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The censor (at any time, there were two) was a magistrate in
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
who was responsible for maintaining the
census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...

census
, supervising
public morality Public morality refers to morality, moral and ethical standards enforced in a society, by law or police work or social pressure, and applied to public life, to the content of the Mass media, media, and to conduct in public places. A famous remar ...
, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances. The power of the censor was absolute: no magistrate could oppose his decisions, and only another censor who succeeded him could cancel those decisions. The censor's regulation of public morality is the origin of the modern meaning of the words ''censor'' and ''censorship''.


Early history of the magistracy

The ''census'' was first instituted by
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
, sixth
king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two different meanings of magistrate have often overlapped and ...
, c. 575–535 BC. After the abolition of the
monarchy A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a ...
and the founding of the
Republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

Republic
in 509 BC, the
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
s had responsibility for the census until 443 BC. In 442 BC, no consuls were elected, but
tribune Tribune () was the title of various elected officials in ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the ...

tribune
s with consular power were appointed instead. This was a move by the
plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in ...

plebeians
to try to attain higher magistracies: only
patricians The patricians (from la, patriciusPatricius may refer to: People * Patricius (consul 500), prominent East Roman general and consul *Patricius (jurist), 5th-century Roman jurist * Patricius (usurper) (died 352), leader of the Jewish revolt aga ...
could be elected consuls, while some military tribunes were plebeians. To prevent the possibility of plebeians obtaining control of the census, the patricians removed the right to take the census from the consuls and tribunes, and appointed for this duty two magistrates, called ''censores'' (censors), elected exclusively from the patricians in Rome. The magistracy continued to be controlled by patricians until 351 BC, when
Gaius Marcius RutilusGaius Marcius Rutilus (also seen as "Rutulus") was the first plebeian The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome ...
was appointed the first plebeian censor. Twelve years later, in 339 BC, one of the
Publilian lawsPublilian Laws refers to a set of laws meant to increase the amount of political power the plebeian The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the foundi ...
required that one censor had to be a plebeian. Despite this, no plebeian censor performed the solemn purification of the people (the "''
lustrum A lustrum (, plural lustra) was a term for a five-year period in Ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the We ...
''"; ''Livy''
Periochae The book ''History of Rome'', sometimes referred to as ''Ab Urbe Condita Libri'' (''Books from the Founding of the City''), is a monumental history of ancient Rome, written in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the ...
13) until 280 BC. In 131 BC, for the first time, both censors were plebeians. The reason for having two censors was that the two consuls had previously taken the census together. If one of the censors died during his term of office, another was chosen to replace him, just as with consuls. This happened only once, in 393 BC. However, the
Gauls The Gauls ( la, Galli; grc, Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') were a group of peoples of in the and the (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD). The area they originally inhabited was known as . Their forms the main branch of th ...
captured Rome in that ''
lustrum A lūstrum (, plural lūstra) was a term for a five-year period in Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and o ...
'' (five-year period), and the Romans thereafter regarded such replacement as "an offense against religion". From then on, if one of the censors died, his colleague resigned, and two new censors were chosen to replace them. Initially the office of censor was limited to eighteen months by a law of the
dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the c ...
Mamercus Aemilius MamercinusMamercus Aemilius Mamercinus was a political figure in the Roman Republic, serving as tribuni militum consulari potestate, consular tribune in 438 BC and Roman dictator, dictator three times in 437, 434, and 426 BC. Prior to gaining the imperium Aem ...
; and the office therefore was of less importance in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. However, during the censorship of
Appius Claudius Caecus by his sons. 19th century painting by Cesare Maccari Cesare Maccari (; 9 May 1840 – 7 August 1919) was an Italian painter and sculptor, most famous for his 1888 painting ''Cicerone denuncia Catalina'' (usually translated as ''Cicero Accuses ...
(312–308 BC) the prestige of the censorship massively increased: Caecus built the first-ever
Roman road Roman roads ( la, viae Romanae ; singular: ; meaning "Roman way") were physical infrastructure vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 300 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Rep ...

Roman road
(
the Via Appia
the Via Appia
) and the first
Roman aqueduct The Ancient Rome, Romans constructed Aqueduct (bridge), aqueducts throughout their Roman Republic, Republic and later Roman Empire, Empire, to bring water from outside sources into cities and towns. Aqueduct water supplied Thermae, public baths, ...

