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acta (ăkˈtə) [key], official texts of ancient Rome, written or carved on stone or metal. Usually acta were texts made public, although publication was sometimes restricted. Acta were first posted or carved for general reading c.131 B.C. They were accounts of general interest and were later called Acta diurna, and they have been compared to modern newspapers. There were special acta of municipal, legal, or military content. The Acta senatus, according to a Roman administrative tradition, were for many years kept secret so that the public should have no knowledge of senatorial debate. In 59 B.C., Julius Caesar, as consul, ordered their publication along with the Acta diurna, but later the publication was censored. Acta was also the term used for the laws themselves, primarily those promulgated by the emperors.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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