Edicts of Augustus and Decree of the Senate on the Judicial Process in Cyrene, 64 B.C.


In these edicts Augustus regulates the senatorial province of Cyrene, providing for mixed courts in the province, pronounces judgment on three citizens sent to him for a hearing, refuses immunity to Greeks of the province who obtain Roman citizenship unless the privilege is stated expressly in the grant, prescribes the nature of the court to try disputes of Greek residents, and with the Senate establishes a new procedure for the trial of provincial governors. The inscription was found in 1926 at Cyrene, Libya, Africa.



Emporer Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power for the seventeenth time, saluted imperator for the fourteenth time, proclaims:

Since I find that in the province of Cyrene there are altogether 215 Roman citizens of every age whose census rating is 2,500 denarii or more, and that the jurors are drawn from this number in which several cliques are known to exist, and since the delegations coming from the cities of the province have complained that these cliques are unfair to Greeks in capital crimes, when the same people act as prosecutors and as witnesses for each other in turn, and since I myself have learned that some innocent persons have been overwhelmed in this way and have suffered the death penalty, until the Senate decides on this point or I myself find some better remedy, it appears to me that the governors of Crete and Cyrene will do wisely and fittingly, if they appoint in the province of Cyrene an equal number of jurors from both Greeks and Romans of greatest wealth and not less than twenty-five years of age, having a census rating and property of not less than 7,500 denarii, if a sufficient number of such men can be found, or, if the number of jurors to be placed on the album cannot be provided in this way, they shall post as jurors citizens who have the half of this amount of wealth and not less than half to sit on capital cases involving Greeks.

If a Greek is brought to trial, he shall have the right, on the day before his accuser speaks, to determine whether he wishes his jury to be all Roman or half Greek. If he chooses the latter, then an equal number of balls shall be assigned to each Greek and Roman and their names shall be written on them. The names of the Romans shall be drawn by lot from one urn, and those of the Greeks from the other, until a panel of twenty-five is drawn from each group. The prosecutor, if he wishes, may reject one from each group; the defendant may reject three in all, provided that he does not reject all Roman or all Greek. Then the remainder shall be set aside for jury duty. They shall be separated for voting and shall cast their votes separately, the Romans in one urn, the Greeks in another. Then, when the votes are counted separately, whatever the majority declare the governor publicly shall pronounce as the verdict. Since for the most part relatives of the deceased do not suffer an unjust death to remain unavenged and since it is un1ikely that Greek accusers for relatives or fellow citizens who have been slain will be lacking in exacting punishment from the accused, it appears to me that the governors of Crete and Cyrene will do rightly and properly, if they do not permit in the province of Cyrene a Roman to accuse a Greek for the murder of a Greek man or woman, unless some Greek who has been granted Roman citizenship brings an action for the death of some kinsman or fellow citizen.


Emperor Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding tribunician power for the seventeenth time, proclaims: Pub1ius Sextius Scaeva must not be subjected to censorous abuse, since from the province of Cyrene, he provided that Aulus Stlaccius Maximus, son of Lucius, Lucius Stlaccius Macedo, son of Lucius, and Publius Lacutanius Phileros, freedman of Publius, should be sent to me under bonds, when these persons declared that they knew something pertaining not only to my safety, but also to the public interest, and that they wished to give this information. In this matter Sextius has acted properly and with care. However, since they know nothing that concerns me or the public interest and have openly admitted that they were deceived and deluded when they made their statements in the province, I have freed and dismissed them from custody. But since envoys from Cyrene accuse Aulus Stlaccius Maximus of having removed statues from public places, among them one on whose base the city has inscribed my name, I forbid him to leave Rome without my permission, until I make a decision on this matter.


Emperor Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power for the seventeenth time, proclaims: If any persons from the province of Cyrene have been honored with Roman citizenship I command that they nonetheless shall discharge their compulsory public services among the body of the Greeks in their proper turn, except those persons to whom by a law or by a decree of the Senate, by my father's or my own decree, the citizenship was granted with exemption from taxation. It is my pleasure that these same persons, to whom exemption from taxation has been granted, shall be immune in respect to the property in their possession at that time, but that they shall pay taxes on all property that they later acquired.


Emperor Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power for the seventeenth time, proclaims: Except for suits involving the death penalty, which the governor himself shall conduct and upon which he shall pronounce judgment, or for which he shall appoint a panel of jurors, in suits which arise between Greeks in the province of Cyrene for all other matters, it is my pleasure that Greeks shall be appointed as jurors, unless the accused or the defendant wishes to have Roman citizens as jurors, but for those to whom Greeks are given by this my decree it is my pleasure that no juror shall be appointed from that city to which the plaintiff or the defendant also belongs.


