HOME

TheInfoList




Aedile ( ; la, aedīlis , from , "temple edifice") was an elected office of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with the of the (traditionally dated to 509 BC) and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the , Rome's control rapidly expanded durin ...
. Based in
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 ...
, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings () and regulation of public
festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or Muslim holidays, eid. A festiva ...

festival
s. They also had powers to enforce public order and duties to ensure the city of Rome was well supplied and its civil infrastructure well maintained, akin to modern
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of public policy, government policy and also an academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civ ...
. There were two pairs of aediles: the first were the "plebeian aediles" (Latin ''aediles plebis'') and possession of this office was limited to plebeians; the other two were "curule aediles" (Latin ''aediles curules''), open to both plebeians and patricians, in alternating years. An ''aedilis curulis'' was classified as a ''
magister curulis Magister is Latin for "master" or "teacher". It may refer to: Positions and titles * Magister degree, an academic degree * Magister equitum, or Master of the Horse * Magister militum, a master of the soldiers * Magister officiorum (''master of off ...
''. The office of the aedilis was generally held by young men intending to follow the
cursus honorum The ''cursus honorum'' (; , or more colloquially 'ladder of offices') was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; ...
to high political office, traditionally after their
quaestor 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. ...
ship but before their
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some langua ...
ship. It was not a compulsory part of the cursus, and hence a former quaestor could be elected to the praetorship without having held the position of aedile. However, it was an advantageous position to hold because it demonstrated the aspiring politician's commitment to public service, as well as giving him the opportunity to hold public festivals and games, an excellent way to increase his name recognition and popularity.


History of the office


Plebeian aediles

The plebeian aediles were created in the same year as the
Tribunes of the People Tribune of the plebs, tribune of the people or plebeian tribune ( la, tribunus plebis) was the first office of the Roman Republic, Roman state that was open to the plebs, plebeians, and was, throughout the history of the Republic, the most important ...
(494 BC). Originally intended as assistants to the tribunes, they guarded the rights of the plebs with respect to their headquarters, the
Temple of Ceres The Sanctuary of Ceres, Liber and Libera (Latin: ''Aedes Cereris, Liberi et Liberae'') was a temple to Ceres Ceres most commonly refers to: * Ceres (dwarf planet) Ceres (; minor-planet designation: 1 Ceres) is the smallest recognized dwarf plan ...
. Subsequently, they assumed responsibility for maintenance of the city's buildings as a whole. Their duties at first were simply ministerial. They were the assistants to the tribunes in whatever matters that the tribunes might entrust to them, although most matters with which they were entrusted were of minimal importance. Around 446 BC, they were given the authority to care for the decrees of the senate ( la,
senatus consulta A ''senatus consultum'' (Latin – decree of the senate; plural ''senatus consulta'') is a text emanating from the senate in Ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian ...
). When a was passed, it would be transcribed into a document, and deposited in the
public treasury In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different concept to the sociology, sociological concept of the ''Ö ...
, 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 ...
''. They were given this power because 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 ...
, who had held this power before, arbitrarily suppressed and altered the documents.Liv. III.55 They also maintained the acts of the
Plebeian Council The ''Concilium Plebis'' (English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually ...
(popular assembly), the "plebiscites". Plebiscites, once passed, were also transcribed into a physical document for storage. While their powers grew over time, it is not always easy to distinguish the difference between their powers, and those of the
censors 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, ...
. Occasionally, if a Censor was unable to carry out one of his tasks, an Aedile would perform the task instead.


Curule aediles

According to
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 ...
(vi. 42), after the passing of the Licinian rogations in 367 BC, an extra day was added to the Roman games; the plebeian aediles refused to bear the additional expense, whereupon the patricians offered to undertake it, on condition that they were admitted to the aedileship. The plebeians accepted the offer, and accordingly two ''curule'' aediles were appointed—at first from the patricians alone, then from patricians and plebeians in turn, lastly, from either—at the
Tribal Assembly The Tribal Assembly (''comitia populi tributa'') was an assembly consisting of all Roman citizens convened by tribes (''tribus''). In the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of ...
under the presidency of the consul. Curule Aediles, as formal magistrates, held certain honors that Plebeian Aediles (who were not technically magistrates), did not hold. Besides having the right to sit on 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'') and to wear a
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 ...
, the Curule Aediles also held the power to issue edicts (''jus edicendi''). These edicts often pertained to matters such as the regulation of the public markets, or what we might call "economic regulation".
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 ...
suggests, perhaps incorrectly, that both Curule as well as Plebeian Aediles were sacrosanct. Although the curule aediles always ranked higher than the plebeian, their functions gradually approximated and became practically identical. Within five days after the beginning of their terms, the four Aediles (two Plebeian, two Curule) were required to determine, by lot or by agreement among themselves, what parts of the city each should hold jurisdiction over.


Differences between the two

There was a distinction between the two sets of Aediles when it came to public festivals. Some festivals were Plebeian in nature, and thus were under the superintendence of Plebeian Aediles. Other festivals were supervised exclusively by the Curule Aediles, and it was often with these festivals that the Aediles would spend lavishly. This was often done so as to secure the support of voters in future elections. Because Aediles were not reimbursed for any of their public expenditures, most individuals who sought the office were independently wealthy. Since this office was a stepping stone to higher office and the Senate, it helped to ensure that only wealthy individuals (mostly landowners) would win election to high office. These extravagant expenditures began shortly after the end of
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...

