Ralph Van Deman Magoffin.

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Historical and Political Science

Under the Direction of the

Departments of History, Political Economy, and

Political Science


an historical study



Associate in Greek and Roman History
and Roman Archaeology





Press of

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Lancaster. Pa.


This investigation was undertaken because of the lack of
exact information about an important office. Mommsen's
statement that " ueber die Befugnisse der quinquennales sind
wir fast ganz ohne specielle Nachrichten " was an incentive
to research because the problem remained unsolved, and be-
cause the single attempt at solution in Neumann's mono-
graph, De Ouinquennalibus coloniarum et municipiorum,
failed to clear up the questions involved in the inscriptions.
Opportunity to enter into a special examination of this
topic was afforded in my studies of municipal government
in Praeneste, undertaken while I was Fellow in the Amer-
ican School of Classical Studies in Rome.

I am indebted to Professor H. Dessau of Berlin, who was
good enough to read the manuscript of this article and to
make some valuable suggestions and corrections. I wish
also to express my gratitude for help from Professors Kirby
Flower Smith, Harry Langford Wilson, John Martin Vin-
cent, and Westel Woodbury Willoughby, of the Johns Hop-
kins University, and from Professor Frank Frost Abbott of
Princeton University.

A collection of fine Roman coins from Spain, which was
presented to the archaeological museum of the Johns Hop-
kins University by Mr. William Hepburn Buckler, one of the
University trustees, has been of great use to me. There are
numerous specimens in it which mention quinquennales, and
from them I have been able to supplement and correct the
pubhcations of Cohen, Delgado, and Heiss.

R. V. D. M.



The quinquennales were officials who performed approx-
imately the same functions for many of the Roman colonies
and municipalities as those exercised by the censors for
Rome. This is a composite definition, but it shows fairly
the general agreement of those modern authorities who
have treated the quinquennales at any length. This general
statement of fact may be accepted as established at the very
outset; but as we are certain to find both likenesses and dif-
ferences between the censors and the quinquennales, it will
not be out of place to take first a brief survey of the history
of the origin and development of the better known office
and of the duties and functions of the more important offi-
cial, with the expectation that a knowledge of the office of
the censor will illuminate, if not entirely explain, many unre-
lated facts which concern that of the later and less known

It was only a few years after the date usually assigned for
the foundation of the Roman Republic that the patricians
were forced to make their first political concession to the
plebeians, and in the tribunate, which was the price of their
return from Mons Sacer, to which they had seceded, the
plebeians saw their first opportunity for political power.
From that time forward until plebeians were eligible to prac-
tically every office in the state there was a continuous strug-
gle between the two orders — between the patricians who
were striving to retain the offices and the plebeians who were
striving to get possession of them. That the number of
Roman officials should increase with the growth of the state
was inevitable, and in view of the inalienable and indivisible



quality of the Roman imperium it was also inevitable that
the method of growth should be that which has been so aptly-
called " the progressive subdivision of the Roman magis-
tracy."^ As a rule the lower order in a state wins political
preferment to successively higher offices with great difficulty,
and by beginning at the very bottom. No doubt this is
largely because in most cases its members are comparatively
few in number or are too widely scattered to realize their
power until after the offices have been created in the state
and their definite succession has been fixed.

In Rome, however, we have a most interesting and instruc-
tive development of another kind. The plebeians at the be-
ginning of the Republic formed probably more than half
of the population of Rome, and, thanks to that service in
the infantry to which they were liable and in which they all
took part, they were a remarkably compact and homogeneous
body. As far as we now know, their very first demand was
for the consulship, the highest office in the state. It was
quite clear that they would rest satisfied with nothing less.
The tribunate which they gained from their first struggle
with the patricians was only a temporary compromise. In
445 B. C. the patrician centuriate comitia was compelled to
pass a law instituting military tribunes with consular power
to take the place of consuls in such years as the senate might
decide. In other words, the plebeians were now eligible to
an office with consular authority. To be sure it was forty-
five years before a plebeian attained the consular tribunate,
but this was recognized as a concession, because in return
for it the patricians were allowed a compensatory reserva-
tion, namely, the establishment of a new office, the censor-
ship, to which only members of their own class were to be
eligible. Again, in 367 B. C, when the plebeians accepted
the patrician reservation of the praetorship as a balance to
the concession, granted them in the lex Licinia Sextia, that
one consul must be a plebeian, there seems to have been

1 The author owes this illuminating phrase to Professor Drake

of the University of Michigan.


no more question as to the right of the patricians alone to
fulfil the judicial duties of the praetorship than there was
when they first assumed the duties of the censorship.

