(pecūniae), (money) to be recovered. The quaestiō dē repetundīs (see quaestiones) was an extortion court established to secure compensation for the illegal acquisition of money or property by Romans in authority abroad. Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, finding the original standing court of 149 bc corrupt and its senatorial jurors unwilling to convict fellow‐senators, had a law passed, of which major fragments survive on bronze. It was a radical reform: those liable were now all senators, ex‐magistrates, or their close relatives (but not equestrians, who did not fall into either of the last two categories); prosecution took place through denunciation to the praetor; wronged parties or their delegates, even non‐Romans, were themselves expected to prosecute; a 50‐strong trial jury was drawn from an album of equestrians with no connections with the senate; the penalty was double repayment; rewards, including Roman citizenship, were offered to successful prosecutors; the whole trial procedure was set out in minute detail with emphasis on openness and accountability. Extortion was now clearly a criminal matter, and magistrates and senators might be convicted by their inferiors after being prosecuted by foreigners. The law caused understandable disquiet among the Roman aristocracy.
There was a reaction which led to variations in the composition of the juries (for which see quaestiones), and also reforms which in some ways strengthened the court, but also made it less accessible to non‐citizen victims of Roman misgovernment. Caesar's lex Iūlia de repetundis of 59 included a number of provisions regulating the behaviour of magistrates in provinces, some of which had earlier formed part of other laws. This law, comprehensive and elaborate, remained the basis of controlling misbehaviour of men in authority in the provinces under the emperors.
The emphasis in the law was now on punishing improper behaviour and the interests of the Roman state. The losses and sufferings of the victims were not so important in their own right as they had been in the law of Gaius Gracchus. In 4 bc Augustus procured a decree of the senate by which provincials who wished only simple restitution for their losses could with the senate's permission have their case investigated by five senatorial jurors. This return in effect to civil procedure, by reducing the defendant's liability, would be more likely to secure a conviction and compensation, and with less expense and inconvenience, thanks to the swift and simpler procedure. Cases involving criminal penalties continued alongside the new procedure and many were tried in the senate, after it came to be used as a court in the latter part of Augustus' reign. But senators were reluctant to condemn their peers, and men who enjoyed the emperor's favour were hard to convict. As a result, under Trajan, his clemency was invoked to prevent the punishment even of known offenders.
Subjects: Classical studies