Rulers of Rome:
Early Imperial Roman Consuls
Late Imperial Roman Consuls
Republican Roman Consuls
The King of Rome (Latin: rex, regis) was the chief magistrate of the Roman Kingdom. The kings, excluding Romulus who held office by his virtue as the city's founder, were all elected by the people of Rome to serve for life, with none of the kings relying on military force to gain the throne. Though no reference is made to the hereditary principle in the election of the first four kings, beginning with the fifth king Tarquinius Priscus, the royal inheritance flowed through the royal females of the deceased king. Consequently, the ancient historians state that the king was chosen on account of his virtues and not his descent.
The princeps senatus (plural principes senatus) was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the cursus honorum and owning no imperium, this office brought enormous prestige to the senator holding it. The princeps senatus was not a lifetime appointment. He was chosen by every new pair of censors (that is, every 5 years). Censors could, however, confirm a princeps senatus for a period of another 5 years. He was selected from patrician senators with consular rank, usually former censors. The successful candidate had to be a patrician with an impeccable political record, respected by his fellow senators. Originally, the position of the princeps was one of honor: he had the privilege of speaking first on the topic presented by the presiding magistrate. This gave the position great dignitas as it allowed the princeps to set the tone of the debate in the Senate. In the late Republic and in the Principate, the office gained the prerogatives of the presiding magistrates and additional powers, namely:
Summoning and adjourning the Senate
Deciding its agenda
Deciding where the session should take place
Imposing order and other rules of the session
Meeting, in the name of the Senate, with embassies of foreign countries
Writing, in the name of the Senate, letters and dispatches
After the fall of the Roman Republic, the princeps senatus was the Roman Emperor. However, during the Crisis of the Third Century, some others held the office; the future emperor Valerian held the office in 238, during the reigns of Maximinus Thrax and Gordian I.
Roman assemblies used a form of direct democracy. The assemblies were bodies of ordinary citizens, rather than elected representatives. In this regard, bills voted on (called plebiscites) were similar to modern popular referenda. Unlike many modern assemblies, Roman assemblies were not bicameral. That is to say that bills did not have to pass both major assemblies in order to be enacted into law. In addition, no other branch had to ratify a bill in order for it to become law. The arrangement is similar to what exists in many countries today. In modern countries, referenda become law after they are passed by a majority of voters. The need for another governmental institution to ratify this popular decision usually doesn't exist. Members also had no authority to introduce bills for consideration. Only executive magistrates could introduce new bills. This arrangement is also similar to what is found in many modern countries. Usually, ordinary citizens cannot propose new laws for their enactment by a popular election. Unlike many modern assemblies, the Roman assemblies had judicial functions, due to the fact that the Roman Republic didn't have a formalized court system.
Ancient Rome Senate
Under the Constitution of the Roman Republic, the senate was the chief foreign policy-making branch of Roman government. All magistrates, other than tribunes (and their aediles) answered to the senate.
Ancient Rome Curia
A Curia in early Roman times was a subdivision of the people, i.e. more or less a tribe, and with a metonymy it came to mean also the meeting place where the tribe discussed its affairs. The curia per antonomasia was the Curia Hostilia in Rome, which was the building where the Senate usually met. The Senate, initially just a meeting of the city elders from all tribes (its name comes from "senex", which means "old man"), saw its powers grow together with the conquest that brought a town of humble origins to rule a large Republic (and then decrease steadily with the advent of the Empire). By the Imperial period, a curia was any building where local government held office, i.e. judicial proceedings, government meetings, bureaucracy, etc., and shortly afterwards the term started to refer also to the people making up the local administration. The Curia situated in the Roman Forum functioned as a senate house for meetings and discussions over the Roman Empire to be held. It was to the north of the Forum, and was particularly used to conduct the affairs of the government when under the rule of an emperor. It is one of the few buildings in the Roman Forum that is still standing and we are able to visualise what it would have been like at the time of the Romans
Ancient Rome Forum
The Roman Forum, Forum Romanum, (although the Romans called it more often the Forum Magnum or just the Forum) was the central area around which ancient Rome developed, in which commerce and the administration of justice took place. The communal hearth was also located here.
Ancient Rome Socio/political factions:
Optimates (singular optimas, The Best of Men, Italian: ottimati; also known as the priests, The Good Men) were the pro-aristocratic faction of the later Roman Republic. They wished to limit the power of the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs, and to extend the power of the Senate, which was viewed as more dedicated to the interests of the aristocrats. In particular, they were concerned with the rise of individual generals who, backed by the tribunate, the assemblies, and their own soldiers could shift power from the Senate and aristocracy.
Populares ("Favoring the people", singular popularis) were aristocratic leaders in the late Roman Republic who tended to use the people's assemblies in an effort to break the stranglehold of the Senate on political power.
Nobiles, ("nobles") belonged to the small groups of families from both patrician and plebeian origins who had a consul in the family.
The term "patrician" originally referred to a group of elite families in ancient Rome, including both their natural and adopted members. In the late Roman empire, the class was broadened to include high court officials.
An equestrian (Latin eques, plural equites - also known as a vir egregius, lit. "excellent man" from the 2nd century AD onwards) was a member of one of the two upper social classes in the Roman Republic and early Roman Empire.
