The title of one of the offices of the Roman Republic. There were 10 Tribuni Plebis, or "Tribunes of the People," and they were elected every year.

They could present laws to the Gathering of the Plebs, and pass them. They could veto one another and any other official in the Republic (including the Consul). No other official could veto their actions.

The Tribuni had 'Sacro Sanctitas', which meant that any one who touched the body or the hair of a Tribunus with ill intent was immediately executed, regardless of his position.

The Tribuni were considered the protectors of the plebs and only one of the plebs could be elected to this position.

Trib"une (?), n. [L. tribunus, properly, the chief of a tribe, fr. tribus tribe: cf. F. tribun. See Tribe.]

1. Rom. Antiq.

An officer or magistrate chosen by the people, to protect them from the oppression of the patricians, or nobles, and to defend their liberties against any attempts that might be made upon them by the senate and consuls.

⇒ The tribunes were at first two, but their number was increased ultimately to ten. There were also military tribunes, officers of the army, of whom there were from four to six in each legion. Other officers were also called tribunes; as, tribunes of the treasury, etc.

2.

Anciently, a bench or elevated place, from which speeches were delivered; in France, a kind of pulpit in the hall of the legislative assembly, where a member stands while making an address; any place occupied by a public orator.

 

© Webster 1913.

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