Roman aqueduct
(
the Aqua Appia The Aqua Appia was the first Roman aqueduct Aerial footage of a Roman provincial aqueduct at Mória ( Lesbos) The Romans constructed aqueducts throughout their Republic A republic ( la, res publica, links=yes, meaning "public affair") is ...

the Aqua Appia
), both named after him; he changed the organisation of the
Roman tribes A ''tribus'', or tribe, was a division of the Ancient Rome, Roman people, constituting the voting units of a legislative assembly of the Roman Republic.''Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities'', "Tribus."''Oxford Classical Dic ...
and was the first censor to draw the list of senators; and he also advocated the founding of Roman colonies (
colonia Colonia may refer to: Arts and entertainment *Colonia (music group), a Croatian dance music group *Colonia (Autopsia album), 2002 *Colonia (A Camp album), 2009 *Colonia (film), ''Colonia'' (film), a 2015 historical romantic thriller Places *Col ...
) throughout
Latium Latium ( , ; ) is the region of central western Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory large ...
and
Campania it, Campano (man) it, Campana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 ...
to support the Roman war effort in the
Second Samnite War The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars (343–341 BC, 326–304 BC, and 298–290 BC) were fought between the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run throug ...
. With these efforts and reforms, Appius Claudius Caecus was able to hold the censorship for a whole
lustrum A lūstrum (, plural lūstra) was a term for a five-year period in Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and o ...
(five-year period); and the office of censor, subsequently entrusted with various important duties, eventually attained one of the highest political statuses in the Roman Republic, second only to that of the
consuls A consul is an official representative of the government of one Sovereign state, state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between th ...
.


Election

The censors were elected in the
Centuriate Assembly The Centuriate Assembly (: ''comitia centuriata'') of the was one of the three voting assemblies in the . It was named the Centuriate Assembly as it originally divided Roman citizens into groups of one hundred men by classes. The centuries initial ...
, which met under the presidency of a consul.
Barthold NiebuhrImage:BartholdNiebuhr.jpg, Barthold Georg Niebuhr Barthold Georg Niebuhr (27 August 1776 – 2 January 1831) was a Danish–German statesman, banker, and historian who became Germany's leading historian of Ancient Rome and a founding father of moder ...

Barthold Niebuhr
suggests that the censors were at first elected by the
Curiate Assembly The Curiate Assembly (''comitia curiata'') was the principal assembly that evolved in shape and form over the course of the Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the ...
, and that the Assembly's selections were confirmed by the Centuriate, but William Smith believes that "there is no authority for this supposition, and the truth of it depends entirely upon the correctness of iebuhr's/nowiki> views respecting the election of the consuls". Both censors had to be elected on the same day, and accordingly if the voting for the second was not finished in the same day, the election of the first was invalidated, and a new assembly had to be held. The assembly for the election of the censors was held under different
auspice Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. ...
s from those at the election of the consuls and
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the granted by the government of to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an , and (ii) as an elected ' (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties. The functions of the magi ...
s, so the censors were not regarded as their colleagues, although they likewise possessed the '' maxima auspicia''. The assembly was held by the new consuls shortly after they began their term of office; and the censors, as soon as they were elected and the censorial power had been granted to them by a decree of the Centuriate Assembly (''lex centuriata''), were fully installed in their office. As a general principle, the only ones eligible for the office of censor were those who had previously been consuls, but there were a few exceptions. At first, there was no law to prevent a person being censor twice, but the only person who was elected to the office twice was
Gaius Marcius RutilusGaius Marcius Rutilus (also seen as "Rutulus") was the first plebeian The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome ...
in 265 BC. In that year, he originated a law stating that no one could be elected censor twice. In consequence of this, he received the
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC ...
of ''
Censorinus Censorinus was a Roman grammarian and miscellaneous writer from the 3rd century AD. He was the author of a lost work ''De Accentibus'' and of an extant treatise ''De Die Natali'', written in 238, and dedicated to his patron Quintus Caerellius ...
''.


Attributes

The censorship differed from all other Roman magistracies in the length of office. The censors were originally chosen for a whole ''lustrum'' (the period of five years), but as early as ten years after its institution (433 BC) their office was limited to eighteen months by a law of the
dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the c ...
Mamercus Aemilius MamercinusMamercus Aemilius Mamercinus was a political figure in the Roman Republic, serving as tribuni militum consulari potestate, consular tribune in 438 BC and Roman dictator, dictator three times in 437, 434, and 426 BC. Prior to gaining the imperium Aem ...
. The censors were also unique with respect to rank and dignity. They had no ''
imperium In ancient Rome, ''imperium'' was a form of authority held by a Roman citizenship, citizen to control a military or governmental entity. It is distinct from ''auctoritas'' and ''potestas'', different and generally inferior types of power in t ...

imperium
'', and accordingly no
lictor A lictor (possibly from la, ligare, "to bind") was a Ancient Rome, Roman civil servant who was an attendant and bodyguard to a Roman magistrate, magistrate who held ''imperium''. Lictors are documented since the Roman Kingdom, and may have origi ...

lictor
s. Their rank was granted to them by the Centuriate Assembly, and not by the ''
curia Curia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...

