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Regular Magistracies of the Roman Republic


Consuls: Two elected annually in the Comitia Centuriata, serving from 1 January to end of December. Elections for consuls and praetors were usually held at the end of the year. During the late Republic, however, elections were held in July for all offices. Consuls possessed unlimited imperium outside the city (conferred by a lex curiata) and the right to an escort of 12 lictores each. They also had the right to wear the toga praetexta. The lex Villia of 180 BC established a minimum age of 42.


Censors: Two elected every five years in the Comitia Centuriata, serving 18 months. Censors assumed office immediately upon election. They did not possess imperium or right to an escort of lictores. The censors, like the consuls, could wear the toga praetexta. Technically, the censorship ranked beneath the consulship and praetorship, but the office of censor was considered the highest in the cursus honorum.


Praetors: Six elected annually (eight from time of Sulla's dictatorship in 81) in the Comitia Centuriata. Praetors possessed imperium, but minus (lesser) in relation to consular imperium. Like consuls, imperium was assumed only outside the pomerium (boundary) of Rome and was conferred by a lex curiata. Praetors had the right to an escort of 6 lictores each in their provincia outside the city, but only two within the city. The lex Villia probably specified a minimum age of 35 or 40.



Aediles: Two aediles curules elected annually in the Comitia Tributa; two aediles plebii elected in the Concilium Plebis. Aediles assumed office on 5 December. Patricians and plebeians held the aedile curule alternatively. Only plebeians could hold the aedile plebii. The aedileship, though not an essential office in the cursus honorum, was the first that bestowed full senatorial privileges.


Tribuni Plebis: Ten elected annually in the Concilium Plebis. They assumed office on 10 December. Tribunes were sacrosanctitas. They possessed coercitio) - the power to enforce legislation of the plebs. The intercessio (right of veto) could be enacted against an act of any magistrate including other tribunes. Only the dictatorship was exempt from the tribunician power.


Quaestors: At least eight (the exact number is unknown until Sulla established 20 quaestorships) elected annually in the Comitia Tributa. The lex Villia established a minimum age of 28.



Further Reading:

Greenidge, A. H. J., 1901. Roman Public Life.

Hornblower, Simon, and Spawforth Antony, eds. 1996. Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edn.
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