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    THE CURSUS HONORUM

     

    The Senatorial Course
    The Course of Honor during the Principate had been modified from the traditional course that existed during the heyday of the Republic. Required ages were dropped for almost every magistracy, years of service, and the duties for each position also changed significantly. The goal with the Course was to both have a system that would create talented, experienced politicians and magistrates, while also ensuring that the traditionalists felt important and needed within the new system.
    • VIGINTIVIRI (college of twenty)
      • The vigintiviri, which literally translates to "twenty men" was a collegium, or college, of minor magistrates. The college consists of four boards, each with differing responsibilities. Its purpose was to give up-and-coming young nobles their first taste of politics and governmental responsibility, however it wasn't confined only to young men. Senators of all ages filled these posts. The four boards were as follows...
        • decemviri stlitlibus iudicanus -- ten men who judged lawsuits, especially the civil status of slaves and freedmen.
        • treseviri capitales -- three men who were in charge of prisons and the execution of criminals.
        • treseviri monetalis -- three who were responsible for the minting of coins.
        • quattorviri viarum -- four who were responsible for the maintenance of roads in Rome.
        Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 18 years
        • Elected annually on the 10th of December (1 year terms)
        • No limits on terms; can be consecutive
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    • TRIBUNUS LATICLAVIUS (military tribune)
      • The next step in a budding senator's career was into the legions so that he could receive some formal training in warfare. Tribuni Laticlavii were always in their early 20s and were typically requested by family or a close friend of the family who served in a more senior legatus position. They were officially second-in-command to the legion, though often were placed in charge of smaller units rather than the entire legion itself. Usually those who didn't excel in this stage of the course were skipped over when it came to positions as a legatus, or legatus augusti. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 20 years
        • Selected by the legate based on need (2-3 year terms)
        • No limits on terms; though one term is typical
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    • QUAESTOR (secretary; treasurer)
      • The office of quaestor was one that changed significantly with the reforms of Augustus, though it still retained its importance. Election as quaestor officially enrolled a young man into the ranks of the senate and thus he could enter into the Curia as a back-bencher. Quaestors served mainly as secretaries or treasurers, their duties including keeping accounts on the public and military treasuries as well as keeping records. Many were employed within Rome itself, while others were sent to the provinces to perform the same tasks. Augustus also created the post of Quaestor Augusti, four men, hand-picked by the emperor himself, to be his personal secretaries and messengers. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 25 years
        • Elected annually on the 10th of December (1 year terms)
        • No term limits; not typically repeated or consecutive
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    • AEDILIS (aedile; public service official)
      • More than any other office, that of Aedile lost much of its former glory and purpose with the changes of Augustus. Where before the Principate the main function of Aediles was to oversee the grain and the upkeep of public buildings, after Augustus' changes, newly-created posts (often given to Equestrians) were given those tasks. The position of Aedile remained and technically had the same functions has always, though very often senators preferred to skip the office--as the only way to succeed with it was by spending large amounts of personal wealth on the restoration of temples, aqueducts, and roads. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 27 years
        • Elected annually on the 10th of December (1 year terms)
        • One time term limit; not repeated or consecutive
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    • PRAETOR (judicial official)