curia
e'', and in that respect they were inferior in power to the consuls and praetors. Notwithstanding this, the censorship was regarded as the highest dignity in the state, with the exception of the dictatorship; it was a "sacred magistracy" (''sanctus magistratus''), to which the deepest reverence was due. The high rank and dignity which the censorship obtained was due to the various important duties gradually entrusted to it, and especially to its possessing the ''regimen morum'', or general control over the conduct and the morals of the citizens. In the exercise of this power, they were regulated solely by their own views of duty, and were not responsible to any other power in the state. The censors possessed the official stool called a "
curule chair A curule seat is a design of a (usually) foldable and transportable chair One of the basic pieces of furniture Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (e.g., chairs, stools, and so ...
" (''sella curulis''), but some doubt exists with respect to their official dress. A well-known passage of Polybius describes the use of the ''imagines'' at funerals; we may conclude that a consul or praetor wore the purple-bordered ''
toga praetexta The toga (, ), a distinctive garment of ancient Rome, was a roughly semicircular cloth, between in length, draped over the shoulders and around the body. It was usually woven from white wool, and was worn over a tunic. In Roman historiography, R ...
'', one who triumphed the embroidered ''
toga picta The toga (, ), a distinctive garment of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest histori ...
'', and the censor a purple toga peculiar to him, but other writers speak of their official dress as being the same as that of the other higher magistrates. The funeral of a censor was always conducted with great pomp and splendour, and hence a "censorial funeral" (''funus censorium'') was voted even to the emperors.


Abolition

The censorship continued in existence for 421 years, from 443 BC to 22 BC, but during this period, many ''lustra'' passed by without any censor being chosen at all. According to one statement, the office was abolished by
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (; 138–78 BC), commonly known as Sulla, was a Ancient Romans, Roman List of Roman generals, general and Politician, statesman. He won the first large-scale civil war in Roman history, and became the first man of Rom ...

Lucius Cornelius Sulla
. Although the authority on which this statement rests is not of much weight, the fact itself is probable, since there was no census during the two ''lustra'' which elapsed from Sulla's dictatorship to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey)'s first consulship (82–70 BC), and any strict "imposition of morals" would have been found inconvenient to the aristocracy that supported Sulla. If the censorship had been done away with by Sulla, it was at any rate restored in the consulship of Pompey and
Marcus Licinius Crassus Marcus Licinius Crassus (; 115 – 53 BC) was a general and statesman who played a key role in the transformation of the into the . He is often called "the richest man in Rome." & .. Trivia-Library. '. 1975–1981. Web. 23 December 2009."Ofte ...

Marcus Licinius Crassus
. Its power was limited by one of the laws of the tribune
Publius Clodius Pulcher Publius Clodius Pulcher (93–52 BC) was a populist Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''E ...
(58 BC), which prescribed certain regular forms of proceeding before the censors in expelling a person from the , and required that the censors be in agreement to exact this punishment. This law, however, was repealed in the third consulship of Pompey in 52 BC, on the urging of his colleague Q. Caecilius Metellus Scipio, but the office of the censorship never recovered its former power and influence. During the
civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publish ...
which followed soon afterwards, no censors were elected; it was only after a long interval that they were again appointed, namely in 22 BC, when
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
caused
Lucius Munatius Plancus Lucius Munatius Plancus ( in Tibur – in Gaeta) was a Roman Senate, Roman senator, Roman consul, consul in 42 BC, and Roman censor, censor in 22 BC with Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus (consul 34 BC), Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus. Along wit ...

Lucius Munatius Plancus
and Aemilius Lepidus Paullus to fill the office. This was the last time that such magistrates were appointed; the emperors in future discharged the duties of their office under the name of Praefectura Morum ("prefect of the morals"). Some of the emperors sometimes took the name of censor when they held a census of the Roman people; this was the case with
Claudius Claudius ( ; Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial p ...

Claudius
, who appointed the elder Lucius Vitellius as his colleague, and with
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 69 to 79 AD. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire ...

Vespasian
, who likewise had a colleague in his son
Titus Titus Caesar Vespasianus ( ; 30 December 39 – 13 September 81 AD) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thro ...

Titus
.
Domitian Domitian (; la, Domitianus; 24 October 51 – 18 September 96) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thr ...

Domitian
assumed the title of "perpetual censor" (''censor perpetuus''), but this example was not imitated by succeeding emperors. In the reign of
Decius Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius (c. 201 ADJune 251 AD), sometimes translated as Trajan Decius or Decius, was the emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler ...

Decius
, we find the elder Valerian nominated to the censorship, but Valerian was never actually elected censor.


Duties

The duties of the censors may be divided into three classes, all of which were closely connected with one another: #The ''
Census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...
'', or register of the citizens and of their property, in which were included the reading of the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...