It is the truth, but not the whole truth, to say that the
establishment of the censorship in the year 443 B. C. (or
possibly 435 B. C.) was due to the growth in the duties of
the chief magistracy, for it had just become constitutionally
possible, by the election of six tribuni militares consulari
potestate," to have more than two men with consular power.
This would have tripled the number of officials, and it seems
fair to assume, therefore, that the duties of the censors were
considered at the time to be outside the competence of a
plebeian magistrate. Certain constitutional functions which
the censors exercised are well known. They assessed the
property of citizens in preparing and arranging a register
according to tribes, classes, and centuries ; they drew up and
revised the lists of senators and knights ; they had a large
share in managing the finances of the state; they held as-
semblies (contiones) for purposes of the census, to impose
fines, for lustration. It is thought probable^ that the
arrangement of the five class ratings as a basis for the reor-
ganization of the army was connected with the institution
of the censorship, and this belief is strengthened by the fact
that the elections of the censors were ratified by the cen-
turies and not by the curiae. At all events, everything goes
to show that the primary function of the censors was to
settle the status of Roman citizens.

The censors were two in number. They entered upon
their office immediately after their election, which was at
first for a period of five years. The time for actual per-
formance of their duties was, however, very soon shortened
to a year and a half,* although the five-year interval of elec-
tion was always kept, at least in theory. The censors were

2 Bodies of three and eight are also mentioned, but six has the
weight of the best authorities.

2 Botsford, The Roman Assemblies, p. 79.

* Tradition assigns this change to a centuriate law, a lex Aemilia
of 433 B. C.


practically unaccountable for official acts, but the fact that
their joint action was necessary in important matters gave
to the citizens a satisfactory^ safeguard. Two generations
seem to have passed before the plebeians challenged the
patrician right of the censorship, which had been granted
in 443 B. C. It was a plebiscite of the year 367 B. C. which
made plebeians eligible to this important position, but it was
not until 351 B. C. that a plebeian became a censor. Finally,
in 339 B. C, the centuriate lex Publilia Philonis stipulated
that one of the censors must be a plebeian (ut alter utique
ex plebe censor crearetur) .

At some time between this date and 312 B. C. the people
extended the authority of the censors by passing the Ovin-
ian plebiscite, which transferred from the consuls to the
censors the revision of the list of the senate.^ But it is
the year 312 B. C. which stands out in the annals of the
censorship. In this year the Via Appia and the Aqua
Appia, the first of the paved military roads and the first of
the aqueducts, were built by the famous censor Appius
Claudius Caecus. Undoubtedly the increase in govern-
mental expenditure brought to the censorship increased im-
portance, but the great personal influence of Appius also
added to it much more of dignity and power. We are quite
justified in believing that such a man could and did extend
his authority ahead of legislation, and that he used his
power to "preserve the integrity of the Roman character"
by supervising morals and by inveighing against the degen-
erating tendencies of the time.

The year 265 B. C. may possibly be taken as the date at
which the power of the censorship began to decline. At
that time, upon the proposal of Caius Marcius Rutilus, who
had been elected censor for a second term, a law was passed
forbidding reelection to that office. In the year 212 B. C.
the comitia, with the consent of the senate, took from the
censor part of the supervision of the building and repair of
public works. Sulla gave no attention to the censorship, as

5 See Botsford, Roman Assemblies, p. 307, and notes 5 and 6.


is shown by his own sumptuary legislation and by his plan
to keep the senate full automatically by the increase in the
number of quaestors. As a republican institution the cen-
sorship came to an end in 22 B. C. Under the Emp"re it
amounted to very little, and finally dwindled away, its func-
tions being absorbed by the growing power of the emperor.
Such, in brief, is the history of the institution of the
Roman censorship, its earliest function, its growth and en-
larged sphere of action, and its subsequent decline; and the
justification for this review is that the censors were the
prototypes of and the models for the quinquennales.

