Responsum Pontificum de Quattor Summis Collegiis (Nova Roma)

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  • Note: Headings are included for the sake of convenience; the PROEMIVM was the only header included in the original text.

PROEMIVM (Preamble)

The objective of this legislative proposal is to amend the Constitution of Nova Roma in order to provide a framework for a more faithful reconstruction of the religious institutions of the Roman Republic.

The first paragraphs deal with the elimination of "priestly decrees" as a source of law in Nova Roma. The last one substitutes the current paragraphs of the Constitution that define the religious institutions of Nova Roma.

Constitutional Changes

Constitutional Basis

I. The paragraph I.A. of the Constitution of Nova Roma shall be amended to read as follows:

"A. This Constitution shall be the basic authority for all decision-making within Nova Roma and shall limit the authority of all magistrates and bodies, and all leges (laws) passed by the comitia, magisterial edicta (edicts) and Senatus consulta shall be subject to it except as provided by the following three provisos: [...]"

Legal Precedence

II. The paragraph I.B. of the Constitution of Nova Roma shall be amended to read as follows:

"B. Legal precedence. This Constitution shall be the highest legal authority within Nova Roma, apart from edicts issued by a legally appointed dictator. It shall thereafter be followed in legal authority by edicta issued by consuls acting under the Senatus consulta ultima, laws properly voted and passed by one of the comitia, Senatus consulta, and magisterial edicta (in order of descending authority as described in section IV of this Constitution), in that order. Should a lower authority conflict with a higher authority, the higher authority shall take precedence. Should a law passed by one of the comitia contradict one passed by another or the same comitia without explicitly superseding that law, the most recent law shall take precedence."

Comitia Curiata

III. The paragraph III.A. of the Constitution of Nova Roma shall be amended to read as follows:

"A. The Comitia Curiata (Assembly of Curiae) shall be made up of thirty lictores curiati (lictors of the Curia), appointed to their position by the Senatus following a responsum from the Collegium Pontificum (College of Pontiffs). It shall be called to order by the Pontifex Maximus, who shall set the rules by which the Comitia Curiata shall operate internally following the pertinent responsa from the Collegium Pontificum. It shall have the following responsibilities: [...]"

Public Religious Institutions

IV. The paragraph VI. of the Constitution of Nova Roma shall be amended to read as follows:

VI. Public Religious Institutions
A. The Cultus Deorum Romanorum, the worship of the Gods and Goddesses of Rome, shall be the official religion of Nova Roma. All magistrates and senators, as officers of the State, shall be required to publicly show respect for the Cultus Deorum and the Gods and Goddesses that made Rome great, and to perform the public religious rites and ceremonies established by the law. Magistrates, senators, and citizens need not be practitioners of the Cultus Deorum in the their private lifes, but may not engage in any activity that intentionally blasphemes or defames the Gods, the Cultus Deorum, or its practitioners.
B. The priesthoods of the Gods of Rome shall be organized as closely as practical on the ancient Roman model. The institutions of the Cultus Deorum shall have authority over religious matters on the level of the State only, maintaining the religious rites of the State and providing resources pertaining to the Cultus Deorum which citizens may make use of if they so choose. Nova Roma shall approach all other religions with a syncretistic outlook, offering friendship to all paths which acknowledge the right of those who practice and honor the Cultus Deorum to do so and respect the beliefs thereof. Only citizens of Nova Roma may be members of the public institutions of the Cultus Deorum.

The Four Major Priestly Colleges

C. The four major priestly colleges of Nova Roma shall be, in order of precedence:

  1. The Collegium Pontificum
  2. The Collegium Augurum
  3. The Collegium Decemvirorum Sacris Faciundis
  4. The Collegium Septemvirorum Epulonum

Besides these four colleges, there shall be other religious collegia, sodalitates and sacerdotes, both public and private.

D. Each Collegium shall have a particular area of responsibility, authority and expertise. Consultations formulated to a given Collegium may be referred to a different Collegium if, according to a majority of the members of the Collegium expressing their opinion, they do not correspond to the sphere of that Collegium.

Collegium Pontificum

1. The Collegium Pontificum shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

a. To respond, upon the request of the magistrates, the Senate, or private citizens, to consultations about the sacra publica, the sacra privata, burial practices and all the religious practices that do not explicitly fall in the sphere of a different Collegium.

b. To issue and maintain the official religious calendar, indicating all religious festivals, dies fasti, nefasti, comitiales and endotercisi.

c. To take care of the festivities and the temples that do not have a specific priest assigned to them.

Collegium Augurum

2. The Collegium Augurum shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

a. To respond, upon the request of the magistrates, the Senate, or private citizens, to consultations about divination public divination practices and the consecration of spaces and magistrates (jus augurum).

b. To celebrate the Augurium Salutis in times of peace for the well-being of the Roman people.

c. To perform the inauguratio of cities, temples, priests and magistrates.

d. To oversee and advise the magistrate (auspex) with jus auspicium when he takes the auguries upon calling a comitia to assemble, upon taking office as a magistrate, at the erection of a temple, and on other occasions, seeing that the rite was done correctly and that nothing might invalidate it. They shall not take the auspices themselves, nor determine how the signs should finally be read.

