366 BC2017-04-24T07:59:51+00:00

366 BC

The offices of Praetor and Aedile are added to the Cursus Honorum (hierarchy of public offices to which Roman citizens aspire)

The increase in number and type of offices during the Republic can be viewed in two ways; 1) it is the consequence of a growing and increasingly complex society that requires the state machinery to keep up if it is to remain responsive to citizens’ needs; 2) it is the result of a conflict between the Plebeian and Patrician orders; whereby each Plebeian success in accessing a political office is mitigated by a Patrician stratagem that generates a new office (such as that of Praetor) that dilutes the power of an already existing one (e.g., Consul).

This year will be remarkable for the consulship of a man of mean birth, remarkable for two new magistracies, the prætorship and curule ædileship. These honors the patricians claimed to themselves, in consideration of one consulship having been conceded to the plebeians. The commons gave the consulship to Lucius Sextius, by whose law it had been obtained. The patricians by their popular influence obtained the prætorship for Spurius Furius Camillus, the son of Marcus, the ædileship for Cneius Quinctius Capitolinus and Publius Cornelius Scipio, men of their own rank. To Lucius Sextius, the patrician colleague assigned was Lucius Æmilius Mamercinus. In the beginning of the year mention was made both of the Gauls, who, after having strayed about through Apulia, it was now rumored were forming into a body; and also concerning a revolt of the Hernicians. When all business was purposely deferred, so that nothing should be transacted through means of the plebeian consul, silence was observed on all matters, and a state of inaction like to a justitium; except that, the tribunes not suffering it to pass unnoticed that the nobility had arrogated to themselves three patrician magistracies as a compensation for one plebeian consul, sitting in curule chairs, clad in the prætexta like consuls; the prætor, too, administering justice, and as if colleague to the consuls, and elected under the same auspices, the senate were in consequence made ashamed to order the curule ædiles to be elected from among the patricians. It was at first agreed, that they should be elected from the commons every second year: afterwards the matter was left open.

Titus Livius. The History of Rome Book IV. Translated by D. Spillan. London. HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN. MDCCCLIII. JOHN CHILDS AND SON, BUNGAY. Project Gutenburg. Release Date: November 6, 2006. [EBook #19725] Page 379.

Cicero writes about acquiring the office of aedile:

Now I am designated aedile; I consider what I have obtained from the Roman people; to me the most holy games with the greatest care and solemn ceremonies to Ceres, Liber, and Libera; that I am propitious to Flora the mother of the Roman nation and people of the games, to me the games, most ancient people, who were the first called Roman games, with the greatest dignity and the reverence due to Jupiter to Juno and Minerva, should do so, on account of the sacred buildings and the fruit of these matters to the labor and taking care for them as gifts, to the senior in the senators for their opinions position to say, a bordered toga; a curule chair, the right of the ___ to the memory of posterity.

Taylor, LR Cicero’s Aedileship. The American Journal of Philology Vol. 60. No. 2 (1939), pp. 194-202. History of the Aedileship. Text available at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/ SMIGRA*/Aediles.html

The office of aedile was not a required magistracy of the cursus honorum, but rising politicians saw it as a desirable position that afforded them the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to public service. Aediles were responsible for the upkeep of the temple of Ceres (goddess of fertility, grain, cereal and motherly attributes), who was originally associated with plebeians. Hence the first two aediles were originally plebeian. Later, two curule aediles (aediles curules) were added and these offices could be staffed by patricians and by plebeians alike. Unlike the plebeian aediles, the curule aediles were considered magistrates and had imperium. They could wear the toga praetexta and sit on a curule chair. Their administration eventually extended to public buildings including the state archives (decrees of the Senate and resolutions of the Assemblies), which were recorded, transcribed onto a document and stored in the Temple of Saturn in the forum Romanum.

Famous Romans who held the Aedileship

Cicero held the office of Curule Aedile in 69 BC. He hosted games for the population of Rome. Cicero mentioned the ludi Cerialis, the ludi Florales and the Capitoline Triad as falling under the obligation of the office. (These games were hosted by both types of aediles. The curule aediles were responsible for the ludi Megalenses and ludi Romani (these were ludi scaenici; celebrations held in theaters, not ludi circenses, celebrations held in amphitheaters or race tracks). Four of the extant plays of Terence were held during the Megalesia. These were the games that impoverished Julius Caesar when he was curule aedile. Scipio Africanus held the aedileship in 214 BC. Pompey did not hold the office of aedile; he became a quaestor instead.