Senatus consultum ultimum

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The Latin term senatus consultum ultimum ( ultimate decision of the Senate , SCU for short) describes the state of emergency in the late Roman Republic , imposed by the Senate.

The resolution authorized the two consuls to do everything possible to avert damage to the state (“videant consules, ne quid res publica detrimenti capiat”; German “May the consuls see that the state is not harmed”). The proxies in Sallust in De coniuratione Catilinae described. By means of the senatus consultum ultimum , the Senate was able to declare a state of emergency and delegate dictatorial powers to the consuls.

It is true that the use of force , executions of Roman citizens without a court ruling and the raising of troops were possible, but on the other hand the senatus consultum ultimum did not protect against later indictment , since the Popularen never recognized the legality of this emergency set up specifically to combat them. So Lucius Opimius , who was the first to respond to such a resolution from 121 BC Chr. Had been able to appeal, accused of murdering Gaius Gracchus , but acquitted of this charge; Marcus Tullius Cicero , who was exiled for the execution of Lucius Sergius Catiline's followers , had less luck .

Despite the name, the SCU was not the last emergency measure taken by the Senate, but the penultimate one, as the appointment of a dictator - which was unusual at the height of the republic - went beyond this and was also carried out by the Senate.

Traditional use cases

There are a total of 14 uncontested senatus consulta ultima , one that is controversial in the professional world and two that have been handed down, but not historical.

The 14 secured SCU:

Plutarch reports a senatus consultum ultimum for the year 133 BC. BC against Tiberius Gracchus , which is not considered historical by research. The senatus consulta ultima of the years 464 BC mentioned by Livius are considered entirely fictitious . BC and 384 BC Viewed.


  • Jochen Bleicken : The Constitution of the Roman Republic. Basics and development (= UTB for science. Uni-Taschenbücher. Bd. 460). 6th edition. Schöningh, Paderborn et al. 1993, ISBN 3-506-99405-0 , p. 115ff.
  • Antonio Guarino: “Senatus consultum ultimum”. In: Walter G. Becker, Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld (Hrsg.): Being and becoming in the right. Ceremony for Ulrich von Lübenow on his 70th birthday on August 21, 1970. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1970, pp. 281-294.
  • Andrew Lintott : Violence in Republican Rome. 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999, ISBN 0-19-815282-5 .
  • Siegfried Mendner: Videant consules. In: Philologus . Vol. 110, No. 3/4, 1966, pp. 258-267.
  • Theodor Mommsen : Roman constitutional law. Volume 3, part 2. Hirzel, Tübingen 1888, pp. 1240–1251.
  • Wilfried Nippel : Riots and "Police" in the Roman Republic. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-608-91434-X , pp. 83-85 (also: Munich, University, habilitation paper, 1983).
  • Jürgen Baron Ungern-Sternberg von Pürkel : Investigations into the late republican emergency law. Senatusconsultum ultimum and hostis declaration (= Vestigia. Vol. 11). Beck, Munich 1970, ISBN 3-406-03094-7 (also: Munich, University, Dissertation, 1968).
  • Gerhard Plaumann : The so-called Senatus consultum ultimum, the quasi-dictatorship of the later Roman Republic. In: Klio . Vol. 13, 1913, pp. 321-386.
  • Kurt Raaflaub : Dignitatis contentio. Studies on motivation and political tactics in the civil war between Caesar and Pompeius (= Vestigia. Vol. 20). Beck, Munich 1974, pp. 72-99.
  • Bernd Rödl: The Senatus Consultum Ultimum and the death of the Gracchen. Bonn 1969 (Erlangen-Nürnberg, University, dissertation, 1968)


  1. ^ Sallust , De coniuratione Catilinae , 29, 3.
  2. ^ Plutarch , Caius Gracchus , 14.1-2. (on-line)
  3. ^ Herbert Hausmaninger , Walter Selb : Römisches Privatrecht , Böhlau, Vienna 1981 (9th edition 2001), ISBN 3-205-07171-9 , pp. 4-16.
  4. ^ Plutarch, C. Gracchus , 14.1-2.
  5. De viris illustribus , 73.10.
  6. ^ Plutarch, Cicero , 22.
  7. Plutarch, Ti. Gracchus . 19.3.