The Roman Senate

SENATE, the deliberative assembly of the Roman people. Originally it was composed of 100 members, each representing one of the decuriae into which the body of the Roman citizens was divided, at the time they comprehended the single tribe known as the Ramnenses. With these the Sabines were incorporated as a second tribe, hence an equal number of senators was added. When the third tribe, the Lucerenses, were added, the number was increased to 300. Subsequently the number varied greatly, exceeding 1,000 during the second triumvirate, but Augustus reduced it to 600. The senators held office for life. They were elected by the decuriae during the kingly period; by the consuls and consular tribunes, under the republic; and by the censors, after the establishment of the censorship. The Plebeians as an order were never eligible, but they frequently attained to the senatorial dignity after the quaestorship and curule magistracies were opened to them. Hence the senate, originally a purely aristocratic body, became gradually the real representative of the people.

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