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there by authority, and the Roman historians sometimes quote the Acta Diurna, or Daily Advertisers of that empire. It will serve to illustrate the thought at the beginning, by shewing the analogy of customs, and besides furnish a good authority for the readers of newspapers, who may for the future appeal to the practice of the old Romans, if I enter into a little critical essay upon the nature of the writings last mentioned.
The Acta Diurna were * Journals of the common occurrences of Rome, as the trials, elećtions, punishments, buildings, deaths, sacrifices, prodigies, &c. composed under the direction of the magistrates, committed to their care, and laid up with the rest of their records in an edifice, called the Hall of Liberty. They were, like all other public papers, easily gained access to. The historians + appear to have collected materials from them; nor is it improbable, that copies were frequently taken by particular persons, and dispersed about the city, or sent to their friends in the provinces, that no Roman might be ignorant even of the minutest event, which happened in the metropolis of the world.
We may find some ground for this supposition in the correspondence between Cicero and Cælius, whilst the former was governor of Cilicia. Cælius had promised to send him the news of Rome, and in order to discharge his commission with exactness, and gratify the curiosity of his friend, incloses in his first letter a kind of journal of the occurrences of the city., Tully, it appears, would have made a bad figure in a modern coffee house conversation, for he rallies Cælius about it very humorously in his answer; “Do you think," says he, “ that I left it in charge with you to send an account of the matches of gladiators, the adjournments of the courts, and such like articles, which even when I am at Rome, nobody ventures to tell me? From you I expect a political sketch of the common-wealth, and not Chrestus's newspaper.” Suetonius likewise mentions a little particularly with regard to these Acta Diurna, which may serve to confirm the notion of their bearing a pretty near resemblance, to our newspapers. He says that || J. Cæsar in his consulship ordered the diurnal acts of the senate and the people
* Viile Justi Lipsii Excursus in Tacitum Ed. Var. v. 1. p. 743.
Suet. in Cæs. c. 20. in vita Tib. c. 5. et alias. Tac. L. 13. Suet. in Cal. C. 9.
to be published. Augustus indeed, the same author* observes, forbid the publication of the former to be continued, but there is no reason to think his prohibition extended to the latter. It is certainly suitable to the genius of an absolute monarchy, that its counsels should not be publicly known; but the amusing and trilling topics for discourse, which the common events of a great city afford, are so far from being offensive under such a constitution, that they rather serve to draw off the minds of the people from enquiring into affairs of a more important and secret nature. The antiquaries pretend to have discovered some of these papers : those, which relate to the 585th year of Rome, were first published by + Pighius in his annals. He tells us that they were given him by James Susius, who found them amongst the papers of Ludovicus Vives. He does not seem to doubt in the least of their being genuine, and even makes use of them to correct a passage in Livy. Dodwell inserted them in his Camdenian lectures, together with some additional Acta of the year of Rome 691. A friend of his, Hadrian Beverland, had received them from Isaac Vossius, who transcribed them from a parcel of inscriptions, which Petavius had prepared for the press. I shall now communicate to my readers some extracts from the papers themselves, observing only, that the names of Paulus Æmilius the cona
* Aug. C. 36. Primus omnium instituit, ut tam senatus quam populi diurna acta couficerentur et publicarentur. These words of Suetonius imply further, that Julius Cæsar was the first, who ordered the acts of the senate and people to be drawn up as well as published ; and this is one reason amongst others, why some men of learning have suspected the genuineness of these remains of the Acta. But perhaps the force of Suetonius's assertion may be taken off, if we consider that a numerous, grave, and regular body, like the Roman senate, could not possibly carry on the variety of business with dispatch or convenience, unless some registers of their proceedings were taken, which might be referred to, and examined upon occasion. Besides, I think it may be clearly collected from the following passage in one of Tully's Orations, that there were some such registers in being long before the time of Cæsar's consulsirip.--' Quid deinde ? quid feci cum scirem ita indicium in tabulas publicas relatum, ut eae tabulæ privata tamen custodia continerentur; non continui domi, sed dividi passim, &c. pro Syll. c. 15. Now as we may reasonably suppose Suetonius less accurate in his assertion with regard to the Acta Senatus, Thy nay not we also suspect his accuracy in the other instance of the Acta Diurna, especially if we consider that the tabulæ publicæ may include both, and that the Roman historians were very careless in consulting their records, and searching after them ?-I will lengthen this note no further than by just mentioning that Mr. Wesseling, a German professor, has attacked these Acta Diurna with a good deal of learning and ingenuity. I should make this essay more tedious than it is already, by entering into the controversy, and therefore choose to refer the reader to the book itself. Vol. 2. # App. 665. and 690,
queror of Macedon, Popilius Lenas the famous ambassador, Julius Casar, Cicero, and Hortensius, give an air of importance to the most trifling circumstances, which occasion their 'being mentioned. I purposely keep pretty close to the originals, that the form and manner of drawing them up, may be the better preserved. “A. U.C. i. e. from the building of Rome 585.
5th of the Kalends of April.
The Fasces with Æmilius the consul. The consul, crowned with laurel, sacrificed at the temple of Apollo. The senate assembled at the Curia Hostilia about the 8th hour; and a decree passed, that the prætors should give sentence according to the edicts, which were of perpetual validity. This day M. Scapula was accused of an act of violence before C. Bæbius the prætor; 15 of the Judges were for condemning him, and 33 for adjouming the cause.
4th of the Kal. of April.