      • The office of praetor was the first of the 'major magistracies' in the Cursus Honorum, and even in the time of the Empire it was both prestigious and important. The general duties of praetors was to serve as judicial officials, and they had considerable importance when it came to matters of the public treasury and individuals. There were sub-divisions of the office that existed from the Republic but were filled by individuals of the emperor's choosing: the Praetor Peregrinus who oversaw legal matters between citizens and non-citizens, and the Praetor Urbanus who oversaw legal matters between all standard citizens. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 30 years
        • Elected bi-annually on 10th of December (2 year term)
        • No term limits; could be repeated and consecutive
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    • LEGATUS LEGIONIS (legionary legate)
      • A new 'office' made official by Augustus' reforms, the posting as a legate was an option available to those men who preferred a military rather than civil career. Quite often the men who went on to be legates were closely connected to the imperial family and well-trusted. Legates of the legions were not supreme commanders or field commanders, instead they were generals in charge of individual legions. They answered to the emperor, in technicality, though in practice their superior was the governor of the province where the legion was stationed. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 30 years
        • Selected by the Emperor (typical term of 3 years)
        • No term limit; extensions determined by the emperor
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    • PROPRAETOR (non-military governor)
      • Though this step was only available to those who had served as praetors, the propraetor was essentially a governor of a senatorial province--that is, a province that had no standing army or legion. While perhaps in command of local auxiliary forces, they were not placed in command of the empire's legions. Their posts were peaceful and not entirely lucrative, but still important. A former praetor could stand for proporaetor immediately after his term as praetor ended. He answered to the senate in technicality, which of course answered to the emperor. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 31 years
        • Chosen by lot when needed (typical term of two years)
        • No term limit; extensions determined by the senate/emperor
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    • CONSUL (head of state)
      • Formerly the highest position on the Course of Honor, the consul of the days of the republic was the man of the state. He held the most imperium, power, though it was shared with a junior colleague. In imperial times the seat of consul was still important, though there were varying degrees of importance. Those who sat as ordinary consuls (were elected in on the first of the new year) than those who were selected as suffects later. Likewise, to share a consulship with the emperor was considered a great honor. In the empire the consuls answered to the emperor, but if the emperor was a warring sort, they were largely left in charge of the state. They had the power of veto over any decision, each consul could veto the other, though they could be out-vetoed by the Tribune of the Plebs and the emperor. They also had the final say on senate decisions and elections, as well as declaring acts of war and peace. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 32 years (typically 35 or older)
        • Elected annually on the 10th of December (1 year term)
        • No term limit; not consecutive except in extreme cases (typically one term)
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    • LEGATUS AUGUSTI PROPRAETOR (military governor)
      • The top of the Imperial Course of Honor was that of a military governor. By law it was the emperor who was technically the governor of every imperial province. Of coruse he couldn't physically be in every province at once and so this position was created. Legate, in this sense doesn't mean "general" so much as envoy, or servant of the emperor--though they were very much generals in their own right. These men were very well connected, very powerful, and well-trusted by the emperor. Chances at military glory in defense or in offensive wars were theirs, and though all victories were technically the emperor's, they could still receive great honors and awards. They had under their command all the magistrates of their province, as well as the legionary legates in the field. They answered only to the emperor. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 34 years (though typically 38 or older)
        • Selected by the emperor when needed (usually 3 year terms)
        • No term limit; could be extended and consecutive with same or different provinces