In Ancient Rome, the plebs were the general body of Roman citizens, distinct from the privileged class of the patricians. A member of the plebs was known as a plebeian (Latin: plebeius).
The proletariat (from Latin proles, "offspring") is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is proletarian. Originally it was identified as those people who had no wealth other than their sons; the term was initially used in a derogatory sense.
Ancient Rome Public offices:
Aedile (Latin Aedilis, from aedes, aedis "temple," "building") was an office of the Roman Republic. Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order.
A Censor was a magistrate of high rank in the ancient Roman Republic. This position (called censura) was responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances. The censors' regulation of public morality is the origin of the modern meaning of the words "censor" and "censorship."
The term paladin was used in Ancient Rome for a chamberlain of the Emperor, and also for the imperial palace guard, called the Scholae Palatinae by Constantine.
Consul was the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic and the Empire. During the time of the Republic, the Consuls were the highest civil and military magistrates, serving as the heads of government for the Republic. There were two consuls, and they ruled together. Under the Empire, however, the Consuls were merely a figurative representative of Rome’s republican heritage and held very little power and authority.
Ancient Rome Extraordinary and Ordinary magistrates
Magistratus ordinarii (ordinary magistrates) and Magistratus extraordinarii (extraordinary magistrates) were two categories of officials who held political, military, and, in some cases, religious power in the Roman Republic. The ordinary magistrates were elected annually (except censor) and served for one year. Usually at least two of each ordinary magistrate were elected to prevent one man gaining too much power. By contrast, extraordinary magistrates were elected only in special circumstances and not necessarily with a colleague. The extraordinary magistrates held power over ordinary magistrates.
A legatus (often anglicized as legate) was a general in the Roman army, equivalent to a modern general officer. Being of senatorial rank, his immediate superior was the dux, and he outranked all military tribunes. In order to command an army independently of the dux or provincial governor, legates were required to be of praetorian rank or higher; a legate could be invested with propraetorian imperium (legatus propraetore) in his own right. Legates received large shares of the army's booty at the end of a campaign, which made the position a lucrative one, so it could often attract even distinguished consulars (e.g., the consular Lucius Julius Caesar volunteered late in the Gallic War as a legate under his first cousin once removed, Julius Caesar).
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, either before it was mustered or more typically in the field, or an elected magistrate assigned duties that varied depending on the historical period. The magistracy was called the praetura (praetorship). Its functions were described by the adjective: the praetoria potestas and praetorium imperium (praetorian power and authority) and the praetorium ius (praetorian law), a body of legal precedents set down by the praetors. Praetorium as a substantive meant the location from which the praetor exercised his authority, either the headquarters of his castra, the courthouse (tribunal) of his judiciary, or the city hall of his provincial governorship.
A legal innovation of the Roman Republic, the promagistracy was invented in order to provide Rome with governors of overseas territories instead of having to elect more magistrates each year. Promagistrates were appointed by senatus consultum; like all acts of the Roman Senate, these appointments were not entirely legal and could be overruled by the Roman assemblies, e.g., the replacement of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus by Gaius Marius during the Jugurthine War.
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Roman governors of Britain:
As Britannia, Roman Britain was a consular province, which means its governors need to be appointed consul by Rome before they could govern it. While this rank could be obtained either as a suffect or ordinares, a number of governors were consul ordinares, and also appear in the List of Early Imperial Roman Consuls. Later governors could be of the lower, equestrian rank.
Quaestores were elected officials of the Roman Republic who supervised the treasury and financial affairs of the state, its armies and its officers.
Tribune was a title shared by 2-3 elected magistracies and other governmental and/or military offices of the Roman Republic and Empire. It derived originally from the representatives of the tribes (tribus) into which the Roman people were divided for military and voting purposes.
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank.
Decemviri - vigintisexviri
Decemviri (singular decemvir) is a Latin term meaning "Ten Men" which designates any such commission in the Roman Republic (cf. Triumviri, Three Men). Different types of decemvirate include the writing of laws with consular imperium (legibus scribundis consulari imperio), the judging of litigation (stlitibus iudicandis), the making of sacrifices (sacris faciundis), and the distribution of public lands (agris dandis adsignandis).
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the Ancient Roman College of Pontiffs. This was the most important position in the Ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post. A distinctly religious office under the early Roman Republic, it gradually became politicized until, beginning with Augustus, it was subsumed into the Imperial office.
The Latin word imperator was a title originally roughly equivalent to commander during the period of the Roman Republic. It later went on to become a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen.
In ancient Rome, imperium could be used as a term indicating a characteristic of people, the measure of formal power they had. This qualification could be used in a rather loose context (for example, poets used it, not necessarily writing about state officials). However, in Roman society it was also a more formal concept of legal authority. A man with imperium had in principle absolute authority to apply the law within the scope of his magistracy or promagistracy, but could be vetoed or overruled by a magistrate or promagistrate having imperium maius (a higher degree of imperium) or, as most republican magistratures were multiple (though not quite collegial since each could act on his own), by the equal power of his colleague e.g., the other consul.
The lictor, derived from the Latin ligare (to bind), was a member of a special class of Roman civil servant, with special tasks of attending and guarding magistrates of the Roman Republic and Empire who held imperium. The origin of the tradition of lictors goes back to the time when Rome was a kingdom, perhaps acquired from their Etruscan neighbours.
Constitution of the Roman Republic.
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