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Roman dictator

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Julius Caesar, Roman dictator, who kept his power until his death.
Creative Commons Attribution license - On the same terms 3.0.

Dictator was an extraordinary (extraordinarius) official in the Roman Republic who was given absolute power for a maximum of six months to prevent extraordinary crises (e.g. during a major war or internal revolts).

The choice of the dictator initially belonged to the centurial commissions. Later it was appointed by consuls on the orders of the senate (the so-called senatus consultum) and it was the only office in the Roman Republic to which it was appointed, not elected. The dictator appointed a cavalry commander (magister equitum), who commanded the cavalry during the war, while he was in charge of the infantry.
A sign of the unlimited power of the dictator was the 24 lictors accompanying him in the city and beyond.

Today, the term “dictatorship” has a very bad connotation, but in the Roman Republic, it was an extremely important institution of a very law-abiding nature. More than once, thanks to the appointment of a dictator, the Republic avoided heavy disasters or emerged from a political crisis. We can distinguish several types of dictatorship, ranging from the one most often invoked rei gerundae causa (in the event of an external threat), through sedicionis sedandae causa (internal crisis), to dictatorship established for religious purposes, for example clavi figendi causa.

In 1st century BCE the abuse of this office led to the great depression, Civil War, and the end of the Republic.

List of Roman dictators1

  • 501 BCE Titus Larcius
  • 501 BCE Manius Valeriusrei gerundae causa (possible magister equitum, not a dictator)
  • 499 BCE Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis
  • 494 BCE Manius Valerius Maximus
  • 463 BCE Gaius Aemilius Mamercus
  • 458 BCE Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus (one time)
  • 439 BCE Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus (two times)
  • 437 BCE Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus (one time)
  • 435 BCE Quintus Servilius Priscus Fidenas (one time)
  • 434 BCE Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus (two times)
  • 431 BCEAulus Postumius Tubertus
  • 426 BCE Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus (three times)
  • 418 BCE Quintus Servilius Priscus Fidenas (two times)
  • 408 BCE Publius Cornelius Rutilus Cossus
  • 396 BCE Marcus Furius Camillus (one time)
  • 390 BCE Marcus Furius Camillus (two times)
  • 389 BCE Marcus Furius Camillus (three times)
  • 385 BCE Aulus Cornelius Cossus
  • 380 BCE Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus
  • 368 BCE Marcus Furius Camillus (four times)
  • 368 BCE Publius Manlius Capitolinus
  • 367 BCE Marcus Furius Camillus (five times)
  • 363 BCE Lucius Manlius Capitolinus Imperiosus
  • 362 BCE Appius Claudius Crassus Inregillensis
  • 361 BCE Titus Quinctius Poenus Capitolinus Crispinus
  • 360 BCE Quintus Servilius Ahala
  • 358 BCE Gaius Sulpicius Peticus
  • 356 BCE Gaius Marcius Rutilus
  • 353 BCE Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus (one time)
  • 352 BCE Gaius Julius Iullus
  • 351 BCE Marcus Fabius Ambustus
  • 350 BCE Lucius Furius Camillus (one time)
  • 349 BCE Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus (two times)
  • 345 BCE Lucius Furius Camillus (two times)
  • 344 BCE Publius Valerius Publicola
  • 342 BCE Marcus Valerius Corvus (one time)
  • 340 BCE Lucius Papirius Crassus
  • 339 BCE Quintus Publilius Philo
  • 335 BCE Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas
  • 333 BCE Publius Cornelius Rufinus
  • 332 BCE Marcus Papirius Crassus
  • 331 BCE Gnaeus Quinctius Capitolinus
  • 325 BCE Lucius Papirius Cursor (one time)
  • 324 BCE Lucius Papirius Cursor (two times)
  • 322 BCE Aulus Cornelius Cossus Arvina
  • 320 BCE Gaius Maenius (one time)
  • 320 BCE Lucius Cornelius Lentulus
  • 320 BCE Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus (three times)
  • 316 BCE Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas
  • 315 BCE Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus (one time)
  • 314 BCE Gaius Maenius (two times)
  • 313 BCE Gaius Poetelius Libo Visolus
  • 313 BCE Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus (two times)
  • 312 BCE Gaius Sulpicius Longus
  • 312 BCE Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus
  • 310 BCE Lucius Papirius Cursor (three times)
  • 309 BCE Lucius Papirius Cursor (four times)
  • 306 BCE Publius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus
  • 302 BCE Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus (two times)
  • 302 BCE Marcus Valerius Corvus (two times)
  • 301 BCE Marcus Valerius Corvus (three times)
  • 291-285 BCE Marcus Aemilius Barbula
  • 291-285 BCE Appius Claudius Caecus
  • 291-285 BCE Publius Cornelius Rufinus
  • 287 BCE Quintus Hortensius
  • 280 BCE Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
  • 263 BCE Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus
  • 257 BCE Quintus Ogulnius Gallus
  • 249 BCE Marcus Claudius Glicia
  • 249 BCE Aulus Atilius Caiatinus
  • 246 BCE Tiberius Coruncanius
  • 231 BCE Gaius Duilius
  • 224 BCE Lucius Caecilius Metellus
  • 221 BCE Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator (one time)
  • 217 BCE Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator (two times)
  • 217 BCE Marcus Minucius Rufus
  • 216 BCE Marcus Junius Pera
  • 216 BCE Marcus Fabius Buteo
  • 213 BCE Gaius Claudius Centho
  • 210 BCE Quintus Fulvius Flaccus
  • 208 BCE Titus Manlius Torquatus
  • 207 BCE Marcus Livius Salinator
  • 205 BCE Quintus Caecilius Metellus
  • 203 BCE Publius Sulpicius Galba Maximus
  • 202 BCE Gaius Servilius Geminus
  • 82-81 BCE Lucius Cornelius Sulla
  • 49-45 and 44 BCE Gaius Julius Caesar
Footnotes
  1. T.R.S. Broughton, Magistrates of the Roman Republic

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