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The Senator

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Senator — a citizen of ancient Rome who was a member of the Senate. The Senate (Latin: senatus, from senex - old man, council of elders) is one of the highest state authorities in ancient Rome. Created from the council of elders of Patrician families at the beginning of the royal period by the first king of Rome, Romulus, initially the Senate consisted of 100 people.

With the establishment of the Republic, the Senate, along with magistrates and people's assemblies (comitia), became an essential element of public life. The Senate was made up of former magistrates for life — so that the political forces and state experience of Rome were concentrated here.

Cicero denounces Catiline. Painting by Cesare Macchari
Curia Julia, meeting place of the Senate in the Roman Forum


Senators were required to behave appropriately, have a good education, be responsible, and have a certain amount of money. Members of the Senate were divided into ranks in accordance with their previous positions, and the order of giving the floor was determined by the ranks. At the head of the Senate was the most respected elder, the princeps senatus.

During the republic period (5th-3rd centuries BC), as a result of the class struggle between Plebeians and patricians, the power of the Senate was limited in favor of the people's assemblies (comitia).

In the 3rd-1st century BC, the Senate pre-examined bills proposed for voting in the comitia. He had the supreme leadership of military affairs, foreign policy, finances, state property, as well as supervision of religious cults, the right to declare a state of emergency, and so on. The Senate approved laws and election results, and controlled the activities of magistrates. Thus, the Senate actually exercised the leadership of the state.

The decisions of this State body had the force of laws (senatus consulta). The People's and Plebeian assemblies (plebiscites) also had similar powers.

A Roman patriot senator. Rome, Capitoline Museums. 1st century BC-1st century AD
Bronze statue of a Roman senator without a tunic. Adana Archaelogy Museum, Anatolia. 2nd century AD
Fragment of a bronze statue with a Roman senator. Adana Archaelogy Museum, Anatolia. 2nd century AD

During the imperial period, the power of the Senate began to be increasingly limited, passing to the emperor. Formally, the Senate was still considered the highest state body, but in reality it turned into a meeting of representatives of the nobility, who had no real political influence. Although the decisions of the Senate had the force of law, they were rarely implemented without the emperor's initiative. Starting with Octavian Augustus, the emperors of Rome just bore the title of the head of the Senate - "princeps".

At the end of the 3rd century AD, under Diocletian, the Senate was reorganized into the city council of Rome. In the 4th century, under Constantine, it was created in Constantinople, and had the same rights and duties as the Senate of Rome.

Number of senators in different periods:


The senator could wear, in addition to ordinary shoes, special, red calcae, which could be worn on socks. Like any citizen of Rome, he could wear a belted tunic with two red clavias and a toga. Also, the toga was worn without a tunic, on the naked body. The most common jewelry for this class was rings.

Senator, reconstruction

Related topics

Toga, Tunic, Calcei, Socks


Rostovtsev M. I. The Roman Senate // Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron : in 86 volumes (82 volumes and 4 additions). - St. Petersburg, 1890-1907.

Talbert R.J.A. The Senate of Imperial Rome. — Princeton: Princeton University Press, , 1984.

Dementyeva V. V. Gosudarstvenno-pravovoe ustroystvo antichnogo Rima: rannaya monarkhiya i respublika: Uchebnoe posobie [State and Legal structure of ancient Rome: Early Monarchy and Republic: Textbook]. - Yaroslav State University. - Yaroslavl, 2004.

Cooper, Kate; Julia Hillner. Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900 (англ.). — Cambridge University Press, 2007. — ISBN 978-1-139-46838-1.


A Roman senator. The statue is kept in the National Museum of Rome (Baths of Diocletian).