Beginning now the investigation of the functions of the
quinquennalis, difficulties arise at the very threshold. The
history of the censor has a definite beginning. It starts with
the institution of the office itself. In regard to the quin-
quennalis, on the contrary, we have no idea when this
official first began to perform his duties. Again, the word
" censor " reflects the most important functions of the office,
which was chiefly concerned with the census. The word
" quinquennalis " does not reflect clearly the function of
the office. Indeed, it seems to be quite casual, except that
quinquennalis is associated with quinquennium, the word
which was used for the period between the successive elec-
tions of censors, as may be seen in the lex repetundarum,
where the expression reads: [Pequnia] post quinquenium
populei fiet.® It is also difficult to decide whether the title
is the result of a gradual abbreviation of an extended desig-
nation such as " Ilviri (Illlviri) censoria potestate quin-
quennales," or whether it is a term designedly fixed and
legalized by some such law as the lex lulia of the year 90
B. C. As a matter of fact, the title duovir quinquennalis
standing alone is a usage found earlier in our present sources
than the longer designations.'^

^ Lex Acilia Repetundarum 66, in Bruns, Pontes iuris Roman! (7th
ed.), p. 69.

^ Marquardt, Staatsverw. i (2d ed.), p. 160, and n. 13. For the
reason that quinquennium means 'every fifth year' instead of
' every fourth year,' according to the more usual method of Roman


Again, we hear much more about the censors than about
the quinquennales, and what we hear is more trustworthy.
The censors were highly honored officials in the great city
of R:me, and therefore are frequently mentioned in the lit-
erature. The quinquennales were the officials of many
municipalities in Italy and the provinces and were doubtless
held in high honor in those places, but were not likely to
be mentioned by the writers of Roman history. Our infor-
mation about the quinquennales, therefore, comes from local
sources, in the main from sepulchral and honorary inscrip-
tions, the earliest of which are too brief to tell us much, and
the later ones too fulsome to inspire complete confidence.
For more than a hundred years the censors were chosen
only from the patrician nobility; in the majority of cases
we cannot tell who the quinquennales were. Many inscrip-
tions which identify those officials make one hesitate to en-
large upon a theory of the status and rank of the old settlers
in the municipalities as compared with the new. Further-
more, the censors were elected to their office, while some at
least of the quinquennales gained their position by appoint-
ment. Finally, two other important differences remain to
be considered: first, the length of the tenure of both offices,
and second, the eponymous character of the office of quin-
quennalis and not of censor. We have seen that the official
term of the censors was limited to a year and a half, and
no other proof is needed to show that the censorship was
considered an extraordinary position and therefore not to be
connected with the regular offices, which were annual. Yet
the quinquennalship was, or came to be, a fixed office, and its
duration was for one year. This is clearly to be seen in the
inscriptions which concern Petinius Aper^ (huic anno quin-
quennal(itatis) Petini Apri etc.) and M. Vibius Auctor" (de

computation, see Mommsen, Staatsrecht, ii, i (3d ed.), p. 344, and
n. I ; Mommsen, Roam. Chron., p. 162 ff. The Greek titles are
&pxf^v 6 5ia wivre irCHv TtynTjTtK6s and S.pxuv 6 irevTaerrjpiKds and SvdvTjp

8 C. I. L. xi, 6354^

9 C. I. L. X, 5670.


Ilviro quinquenn(ali) in pro.v{i}}ui)}i) annum fieri placere
M. \^ibium Auctorem).

In regard to the second difference, it is not difficult to
understand why the censorship and the quinquennalship
were unHke in their eponymous character. To date a
Roman year by a censorship was impossible for two reasons :
first, because the consulship was the older and more im-
portant position ; and second, because the consuls held office
for exactly a year and the censors for a year and a half.
On the other hand, the quinquennales had a term of one
year, and during that time exercised the functions of this
office in addition to their other duties as the highest admin-
istrative officials in the municipalities. There is evidence
of the eponymous character of this double office in an in-
scription from Novae in Dalmatia (Ilviris Aurr. Maximo
et Annaeo),^*^ and still better evidence from one from Veii,
although the date, 249 A. D., is late (III non. Ian. Aemiliano
II et Aquilino cos. P. Sergio Maximo M. Lollio Sabiniano II