Senate
's lists (''lectio senatus'') and the recognition of who qualified for
equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian sports, Equestrian sports *Equestrianism, ...
rank (''recognitio equitum''); #The ''Regimen Morum'', or keeping of the public morals; and #The administration of the finances of the state, under which were classed the superintendence of the public buildings and the erection of all new public works. The original business of the censorship was at first of a much more limited kind, and was restricted almost entirely to taking the census, but the possession of this power gradually brought with it fresh power and new duties, as is shown below. A general view of these duties is briefly expressed in the following passage of Cicero: "''Censores populi aevitates, soboles, familias pecuniasque censento: urbis templa, vias, aquas, aerarium, vectigalia tuento: populique partes in tribus distribunto: exin pecunias, aevitates, ordines patiunto: equitum, peditumque prolem describunto: caelibes esse prohibento: mores populi regunto: probrum in senatu ne relinquunto.''" This can be translated as: "The Censors are to determine the generations, origins, families, and properties of the people; they are to (watch over/protect) the city's temples, roads, waters, treasury, and taxes; they are to divide the people into three parts; next, they are to (allow/approve) the properties, generations, and ranks f the people they are to describe the offspring of knights and footsoldiers; they are to forbid being unmarried; they are to guide the behavior of the people; they are not to overlook abuse in the Senate."


Census

The Census, the first and principal duty of the censors, was always held in the
Campus Martius The Campus Martius (Latin for the "Field of Mars", Italian language, Italian ''Campo Marzio'') was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome. The IV Rioni of Rome, rione of ...

Campus Martius
, and from the year 435 BC onwards, in a special building called Villa Publica, which was erected for that purpose by the second pair of censors,
Gaius Furius Pacilus FususGaius Furius Pacilus Fusus was a Ancient Rome, Roman Politician, statesman of the early Roman Republic, Republic.''Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology'', vol. III, p. 80 ("Pacilus", Nos. 1, 2). He was a descendant of the ancient pa ...
and
Marcus Geganius Macerinus Marcus Geganius Macerinus was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'' ...
. An account of the formalities with which the census was opened is given in a fragment of the '' Tabulae Censoriae'', preserved by Varro. After the
auspices Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. ...
had been taken, the citizens were summoned by a public crier to appear before the censors. Each tribe was called up separately, and the names in each tribe were probably taken according to the lists previously made out by the tribunes of the tribes. Every
paterfamilias The ''pater familias'', also written as ''paterfamilias'' (plural ''patres familias''), was the head of a Ancient Rome, Roman family. The ''pater familias'' was the oldest living male in a household, and could legally exercise autocratic authority ...
had to appear in person before the censors, who were seated in their
curule chair A curule seat is a design of a (usually) foldable and transportable chair One of the basic pieces of furniture Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (e.g., chairs, stools, and so ...
s, and those names were taken first which were considered to be of good omen, such as
Valerius The gens Valeria was a patrician (ancient Rome), patrician family at ancient Rome, prominent from the very beginning of the Roman Republic, Republic to the latest period of the Roman Empire, Empire. Publius Valerius Poplicola was one of the Rom ...