     

     

     

     

     

    The Equestrian Course

    Along with Augustus' reforms of the Senatorial Course of Honor, a similar course for Equestrians was created in order to secure the loyalty of the Knightly class. Though it began on the same step as the Senatorial Course, the Equestrian Cursus Honorum quickly separated and focused more on military service than official duties. Whereas the Senatorial Course remained a bit more rigid and tied to tradition (esp. with required ages) the Equestrian Course was much more fluid. General minimum ages are found, but the exact route that a man took over his career depended largely upon how he performed in his youth and even more so upon his relationship with the emperor.

    • VIGINTIVIRI (board of twenty)
      • Same as the above information.
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    • PRAEFECTUS FABRUM (adjunct to praetor/proconsul)
      • The original post of praefectus fabrum, which translates to "head of technicians" was as just that: the chief amongst military technicians. During the Principate the name of the office remained, but its purpose changed drastically, and actually had nothing at all to do with engineers or technicians in the legions. The Praefecti Fabri of the empire were appointed by praetors and more commonly proconsuls (rarely by the emperor himself) for confidential missions or tasks. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 20 years
        • Selected by praetors/proconsuls/emperor when needed (2-3 year term)
        • One term limit; not repeatable
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    • PRAEFECTUS COHORTIS (prefect of aux. cohort)
      • The next step for rising Equestrians was a post as the prefect of an auxiliary cohort. The auxiliary troops were non-citizens, though they did live within the empire itself. They were typically men of a "barbarian" origin who wanted to become a part of the Roman machine. Through 25 years of service, they could earn citizenship. A commander of one unit would be in charge of around 5-700 men. He was always under the command of the provincial governor and typically stationed away from the border. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 24 years
        • Selected by the emperor when needed (3 year term)
        • No term limit; consecutive, repeated terms allowed
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    • TRIBUNUS ANGUSTICLAVIUS (military tribune)
      • Contrary to the military tribune of the senatorial course, the equestrian tribune was actually an experienced leader and fighter by the time he was enlisted. This wasn't a necessary step for everyone, though those equestrians who proved their capabilities as a tribune often rose to very high levels later on in their careers. These tribunes (there were 5 per legion) were often placed in charge of larger detachments of troops called vexillations, or put as commanders over several cohorts of auxiliary troops. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 28 years
        • Nominated by governors and approved by Caesar (3 year term)
        • No term limit; consecutive, repeated terms allowed
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    • PRAEFECTUS ALAE (prefect of aux. cavalry)
      • Those equestrians who truly shined in their prior positions as prefects and tribunes often continued to serve in the provinces. The last step of this military service was a post as the commander of an auxiliary cavalry unit. These units were rare and not nearly as numerous as the infantry cohorts, therefore they were considered a greater honor. Added to that, prefects of alae often had a considerable amount of decision-making power, allowing them to proactively attack enemies and potentially gain personal glory. Almost every Praetorian Praefect in the history of the empire was formerly a cavalry prefect. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 32
        • Nominated by governor/selected by Caesar (3 year term)
        • No term limits; consecutive, repeated terms allowed
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    • TRIBUNUS COHORS URBIS/PRAETORIAM (cohort tribune)
      • After completed service in the military an equestrian had many options available to him; he could continue in the military, though in a more senior position that saw less action, or he could go straight to civil administration (see procurator below). Those who chose to remain militarily-minded often became tribunes within one of the two semi-military units in Rome: the Urban Cohort (a police/firefighting brigade), or the Praetorian Guard. Typically one would first become a tribune (or even centurion) in the Urban Cohort before enlisting in the Praetorians, but the order depended upon favors and who one knew. Regardless, the positions were more or less the same, the only difference being that the Praetorians were paid more and often became much more involved in the political aspect of Rome--as the fate of several emperors was decided by Praetorians, especially in the later empire. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 34 years
        • Selected by the Praefects of each unit (3 year term)
        • No term limit; decided based upon service
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    • PROCURATOR (secretary/judge/mn. governor)
      • For those equestrians who wanted a taste at civil administration, the offices of procurator were available. The term 'procurator' meant many different things, and indeed there were many different positions available to successful knights. A Procurator Augusti was more or less the governor of a smaller province, or an allied-state that had Roman troops in its land. The Procurator Ludi Magni were overseers of the imperial ludii (gladiator houses). They worked closely with the Caesars to plan games and entertainment and also would know aediles and praetors. Lastly, the Procurator Ab Rationibus was open only to one man, and he would be the secretary of Caesar, usually responsible for his written correspondence. It wasn't at all unusual for men who completed this step to "go backward" and serve as tribunes. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 34 years
        • Selected by Caesar based on need (3 year term)
        • No term limit; could be consecutive and extended
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    • PRAEFECTUS (senior magistrate)
      • The final steps of the equestrian course, that of senior magistrate, or praefectus was coveted by many by only held by a very elite few. Typically those who rise to this level were favorites of the emperor and had had their careers accelerated by him. Though technically of the same ranking, there were four different praefects who really had different levels of power and influence. First was the Praefectus Annonae who was in charge of the grain supply in Rome. Second was the Praefectus Vigilum, the commander of the Urban Cohort who served as a counter-balance for the Praetorians. The third and fourth spots altered in importance, though typically the position of Praefectus Aegypti was held prior to a man becoming the commander of the Praetorian Guard as Praefectus Praetorio. It was not uncommon for those in the third and fourth positions to hold their offices for as long as their emperor did. They also were quite often enrolled into the senate by their sponsoring emperor and then enjoyed the course of the senators. Office Info:
        • Age requirement of 37 (though typically older)
        • Selected by the Emperor (3 year term)
        • No term limit; terms were often extended/repeated

