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Quote of the day: There was a firm persuasion, that in the
Notes
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Germania by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Chapter 11: The assembly
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Affairs of smaller moment the chiefs determine: about matters of higher consequence the whole nation deliberates; yet in such sort, that whatever depends upon the pleasure and decision of the people, is examined and discussed by the chiefs. Where no accident or emergency intervenes, they assemble upon stated days, either, when the moon changes, or is full: since they believe such seasons to be the most fortunate for beginning all transactions. Neither in reckoning of time do they count, like us, the number of days but that of nights. In this style their ordinances are framed, in this style their diets appointed; and with them the night seems to lead and govern the day. From their extensive liberty this evil and default flows, that they meet not at once, nor as men commanded and afraid to disobey; so that often the second day, nay often the third, is consumed through the slowness of the members in assembling. They sit down as they list, promiscuously, like a crowd, and all armed. It is by the Priests that silence is enjoined, and with the power of correction the Priests are then invested. Then the king or Chief is heard, as are others, each according to his precedence in age, or in nobility, or in warlike renown, or in eloquence; and the influence of every speaker proceeds rather from his ability to persuade than from any authority to command. If the proposition displease, they reject it by an inarticulate murmur: if it be pleasing, they brandish their javelins. The most honourable manner of signifying their assent, is to express their applause by the sound of their arms. De minoribus rebus principes consultant; de maioribus omnes, ita tamen, ut ea quoque, quorum penes plebem arbitrium est, apud principes pertractentur. Coeunt, nisi quid fortuitum et subitum incidit, certis diebus, cum aut incohatur luna aut impletur; nam agendis rebus hoc auspicatissimum initium credunt. Nec dierum numerum, ut nos, sed noctium computant. Sic constituunt, sic condicunt: nox ducere diem videtur. Illud ex libertate vitium, quod non simul nec ut iussi conveniunt, sed et alter et tertius dies cunctatione coeuntium absumitur. Ut turbae placuit, considunt armati. Silentium per sacerdotes, quibus tum et coercendi ius est, imperatur. Mox rex vel princeps, prout aetas cuique, prout nobilitas, prout decus bellorum, prout facundia est, audiuntur, auctoritate suadendi magis quam iubendi potestate. Si displicuit sententia, fremitu aspernantur; sin placuit, frameas concutiunt. Honoratissimum adsensus genus est armis laudare.