CHAPTER V. THE ROMAN CONSTITUTION.
The Comitia Tributa represented the thirty Roman tribes according to the Servian constitution, to whom was originally given the right to elect inferior magistrates. This was a plebian assembly, and had very insignificant powers, chiefly relating to the local affairs of the tribes. But when these tribes began to be real representatives of the people, with the increase of the plebeian classes, matters affecting the whole state were brought before them by the tribunes. This gave to the assembly the initiative of measures, which was sanctioned by a law of L. Valerius Publicola, B.C. 449. This law gave to the decrees passed by the tribes the power of a real lex, binding upon the whole people, provided it had the sanction of the Senate and the populus in the Comitia Centuriata. In 287 B.C. the Hortensian law made the plebiscita independent of the sanction of the Senate. When the plebeians began to be recognized as an essential element in the state, it was found inconvenient to have the first class, which included the equites, so greatly preponderant in the comitia of the centuries; and it was designed to blend the Comitia Centuriata and the Tributa in such a manner as to make only one assembly. This took place after the completion of the thirty-five tribes, B.C. 241. The citizens of each tribe were divided into five property classes, and each tribe into ten centuries, making three hundred and fifty centuries. This comitia was far more democratic than the comitia of the centuries, and was guided by the tribunes. When all the Italians were incorporated with the thirty- five tribes, violence and bribery became the order of the day. Sulla took away the jurisdiction of the people, and Julius Caesar encroached still more on popular rights when he decided upon peace and war in connection-with the Senate - which great question was formerly settled by the comitia alone. The people retained nothing under him but the election of magistrates, which amounted to little, since Caesar had the right to appoint half the magistrates himself, with the exception of the consuls. After the death of Caesar, the comitia continued to be held, but was always controlled by the rulers, whose unlimited powers were ultimately complied with without resistance. Finally the comitia became a mere farce, and all legislation passed away forever, and was completely in the hands of the emperor and Senate.
[The nobles retain the chief ascendency.]
[The idea of popular government.]
[The Senate retains all real power.]