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Quaestores Urbani

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Quaestores Urbani - The quaestors of the city excersised their functions within the walls of Rome. Besides being entrusted with the custody of the public money, with the receipt of tributes and imposts, and with expenditure of the state revenue, they had in their keeping the laws and the senatus consulta; and when the consuls went forth in their capacity at the head of the troops against an enemy, the quaestors brought to them the military ensigns from the treasury. It was also the duty of the same class of functionaries to give the first reception to the ambassadors or envoys of foreign nations, to shew them hospitality, provides fortheir accomodation, and conduct them to an audience with the supreme authorities of the republic. Frequent mention is made of quaestors on the coins of Roman families, the name of the consul or consuls being also thereon recorded.

On a denarius of the Neria family, the head of Saturn (as designated by the harpa or sickle behind it) is accompanied by the inscription NERI Q VRB (Quaestor Urbanus). On the other side of the coin a legionary eagle between two standards, with the epigraph of L LENT C MARC COS (see Neria). Here then, as Eckhel remarks, is not only the image of Saturn, but the title of Quaestor added to the name of Nerius, whilst the military ensigns present themselves on the reverse. Thus it plainly appears not only that the quaestors were prefects of the treasury (praefecti aerarii), but also, what Plutarch teaches and inscriptions confirm, that the treasury itself was the temple of Saturn. "But (adds the German numismatist) what have the signa militaria to do with quaestorship? Rightly this, that those things were preserved in the temple of Saturn, assigned to the care of the quaestors. This is expressly stated by Livy. And thus we have a clear explanation of the case why the Quaestor Nerius placed the head of Saturn and the military standards on his denarius.

One more fact of interest may be gathered in reference to time. From the names of the consuls, L. Lentulus and C. Marcellus, being inscribed on this denarius it is manifest that it was struck in 49 BC: that year in which Julius Caesar, eager to possess himself of the public money, borke open and plundered the treasury; L. Metellus, tribune of the people, who endevoured to defend the sacred wealth of the republic, bu opposing his person to the ciolence of Caesar, being driven from his post through fear of death. It therefore pleased Quaestor Nerius, who, together with the consuls had left the city from dread of Caesar's power and vengence, to insert on this medal the head of Saturn, whose very divinity had been violated."

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