Aedile

Aedile

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Aedile was an office of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

. Based in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings and regulation of public festival
Festival
A festival or gala is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival....

s. They also had powers to enforce public order. There were two pairs of aediles. Two aediles were from the ranks of plebeians and the other were called curule aediles (aediles curules). The office of the curule aedile was open to plebeians and patricians, and they were considered curule magistrates.

The office was generally held by young men intending to follow the cursus honorum
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

to high political office, traditionally after their quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

ship but before their praetor
Praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

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 aedileship. 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


They were created in the same year as the Tribunes of the People
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

 (494 BC). Originally intended as assistants to the tribunes, they exercised certain police functions, were empowered to inflict fines and managed the plebeian and Roman games. Their duties at first were simply ministerial. They were the assistants to the tribunes in whatever matters that the tribunes would 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 (senatus consulta). When a senatus consultum was passed, it would be transcribed into a document, and deposited in the public treasury, the Aerarium
Aerarium
Aerarium was the name given in Ancient Rome to the public treasury, and in a secondary sense to the public finances....

. They were given this power because the Roman Consuls
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

, who had held this power before, arbitrarily suppressed and altered the documents. They also maintained the acts of the Plebeian Council
Plebeian Council
The Concilium Plebis — known in English as the Plebeian Council or People's Assembly — was the principal popular assembly of the ancient Roman Republic. It functioned as a legislative assembly, through which the plebeians could pass laws, elect magistrates, and try judicial cases. The Plebeian...

 (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 Roman Censors. Occasionally, if a Censor was unable to carry out one of his tasks, an Aedile would perform the task instead.

According to Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 (vi. 42), after the passing of the Licinian rogation
Lex Licinia Sextia
Lex Licinia Sextia was a Roman law introduced around 376 BCE and enacted in 367 BCE. It restored the consulship, allegedly reserved one of the two consular positions for a plebeian , and introduced new limits on the possession of conquered land.- Authors :It is named for the plebeian tribunes Gaius...

s in 367 BC, an extra day was added to the Roman games; the 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
Tribal Assembly
The Tribal Assembly of the Roman Republic was the democratic assembly of Roman citizens. During the years of the Roman Republic, citizens were organized on the basis of thirty-five Tribes: Four Tribes encompassed citizens inside the city of Rome, while the other thirty-one Tribes encompassed...

 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
Curule chair
In the Roman Republic, and later the Empire, the curule seat was the chair upon which senior magistrates or promagistrates owning imperium were entitled to sit, including dictators, masters of the horse, consuls, praetors, censors, and the curule aediles...

 (sella curulis) and to wear a toga praetexta
Toga
The toga, a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome, was a cloth of perhaps 20 ft in length which was wrapped around the body and was generally worn over a tunic. The toga was made of wool, and the tunic under it often was made of linen. After the 2nd century BC, the toga was a garment worn...

, 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
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 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.

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
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

, 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 Eepublic, as could have been seen during Julius Caesar's
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 Aedileship.

Election to the office


Plebeian Aediles were elected by the Plebeian Council
Plebeian Council
The Concilium Plebis — known in English as the Plebeian Council or People's Assembly — was the principal popular assembly of the ancient Roman Republic. It functioned as a legislative assembly, through which the plebeians could pass laws, elect magistrates, and try judicial cases. The Plebeian...

 (popular assembly), usually while under the presidency of a Plebeian Tribune. Curule Aediles were elected by the Tribal Assembly
Tribal Assembly
The Tribal Assembly of the Roman Republic was the democratic assembly of Roman citizens. During the years of the Roman Republic, citizens were organized on the basis of thirty-five Tribes: Four Tribes encompassed citizens inside the city of Rome, while the other thirty-one Tribes encompassed...

, usually while under the presidency of a Roman Consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

. Since the Plebeian Aediles were elected by the Plebeians (commoners), rather than by all of the People of Rome
SPQR
SPQR is an initialism from a Latin phrase, Senatus Populusque Romanus , referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official emblem of the modern day comune of Rome...

 (Plebeians as well as members of the Patrician aristocracy), they were not technically magistrates. 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 first century BC, Aediles were elected in July, and took office on the first day in January.

Powers of the office


Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 (Legg.
De Legibus
The de Legibus is a dialogue written by Marcus Tullius Cicero during the last years of the Roman Republic. It bears the same name as Plato’s famous dialogue, The Laws...

 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 laws; punishment of gamblers and usurers; the care of public morals generally, including the prevention of foreign superstitions. They also punished those who had too large a share of the ager publicus
Ager publicus
The ager publicus is the Latin name for the public land of Ancient Rome. It was usually acquired by expropriation from Rome's enemies.In the earliest periods of Roman expansion in central Italy, the ager publicus was used for Roman and Latin colonies...

, 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 corn 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
44 BC
Year 44 BC was either a common year starting on Sunday or Monday or a leap year starting on Friday or Saturday of the Julian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Proleptic Julian calendar...

 Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 added two plebeian aediles, called Cereales, whose special duty was the care of the cereal (corn) supply. Under Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 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
Praefectus urbi
The praefectus urbanus or praefectus urbi, in English the urban prefect, was prefect of the city of Rome, and later also of Constantinople. The office originated under the Roman kings, continued during the Republic and Empire, and held high importance in late Antiquity...

. 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 AD 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
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 the county mayor can still be referred to as 'edil' (e.g. 'O edil de Coimbra', meaning 'the mayor of Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...

').

Shakespeare


In his play Coriolanus
Coriolanus
Gaius Marcius Coriolanus was a Roman general who is said to have lived in the 5th century BC. He received his toponymic cognomen "Coriolanus" because of his exceptional valor in a Roman siege of the Volscian city of Corioli. He was then promoted to a general...

, Shakespeare references the aediles. However, they are minor characters, and their chief job is being policemen.

See also

  • Adel (disambiguation)
  • Aetheling
    Aetheling
    Ætheling, also spelt Aetheling, Atheling or Etheling, was an Old English term used in Anglo-Saxon England to designate princes of the royal dynasty who were eligible for the kingship....

  • Agoranomi
    Agoranomi
    Agoranomi were magistrates in the republics of Greece, whose position and duties were in many respects similar to those of the aediles of Rome. In Athens there were ten, chosen annually by lot, five of whom took charge of the city and five of the Peiraeus...

  • Constitution of the Roman Republic
    Constitution of the Roman Republic
    The Constitution of the Roman Republic was a set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. The constitution was largely unwritten, uncodified, and constantly evolving...