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Cicero on rigged elections in Sicily.

Cicero on rigged elections in Sicily (In Verrem Secunda 2.52):

Herodotus cum Roma revertitur, diebus, ut ipse putabat, XV ante comitia, offendit eum mensem qui consequitur mensem comitialem, comitiis iam abhinc XXX diebus factis.

When Herodotus returns from Rome, on what he was thinking was fifteen days before the comitia, he’s shocked to find it’s the month which comes after their month of assembly, the comitia already having been held thirty days before.

Verres, who had taken a bribe from Climachias, a candidate for high priest, took his opportunity while Herodotus (the shoo-in candidate) was out of town. Since he couldn’t change the date of the election, which was traditionally held in this month, he simply abused the local calendar so that the entire preceding month and a half was dropped from it.

The calendar then in use at Cephalaedium in Sicily ran fast, as ours runs slow, so instead of leap days being added, it was customary to remove a day or two when necessary; the dropped days were called ἐξαιρέσιμοι (exaeresimoe, ‘removables’). Of course removing forty-five days was both quite unorthodox and disruptive, but before the people could move to have the days reinstated, the comitia had been held, still technically on on their traditional date, but a month and a half early, and Herodotus, who could not be elected in absentia, had missed out, entirely unaware of the situation until the day he arrived.

[For abhinc.]

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