Valerius
, Salvius, Statorius, etc. The census was conducted according to the judgment of the censor (''ad arbitrium censoris''), but the censors laid down certain rules, sometimes called ''leges censui censendo'', in which mention was made of the different kinds of property subject to the census, and in what way their value was to be estimated. According to these laws, each citizen had to give an account of himself, of his family, and of his property upon oath, "declared from the heart". First he had to give his full name (
praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:orthonym, orthonym'' is the proper nam ...
,
nomen Nomen may refer to: *Nomen (Roman name) The (or simply ) was a hereditary name borne by the peoples of ancient Italy and later by the citizens of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. It was originally the name of one's (family or clan) by p ...
, and
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC ...
) and that of his father, or if he were a ''
Libertus ''Captives in Rome'', a nineteenth-century painting by Charles W. Bartlett Slavery in ancient Rome played an important role in society and the economy. Besides manual labour, slaves performed many domestic services and might be employed at highl ...
'' ("freedman") that of his
patron Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows on another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes, and the wealthy have provided to artists su ...
, and he was likewise obliged to state his age. He was then asked, "You, declaring from your heart, do you have a wife?" and if married he had to give the name of his wife, and likewise the number, names, and ages of his children, if any. Single women and orphans were represented by their guardians; their names were entered in separate lists, and they were not included in the sum total of heads. After a citizen had stated his name, age, family, etc., he then had to give an account of all his property, so far as it was subject to the census. Only such things were liable to the census (''censui censendo'') as were property according to the Quiritarian law. At first, each citizen appears to have merely given the value of his whole property in general without entering into details; but it soon became the practice to give a minute specification of each article, as well as the general value of the whole. Land formed the most important article of the census, but public land, the possession of which only belonged to a citizen, was excluded as not being Quiritarian property. Judging from the practice of the imperial period, it was the custom to give a most minute specification of all such land as a citizen held according to the Quiritarian law. He had to state the name and location of the land, and to specify what portion of it was arable, what meadow, what vineyard, and what olive-ground: and of the land thus described, he had to give his assessment of its value.
Slave Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that gives ...
s and cattle formed the next most important item. The censors also possessed the right of calling for a return of such objects as had not usually been given in, such as clothing, jewels, and carriages.Livy xxxix.44; Plutarch ''Life of Cato the Elder'' 18. It has been doubted by some modern writers whether the censors possessed the power of setting a higher valuation on the property than the citizens themselves gave, but given the discretionary nature of the censors' powers, and the necessity almost that existed, in order to prevent fraud, that the right of making a surcharge should be vested in somebody's hands, it is likely that the censors had this power. It is moreover expressly stated that on one occasion they made an extravagant surcharge on articles of luxury; and even if they did not enter in their books the property of a person at a higher value than he returned it, they accomplished the same end by compelling him to pay a tax upon the property at a higher rate than others. The tax was usually one per thousand upon the property entered in the books of the censors, but on one occasion the censors compelled a person to pay eight per thousand as a punishment. A person who voluntarily absented himself from the census was considered ''incensus'' and subject to the severest punishment.
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
is said to have threatened such individuals with imprisonment and death, and in the
Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
period he might be sold by the state as a slave. In the later period of the Republic, a person who was absent from the census might be represented by another, and be thus registered by the censors. Whether the soldiers who were absent on service had to appoint a representative is uncertain. In ancient times, the sudden outbreaks of war prevented the census from being taken, because a large number of the citizens would necessarily be absent. It is supposed from a passage in
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
that in later times the censors sent commissioners into the provinces with full powers to take the census of the Roman soldiers there, but this seems to have been a special case. It is, on the contrary, probable from the way in which
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
pleads the absence of Archias from
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
with the army under
Lucullus Lucius Licinius Lucullus (; 118–57/56 BC) was an '' optimatis'' politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Lucius Cornelius Sulla. In the culmination of over twenty years of almost continuous military and government service ...
, as a sufficient reason for his not having been enrolled in the census, that service in the army was a valid excuse for absence. After the censors had received the names of all the citizens with the amount of their property, they then had to make out the lists of the tribes, and also of the classes and centuries; for by the legislation of Servius Tullius the position of each citizen in the state was determined by the amount of his property (
Comitia Centuriata The Centuriate Assembly (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...

Comitia Centuriata
). These lists formed a most important part of the ''Tabulae Censoriae'', under which name were included all the documents connected in any way with the discharge of the censors' duties. These lists, insofar as they were connected with the finances of the state, were deposited in the ''aerarium'', which was the temple of Saturn; but the regular depository for all the archives of the censors was in earlier times the Atrium Libertatis, near the Villa Publica, and in later times the temple of the Nymphs. Besides the division of the citizens into tribes, centuries, and classes, the censors had also to make out the lists of the senators for the ensuing five years, or until new censors were appointed; striking out the names of such as they considered unworthy, and making additions to the body from those who were qualified. In the same manner they held a review of the
Equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian sports, Equestrian sports *Equestrianism, ...
s who received a horse from public funds (''equites equo publico''), and added and removed names as they judged proper. They also confirmed the ''
princeps senatus The ''princeps senatus'' (plural ''principes senatus'') was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the ''cursus honorum The ''cursus honorum'' (; , or more colloquially 'ladder of offices') was the sequ ...
'', or appointed a new one. The princeps himself had to be a former censor. After the lists had been completed, the number of citizens was counted up, and the sum total announced. Accordingly, we find that in the account of a census, the number of citizens is likewise usually given. They are in such cases spoken of as ''capita'' ("heads"), sometimes with the addition of the word ''civium'' ("of the citizens"), and sometimes not. Hence, to be registered in the census was the same thing as "having a head" (''caput habere'').


Census beyond Rome

A census was sometimes taken in the provinces, even under the Republic. The Emperor sent into the provinces special officers called ''Censitores'' to take the census; but the duty was sometimes discharged by the Imperial legati. The Censitores were assisted by subordinate officers, called Censuales, who made out the lists, etc. In Rome, the census was still taken under the empire, but the old ceremonies connected with it were no longer performed, and the ceremony of the lustration was not performed after the time of
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 69 to 79 AD. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire ...

Vespasian
. The jurists Paulus and
Ulpian Ulpian (; la, Gnaeus Domitius Annius Ulpianus; c. 170223? 228?) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', short ...

Ulpian
each wrote works on the census in the imperial period; and several extracts from these works are given in a chapter in the ''Digest'' (50 15).


Other uses of census

The word ''census'', besides the conventional meaning of "valuation" of a person's estate, has other meaning in Rome; it could refer to: *the amount of a person's property (hence we read of ''census senatorius'', the estate of a senator; ''census equestris'', the estate of an eques). *the lists of the censors. *the tax which depended upon the valuation in the census. The Lexicons will supply examples of these meanings.


