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Reviewer: Looking forward to reviewing this article. Llywrch (talk · contribs) 22:01, 24 June 2015 (UTC)


I apologize for my delay in writing this review. Part of it was caused by my being busy with off-wiki business, but part of it was due to my reluctance to provide a negative review of this article. I don't enjoy rejecting articles for GA. You have obviously put in a lot of work on this article; however, as it currently reads, this article does not completely cover the subject well enough to be considered GA quality, & maybe not even B-class.

There are two significant gaps in this article:

1. Near the beginning of the article, it states that "the senatus consultum ultimum... does not have a specific name in the sources". Since there is no specific name or language to define a SCU, how do we know the instances in this article are all of the known ones? I compared the instances in this article against two different reliable sources. One is the Oxford Classical Dictionary. My copy is dated (it's the 2nd edition published in 1970), but its article on the SCU is accurate enough & has a list one could compare the list in this article, & there are a lot of significant differences: there is no mention of the use of the SCU against Tiberius Gracchus; it lists several instances of the SCU being invoked that this article does not mention (such as against Metellus Nepos in 62 BC & against M. Caelus Rufus in 48 BC); & where this article admits that after the assassination of Julius Caesar "four SCUs can be found in the sources" but does not list them, the OCD article lists only 3 (although it mentions its invocation against Dolabella in 47 BC). Another reliable source I consulted was H. H. Scullard's From the Gracchi to Nero (Praeger, 1959). Scullard mentions the SCU several times in this history: he also does not mention the SCU being used against Tiberius Gracchus; he agrees with the OCD article that it was used against Metellus Nepos (62 BC) & M. Caelius Rufus (48 BC); but does not mention its use after 48 BC.

Now I have no problem with the Wikipedia article disagreeing with these standard references, but if the basis for this list were provided (i.e., who developed this list, & why it should be preferred to any other list), I would be more comfortable. It would help to explain the subject to the reader & provide comfort to her/him that this article does cover the subject satisfactorily.

2. I feel the explanation of the SCU is incomplete. It needs not only a more thorough explanation, but better context. First, the SCU is compared to the office of the dictator. One fact of this office (which was no longer in use by 120 BC) is that its primary purpose was to serve in military emergencies. If you look at List of Roman dictators, the majority of its invocations was to respond to military emergencies; it was rarely employed to respond to the conflict of the classes (e.g. patricians vs. plebeians) of the earlier period. As I understand the SCU, its purpose was closer to the 18th century British riot act, or perhaps similar to a government declaring a state of siege -- with the same unpleasant connotations as in the Costa-Gavras movie. One does not need to appoint a dictator to handle a riot or critical threat to the Res publica; having the Senate pass a resolution "that the Senate regarded the situation as critical and, although it did not increase their constitutional powers, it assured them [the magistrates] of the Senate's moral support" (Sullard, From the Gracchi to Nero, p. 38). In short, the Senate asked the government officials to do whatever it took to maintain law & order, even if it meant the fasces became fascism. (BTW, I feel it shows an important weakness in this article that there is no link to the article to either "riot act" or "state of emergency" -- both obviously relevant.)

As for context, I find it surprising that there is no mention of the Late Roman Republic & the problems its citizens faced -- both the Optimates & the Populares. Each was fighting for survival & their wealth (or the lack of). The Senate was the stronghold of the Optimates; the Populares were the advocates of the lower classes, who expressed their dissatisfaction with the status quo thru riots, rebellions & civil disturbances. Thus the SCU was an important tool for the Haves to control the Have-nots. Was the SCU properly or responsibly exercised in these instances? Nothing in this article even touches on this question.

These issues need to be addressed before we look at other criteria concerning GA. -- llywrch (talk) 21:25, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Thank you for the very thorough review. I will adress the issues shortly! :) Zwerg Nase (talk) 19:42, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
I will probably need a couple more days to fix the issues, since I don't have too much time atm. I hope you can grant me that time. I'm quite confident that I can take care of everything. Zwerg Nase (talk) 14:25, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
Take as much time as you need. Even if I were to fail this nomination, you can always renominate this article at a later time without prejudice. -- llywrch (talk) 00:55, 30 July 2015 (UTC)
I am terribly sorry, the GA Cup is holding me up quite a bit. I will hopefully be able to address the issues over next weekend. Zwerg Nase (talk) 08:23, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
Zwerg Nase, your primary GA duty is to finish work on your own nomination; GA Cup should be secondary to that. While doing GA reviews is a great thing, Llywrch's review was posted over four weeks ago, and should be given immediate priority. (You've made over 500 Wikipedia edits since your "I will address the issues shortly" post on July 23.) Whatever time you have left over after finishing work on this nomination can then be poured into the GA Cup. You don't appear to be in any danger of elimination this round... BlueMoonset (talk) 21:52, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
Dear BlueMoonset, thank you for your comment. This is however, not a matter of priority but of availability. llywrch went through a lot of work for this review, including finding new literature that was not previously available to me. While I am now trying to get my hands on those (and other new) sources, I am nevertheless putting the little time I have on the side to good use and try to get as many GA Cup reviews done as well. As you might see, that is also only progressing slowly. I am positive that I can do a big work-over to the SCU article this weekend. Thank you for your patience, Llywrch! Zwerg Nase (talk) 07:03, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

───────────────────────── I've finally found some time to make some replies. It took me a while to start looking for the sources you mention. I have now found a copy of Scullard, but it needs to be provided to me from the depository, which might take another few days. I have also checked the article in the third edition of OCD, which is really quite short.
On 1):

  • Just because the SCU does not have a name in the sources, that doesn't mean that there is no way that we can know when it was passed and when it was not, since it is always mentioned by a clear phrase, which I give from what Plaumann has destilled from the sources. The question now is wether instances where other words are used could also be the same decree.
  • As for the additional instances that OCD gives, I researched them and added a paragraph on them. All of them seem to have been relatively minor, so I will refrain from giving them their own paragraphs (though obviously, everyone is free to expand on them).
  • As for the first instance, I added the OCD as another example of researchers who doubt that 131 is a SCU. I believe the article makes it quite clear that this is a subject of debate.

On 2):

  • You are right in pointing out that the dictatorship was originally used as a matter of defense against an outside enemy, while the SCU was a measure taken against inner enemies. However, this is not the point of connection that the article is trying to draw. What is happening is that one measure of emergency power was made useless by being put under control by the rights of the people, so another emergency measure came into existence that was set to be able to break these rights, namely the veto and the provocatio. I will probably have to make that clearer. I'll try to rephrase the paragraph.
  • I added State of emergency to See also, but not Riot Act, since I felt that modern decrees are too far away from this ancient sort of decree, which is very unlike modern law.
  • As for your last paragraph. Yes, I will have to add more context, which I will asap. However, I do not quite agree with your interpretation of the power struggle in late Republican Rome. To say it is about the Haves to control the Have-nots sounds almost like Marxist historiography to me. Both the optimates and the populares were rich senators, so it is not about who has money and who doesn't. It's rather a struggle about the mechanisms and traditions of political fight and discourse. I will try to find a better way to phrase it.

I hope you can bear with me a while longer. I do hope to make the last changes Monday or Tuesday. Since you wrote before we look at other criteria concerning GA, maybe you can give me pointers at what else you found that does not comply with the GA criteria? Best regards, Zwerg Nase (talk) 17:13, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

@Llywrch: I am very sorry, I do not seem to be able to find the time to make more adjustments at this time. Feel free to fail the review for now. I would be very glad if you would agree to review it again at a later date. Cheers, Zwerg Nase (talk) 12:30, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
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