known when the Senate proclaimed the nullity of a transaction with the heln of an augural decision—in the matter oi C. Claudius Marcellus (Livy 23, 31, 13), cf. Ti. Sempronius Gracchus (Cicero, De natura deorum 2, 10 f.; De div. 1, 33 : 2, 73 : Ad O. fr. 2, 2, 1) and cf. M. Livius Drusus (Asconius, in Corn. 1, p. 55 St. = p. 68 Clark).

34 Cicero, Phil. 2, 81 : ‘Quid enim? istud quod te sacerdotii iure facere posse dixisti, si augur non esses et consul esses, minus facere potuisses? vide ne etiam facilius. nos enim nuntiationem solum habemus, consules et reliqui magistratus etiam spectionem … multis ante mensibus in senatu dicit se Dolabellae comitia aut prohibiturum auspiciis aut id facturum esse, quod fecit. quisquamne divinare potest quid vitii in auspiciis futurum sit, nisi qui de caelo servare constituit ? quod neque licet comitiis per leges, et, si qui servavit, non comitiis habitis sed priusquam habeantur debet nuntiare.’

35 Staatsrecht i3, 112, n. 2.

36 Phil. 5, 7 : ‘ille (sc. Caesar) paiudes siccare voluit; hic (sc. Antonius) omnem Italiam moderato homini L. Antonio dividendam dedit. Quid ? hanc legem populus Romanus accepit ? Quid ? per auspicia ferri potuit ? … love enim tonante cum populo agi non esse fas quis ignorat ?’ Phil. 5, 10 : ‘quibus de causis eas leges quas M. Antonius tulisse dicitur omnis censeo per vim et contra auspicia latas eisque legibus populum non teneri.’

37 Dio 45, 9.

38 Cicero, Phil. 2, 98 f.: ‘cur autem ea comitia non habuisti ? an quia tribunus plebis sinistrum fulmen nuntiabat ? cum tua quid interest, nulla auspicia sunt, cum tuorum, tum fis religiosus.’

39 Appian, BC 3, 25 : ἔθους ὄντος ἑτέρους ἐπὶ τοῦτο πέμπεσθαι : cf. Mommsen, Staatsrecht i3, 112 n. 2.

1 I am indebted for the translation of my paper to Mr. Ronald Syme.

Clodius and the Lex Aelia Fufia

  • Stefan Weinstock

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