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The consilium, or advisory council, played an important role in the everyday activities of the Roman magistrate in his role as military commander. This work is an in-depth look at the commander's consilium from its first depicted appearances in the accounts of the legendary period to 31 BC. The concilium adapted to meet changing needs and serves to illustrate how Romans felt about their own society. The role of the commander's consilium can be seen as a pragmatic compromise between the desire for competent leadership and personal ambition on the one hand, and the Romans' ever-present fear of tyrannical behavior on the other.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-373-7
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jun 14,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 170
ISBN: 978-1-59333-373-7
$126.00

The consilium, or advisory council, played an important role in the everyday activities of the Roman magistrate in his role as military commander. This work is an in-depth look at the commander's consilium from its first depicted appearances in the accounts of the legendary period to 31 BC. After an overview of the main sources the commander's consilium, the members of that consilium and the basic terminology are introduced. The status of foreigners in the consilium and its role in training young aristocrats, as well as the consilium’s wartime activities of dispensing military justice and receiving foreign legates are examined. The negotiating and witnessing roles of the consilium as well as its role in civil and criminal proceedings, including the collection of provincial revenues, show its versatility. More than an institution, the consilium adapted to meet changing needs and serves to illustrate how Romans felt about their own society. The role of the commander's consilium can be seen as a pragmatic compromise between the desire for competent leadership and personal ambition on the one hand, and the Romans' ever-present fear of tyrannical behavior (if not actual tyranny) on the other hand.


Pamela D. Johnston received her B.A. in Classics and Latin from the University of Washington and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin from Bryn Mawr College. She teaches Ancient History and Classics at Fresno Pacific University, where her particular area of interest is in Roman Republican political and social institutions.

The consilium, or advisory council, played an important role in the everyday activities of the Roman magistrate in his role as military commander. This work is an in-depth look at the commander's consilium from its first depicted appearances in the accounts of the legendary period to 31 BC. After an overview of the main sources the commander's consilium, the members of that consilium and the basic terminology are introduced. The status of foreigners in the consilium and its role in training young aristocrats, as well as the consilium’s wartime activities of dispensing military justice and receiving foreign legates are examined. The negotiating and witnessing roles of the consilium as well as its role in civil and criminal proceedings, including the collection of provincial revenues, show its versatility. More than an institution, the consilium adapted to meet changing needs and serves to illustrate how Romans felt about their own society. The role of the commander's consilium can be seen as a pragmatic compromise between the desire for competent leadership and personal ambition on the one hand, and the Romans' ever-present fear of tyrannical behavior (if not actual tyranny) on the other hand.


Pamela D. Johnston received her B.A. in Classics and Latin from the University of Washington and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin from Bryn Mawr College. She teaches Ancient History and Classics at Fresno Pacific University, where her particular area of interest is in Roman Republican political and social institutions.

