Rome in the Age of the Italian Wars
In the early Republic, however, the Senate had not possessed these allembracing powers. Indeed, as we have seen (above, pp. 247f.), the Senate of the archaic age is an elusive entity, with no formal authority and an ill-defined membership. As far as we can judge, it was purely an advisory council whose members were chosen at the whim of the magistrates in office. It may well be (although no source says this) that the magistrates fell into the habit of including among their advisers all surviving ex-magistrates; and it is also likely enough that it became their normal practice to continue with the council they inherited from their predecessors, so that in practice membership of the Senate became a lifelong position. If so, the Senate, like many other Roman institutions, would have acquired a tralaticious character.