Collegium Decemvirorum Sacris Faciundis

3. The Collegium Decemvirorum Sacris Faciundis shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

a. To maintain the Libri Sibyllini. To propose to the Senate the inclusion of new texts into the Libri Sibyllini. To maintain other officially approved prophetic texts.

b. To consult, at the request of the Senate, the Libri Sibyllini in order to discover the religious observances necessary to avert extraordinary calamities and to expiate ominous prodigies.

c. To verify the application of the Sibylline oracles. To preside over the religious practices prescribed by them.

d. To preside over the cleaning of the Black Stone of Pesinunte.

e. To celebrate the games of Apollo and the Ludi Saeculares.

Collegium Septemvirorum Epulonum

4. The Collegium Septemvirorum Epulonum shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

a. To organize the banquets of public festivals and games, especially the Epulum Jovis.

Resolving Conflicts

E. Whenever a conflict concerning jurisdiction occurs between two Collegia, the Senate of Nova Roma shall, through senatus consultum, be the ultimate judge on which Collegium should be consulted.

Number of Members per Collegium

F. The various Collegia shall have the following maximum number of members:

  1. In the Collegium Pontificum there shall be a maximum of nine (9) Pontifices, including one (1) Pontifex Maximus.
  2. In the Collegium Augurum there shall be a maximum of nine (9) Augures.
  3. In the Collegium Decemvirorum Sacris Faciundis there shall be a maximum of ten (10) Decemviri Sacris Faciundis.
  4. In the Collegium Septemvirorum Epulonum there shall be a maximum of seven (7) Septemviri Epulones.

Co-Optation of New Members

G. Each Collegium shall be responsible in front of the Senate and the Comitia of recruiting and providing the means to instruct prospective new members, so that the maximum number of members for each Collegium is kept at all times.

H. Whenever a new member has to be coopted into one of the Quattuor Summa Collegia, with that Collegium having at least three current members, two members of that Collegium shall be selected by all the current members and, between them, the two selected members shall draw up a shortlist of three candidates. All the members shall then elect a candidate from the shortlist. The candidate receiving the most votes shall then be inaugurated as member of the Collegium within one month, with all the duties and privileges associated with the position.

If a Collegium has less than 3 members

I. Should at any time one of the Quattuor Summa Collegia, excluding the Collegium Pontificum, have less than three (3) members, the following process shall be followed:

  1. The members of the Collegium Pontificum shall issue a responsum indicating their recommendations to the Senate on who might be adlected to the other collegia.
  2. The Senate shall appoint through a senatus consultum the members necessary to reach three (3) members in the specific collegium.
  3. The consules shall call the Comitia Populi Tributa to order to confirm the Senate's selections.

Senate Appointments to the Collegium Pontificum

J. Should the Collegium Pontificum at any time have less than (3) members, Senate shall appoint the members necessary to reach that number, and the consules shall call the Comitia Populi Tributa to order to confirm the Senate's selections.


K. The members of each one of the Quattuor Summa Collegia shall have the duty to respond, upon request from the magistrates or private citizens, to questions about Roman ritual practice. These responses shall be called "decreta" (sing. "decretum") or "responsa" (sing. "responsum"). For an official responsum to be issued, the consultation must be officially presented, either by the consultor or by a member of the Collegium, to all the members of that Collegium as a whole through the public mailing list indicated for this purpose by the internal rules of the Collegium Itself.

L. Responsa shall not state any conclusions about particular facts or situations, but shall only state general rules of religious law. It shall not be the task of the members of the Quattuor Summa Collegia to apply these rules to specific situations.

M. No responsum shall be given within the first seventy-two (72) hours from the time when the consultation is presented to the members of a given Collegium. During that time any member of the Collegium may request, on the same mailing list, a delay so that the question can be discussed by all the members of the Collegium who wish to discuss it.

N. If, after the seventy-two (72) hours have passed, no member of the Collegium has requested a delay, any member of the Collegium may issue a responsum.

O. If, within the seventy-two (72) hours, any member of the Collegium requests a delay, a discussion shall take place among those members who wish to discuss the issue. Together they shall formulate a responsum. Once that responsum has been agreed by a majority of those members of the Collegium involved in the discussion, that responsum shall be issued formally and collectively by all the members of the Collegium involved in the discussion.

P. Responsa are interpretations of jus sacrum (sacred law) that pre-exists the decision of a Collegium and are immanent. Therefore, previous responsa issued by at least three members of a Collegium shall not be contradicted by later responsa. However, it is possible that a Collegium may occasionally make mistakes in its interpretation of jus sacrum. If, as a result of further research, at least three members of that Collegium consider that a previous responsum was mistaken, the Collegium shall reconsider the responsum using the same procedure stated in E. If they conclude that the previous responsum was mistaken, they shall formulate a new responsum and it shall be issued collectively by all the Pontifices involved in the discussion. The Collegium shall perform expiation for its mistake, and shall declare the appropriate expiation for any private individual who has acted improperly on the basis of the mistaken responsum.

Q. Each Collegium shall maintain a collection of previously delivered responsa to consultations on religious issues. All the information contained in those books shall be readily available to the public through the Nova Roma web site.


R. The members of each Collegium shall be entitled to wear, during the celebration of sacra publica, the insignia that mark them as members of each one of the Quattuor Summa Collegia. These insignia shall be:

  1. For the Collegium Pontificum: the tunica praetexta.
  2. For the Collegium Augurum: the toga trabea, the capis and the lituus.
  3. For the Collegium Septemvirorum Epulonum: the toga praetexta and the patera.

Issued a.d. IV Kal. Sex. C. Buteone Po. Minucia cos. MMDCCLIX a.u.c., by Pontifices C. Buteo, Cn. Astur, and Q. Metellus.

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