Consul (Ancient Rome)


May 28, 2022

Consul (lat. consul) - the highest elective magistracy in ancient Rome of the era of the republic. The consuls of Ancient Rome had insignia - wands made of ivory.


The etymology and meaning of the later prevailing term consules are debatable. In antiquity, it was translated as “taking care” of the homeland, citizens, state, or “interrogating” the people and the senate, and in modern times, various historians of antiquity translated differently: Barthold Niebuhr - “being together”, Theodor Mommsen - “dancing together”, Ernst Herzog - "going together", Wilhelm Soltau - "sitting together", that is, comrades (collegae). The position of the consul was collegiate, that is, there were two consuls at once, from 509 BC. e. they were elected by the Senate for one year in centuriate comitia. The College of Two Consuls was established, according to ancient tradition, after the exile of Tsar Tarquinius the Proud. The position was abolished in 705, 229 years after the fall of Rome. According to Roman traditional history, the consuls were at first chosen only from among the patricians, but as a result of the struggle between the plebeians and the patricians from 367 B.C. e. one of the consuls began to be elected from the plebeians (the first such person was Lucius Sextius). However, modern historians question this, pointing out that about 30% of the consuls who ruled before Lucius had not patrician, but plebeian names. From 222 to 153 BC. e. Consuls took office on the Ides of March, that is, March 15th. Later, the consular year began to begin on January 1. The consuls had the highest civil and military power, recruited and headed the legions, convened the senate and comitia, presided over them, appointed dictators, performed auspices, and so on. In extraordinary circumstances, the senate gave the consuls unlimited powers. The right to conduct trials in civil cases from 367 BC. e. passed to the junior colleagues of the consuls - praetors. The assistants to the consuls were the quaestors. The insignia of the consul were a toga with a wide purple border, a curule chair (lat. Sella curulis) inlaid with ivory, and an accompaniment of 12 lictors with fascia, in which axes were inserted outside the city limits. In the Roman system of chronology, years were designated by the names of consuls