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Lictor

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Lictor

Gold coin from Dacia, minted by Coson, depicting a consul and two lictors

A lictor (possibly from Latin: ligare, "to bind") was a Roman civil servant who was a bodyguard to magistrates who held imperium. Lictors were used since the Roman Kingdom, and according to Roman historian Livy, the custom may have originated earlier, in the Etruscan civilization.

Contents

  • Origin 1
  • Eligibility 2
  • Tasks 3
  • Lictor curiatus 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Origin

A fasces was the symbol of a Lictor

According to Livy, lictors were introduced by Rome's first king, Romulus, who appointed 12 lictors to attend him. Livy refers to two competing traditions for the reason that Romulus chose that number of lictors. The first version is that 12 was the number of birds that appeared in the augury, which had portended the kingdom to Romulus. The second version, favoured by Livy, is that the number of lictors was borrowed from the Etruscan kings, who had one lictor appointed from each of their 12 states.[1]

Eligibility

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Ancient Rome
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Originally, lictors were chosen from the plebs, but through most of Roman history, they seemed to have been freedmen. Centurions from the legions were also automatically eligible to become lictors on retirement from the army.[2] They were, however, definitely Roman citizens, since they wore togae inside Rome. A lictor had to be a strongly built man, capable of physical work. Lictors were exempted from military service, received a fixed salary (of 600 sesterces, in the beginning of the Empire), and were organized in a corporation. Usually, they were personally chosen by the magistrate they were supposed to serve, but it is also possible that they were drawn by lots.

Lictors were associated with Comitia Curiata and, probably, one was originally selected from each curia, since there were originally 30 curiae and 30 lictors (24 for the two consuls and 6 for the sole praetor).

Tasks

The lictor's main task was to attend as bodyguards to magistrates who held Vestal Virgin was accorded a lictor when her presence was required at a public ceremony.

The degree of magistrate's imperium was symbolised by the number of lictors escorting him:

Sometimes, lictors were ascribed to private citizens on special occasions, such as funerals or political reunions, as a show of respect by the city.

Lictor curiatus

The lictor curiatus (plural lictores curiati) was a special kind of lictor who did not carry rods or fasces and whose main tasks were religious. Some thirty in number, they were at the command of the Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome. They were present at sacrifices, where they carried or guided sacrificial animals to the altars. Vestal Virgins, as well as flamines (priests) and other high ranking priests, were entitled to be escorted and protected by lictores curiati. In the Empire, women of the royal family were usually followed by two of this kind of lictor. The lictores curiati were also responsible for summoning the Comitia Curiata (the Public Assembly) and to maintain order during its procedures.

See also

References

  1. ^ Livy. The History of Rome by Titus Livius: Books Nine to Twenty-Six, trans. D. Spillan and Cyrus Edmonds. York Street, Covent Garden, London: Henry G. Bohn, 1868. 1.8
  2. ^ The Legions of Rome, Stephen Dando-Collins, pp41, Quercus (December 2010)

External links

  • Livius.org: Lictor
Head of Libertas, and on the reverse a consul flanked by two lictors on a denarius
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