History, Facts and Information about Roman Government
The Roman Government. The Government of Ancient Rome, the Roman Empire and the provinces - an enormous task. Who were the men who wielded this power? What were the positions in Roman Government? Who were the officials of Roman Government and what were their duties? This page details the roles and responsibilities of the Magistrate, the Quaestor, the Aedile, the Praetor, the Consul, the Dictator and the Censor in the Government of Ancient Rome.
History of Roman Government
After a long struggle, the Plebeians acquired complete political equality with the Patricians in the Roman Government. In the Second Punic War, the antagonism between the two orders had almost disappeared, and the only mark of separation between them in political matters was the regulation that, of the two Consuls and two Censors, one must be a Patrician and the other a Plebeian. Even this fell into disuse upon the rise of the new Nobility when the Patricians gradually dwindled away, and it became the custom to elect both Consuls and Censors from the Plebeians to the Roman Government. The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about life in Ancient Rome including Roman Government.
Roman Government - The Magistrates
Every Roman citizen who aspired to political power and the consulship had to pass through a regular gradation of public offices in the Roman Government, and the earliest age at which he could become a candidate for them was fixed by a law passed in B.C. 179, and known by the name of the Lex Annalis. The earliest age for the Quaestorship, which was the first of these magistracies, was 27 years; for the Aedileship, 37; for the Praetorship, 40; and for the Consulship, 43. All magistrates at Rome were divided into Curules and those who were not Curules. The Curule Magistrates were the Dictators, Censors, Consuls, Praetors, and Curule Aediles, and were so called because they had the right of sitting upon the Sella Curulis, originally an emblem of kingly power, imported, along with other insignia of royalty, from Etruria.
Roman Government - The Quaestor
The Quaestors were the paymasters of the state in the Roman Government. It was their duty to receive the revenues, and to make all the necessary payments for the military and civil services. There were originally only two Quaestors, but their number was constantly increased with the conquests of the Republic. Besides two Quaestors who always remained at Rome, every Consul or Praetor who conducted a war or governed a province was attended by one of these magistrates.
Roman Government - The Aedile
The Aedileship was originally a Plebeian office in the Roman Government but two Curule Aediles were added to the the two Plebeian Aedilesin B.C. 365. The four Aediles in common had the charge of the public buildings, the care of the cleansing and draining of the city, and the superintendence of the police, supervising the sale of slaves. They had also the regulation of the public festivals; and the celebration of the Ludi Magni, or Great Games, was their especial function. Originally they received a sum of money from the state to defray the expenses of these games, but the grant was withdrawn about the time of the First Punic War; a measure attended with important consequences, since the higher magistracies were therefore confined to the wealthy, who alone could bear the expenses of the charges of these costly entertainments. After the Macedonian and Syrian wars, the Curule Aediles often incurred a huge expense, with the view of pleasing the people, and securing their votes in future elections.
Roman Government - Praetor
The institution of the Praetorship in the Roman Government was established in B.C. 366. There was originally only one Praetor, subsequently called Praetor Urbanus, whose chief duty was the administration of justice. In B.C. 246 a second Praetor was added, who had to decide cases in which foreigners were concerned, and who was hence called Praetor Peregrinus. When the territories of the state extended beyond Italy, new Praetors were created to govern the provinces. Two Praetors were appointed to take the administration of Sicily and Sardinia (B.C. 227), and two more were added when the two Spanish provinces were formed (B.C. 197). There were thus six Praetors, two of whom stayedd in the city of Rome and the other four went abroad. Each Praetor was attended by six Lictors.
Roman Government - The Consul
The Consuls were the highest ordinary magistrates at Rome in the Roman Government, and were at the head both of the state and the army. Their duties included over-seeing the Senate and the Assembly of the Centuries; they presided in each, and had to see that the resolutions of the Senate and the People were carried into effect. They had the supreme command of the armies in virtue of the Imperium (power) conferred upon them by a special vote of the People. At the head of the army, they had full power of life and death over their soldiers. They were preceded by twelve lictors, personal bodyguards, as an outward sign of power.
Roman Government - Dictator
The Dictatorship, which occurs so often in the early history of the Republic, disappears altogether after the Second Punic War. As the Republic became powerful, and had no longer to fear any enemies in Italy, there was no necessity for such an extraordinary magistracy as the Dictatorship, but whenever internal dangers seemed to require a stronger executive, the Senate invested the Consuls with dictatorial power which enabled a consul to become a dictator.
Roman Government - The Censor
The office of the Censor in the Roman Government was regarded as the highest dignity in the state. They had great power and could even expel Senators from the Senate. There were two Censors who were taken, as a general rule, from those who had previously been Consuls. Their duties, which were very extensive and very important including taking the census and assessing taxes, control over the conduct and morals of the citizens of Ancient Rome and the administration of the finances of the state, under the direction of the Senate. For more information about this important and powerful role in Roman Government click the following link:
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