Tribunus plebis (Nova Roma)

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Classification of magistracies

Magistracy overview

The tribunus plebis ("tribune of the plebs", plural: tribuni plebis) is a plebeian magistracy of Nova Roma, the defender of the rights and interests of the Nova Roman plebs, and the people in general. They are the "members' advocates" of the corporation. There are five tribuni plebis in Nova Roma who are elected by the comitia plebis tributa from among the plebeian citizens. The tribunatus plebis is one of the most powerful magistracies of Nova Roma: tribunes of the plebs can convene the comitia plebis tributa to pass their own laws, they are privy to the senate's discussions and can convene the senate for consultation, they can veto any action of any other magistrates, with the exception of the dictator, they can issue edicts and appoint their own apparitores. The utmost duty of the tribuni plebis is to protect the citizens of Nova Roma from any abuse or mistreatment by other magistrates and the senate. The tribuni plebis do not have any authority or rights outside the central administration of Nova Roma.

The eligibility requirements for tribunus plebis are set by the lex Tullia annalis: only those plebeian assidui can be candidates who are at least 25 years old, and have previously held either the office of vigintivir or quaestor. The tribunes of the plebs enter office on a.d. IV Id. Dec. (10 December) each year.

The current tribunes of the plebs of the year M. Cotta C. Petronio cos. MMDCCLXXVII a.u.c. are:

Duties and powers of the tribuni plebis

The lex Cornelia Domitia de re publica constituenda defines the duties and powers of tribuni plebis according to the following:

7. Tribunus plebis (tribune of the plebs). Five tribunes of the plebs shall be elected from among the plebeian citizens by the Comitia Plebis Tributa to serve a term lasting one year, who shall be sacrosanct and inviolable. The tribunes of the plebs have powers only within the central civilian administration of Nova Roma, they cannot interact with provincial governors and officers or within the ceremonial military of Nova Roma. They shall have the following honors, powers, and obligations:

a. To hold the special tribunicia potestas, derived from their ius auxilii ferendi (the right to bring help to a citizen negatively impacted by a magistrate) which is the main duty and the basis of all other powers of the tribunes: the highest degree of ius coercitionis, encompassing the ius prehensionis (prehensio, 'detainment': the right to suspend the citizenship rights and the office of a someone who obstructs the tribunes in the performance of their duties, for no longer than 72 hours), the highest degree of ius intercessionis, the ius edicendi, the ius agendi cum plebe (the right to call the Comitia of the plebs) and the ius agendi cum Senatu in business concerning the plebs only;
i. As the tribunes are sacrosanct and inviolable, they are empowered to apply disciplinary and judiciary actions within Nova Roma against anyone who hinders them in the exercise of their duties, as defined by law.
ii. The ius prehensionis may only be exercised with the unanimous collegial decision of all tribunes of the plebs, and the issuing of the prehensio shall include a legal reasoning, citing the articles of law which are being violated by the offender. Without such a reasoned exposition, the prehensio is invalid, null and void. The person subject to the prehensio may appeal to the people for legal redress within the first 48 hours of the prehensio, in which case the tribunes are obliged to call the Comitia Plebis Tributa immediately, no later than within 72 hours after the appeal, or if calendrical restrictions do not allow this, on the next possible day, to vote on the justification of the prehensio. If the tribunes do not convene the Comitia within these time frames, or if the Comitia judges the prehensio unjust, the prehensio shall be considered to have been done illegally, and the tribunes lose their right to exercise prehensio for the rest of their term.
b. To pronounce intercessio (intercession; a veto), only within the central administration of Nova Roma, against the actions or decisions of any other magistrate (with the exception of the dictator and the interrex), fellow tribune, other central officers, edicta, decreta after their issuance, or motions for Senatus consulta and leges before their enactment, which would violate, in their interpretation, the rights and interests of the plebs, a plebeian citizen, any citizens, or the mission and function of Nova Roma, or the letter and spirit of any law. Once a pronouncement of intercessio has been made, the other tribunes may, at their discretion, state either their support for or their disagreement with that intercessio. When a dictator is in office, the tribunes' right of intercessio is suspended, and they are not permitted to issue intercessio against consuls and officers acting under the authority of a Senatus consultum ultimum.
i. If the validity of a tribunician intercessio is contested, the praetors, within 48 hours of the issuance of the intercessio, may rule on it based on their full iurisdictio, against which ruling there shall be no place for tribunician intercessio, but the tribunes shall have the right to bring the case to the Comitia Plebis Tributa, within 72 hours after the praetor's decision, or if calendrical restrictions do not allow this, on the next possible day, to overrule the praetors' decision. The declaration of the praetor shall include a legal reasoning, citing the articles of law which serve as evidence for the invalidity of the intercessio. Without such a reasoned exposition, the overruling of the intercessio by the praetor is invalid, null and void. No prehensio may be applied against a praetor for such a praetorian declaration. If the Comitia Plebis Tributa decide that the praetor's verdict was correct, no tribune may ever issue another intercessio against the same action or decision until a new lex authorizes them to do so.
ii. If a tribunician intercessio is declared invalid by the praetors, it ceases to have effect until the decision is overturned by the Comitia Plebis Tributa, and then it shall take force retroactively and it shall annul the act which was vetoed and its effects.
iii. Each Tribune may issue only one such declaration of support or disagreement, but may change their declaration from one to the other, should they wish to do so.
iv. The initial pronouncement of intercessio by a Tribune shall count as that Tribune's declaration of agreement.
v. Should the number or the Tribunes who choose to disagree with an intercessio equal or exceed the number of Tribunes who choose to support it, the intercessio shall be revoked.
1. Intercessio may not be imposed against statements of support for or disagreement with a use of intercessio that are issued pursuant to the preceding paragraph.
2. The issuance and function of intercessio shall be defined according to procedures described by legislation passed by Comitia.
c. To be immune from intercessio pronounced by other magistrates, except as described in paragraphs IV. A. 7 .a. and IV. A. 7. b. above;
d. To be privy to the debates of the Senate, and keep the citizens informed as to the subjects and results thereof, in such manner and subject to such restrictions as may be defined by law;
e. To call the Comitia Plebis Tributa to order; and to call the Senate to order for advice in matters strictly within the sphere of duties of the tribunes, and to enact Senatus consulta which may include such decisions only that are strictly internal business of the plebs or internal administrative matters of the tribuni plebis, except when the tribune shall call the Senate for approving a plebiscite requiring ratification by the Senate, or in other cases defined by law;
f. To help and protect the plebeians and all citizens from any discriminating action of the magistrates, to act as legal controllers of all officers, to conduct judicial procedures in connection with their duties, to serve as public prosecutors, public defenders, and to administer the law;
g. To appoint apparitors to assist with administrative and other tasks, as they shall see fit.