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Pamela Johnston

  • Table of Contents (page 7)
  • Preface (page 11)
  • Acknowledgments (page 15)
  • Abbreviations (page 17)
  • 1. The Nature of the Consilium (page 19)
    • 1.1 The Consilium: an Overview (page 19)
      • 1.1.1 Summary of the Work (page 20)
    • 1.2 Ancient Sources for the Commander’s Consilium (page 21)
    • 1.3 The Members of the Commander’s Consilium (page 24)
      • 1.3.1 Terminology of membership (page 25)
      • 1.3.2 The Military Tribunes (page 25)
      • 1.3.3 The Quaestor (page 26)
      • 1.3.4 The Prefects (page 28)
      • 1.3.5 The Centurions (page 30)
      • 1.3.6 The Legates (page 31)
      • 1.3.7 The Cohors Amicorum (page 35)
      • 1.3.8 The Consilium as Training Camp (page 37)
  • 2. The Commander’s Consilium in Action (page 43)
    • 2.1 The Two Basic Types of the Commander’s Consilium (page 43)
    • 2.2 Location of the Deliberative Consilium (page 43)
      • 2.2.1 Seating in the Deliberative Consilium (page 45)
      • 2.2.2 Outline of the Deliberative Consilium (page 46)
    • 2.3 Location of the Ceremonial Consilium (page 49)
      • 2.3.1 Seating in the Ceremonial Consilium (page 50)
    • 2.4 Strategy and Tactics (page 52)
      • 2.4.1 The Deliberative Consilium in Action (page 52)
      • 2.4.2 The Commander’s Consilium and Military Justice (page 60)
      • 2.4.3 Reception of Foreign Legates by the Ceremonial Consilium (page 67)
      • 2.4.4 The Ceremonial Consilium as the Commander’s Witness (page 75)
      • 2.4.5 The “Consilium that Convened Itself”: The Caudine Forks Disaster (page 77)
    • 2.5 Conclusions (page 79)
  • 3. The Decem Legati as Consilium of the Magistrate Militiae (page 81)
    • 3.1 Introduction (page 81)
    • 3.2 Commissions of Ten in Peace Negotiations (page 81)
    • 3.3 The Commission of Ten Sent to C. Lutatius Catulus in 241 (page 83)
    • 3.4 The Commission of Ten sent to P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus in 201 (page 87)
      • 3.4.1 Activities of the Commission of 201 (page 90)
    • 3.5 The Commission of Ten sent to T. Quinctius Flamininus in 196 (page 91)
      • 3.5.1 Activities of the Commission of 196 (page 98)
    • 3.6 The Commission of Ten sent to Cn. Manlius Vulso in 188 (page 105)
      • 3.6.1 Activities of the Commission of 188 (page 108)
    • 3.7 The Commission of Ten sent to L. Aemilius Paullus in 167 (page 110)
      • 3.7.1 Activities of the Commission of 167 (page 112)
    • 3.8 The Commission of Five sent to L. Anicius in 167 (page 114)
      • 3.8.1 Activities of the Commission of L. Anicius (page 115)
    • 3.9 The Commission of Ten sent to L. Mummius in 146 (page 116)
    • 3.10 The Commission of Ten sent to Scipio Aemilianus in 146 (page 117)
    • 3.11 The Commission of Ten sent to P. Rupilius in 132 (page 119)
    • 3.12 The Commission of Ten sent to M’. Aquiliius in 129 (page 119)
    • 3.13 The Commission of Ten sent to T. Didius, cos. 98 (page 121)
    • 3.14 An Institution in Flux: Decem Legati in the Late Republic (page 121)
      • 3.14.1 The Eastern Consilia of L. Cornelius Sulla (page 121)
      • 3.14.2 The Commission of Ten sent to L. Licinius Lucullus (page 125)
      • 3.14.3 Julius Caesar and his “Decem Legati” (page 127)
      • 3.14.4 The End of an Era: the Legations to Antony in 43 (page 128)
    • 3.15 Conclusions (page 129)
  • 4. The Consilium of the ProvincialGovernor (page 131)
    • 4.1 Introduction (page 131)
    • 4.2 The Provincia of the Magistrate Militiae (page 132)
    • 4.3 The Staff of the Provincial Governor (page 133)
    • 4.4 The Consilium of the Magistrate Militiae in Criminal Proceedings (page 134)
      • 4.4.1 The Trial of Philodamus of Lampsacus (page 135)
      • 4.4.2 The Sopater Scandal and the Character of the Consilium (page 140)
      • 4.4.3 Further Responsibilities of the Magistrate Militiae (page 143)
      • 4.5 The Consilium in Civil Procedure Militiae (page 146)
    • 4.6 Collection of Revenues (page 147)
  • 5. The Commander’s Consilium: Conclusions (page 151)
    • 5.1 The Commander’s Consilium in Context (page 151)
    • 5.2 Depictions of Foreign Consilia (page 152)
    • 5.3 The Commander’s Consilium: a Pragmatic Compromise (page 154)
  • Selected Bibliography (page 157)
  • Index (page 163)
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