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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 historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
. The position served different functions depending on the period. In the
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilis ...
, ' (quaestors with judicial powers) were appointed by the king to investigate and handle murders. In the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
, quaestors (Lat. ') were elected officials who supervised the state treasury and conducted
audits An audit is an "independent examination of financial information of any entity, whether profit oriented or not, irrespective of its size or legal form when such an examination is conducted with a view to express an opinion thereon.” Auditing ...

audits
. It was the lowest ranking position in the ' (course of offices). However, this means that in the political environment of Rome, it was quite common for many aspiring politicians to take the position of quaestor as an early rung on the political ladder. In the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, the position, which was initially replaced by the ' (prefect), reemerged during the late empire as ', a position appointed by the emperor to lead the imperial council and respond to petitioners.


Etymology

''Quaestor'' derives from the Latin verb ', ', meaning "to inquire". The job title has traditionally been understood as deriving from the original investigative function of the '. Ancient authors, perhaps influenced by etymology, reasoned that the investigative role of the ' had evolved to include financial matters, giving rise to the similarly-named later offices. However, this connection has been questioned by modern scholars.


History


Origins

The earliest quaestors were ' (quaestors with judicial power), an office dating back to the Kingdom of Rome. ' were chosen to investigate capital crimes, and may have been appointed as needed rather than holding a permanent position. Ancient authors disagree on the exact manner of selection for this office as well as on its earliest institution, with some dating it to the mythical reign of
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
.


Roman Republic

In the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
, quaestors were elected officials who supervised the treasury and financial accounts of the state, its armies and its officers. The quaestors tasked with financial supervision were also called ', because they oversaw the ' (public treasury) in the
Temple of Saturn The Temple of Saturn (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 ...

Temple of Saturn
. The earliest origins of the office is obscure, but by about 420 BC there were four quaestors elected each year by the ' (Assembly of the People). After 267 BC, the number was expanded to ten. The office of quaestor, usually a former broad-striped tribune, was adopted as the first official post of the ' ( course of offices), the standard sequence that made up a career in public service. Once elected as quaestor, a Roman man earned the right to sit in 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
and began progressing through the '. Quaestors were not provided any ' (civil servant bodyguards) while in the city of Rome, but while in the provinces, they were allowed to have the ' (a bound bundle of wooden rods symbolizing a
magistrate 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 , a ' was one of the highest ranking government officers, and possessed both and powers. In other parts of t ...
's authority and jurisdiction). Every
Roman consul A consul held the highest elected political office The incumbent is the current holder of an office An office is a space where an Organization, organization's employees perform Business administration, administrative Work (human acti ...
, the highest elected official in the ', and every
provincial governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (p ...
was appointed a quaestor. Some quaestors were assigned to work in the city and others in the provinces where their responsibilities could include being recruited into the military. Some provincial quaestors were assigned as staff to military generals or served as second-in-command to governors in the Roman provinces. Still others were assigned to oversee military finances.
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 ...
's reforms in 81 BC raised the number of quaestors to 20 and the minimum age for a quaestorship was 30 for
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 ...
(members of ruling class families) and 32 for plebeians (commoners). Additionally, the reforms granted quaestors automatic membership in the Senate upon being elected, whereas previously, membership in the Senate was granted only after
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, ...
revised the Senate rolls, which occurred less frequently than the annual induction of quaestors. This relationship between a consul and a quaestor was similar to that between a
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 ...

patron
and a client. The quaestor was essentially a client to their superior. There was some level of mutual respect between the two individuals, but a defined sense of place and knowledge of each other's roles. This relationship often continued past the designated terms of either individual, and the quaestor could be called upon for assistance or other needs by the consul. Breaking this pact or doing harm by a former superior would make the quaestor seem dishonorable or even treasonous.


Late Antiquity

Constantine the Great Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ...

Constantine the Great
created the office ' (quaestor of the sacred place) which functioned as the Roman Empire's senior legal official. Emperor
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
also created the offices ', a judicial and police official for
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
, and ' (quaestor of the army), a short-lived joint military-administrative post covering the border of the lower
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
. The ' survived long into the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
, although its duties were altered to match the '. The term is last attested in 14th century
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
as a purely honorific title.


Powers and responsibilities


Roman Republic

In the early republic, there were two quaestors, and their duties were maintaining the public treasury, both taking in funds and deciding whom to pay them to. This continued until 421 BCE when the number of quaestors was doubled to 4. While two continued with the same duties of those that had come before, the other two had additional responsibilities, each being in service to the one of the consuls. When consuls went to war, each was assigned a quaestor. The quaestor's main responsibilities involved the distribution of war spoils between 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 ...
, or public treasury, and the army. The key responsibility of the quaestor was the administration of public funds to higher-ranking officials in order to pursue their goals, whether those involve military conquests which require funding for armies or public works projects. The office of quaestor was a position bound to their superior, whether that be a consul, governor, or other magistrate, and the duties would often reflect their superiors. For example,
Gaius Gracchus Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (154–121 BC) was a populist Ancient Roman, Roman politician in the 2nd century BC and brother of the reformer Tiberius Gracchus, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. His election to the office of tribune in the years 123 BC an ...
was quaestor under the consul Orestes in
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the Mediterranean islands#By area, second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, and one of the Regions of Italy, 20 regions of Italy. It is located west of the Italian Penin ...

