Ab re publica removere: the Suspension of M. Caelius Rufus from Magisterial Functions in 48 B.C. and the Political Initiative in the Late Roman Republic

Frolov Roman M.

The author attempts to determine the procedure of M. Caelius Rufus’ suspension from magisterial functions in 48 BC. The author considers the limitations the praetor encountered. It is argued that not only was Caelius formally not deprived of his office, but he did not even lose any of his praetorian prerogatives. However, Caelius’ attempts to make use of his powers were blocked by the consul P. Servilius Isauricus who relied on potestas maior and a senatorial decision. Formally, the neutralization of the praetor was achieved through the regular intercession. Yet, an analysis of the specific circumstances of 48 B.C. suggests that Caelius also lost what may be termed ‘political initiative’. He had the authority, but in practice he was not able to convene contiones on his own initiative, administrate justice, summon the senate and speak there, propose bills, etc. The resulting impression that Caelius was not a magistrate anymore is misleading. However, it seems reasonable to consider the praetor Caelius’ new position somewhat ‘intermediate’ between that of a public official and of a private individual.

Keywords: Ancient Rome, Roman Republic, M. Caelius Rufus, political system, praetorship, suspension from magisterial functions, political culture, political initiative, ab re publica removere

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