     

     

    Non-Course Positions

    As it had been within the Republic, there were many positions in the empire that were not strictly a part of either Course of Honor. Generally speaking these positions were held by senior magistrates whom had either served to great capacity already, or who were awarded the positions by Caesar for a particular service, or because of relations. These positions were very limited and coveted. They were often taken by Caesar himself, but just as often awarded to deserving members of the government. There is no flow chart--as there is no order--but they are listed in ascending order of prominence.

    • ADJUTOR (assistant)
      • An unofficial position, that of adjutor, or in latin adiutor was held by very young men helped into the course by their family. They served as assistants to any governmental official who would have them, doing a variety of relatively mundane, tedious tasks. Some might be little more than clerks, doing tasks similar to personal slaves, though the experience and exposure to powerful politicians was something sure to help the careers of young men.
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    • A STUDIIS (imperial tutor)
      • The imperial tutor was more often than not an equestrian, though at times senators were also chosen. This position was very prestigious and only given to those greatly trusted by the emperor (or his wife). The imperial tutor had the mind of caesar's heirs in his hands to shape and to mold and if his relationship with his pupil was strong and healthy, he would always live a life of happy retirement. If it was the opposite, he would be one of the first to be exiled... or worse.
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    • PROCURATOR A PATRIMONIO (Cae's accountant)
      • This position was most often reserved for the freedmen of the Caesars, as they had--during their time as slaves--served in a similar capacity. This accountant was responsible for the personal expenses of the emperor as well as for keeping a balance sheet of the empire's income and outflow. There were equestrians and at times even senators who filled this position, though again typically those men had close ties and strong loyalties to the imperial family.
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    • PRAEFECTUS URBI (mayor of Rome)
      • Another consular position created by Augustus, this one post took on the responsibilities of many of the more traditional offices of the republic. The Mayor was mostly responsible for the upkeep of the city and the organization of games and public displays. He worked closely with the Vigintiviri, Aediles, and Praetors--as their responsibilities often overlapped. He was also the head of the Urban Cohorts, the praefect of that police and peace-keeping unit answering to him.
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    • PRINCEPS SENATUS (leader of the house)
      • A position that lasted through the fall of the republic and creation of the Principate, the Princeps Senatus was in all ways the "leader [or speaker] of the house". This title was often used by the emperor himself, though just as often it was given to the next most senior senator--a senator of age who had served the state well and acquired much dignitas. The Princeps Senatus was highly respected by all and responsible for the calling of senatorial meetings and ensuring the laws of the constitution were followed--as they pertained to everyone except the emperor. It was a position that one often held for life, or until he fell out of favor with the Caesars.
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    • PONTIFEX MAXIMUS (chief religious officer)
      • The Pontifex Maximus, which literally translates to "greatest bridge-builder" was the chief religious official of the empire. He was in charge of the college of pontiffs and thus in charge of Rome's religious cult. This position was always coveted for it was a man's to wear for life and also gave him a personal house (the house of the Pontifex Maximus) that technically belonged to the state. From the time of Julius Caesar until Theodosius III, every emperor took this title. It gave him great authority over the state, with the power to postpone anything, including games, celebrations, elections, even marriages. His religious superiority also gave him the power to make gods out of his family members.
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    • PRINCEPS IUVENTUTIS (prince of the youth)
      • This was more of a title than an actual position, and was first used by Augustus as applied to his grandsons (and adopted sons) Gaius and Lucius Caesar. It officially marked the chosen successor to the Principate and gave said inheritor considerable dignitas--no matter his age.

     

     

     

    Edited by Gothic

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