The Fasces with Licinius the Consul. It thundered, and an oak was struck with lightning on that . part of Mount Palatine called Summa Velia, early in the afternoon. A fray happened in a tavern at the lower end of the Banker's * Street, in which the keeper of the log in armour tavern, was dangerously wounded. Tertinius, the Ædile, fined the butchers for selling meat which had not been inspected by the overseers of the markets. The fine is to be employed in building a chapel to the temple of the goddess Tellus.
3d of the Kal. of April. The Fasces with Æmilius. It rained stones on Mount Veientine. Posthumius, the tribune, sent his beadle to the consul, because he was unwilling to convene the senate on that day; but the tribune Decimus putting in his veto, the affair went no further.
Pridie Kal. Aprilis. The Fasces with Licinius. The Latin festivals were celebrated, a sacrifice performed on the Alban Mount, and a dole of raw flesh distributed to the people. A fire happened on Mount Cælius; two + Trisulæ and five houses were consumed to the ground, and four
* Called Jamns Infimus, because there was in that part of the street a statue of Janus, as the upper end was called Janus Summus, for the same reason.
Houses standing out by themselves, and not joined to the rest of the street. Most of the great men's houses at Rome were built after this manner.
damaged. Demiphon, the famous pirate, who was taken by Licinius Nerva, a provincial Lieutenant, was crucified. The red standard was displayed at the capitol, and the consuls obliged the youth who were enlisted for the Macedonian war, to take a new oath in the Campus Martius.
Kal. April. Paulus the consul, and Cn. Octavius the prætor, set out this day for Macedonia, in their habits of war, and vast num, bers of people attending them to the gates. The funeral of Marcia was performed with greater pomp of images than attendance of mourners. The pontifex Sempronius proclaimed the Megalesian plays in honour of Cybele.
4th of the Nones of April. A Ver Sacrum* was vowed, pursuant to the opinion of the college of priests. Presents were made to the ambassadors of the Etolians. Ebutius the prætor, set out for his province of Sicily. The fleet stationed on the African coast, entered the port of Ostia with the tribute of that province. An entertainment was given to the people by Marcia's sons at their mother's funeral. A stage play was acted, this day being sacred to Cybele,
3d of the Nones of April. Popilius Lenas,+ C. Decimus, C. Hostilius, . were sent ambassadors, in a joint commission, to the Kings of Syria and Egypt, in order to accommodate the differences, about which they are now at war. Early in the morning they went, with a great attendance of clients and relations, to offer up a sacrifice and libations at the temple of Castor and Pollux, before they began their journey,"
The second set of the remains of the Acta Diurna, belong to the year of Rome 691. I have already mentioned how they were discovered, and shall only add, that they are fuller and more entertaining than the former, but rather seem more liable to objections, with regard to their genuineness.
* A Ver Sacrum was a vow to sacrifice an ox, sheep, or some such beast, born between the Kalends of March, and the Pridie Kal. of June.
+ This Popilius met Antiochus, King of Syria, at the head of his conquering atmy, in Egypt, and drawing a circle round him with a stick he held in his hand, bid him declare himself a friend or enemy to Rome before he stirred out of it. The King, though flushed with success, chose the former; and in consequence of it, withdrew his troops out of the dominjons of Ptolemy, who was an ally of the Romans,
“ Syllanus and Murena Consuls. The Fasces with Murena.
3d of the Ides of August. Myrena sacrificed early in the morning at the temple of Castor and Pollux, and afterwards assembled the senate in Pompey's senate-house. Syllanus defended Sext. Ruscius of Larinum, who was accused of an act of violence by Torquatus before Q. Cornificius the prætor. The defendant was absolved by forty votes, and voted guilty by twenty. A riot happened in the Via Sacra, between Clodius's workmen and Milo's slaves.
5th of the Kal. of September. M. Tullius Cicero pleaded in defence of Cornelius Sylla, accused by Torquatus of being concerned in Catiline's conspiracy, and gained his cause by a majority of five judges. The tribunes * of the treasury were against the defendant. One of the prætors advertised by an edict, that he should put off his sittings for five days, upon account of his daughter's marriage. C. Cæsar set out for his government of the farther Spain, having been long detained by his creditors. A report was brought to Tertinius the prætor, whilst he was trying causes at his tribunal, that his son was dead: this was contrived by the friends of Copponius, who was accused of poisoning, that the prætor in his concern might adjourn the court; but that magistrate having discovered the falsity of the story, returned to his tribunal, and continued in taking informations against the accused.
4th of the Kal. of September. The funeral of Metella Pia, a vestal, was celebrated, she was buried in the sepulchre of her ancestors in the Aurelian Road. The censors made a bargain that the temple of Aius Loquens should be repaired for 25 sesterces. Q. Hortensius harangued the people about the censorship, and the Allo
* The judicial power in public trials underwent frequent alterations at Rome, and had been lodged at different times in the senators, the knights, and sometimes in a mixed number of both. It was now shared, by the Aurelian law, between the senatorian and equestrian orders, and the Tribuni Ærarii, who were Plebeians, and paymasters in the Roman exchequer: the latter were deprived of this privilege by J. Cæsar. The number of judges seems to have varied according to the appointment of the magistrates, or the appointment of the law on which the accusation was founded. At Milo's trial (for instance) they were reduced by lot to 81; and before sentence was given, the accusers and the accused rejected 5 out of each order, so that 51 determined the cause, which was always done by ballot: but there are other cases where the number of judges is different.