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Roman offices

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Cesare Maccari, Cicero Denounces Catiline
Cesare Maccari, Cicero Denounces Catiline

Authority in the Roman Republic was divided between the people, the Senate and officials. The highest legislative and judicial power was exercised by the people and exercised it through a complicated system of people’s gatherings. These various gatherings are tribal commission (comitia tributa), centurial commission (comitia centuriata), curial commission (comitia curiata) and concilium plebis.

The Senate, composed of patricians, exercised the highest political and administrative power. During the mature republic, this office began to play a leading role in the state.
The last power, the executive power, was exercised by officials (magistratus) creating a magistracy with limited powers and terms of office.

Officials were divided into ordinary (ordinarii) regularly elected for term of office:

  • Consuls – there were two of them, army commanders. The highest Roman officials became governors of the most important provinces. They had legislative initiative.
  • Praetors – supervised the judiciary, judges.
  • Censors – appointed for 1, 5 years every 5 years. They kept a census (property status, number of children) and drew up lists of senators. They took care of the Rome budget and guarded the morality of the citizens.
  • Aediles – dealt with public order (e.g. cleaning streets), organized games and distributed grain. They held their office for a year.
  • Tribune of the Plebs – they protected the rights of the plebeians. The introduction of the office of people’s tribune was their great success. They had a limited right of veto over the decisions of other officials.
  • Quaestors – they were collecting taxes. They held their office for a year.

and on extraordinary (extraordinarii), appointed in special circumstances:

  • interrex
  • dictator
  • magister equitum
  • praefectus urbi
  • Ziółkowski Adam, Historia Rzymu, Poznań 2008

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