Contio (Nova Roma)

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Latin noun: contio, contionis, f. A meeting, an assembly; an oration.

In antiquity

A contio in ancient times was a public meeting convened by a magistrate. The meeting would be addressed by the magistrate and any other speaker he invited. Contiones would often be held to discuss proposed legislation. In ancient times a contio never lasted more than a day.

Commodius fecissent tribuni plebis, Quirites, si, quae apud vos de me deferunt, ea coram potius me praesente dixissent; nam et aequitatem vestrae disceptationis et consuetudinem superiorum et ius suae potestatis retinuissent. Sed quoniam adhuc praesens certamen contentionemque fugerunt, nunc, si videtur eis, in meam contionem prodeant et, quo provocati a me venire noluerunt, revocati saltem revertantur. [1]

In archaic usage, such as, for example, by the pontifices, contio included meetings of the comitia. By Cicero's time, however, contio in normal usage had come to mean a non-voting assembly. [2]

In Nova Roma

In Nova Roma the term is generally used to refer to a public discussion of proposed legislation, convened by a magistrate prior to a vote. Various leges require fixed periods between the promulgation of a proposal and the beginning of voting. This whole period is often referred to as a single contio, though it would perhaps be more accurate to say that a contio is held on each day of the period since in ancient times a contio never lasted more than a day.

The term contio is sometimes informally (and incorrectly) used to refer to any period of discussion prior to a vote, for example a debate in the senate or a campaigning period before elections in a sodalitas.


  1. Cicero, De Lege Agraria Oratio Tertia: 1 [1]
  2. Botsford, G. 1909. The Roman Assemblies from their Origin to the End of the Republic. Macmillan. Reprinted 2001 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. LCCN 00-067014. ISBN 1584771658 [2]

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