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Overview

prōvocātiō


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Was an appeal made to the Roman people against the action of a magistrate (see magistracy, roman), whether the latter was employing summary coercion (coercitio) on the appellant or presiding over a judicial process. The lex Valeria of 300 bc made the disregard of provocatio by a magistrate a criminal offence. By 450 bc provocatio seems to have been recognized as a fact of Roman life. The least confrontational way for a magistrate opposed by provocatio to proceed further was to take the matter to an assembly, and from 300 bc the lex Valeria was an additional inducement so to do. During the 2nd cent. the protection of citizens against summary justice was enhanced by further laws, one of which abolished the flogging of Roman citizens and another extended provocatio to citizens in the military sphere (i.e. outside the city of Rome). A law of Gaius Sempronius Gracchus not only reformulated one of the principles of provocatio by forbidding capital trials unsanctioned by the people (so helping to stimulate the growth of quaestiones perpetuae established by statute), but provided for assembly‐trials of offenders against the law. Ultimately the grant of tribunician powers to Augustus led to the substitution for provocatio of appeal to the emperor.

Subjects: Classical studies


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