It was set up by Auguste, under cover to restore the République and to maintain the institutions existing. Under the principat there are thus always a Sénat, Consul S, Préteur S and municipal official S (which will disappear however towards the reign from Alexandre Sévère). If appearances of the Republic are maintained, the capacity passes between the hands of the emperor.
The only legal existence of this last is its title: it is Princeps senatus , i.e. “first (prince) of the Senate”. In the facts the Princeps was the first senator, named before by the Censeur S, with speaking with the Senate. This is why one can call the emperor “Prince”, but it is also why this period is called principat.
Beyond this very republican title, Auguste was made decree other capacities, detached of their former function. He was thus made decree a Imperium known as maius , i.e. the possibility of ordering from all within and out of the limits of Urbs, of ordering with the armies, and finally with the provinces. It is under the terms of that which the Prince names his representatives in the provinces that the Sénat “granted to him”, which representatives are called legati augusti (“legate of Auguste”). To the emperor the tribunicia potestas , or “power tribunician was also allotted”. In the facts, that did not give him any particular capacity, except prohibition (because of the crowned character of the tribunat of the plebs) to carry reached to its person, and an obvious bringing together of the emperor with the people - this power making of its holder the representative of the people. Renewed each year, it is usually used to date the reigns from the emperors, until very tardily. The emperor holds finally the function of Pontifex maximus , i.e. “Large pontiff” - he is thus the chief of the Roman civic religion.
Certain emperors will be made allot periodically the censoria potestas (“censorial power”) in order to modify the composition of the Sénat. Domitien will be named “perpetual Critic”, and one will take the practice to consider that the emperor holds de facto this power censorial.
The other title, with that of Princeps is that of Augustus . Its connotation is clearly nun, and corresponds more to one nickname than with a title. Auguste had refused the dictatorship covered with life by its great-uncle Jules César.
Other magistratures during the principat
Under the Empire each year two Consul S are always elected following the rules. The dignity of Consul remains a long time very appraisal. Each year two Consul S, known as " is thus elected; éponymes " or " ordinary " because they give their names to the year (and that until the end of the Empire). Which resign some time after and are replaced by Consul S known as " suffects ". Under Commode one will thus count nearly twenty-five consuls elected in 190 .
The election is made by the Sénat, but of course the Senator S elect the candidates whom the emperor recommends. Sometimes the emperor himself tests the need to be a consul, in which case it does not have any problem to reach it.
Under the principat the consulate is always the top of the Cursus honorum . Stripped of military capacities, the Consul S preserve their religious and legal prerogatives with regard to the Patriciens and the equestrian Ordre.
As from the years 100 there are eighteen Préteur S. They continue as under the République chairing the lawsuits.
Under the principat one can be either Édile or Tribun of the plebs after being last by the quaestorship. The capacities of municipal administration are withdrawn to him however little by little to be given the various civils servant of the city, like the Préfet of the City, the Préfet of the Vigils, etc, named exclusively by the emperor. Under Alexandre Sévère municipal administration will disappear definitively.
The quaestorship remains the first magistrature of the Cursus honorum. It opens thus the access to the Sénat.
They are twenty since Auguste. Until Claude they were to deal with the paving of the streets of Rome, task replaced by the organization of plays of Gladiateur S. Sévère Alexandre will remove in his turn this drudgery which limited the access to the quaestorship to richest.
Starting from the emperor Claude the Questeur S have different roles:
- Quaestores augusti : two Questeurs of the emperor; charged with replacing the Prince with the Senate when this one is absent
- Quaestores urbani : two urban Questeurs with the service of the Prefect of the City - of 44 with 56 they are again responsible for the aerarium Saturni , the " treasure of Saturne" , i.e. the case of the Roman state which however is not any more under the Empire but the case of the town of Rome
- Quaestores consuli : four consular Questeurs, attached by two to the services of the Consul S
- Quaestores pro praetore : one by province; they manage the collection of the taxes in the senatorial provinces where they go in July at the same time as the proconsuls controlling these provinces.
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