''Regimen morum''

Keeping the public morals (''regimen morum'', or in the
empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

empire
''cura morum'' or ''praefectura morum'') was the second most important branch of the censors' duties, and the one which caused their office to be one of the most revered and the most dreaded in the Roman state; hence they were also known as ''Castigatores'' ("chastisers"). It naturally grew out of the right which they possessed of excluding persons from the lists of citizens; for, as has been well remarked, "they would, in the first place, be the sole judges of many questions of fact, such as whether a citizen had the qualifications required by law or custom for the rank which he claimed, or whether he had ever incurred any judicial sentence, which rendered him infamous: but from thence the transition was easy, according to Roman notions, to the decisions of questions of right; such as whether a citizen was really worthy of retaining his rank, whether he had not committed some act as justly degrading as those which incurred the sentence of the law." In this manner, the censors gradually assumed at least nominal complete superintendence over the whole public and private life of every citizen. They were constituted as the conservators of public morality; they were not simply to prevent crime or particular acts of immorality, but rather to maintain the traditional Roman character, ethics, and habits (''mos majorum'')—''regimen morum'' also encompassed this protection of traditional ways, which was called in the times of the empire ''cura'' ("supervision") or ''praefectura'' ("command"). The punishment inflicted by the censors in the exercise of this branch of their duties was called ''nota'' ("mark, letter") or ''notatio'', or ''animadversio censoria'' ("censorial reproach"). In inflicting it, they were guided only by their conscientious convictions of duty; they had to take an oath that they would act biased by neither partiality nor favour; and, in addition to this, they were bound in every case to state in their lists, opposite the name of the guilty citizen, the cause of the punishment inflicted on him, ''Subscriptio censoria''. This part of the censors' office invested them with a peculiar kind of jurisdiction, which in many respects resembled the exercise of public opinion in modern times; for there are innumerable actions which, though acknowledged by everyone to be prejudicial and immoral, still do not come within the reach of the positive laws of a country; as often said, "immorality does not equal illegality". Even in cases of real crimes, the positive laws frequently punish only the particular offence, while in public opinion the offender, even after he has undergone punishment, is still incapacitated for certain honours and distinctions which are granted only to persons of unblemished character. Hence the Roman censors might brand a man with their "censorial mark" (''nota censoria'') in case he had been convicted of a crime in an ordinary court of justice, and had already suffered punishment for it. The consequence of such a ''nota'' was only '' ignominia'' and not ''
infamia In ancient Roman culture The culture of ancient Rome existed throughout the almost 1200-year history of the civilization of Ancient Rome. The term refers to the culture of the Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, which at its peak covered a ...

infamia
''. ''Infamia'' and the censorial verdict was not a ''judicium'' or ''res judicata'', for its effects were not lasting, but might be removed by the following censors, or by a ''
lex Lex or LEX may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''Lex'', a daily featured column in the ''Financial Times'' Games * Lex, the mascot of the word-forming puzzle video game ''Bookworm'' * Lex, the protagonist of the word-forming puzzle video ga ...
'' (roughly "law"). A censorial mark was moreover not valid unless both censors agreed. The ''ignominia'' was thus only a transitory reduction of status, which does not even appear to have deprived a magistrate of his office, and certainly did not disqualify persons labouring under it for obtaining a magistracy, for being appointed as ''judices'' by the
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the granted by the government of to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an , and (ii) as an elected ' (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties. The functions of the magi ...
, or for serving in the
Roman armies The Roman army (Latin language, Latin: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of Ancient Rome, from the Roman Kingdom (to c. 500 BC) to the Roman Republic (500–31 BC) and the Roman Empire (31 BC–395 AD), and it ...

Roman armies
.
Mamercus Aemilius MamercinusMamercus Aemilius Mamercinus was a political figure in the Roman Republic, serving as tribuni militum consulari potestate, consular tribune in 438 BC and Roman dictator, dictator three times in 437, 434, and 426 BC. Prior to gaining the imperium Aem ...
was thus, notwithstanding the reproach of the censors (''animadversio censoria''), made
dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the c ...
. A person might be branded with a censorial mark in a variety of cases, which it would be impossible to specify, as in a great many instances it depended upon the discretion of the censors and the view they took of a case; and sometimes even one set of censors would overlook an offence which was severely chastised by their successors. But the offences which are recorded to have been punished by the censors are of a threefold nature. A person who had been branded with a ''nota censoria'', might, if he considered himself wronged, endeavour to prove his innocence to the censors, and if he did not succeed, he might try to gain the protection of one of the censors, that he might intercede on his behalf.


