The Roman critic is a Roman magistrate. Two critics are elected every five years among old the Consul S by the comices centuriates. The capacity of the critics is absolute: no magistrate can be opposed to their decisions, only another critic who succeeds to them can cancel them. After 18 months of mandate, they chair a great ceremony of purification, the lustrum , following which they abdicate. The censure is the only Roman magistrature which does not authorize the re-election.
Role of the critic
Their principal function is the quinquennial Recensement Roman citizens ( census ) by level of fortune, an administrative practice which goes up, according to the tradition, with the king Servius Tullius. They register new the Roman citizens in the registers of their Centurie and from their tribe, review the knights (the recognicio equorum ) and draw up the senatorial album by the lectio Senatum .
For this reason they are charged to update the album , i.e. the register of the allowed people to the Sénat. Their function also leads them to supervise manners. For this purpose, they hold the cleaned morum which enables them to stripe senatorial album the unworthy senators, but also to publicly fade the reputation of a person by the foot-note censoria .
This last role is at the origin of the shift in meaning of the word “critic” towards rigorous connotations morals and the censure.
economicThe critics have a role of administrator of public fortune:
- they supervise the adjudications of the Affermage S of the collection of the taxes at the companies of Publicain S
- they award the contracts of public works of investment, such as the construction of the Roman ways or of maintenance of the public goods (temples, etc)
Historical evolution of the function
See also: Civil society
The function of critic, reserved to the patricians, was created the year 444 av. J.C; in reaction to the political concession made with plebeian which gave to them access to the military magistrature of powerful orator with consular capacity. According to Tite-Live, the consuls monopolized by military operations wish to discharge from the census, function which they considered tiresome and additional. The senate approved and the powerful orators of the plebs made no opposition there.
Two, the critics were to exert the functions during 5 years, interval between two censuses; but as of 434 av. J.C, in fear which they did not deceive their authority, the dictator Aemilius Mamercus made vote by the people the lowering of their mandate in ten eight months.
The first plebeian ones which reached the censure thanks to their individual qualities and their political alliances were Caius Marcius Rutilius in -351, then Quintus Publilius Philo. This magistrature became systematically accessible to plebeian the year 339 av. J. - C, under the terms of a law suggested by the consul Quintus Publilius Philo, imposing that one of the two critics is plebeian.
The censure, temporarily removed by Sylla, was abolished under Auguste; The capacities of critic were transferred to a prefect from manners , function personally occupied by Auguste. The successive emperors until Vespasien had the censorial power which allowed them évincer Senate of the adverse senators, but also by the procedure of the Adlectio to introduce into the assembly of the people not having occupied of magistratures.
After the death of Vespasien in 79, one sees disappearing any trace from this magistrature. Domitien becomes in 85 perpetual critic , and all its successors will hold the censorial power. The emperor Dèce (249-251) wanted to restore this magistrature, but this attempt did not have a continuation.
Famous criticsAmong those which were distinguished in this magistrature, most famous was Caton says “the Critic”.
See also the List of the critics
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