Sardinia
, and many of his responsibilities involved leading military forces. While not in direct command of the army, the quaestor would be in charge of organizational and lesser duties that were a necessary part of the war machine.


Roman Empire

During the reign of the Emperor
Constantine I Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). Th ...

Constantine I
, the office of quaestor was reorganized into a judicial position known as the quaestor sacri palatii. The office functioned as the primary legal adviser to the emperor, and was charged with the creation of laws as well as answers petitions to the emperor. From 440 onward, the office of the quaestor worked in conjunction with the
praetorian prefect of the East The praetorian prefecture of the East, or of the Orient ( la, praefectura praetorio Orientis, el, ἐπαρχότης/ὑπαρχία τῶν πραιτωρίων τῆς ἀνατολῆς) was one of four large praetorian prefectures into which ...
to oversee the supreme tribunal, or supreme court, at
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
. There they heard appeals from the various subordinate courts and governors.


Byzantine Empire

Under the Emperor
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
, an additional office named quaestor was created to control police and judicial matters in Constantinople. In this new position, a quaestor was responsible for
wills Wills is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Alec Wills (1911-1941), English cricketer and Royal Air Force officer * Alfred Wills (1828–1912), English High Court judge and mountaineer * Andrew Wills (b. 1972), Australian rules fo ...
, as well as supervision of complaints by tenants regarding their landlords, and finally over the homeless.


Notable quaestors

See also Roman Quaestors.


Gaius Gracchus

Following the death of his brother
Tiberius Gracchus Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (163/162–133 BC) was a populist Roman politician best known for his agrarian law, agrarian reform law entailing the transfer of land from the Roman state and wealthy landowners to poorer citizens. Against stiff opp ...

Tiberius Gracchus
,
Gaius Gracchus Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (154–121 BC) was a populist Ancient Roman, Roman politician in the 2nd century BC and brother of the reformer Tiberius Gracchus, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. His election to the office of tribune in the years 123 BC an ...
stayed out of the political spotlight for a period until he was forced to defend a good friend of his named Vettius in court. Hearing his vocal abilities, the Senate began to fear that Gaius would arouse the people in the same manner as his brother and appointed him quaestor to
Gnaeus Aufidius OrestesGnaeus Aufidius Orestes (died 1st century BC) was a Roman politician who was elected Roman consul, consul in 71 BC. Biography Originally born into the Orestes branch of the Plebeian Aurelia (gens), gens Aurelia, Aufidius Orestes was adopted by the e ...
in Sardinia to prevent him from becoming a tribune. Gaius used his position as quaestor to successfully defeat his enemies as well as gain a large amount of loyalty among his troops. Following an incident where Gaius won the support of a local village to provide for his troops, the Senate attempted to keep Gaius in Sardinia indefinitely by reappointing Orestes to stay in Sardinia. Gaius was not pleased by this and returned to Rome demanding an explanation, actions which eventually led to his election as a tribune of the people.


Marcus Antonius

Marcus Antonius, or
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
, who is most well known for his civil war with
Octavian Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate (the first phase of the Roman Empire) has consolidated ...
, started off his political career in the position of quaestor after being a prefect in Syria and then one of
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
's
legates A ''legatus'' (Anglicisation, anglicised as legate) was a high-ranking Roman military officer in the Roman Army, equivalent to a modern high-ranking general officer. Initially used to delegate power, the term became formalised under Augustus as ...

legates
in
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
. Through a combination of Caesar's favor and his oratory skills defending the legacy of
Publius Clodius Publius Clodius Pulcher (93–52 BC) was a populist Roman Republic, Roman politician and street agitator during the time of the First Triumvirate. One of the most colourful personalities of his era, Clodius was descended from the aristocratic Cl ...
, Antony was able to win the quaestorship in 51 BCE. This then led to Antony's election as
augur An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious ...

augur
and tribune of the people in 50 B.C.E. due to Caesar's efforts to reward his ally.


Gaius Julius Caesar

While Julius Caesar served as Quaestor to the Proconsul/Propraetor of Hispania Ulterior he took major military action against the rebellious tribes of the region. His time as Quaestor was uneventful although when he became Governor there, he settled the disputes.


Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero was the Quaestor to the Propraetor/Proconsul of Sicily. He fixed major agricultural problems in the region and improved on the purchase and selling of grain. The farmers after this loved Cicero and began to travel to Rome to vote for him in elections every year.


See also

*
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 state ...
* Obultronius Sabinus * List of Roman quaestors *
Roman magistrate The Roman magistrates were 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 earliest hi ...


References


Further reading

* Bourne, Frank (Princeton University). "A History of the Romans" Boston, MA. 1967, D.C. Heath and Company


External links

{{Ancient Rome topics Ancient Roman titles Latin political words and phrases * Cursus honorum