Punishments

The punishments inflicted by the censors generally differed according to the station which a man occupied, though sometimes a person of the highest rank might suffer all the punishments at once, by being degraded to the lowest class of citizens. But they are generally divided into four classes: #''Motio'' ("removal") or ''ejectio e senatu'' ("ejection from the Senate"), or the exclusion of a man from the ranks of senators. This punishment might either be a simple exclusion from the list of senators, or the person might at the same time be excluded from the tribes and degraded to the rank of an aerarian. The latter course seems to have been seldom adopted; the ordinary mode of inflicting the punishment was simply this: the censors in their new lists omitted the names of such senators as they wished to exclude, and in reading these new lists in public, quietly omitted the names of those who were no longer to be senators. Hence the expression ''praeteriti senatores'' ("senators passed over") is equivalent to ''e senatu ejecti'' (those removed from the senate). In some cases, however, the censors did not acquiesce to this simple mode of proceeding, but addressed the senator whom they had noted, and publicly reprimanded him for his conduct. As, however, in ordinary cases an ex-senator was not disqualified by his ''ignominia'' for holding any of the magistracies which opened the way to the senate, he might at the next census again become a senator. #The ''ademptio equi'', or the taking away the publicly funded horse from an
equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian sports, Equestrian sports *Equestrianism, ...
. This punishment might likewise be simple, or combined with the exclusion from the tribes and the degradation to the rank of an aerarian. #The ''motio e tribu'', or the exclusion of a person from his tribe. This punishment and the degradation to the rank of an aerarian were originally the same; but when in the course of time a distinction was made between the rural or rustic tribes and the urban tribes, the ''motio e tribu'' transferred a person from the rustic tribes to the less respectable city tribes, and if the further degradation to the rank of an aerarian was combined with the ''motio e tribu'', it was always expressly stated. #The fourth punishment was called ''referre in aerarios'' or ''facere aliquem aerarium'', and might be inflicted on any person who was thought by the censors to deserve it. This degradation, properly speaking, included all the other punishments, for an equestrian could not be made an ''aerarius'' unless he was previously deprived of his horse, nor could a member of a rustic tribe be made an ''aerarius'' unless he was previously excluded from it. It was this authority of the Roman censors which eventually developed into the modern meaning of "censor" and "
censorship Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information. This may be done on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by governments ...

censorship
"—i.e., officials who review published material and forbid the publication of material judged to be contrary to "public morality" as the term is interpreted in a given political and social environment.


Administration of the finances of the state

The administration of the state's finances was another part of the censors' office. In the first place the '' tributum'', or property-tax, had to be paid by each citizen according to the amount of his property registered in the census, and, accordingly, the regulation of this tax naturally fell under the jurisdiction of the censors. They also had the superintendence of all the other revenues of the state, the vectigalia, such as the tithes paid for the public lands, the
salt Salt is a mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure fo ...

salt
works, the mines, the customs, etc. The censors typically auctioned off to the highest bidder for the space of a ''lustrum'' the collection of the tithes and taxes (
tax farming Farming or tax-farming is a technique of financial management in which the management of a variable revenue stream is assigned by legal contract to a third party and the holder of the revenue stream receives fixed periodic rents from the contract ...
). This auctioning was called ''venditio'' or ''locatio'', and seems to have taken place in the month of March, in a public place in Rome The terms on which they were let, together with the rights and duties of the purchasers, were all specified in the ''leges censoriae'', which the censors published in every case before the bidding commenced. For further particulars see
Publicani In antiquity, publicans ( Greek τελώνης ''telōnēs'' (singular); Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area aro ...
. The censors also possessed the right, though probably not without the assent of the Senate, of imposing new ''vectigalia'', and even of selling the land belonging to the state. It would thus appear that it was the duty of the censors to bring forward a budget for a five-year period, and to take care that the income of the state was sufficient for its expenditure during that time. In part, their duties resembled those of a modern
minister of finance A finance minister is an executive or cabinet position in charge of one or more of government finances, economic policy and financial regulation. A finance minister's portfolio Portfolio may refer to: Objects * Portfolio (briefcase), a ty ...
. The censors, however, did not receive the revenues of the state. All the public money was paid into the ''
aerariumAerarium (from Latin "aes", in its derived sense of "money") was the name (in full, "aerarium stabulum" - treasure-house) given in Ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italia ...
'', which was entirely under the jurisdiction of the senate; and all disbursements were made by order of this body, which employed the
quaestor A ( , ; "investigator") was a public official in Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest ...
s as its officers.