Emperor Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power for the nineteenth time, proclaims: I have resolved to forward to the provinces the decree of the Senate passed in the consulship of Gaius Calvisius and Lucius Passienus, when I was present and joined in drafting the decree which pertains to the security of the allies of the people of Rome, that all persons for whom we provide may know of the decree; and I have resolved to attach it to my edict, that to all those persons living in the provinces may be clear the great concern which I and the Senate have, that no one of our subjects may suffer any unfair treatment or may be subjected to unfair exactions.


Decree of the Senate. Whereas Gaius Calvisius Sabinus and Lucius Passienus Rufus, the consuls, said "Whereas in accordance with the decision of his advisory council chosen by lot from the Senate, Emperor Caesar Augustus, our prince, wished us to bring before the Senate these matters which pertain to the security of the allies of the Roman people," the Senate voted as follows: Although our forefathers established courts for the recovery of property, that our allies more easily might bring suit and recover property of which they had been wrongfully deprived, since the nature of such trials sometimes proved most burdensome and inconvenient for the very persons for whom the law was devised, to drag from distant provinces witnesses who were impoverished or who in some cases were weak in health or infirm from old age, it is the pleasure of the Senate that if, after this decree of the Senate has been enacted, any of our allies shall wish to recover property that has been exacted either publicly or privately, provided that the person accused is not also being brought to trial on a capital charge, they shall appear before one of the magistrates who is empowered to summon the Senate and shall state their case.

The magistrate shall bring them immediately before the Senate and shall appoint whatever advocate they request to speak on their behalf to the Senate. He shall not act as advocate against his will if by law he is given the right to decline this compulsory public service.

That the charges which they lay before the Senate may have a judicial hearing, the magistrate who gives them audience to the Senate shall select by lot on that same day, in the presence of the Senate when not less than 200 are present, four from all the consulars in Rome or within twenty miles of the city. Likewise from all those persons of praetorian rank in Rome or within twenty miles of the city he shall select three. Likewise he shall select two from the rest of the senatorial order or from all those persons who have the right to vote in the Senate, who may be in Rome at that time or within twenty miles of the city. But he shall select by lot no person who is seventy years of age or older, or is serving in some magistracy or office, or is presiding over a court of justice, or is curator for the distribution of grain, or is prevented by illness from performing this compulsory public service, after he has taken oath to that effect in the Senate and has given three members of the Senate to swear to his incapacity, or is a cognatic or agnatic kinsman of the defendant, so that he is exempted by the Julian Law on judiciary matters from testifying as a witness in public court against his will, or if the defendant takes oath in the presence of the Senate that such a person is his personal enemy, provided that he does not reject more than three in this way. When nine persons have been selected by lot in this way, the magistrate who drew the lots shall provide that in the next two days the plaintiffs and the defendants shall reject in turn, until five are left. If any of these jurors dies before the issue is decided or if anyone of them is prevented for any other reason from sitting in judgment, whose reason is approved by five senators under oath, then the magistrate in the presence of the jurors, the prosecutors, and the defendant shall select by lot from those persons who are of the same rank and have held the same magistracies as the man whose place is to be filled, provided that the lot does not fall on one who is ineligible to serve in a case against the accused by this decree of the Senate.

The jurors thus chosen shall hear and shall decide only on those matters which the defendant is accused of having appropriated, whether in his official or his private capacity and whatever amount of property the plaintiffs prove have been taken from them publicly or privately, so shall the jurors order to be restored, on condition that they give their judgment within thirty days. Those persons whose duty it is to determine this matter and to give judgment shall be exempt from all other compulsory public service, except state religious ceremonial, until they judge and render their decision.

It is the pleasure of the Senate that the magistrate who drew the lots for the jurors shall preside over the hearing or, if it is impossible for him to do so, the ranking consul, and he shall be given power to summon witnesses who are in Italy: for the plaintiff, whose claim is for private reparation, not more than five; for official reparation, not rnore than ten.

Likewise it is the pleasure of the Senate that the jurors who may be chosen by lot in accordance with this resolution of the Senate, shall declare their opinion openly, as seems to each, and whatever the majority declare shall be binding.

Ancient Roman statutes : translation, with introduction, commentary, glossary, and index
by Allan Chester Johnson, Paul Robinson Coleman-Norton, Frank Card Bourne ; general editor, Clyde Pharr
Austin : University of Texas Press, 1961

Used with the Permission of the University of Texas Press.

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