Before leaving this matter of the differences between
these two officials, it seems worth while to note one more
interesting fact in this connection. In the early Republic
the censorial functions were taken away from the chief offi-
cials of the state. In the late Republic and early Empire
they were given back to the chief officials of the munici-

From what has been said it will be seen that between the
censors and the quinquennales there are at least six points
of difference, namely, the origin of the two offices, their
titles, the civic status of their incumbents, the manner of
election, the length of tenure, and the eponymous character
of the one and not of the other. From the modern point
of view these differences are no doubt accentuated by the
fact that the literary evidence, as already stated, is much
more abundant for the censorship than for the quinquen-

10 C. I. L. iii, 1910.
" C. I. L. xi, 3780.


nalship. Nevertheless, after every possible deduction is
made, these differences are real. The censorship belonged
to the Roman metropolis and to the formative period of the
Roman Republic, and was exercised by men of national
reputation and importance. The quinquennalship belonged
to the Roman country town, to the period of the late Re-
public and early Empire — a period increasingly inhospitable
to republican institutions — and in the main was exercised by
unimportant and indiscriminate soldiers and provincials.

Although these differences are real and important, the
resemblances are none the less so. First of all, the quin-
quennales, like the censors, composed a collegium of two
persons. It is true that as far as the evidence of the in-
scriptions is concerned the great majority of the quinquen-
nales are mentioned singly, but this does not affect the va-
lidity of our statement, for the inscriptions mention as
colleagues no less than sixty-two pairs of quinquennales.^^
Two examples of these, important because of the distinction
in title, may be considered as sufficient for the purpose of
illustration: C. Caesius M, f. C. Flavins L. f. duovir(i)
Quinq(uennales),^^ and Cn. T. Caesii Cn. f. Tiro et [P]ris-
cus nil vir(i) qu[i]nq(uennales) sua pecun(ia) fecer-

Another likeness appears in the fact that the duties which
were later assumed by the quinquennales and the censors were
performed before the creation of these officials by the two
chief officers of the town or city state^ that is, the duoviri and
the consuls. Marquardt^^ has brought this out very clearly in
his Roemische Staatsverwaltung. He goes further, and
associates the functions of the censors with those of the
quinquennales by tracing in a brief but authoritative way
the gradual changes whereby the census of the Italian muni-
cipalities was first taken in the same way as at Rome, and

12 See note 55.

13 C. I. L. xiv, 2980.
" C. I. L. xi, 5378.

1^ Vol. i, pp. 159-160 (2d ed.) = Marquardt-Mommsen, Handbuch
d. roem. Alterthuemer, Vol. 4.


later was taken at the same time, the duties of the censors
being left as much as possible in the hands of local officials,
who were known as quinquennales. He notes that the be-
ginning of this change was made in the year 204 B. C. in
connection with the settlement of the revolt of the twelve
Latin colonies during the Second Punic War. He finds
duoviri exercising censorial functions in the year 105 B. C.
in the Roman colonia Puteoli, in lulius Caesar's colonia Gen-
etiva, and still later, in imperial times, in the municipium of
Malaca in Spain. Although the old title of censor is still
found in a few instances, the new quinquennalis comes more
and more into prominence, and finally takes over practically
all the old censorial duties. Marquardt, however, assumes
that the formal change from censor to quinquennalis took
place immediately after the passage of the lex lulia of the
year 90 B. C. There is no proof that this was true, but it
is clear enough that the functions of the two officials were
practically the same.

The fact that there was a five-year interval between the
elections both of quinquennales and of censors brings for-
ward still another point of similarity. In each case the
name for this intervening period is lustrum. The evidence
for the use of this term in connection with the censorship is
unquestioned, and we should probably be justified in assum-
ing the same usage for the quinquennalship from the clause
in the lex lulia Municipalis of the year 45 B. C. which made
the census year contemporaneous in Rome and in her muni-
cipia, and also from the list of officials from the town of
Aquinum, which shows quinquennales for the year 68 A. D.
and quite certainly also for Ji A. D., five years later.^®
There is also inscriptional evidence for the use of the word
lustrum in this connection." A certain Tiberius Claudius
Maximus died after his election to the office of quinquen-
nalis, and his mother, as a memorial to him, paved at her

" C. I. L. X, 5405.

