Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 28 September 2023



  • Piero Treves
  •  and Tim Cornell


Tumultus was a state of emergency decreed by the Roman state when threatened by hostile attack. *Cicero (Phil. 8. 3) states that the ancients had distinguished two types, the tumultus Italicus, a war in Italy (which to Cicero and his contemporaries meant a civil war), and the tumultus Gallicus, a Gallic attack (Gaul being the only province bordering Italy). When a tumultus was pronounced there was a suspension of normal state business (*iustitium), military leave was cancelled, and all the citizens, wearing the military dress called the sagum, were levied (Cic. Phil. 5. 31). The procedure probably goes back at least as far as the Gallic raid of 390 bce (Diod. Sic. 14. 114. 1), and is recorded in accounts of the 4th cent. (e.g. Livy, 7. 9. 6, 361 bce). An emergency levy (tumultuarius dilectus) was the only time that *proletarii (citizens who fell below the military census qualification for military service) could be enrolled (Gell.


  • Roman Law

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription