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Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113).  Letters.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
LXXXIII. To the Emperor Trajan
 
 
BY a law of Pompey’s 1 concerning the Bithynians, it is enacted, Sir, that no person shall be a magistrate, or be chosen into the senate, under the age of thirty. By the same law it is declared that those who have exercised the office of magistrate are qualified to be members of the senate. Subsequent to this law, the emperor Augustus published an edict, by which it was ordained that persons of the age of twenty-two should be capable of being magistrates. The question, therefore, is whether those who have exercised the functions of a magistrate before the age of thirty may be legally chosen into the senate by the censors? 2 And if so, whether, by the same kind of construction, they may be elected senators, at the age which entitles them to be magistrates, though they should not actually have borne any office? A custom which, it seems, has hitherto been observed, and is said to be expedient, as it is rather better that persons of noble birth should be admitted into the senate than those of plebeian rank. The censors elect having desired my sentiments upon this point, I was of opinion that both by the law of Pompey and the edict of Augustus those who had exercised the magistracy before the age of thirty might be chosen into the senate; and for this reason, because the edict allows the office of magistrate to be undertaken before thirty; and the law declares that whoever has been a magistrate should be eligible for the senate. But with respect to those who never discharged any office in the state, though they were of the age required for that purpose, I had some doubt: and therefore, Sir, I apply to you for your directions. I have subjoined to this letter the heads of the law, together with the edict of Augustus.  1
 
Note 1. Pompey the Great, having subdued Mithridates, and by that means greatly enlarged the Roman empire, passed several laws relating to the newly conquered provinces, and, among others, that which is here mentioned. M. [back]
Note 2. The right of electing senators did not originally belong to the censors, who were only, as Cicero somewhere calls them, guardians of the discipline and manners of the city; but in process of time they engrossed the whole privilege of conferring that honour. M. [back]
 

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