List of Nova Roman tribuni plebis

L. Equitio Dec. Iunio cos. MMDCCLII a.u.c.

Q. Maximo M. Minucio cos. MMDCCLIII a.u.c.

Fl. Vedio (II) M. Cassio (II) cos. MMDCCLIV a.u.c.

M. Octavio L. Sulla (II) cos. MMDCCLV a.u.c.

The number of tribunes rising from two to five with the passage of the Lex Vedia de tribunus on a.d. XV Kal. Ian. , Fl. Vedio (II) M. Cassio (II) cos. MMDCCLIV a.u.c..

K. Buteone T. Labieno cos. MMDCCLVI a.u.c.

Cn. Salvio Cn. Equitio cos. MMDCCLVII a.u.c.

Fr. Apulo C. Laenate cos. MMDCCLVIII a.u.c.

K. Buteone Po. Minucia cos. MMDCCLIX a.u.c.

L. Arminio Ti. Galerio cos. MMDCCLX a.u.c.

M. Moravio T. Iulio cos. MMDCCLXI a.u.c.

M. Curiatio M. Iulio cos. MMDCCLXII a.u.c.

P. Memmio K. Buteone (II) cos. MMDCCLXIII a.u.c.

P. Ullerio C. Equitio cos. MMDCCLXIV a.u.c.

Cn. Caesare C. Tullio cos. MMDCCLXV a.u.c.

L. Sulla (III) cos. sine collega MMDCCLXVI a.u.c.

St. Cornelia C. Aemilio cos. MMDCCLXVII a.u.c.

M. Pompeio Sex. Lucilio cos. MMDCCLXVIII a.u.c.

Cn. Lentulo Alexandro T. Domitio cos. MMDCCLXIX a.u.c.


Sex. Lucilio C. Claudio P. Annaeo Q. Catulo tr. mil. cos. pot. MMDCCLXX a.u.c.

C. Claudio T. Domitio (II) cos. MMDCCLXXI a.u.c.

Q. Arrio P. Annaeo cos. MMDCCLXXII a.u.c.

Q. Arrio (II) T. Domitio (III) cos. MMDCCLXXIII a.u.c.

Q. Arrio (III) A. Tullia cos. MMDCCLXXIV a.u.c.

Sex. Lucilio (II) A. Tullia (II) cos. MMDCCLXXV a.u.c.

C. Cethego Q. Arrio (IV) cos. MMDCCLXXVI a.u.c.

M. Cotta C. Petronio cos. MMDCCLXXVII a.u.c.

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