Definitions

quaestor

quaestor

[kwes-ter, kwee-ster]
quaestor, Roman magistrate, with responsibility for the treasury; in early times a quaestor also had judicial powers. At first there were two quaestors. Sulla named 20, and Caesar set 40 as the number (45 B.C.), but Augustus reduced them to 20. Quaestors were in theory deputies for consuls, praetors, or proconsuls. A quaestorship was the first magistracy sought by an ambitious young man.

quaestor(Latin; “investigator”)

In ancient Rome, the lowest ranking regular magistrate, whose traditional responsibility was the treasury. Quaestors functioned as deputies to consuls. Like consuls, praetors, and prefects they were of the magistrate class, high-level government administrators. Quaestors were the lowest level of this class and were elected by the people. Initially they were appointed by the consuls, but later they were elected. After 421 BC there were four quaestors, two public treasurers and two who assisted the consuls, serving as quartermasters. From the time of Augustus, the number of quaestors increased to 20, many of whom acted as financial officers and assistants to provincial governors.

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Quaestors were originally appointed by the consuls to investigate criminal acts and determine if the consul needed to take public action. Quaestors eventually took on additional responsibilities, such as supervising the treasury (for which they are best known), and became elected magistrates. The office of Quaestor was adopted as part of the Cursus honorum.

Quaestors were elected officials of the Roman Republic who supervised the treasury and financial affairs of the state, its armies and its officers. The office may date back to the time of the Kingdom of Rome. By about 420 BC there were four Quaestors, elected each year by the Comitia Tributa, and after 267 BC there were ten. Some Quaestors were assigned to work in the City, while others were assigned to the staffs of generals or served the Roman Governors as Lieutenant Governors in the provinces. Still others were assigned to oversee military finances.

During the reforms of Sulla in 81 BC, the minimum age for a quaestorship was set at 30 for patricians and at 32 for plebeians, and election to the quaestorship gave automatic membership in the Senate. Before that, the censors revised the rolls of the Senate less regularly than the annual induction of quaestors created. The number of quaestors was also raised to 20.

Today the title of Quaestor (Questore) persists in Italy and it represents a high Police office. It is also present in Romania as "Chestor" and it is also a police office. The European Parliament has six Quaestors to look after the financial and administrative needs of its members. Some ancient British universities, such as the University of St Andrews, still have a Quaestor whose responsibilities are in leading and developing effective and efficient financial control and management within the University.

See also

Sources of Further Reading

  • Bourne, Frank (Princeton University). "A History of the Romans" Boston, MA. 1967, D.C. Heath and Company

External links

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