The idea of a division of governmental powers is not of recent origin. Aristotle argued that the judges should have no other political power, should not themselves enforce their decisions. In Rome under the Republic there was divided between the pretor and the judex the power to decide controversies. The pretor had other duties, but the judex was confined to the single duty to hear and determine.
I have told thee already that not to obey would be to risk life and at present I could not find courage to die. But if thou wish me not to go, write one word, and I will stay. Petronius will turn away danger from me with a speech. To-day, in the hour of my delight, I gave rewards to all my slaves; those who have served in the house twenty years I shall take to the pretor to-morrow and free.
In 40, after the Perusinian war and only two years before Livia's marriage with Octavianus, Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia had been forced to flee from Italy in fear of the vengeance of Octavianus. Who on the other hand was Octavianus? A parvenu, with a nobility altogether too recent! He had married a sister of Caesar and, though still young when he died, had become a senator and pretor.
Our zealous New Thought friends, who clamor to have marriage made difficult and divorce easy, forget that the whole question has been threshed over for three thousand years, and all schemes tried. The Romans issued marriage-licenses, but before doing so a pretor passed on the fitness of the candidates for each other.
But it was doubtful whether that pursuit would reach the fugitives; and even should it reach them, whether the local authorities would feel justified in making the arrest at the private instance of Vinicius, without the support of a pretor. Indeed, there had not been time to obtain such support.
Nero, however, wished to bring about some reform which would help the masses, and he gave orders in an edict that the rates of all the vectigalia be published; that at Rome the pretor, and in the provinces the propretor and proconsul, should summarily decide all suits against the tax-farmers and that the soldiers should be exempt from these same vectigalia.
It is certain that either she or some other influential personage succeeded in gaining possession of the proofs of Julia's guilt and brought them to Augustus, threatening to lay them before the pretor and to institute proceedings if he did not discharge his duty. Augustus found himself constrained to apply to himself his own terrible law.
'I would rather be thy slave than Cæsar's wife! And she would not consent. I freed her then without her knowledge. The pretor favored me by not requiring her presence. But she does not know that she is free, as also she does not know that this house and all my jewels, excepting the gems, will belong to her in case of my death."
However, a man could put away his wife at will, and by recording the fact with the nearest pretor, the act was legalized. It will thus be seen that if a man could marry at will and put away his wife at will, there was really no marriage beyond that of nature.
This terrible event must have reminded Lucretia of the day when her brother Gandia was slain. The mystery attending these crimes has never been dispelled. "No one named the author of the murder, for the pretor was silent," says Paul Jovius in his eulogy of the poet. But who, except those who had the power to do so could have compelled the court to remain silent?