Second Punic War
, and increased as the spoils returned from Rome's new eastern conquests. Even the decadence of the emperors rarely surpassed that of the Aediles under the Republic, as could have been seen during Aedileship.


Election to the office

Plebeian aediles were elected by the
Plebeian Council The ''Concilium Plebis'' (English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually ...
, usually while under the presidency of a
Plebeian Tribune Tribune of the plebs, tribune of the people or plebeian tribune ( la, tribunus plebis) was the first office of the Roman state that was open to the plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, anci ...
. Curule aediles were elected by the
Tribal Assembly The Tribal Assembly (''comitia populi tributa'') was an assembly consisting of all Roman citizens convened by tribes (''tribus''). In the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of ...
, usually while under the presidency of a
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 ...
. Since the plebeian aediles were elected 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
, rather than by all of the (plebeians as well as members of the
Patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
aristocracy), they were not technically
magistrates The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In ancient Rome, a ''Roman magistrate, magistratus'' was one of the highest ranking government officers, and posse ...
. Before the passage of the '' lex annalis'', individuals could run for the aedileship by the time they turned twenty-seven. After the passage of this law in 180 BC, a higher age was set, probably thirty-five. By the 1st century BC, aediles were elected in July, and took office on the first day in January.


Powers of the office

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
( Legg. iii. 3, 7) divides these functions under three heads: (1) Care of the city: the repair and preservation of temples, sewers and aqueducts; street cleansing and paving; regulations regarding traffic, dangerous animals and dilapidated buildings; precautions against fire; superintendence of baths and taverns; enforcement of
sumptuary Sumptuary laws (from 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 R ...
laws; punishment of gamblers and usurers; the care of public morals generally, including the prevention of foreign superstitions and the registration of
meretrices Prostitution in ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In ancient Rome, even Social class in ancient Rome, Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval, as long as they demon ...
. They also punished those who had too large a share of the
ager publicus The ''ager publicus'' (; "public land") is the 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 Lati ...
, or kept too many cattle on the state pastures. (2) Care of provisions: investigation of the quality of the articles supplied and the correctness of weights and measures; the purchase of grain for disposal at a low price in case of necessity. (3) Care of the games: superintendence and organization of the public games, as well as of those given by themselves and private individuals (e.g. at funerals) at their own expense. Ambitious persons often spent enormous sums in this manner to win the popular favor with a view to official advancement.


Under the Empire

In 44 BC
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) 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 *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
added two plebeian aediles, called ''Cereales'', whose special duty was the care of the cereal (grain) supply. Under
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
the office lost much of its importance, its judicial functions and the care of the games being transferred to the praetor, while its city responsibilities were limited by the appointment of a
praefectus urbi The ''praefectus urbanus'', also called ''praefectus urbi'' or urban prefect in English, was prefect Prefect (from the Latin ''praefectus'', substantive adjectival form of ''praeficere'': "put in front", meaning in charge) is a Magistrate, m ...
. Augustus took for himself its powers over various religious duties. By stripping it of its powers over temples, Augustus effectively destroyed the office, by taking from it its original function. After this point, few people were willing to hold such a powerless office, and Augustus was even known to compel individuals into holding the office. Augustus accomplished this by randomly selecting former tribunes and quaestors for the office. Future emperors would continue to dilute the power of the office by transferring its powers to newly created offices. However, the office did retain some powers over licentiousness and disorder, in particular over the baths and brothels, as well as the registration of prostitutes. In the 3rd century, it disappeared altogether. Under the Empire, Roman colonies and cities often had officials with powers similar to those of the republican aediles, although their powers widely varied. It seems as though they were usually chosen annually. Today in
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
the county mayor can still be referred to as ''edil'' (e.g. 'O edil de Coimbra', meaning 'the mayor of
Coimbra Coimbra (, also , , or ) is a city and a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entit ...

Coimbra
'), a way of reference used also in Romania for any mayors (ex. 'Edil al Bucureștiului', meaning 'mayor of Bucharest'). In Spain (and Latin America) the members of municipal councils are called ''concejales'' or ''ediles''.


Shakespeare

In his play ''
Coriolanus ''Coriolanus'' ( or ) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman Republic, Roman leader Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Sh ...

Coriolanus
'',
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

Shakespeare
references the aediles. However, they are minor characters, and their chief role is to serve as policemen.


See also

* Aetheling * Agoranomi *
Constitution of the Roman Republic The constitution of the Roman Republic was a set of uncodified norms and customs which, together with various written laws, guided the procedural governance of the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a sta ...
*
Ethel Ethel (also '' æthel'') is an Old English word meaning "noble", today often used as a feminine given name and sometimes as a surname. Etymology and historic usage The word means ''æthel'' "noble". It is frequently attested as the first elemen ...

Ethel


References


Books

* * * {{Authority control Cursus honorum Ancient Roman occupations Ancient Roman titles