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Arnaldo Momigliano and Andrew Lintott

Senatus consultum ultimum ‘the ultimate decree of the *senate’, a modern term, deriving from Caes. BCiv. 1. 5, for what was in fact a declaration of emergency.This decree urged magistrates, usually the consul or consuls, to take measures to defend the respublica and see that it came to no harm (Cic.Phil. 5. 34; Sall.Cat. 29). It was interpreted as authorizing the magistrates to employ physical repression against (unspecified) public enemies without being bound by strict legality. Inevitably it was a matter of political controversy, since questions arose whether the circumstances merited this decree and what level of force and illegality was appropriate after it.The decree was first both passed and accepted by the consul in 121 bce, against C. *Sempronius Gracchus and M. *Fulvius Flaccus. It was later used against L. *Appuleius Saturninus and C. *Servilius Glaucia (100), M. *Aemilius Lepidus (2) (77), the Catilinarians (see sergius catilina, l.