^^ A second illustration cited by Marquardt, Roem. Staatsverw. i,
162, n. I (2d ed.), from Orelli, 2547 (=rC. I. L. ix, 1666), is, I

think, not a case to the point.


own expense three miles of a road intra lustrum honoris
eius.^^ These, then, are the more important differences and
likenesses between the quinquennales and the censors, in
the historical development and in the functional capacity of
their respective offices. From the evidence it would seem
that we are clearly justified in asserting that the quinquen-
nales were municipal censors.^®

The literature on the quinquennalis is in amount rather
inconsiderable. The word as a title is found so seldom in
Roman literary- sources that any discussion or investigation
of the official who bore it was quite impossible. Not until
the institutional side of Roman history was taken up by

18 C. I. L. ix, 1 156.

^9 Marquardt, Staatsverw. i (2d ed.), p. 157, n. 4: " Zumpt. Comm.
ep. i, pp. 73-158; Henzen, Annali. 1851, p. 5 ff., 1858, p. 6 ff., 1859,
p. 208 ff. ; Norisius, Cenotaphia Pisana, Diss, i, ch. 5 (In Thesaurus
Antiq. Ital., viii, 3, p. 68c, and E) ; Oliverius, Alarmora Pisaurensia,
p. 68 ff. ; Eckhel, D. N. iv, 476; Savigny, Gesch. d. R. R. im Mittelalter,
i, p. 41." Oliverius was inaccessible to me. General bibliography,
Mueller's Handbuch 4 (2d ed.), 181-182. Further discussion of the
quinquennales in Madvig, Die Verfassung und Verwaltung d. Roem.
Staates, ii, 14 ff. ; Orelli-Henzen, Insc. Lat., iii, p. 423 ; Bull, dell'
Inst, 1871, p. 148; Not. d. Sc, 1880-81, p. 474 ff. ; Bull. Imp. Arch.
Germ., 1890, p. 287; notes accompanying C. I. L. x, 114 5405, 6104;
xii, 697; Marquardt, Staatsverw. i, p. 184-186, especiall)' note 6, p.
184. A Leipzig dissertation of 1892 by I. Neumann, De Quinquen-
nalibus coloniarum et municipiorum, which I obtained with consid-
erable difficulty, proved to be something of a disappointment. In
my judgment its value is impaired by its polemic attitude toward
Zumpt. Many inscriptions used by the author have been corrected
in later publications, and certainly not all of the evidence has been
examined by him. Nor do any of his conclusions except one, with
which, following Mommsen, I disagree, bear on the points given
in this paper. A. Sebastian, De Patronis Coloniarum atque Mu-
nicipiorum Romanorum (Halle Diss., 1884) ; F. Spehr, De Summis
Magistratibus Coloniarum atque Municipiorum (Halle Diss., 1881) ;
H. de Bousquet De Florian, Des elections municipales dans I'empire
Romain (Paris Diss, in Roman Law, 1891), offers a few scattered
comparisons and suggestions of interest. Arnold, Roman Provin-
cial Administration, 258; Abbott, Roman Political Institutions, 358;
Halgan, Provinces senatoriales sous I'Empire romain, 144; O. Leuze,
Zur geschichte der roemischen censur, Halle, 1912, pp. 61, 148.


such men as Savigny and Mommscn and the evidence of
inscriptions began to be recognized was attention attracted
to the not infrequent occurrence of the title of the quinquen-
naHs, and that official became necessarily an object of

Among earlier investigators who fixed in a general way
the place and functions of the quinquennales, Zumpt and
Henzen deserve the most credit, and in recent years the
more detailed accounts are furnished by Marquardt and
Neumann. The substructure of all the literature mentioned
in note 19 is a rather small number of inscriptions, the in-
formation being confined to a few facts often repeated.
The investigations, however, have led to sufficiently correct
generalizations, and what has been presented in the pre-
ceding pages is simply a recapitulation of the well-attested
facts which concern these municipal censors, the quinquen-

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