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Quaestor



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Quaestores. - the quaestors were magistrates, thus named, amongst the Romans, from the duties attached to their office, which was their first and lowest in public honors.  Their origin seems to have been very ancient, but whether it was coeval or not with the regal institutions of Rome old writers and modern commentators are not agreed. Be this as it may, the quaestor was a public treasurer, a kind of receiver general of taxes and tributes, whose function was to watch over the sources of revenue, and to detect and bring to justice the perpetrators of peculations and frauds in that department.  At first, there were only two quaestors appointed, but afterwards their number was increased to four. Two of these were assigned to the city, and the other two were appointed to accompany the consuls, in time of war, as paymasters in the armies. - Towards the close of the republic, the number of these magistrates was still further augmented.  Sylla created as many as twenty of them; Julius Caesar appointed forty; and under the empire there were no limits to their number.  One portion of them was named by the prince, the other by the senate and people.  It was customary for the booty taken in war to be sold by the quaestors.  As the boundaries of the empire extended themselves, the discretionary power of these officers was great.

As the quaestorship was the first, so it was frequently an effectual step towards the attainment of the highest honors among the Romans. "The fidelity of the quaestorship, the magnificence of the edileship, the punctuality and integrity of the praetorship, opened a sure path to the consulate."

Quaestura. - The quaestorship was of a two fold kind. There were the quaestores urbani, who presided over the treasury, and were for that reason called quaestores aerarii.  There were also the quaestores provinciales, who were usually sent with the governors (rectores) into the provinces, and who sometimes presided in the absence of those governors.  No one was eligible to the quaestorship who had not completed his twenty-sixth year.  When a person had served this office, he might go into the senate, although he might not yet be a senator.  The quaestorship was abolished and re-established several times under the emperors.


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