Overseeing public works

In one important department, the public works, the censors were entrusted with the expenditure of the public money (though the actual payments were no doubt made by the
quaestors A ( , ; "investigator") was a public official in Ancient Rome. The position served different functions depending on the period. In the Roman Kingdom, ' (quaestors with judicial powers) were appointed by the king to investigate and handle murders. ...
). The censors had the general superintendence of all the public buildings and works (''opera publica''), and to meet the expenses connected with this part of their duties, the senate voted them a certain sum of money or certain revenues, to which they were restricted, but which they might at the same time employ according to their discretion. They had to see that the temples and all other public buildings were in a good state of repair, that no public places were encroached upon by the occupation of private persons, and that the
aqueduct Aqueduct may refer to: Bridges *Aqueduct (bridge), a bridge to convey water over an obstacle, such as a ravine or valley *Navigable aqueduct, or water bridge, a structure to carry navigable waterway canals over other rivers, valleys, railways or r ...
, roads, drains, etc. were properly attended to. The repairs of the public works and the keeping of them in proper condition were let out by the censors by
public auction A government auction or a public auction is an auction held on behalf of a government in which the property to be auctioned is either property owned by the government or property which is sold under the authority of a court of law or a government a ...
to the lowest bidder, just as the ''vectigalia'' were let out to the highest bidder. These expenses were called '' ultrotributa'', and hence we frequently find ''vectigalia'' and ''ultrotributa'' contrasted with one another. The persons who undertook the contract were called ''conductores'', ''mancipes'', ''redemptores'', ''susceptores'', etc.; and the duties they had to discharge were specified in the Leges Censoriae. The censors had also to superintend the expenses connected with the worship of the gods, even for instance the feeding of the sacred geese in the Capitol; these various tasks were also let out on contract. It was ordinary for censors to expend large amounts of money (“by far the largest and most extensive” of the state) in their public works. Besides keeping existing public buildings and facilities in a proper state of repair, the censors were also in charge of constructing new ones, either for ornament or utility, both in Rome and in other parts of Italy, such as temples, basilicae, theatres, porticoes, Roman Forum, fora, walls of towns, Aqueduct (Roman), aqueducts, harbours, bridges, cloacae, roads, etc. These works were either performed by them jointly, or they divided between them the money, which had been granted to them by the senate. They were let out to contractors, like the other works mentioned above, and when they were completed, the censors had to see that the work was performed in accordance with the contract: this was called ''opus probare'' or ''in acceptum referre''. The first ever
Roman road Roman roads ( la, viae Romanae ; singular: ; meaning "Roman way") were physical infrastructure vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 300 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Rep ...

Roman road
, the Via Appia, and the first
Roman aqueduct The Ancient Rome, Romans constructed Aqueduct (bridge), aqueducts throughout their Roman Republic, Republic and later Roman Empire, Empire, to bring water from outside sources into cities and towns. Aqueduct water supplied Thermae, public baths, ...

Roman aqueduct
, the Aqua Appia, were all constructed under the censorship of
Appius Claudius Caecus by his sons. 19th century painting by Cesare Maccari Cesare Maccari (; 9 May 1840 – 7 August 1919) was an Italian painter and sculptor, most famous for his 1888 painting ''Cicerone denuncia Catalina'' (usually translated as ''Cicero Accuses ...
, one of the most influential censors. The aediles had likewise a superintendence over the public buildings, and it is not easy to define with accuracy the respective duties of the censors and aediles, but it may be remarked in general that the superintendence of the aediles had more of a police character, while that of the censors were more financial in subject matter.


Lustrum

After the censors had performed their various duties and taken the five-yearly census, the ''
lustrum A lūstrum (, plural lūstra) was a term for a five-year period in Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and o ...
'', a solemn purification of the people, followed. When the censors entered upon their office, they drew lots to see which of them should perform this purification;''lustrum facere'' or ''condere'', Varro ''De lingua Latina'' vi.86; Livy xxix.37, xxxv.9, xxxviii.36, xlii.10. but both censors were of course obliged to be present at the ceremony. Long after the Roman census was no longer taken, the Latin word ''lustrum'' has survived, and been adopted in some modern languages, in the derived sense of a period of five years, i.e. half a decennium.


Census statistics


Sources

*Brunt, P. A. Italian Manpower 225 BC – AD 14. Oxford, 1971; * *Virlouvet, C. Famines et émeutes à Rome, des origines de la République à la mort de Néron. Roma, 1985; *Suder, W., Góralczyk, E. Sezonowość epidemii w Republice Rzymskiej. Vitae historicae, Księga jubileuszowa dedykowana profesorowi Lechowi A. Tyszkiewiczowi w siedemdziesiątą rocznicę urodzin. Wrocław, 2001. *Suolahti, J. The Roman Censors: A Study on Social Structure. Helsinki, 1963.
Melnichuk Y. Birth of the Roman censorship: Exploring the ancient tradition of the civil control of ancient Rome. - Moscow, 2010


See also

*Birth registration in Ancient Rome *Constitution of the Roman Republic *Cursus honorum *Lex Caecilia De Censoria *List of topics related to ancient Rome *List of censors *Political institutions of Rome *Pauly–Wissowa *Roman Republic


References


External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Roman Censor Roman censors, * Ancient Roman titles Ancient Roman occupations, Censor Cursus honorum Governmental auctions