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In former days, when the kings and subsequently the chief magistrates went from Rome, an official was temporarily chosen to administer justice and provide for emergencies, so that the capital might not be left without government. It is said that Denter Romulius was appointed by Romulus, then Numa Marcius by Tullus Hostilius, and Spurius Lucretius by Tarquinius Superbus. Afterwards, the consuls made the appointment. The shadow of the old practice still survives, whenever in consequence of the Latin festival some one is deputed to exercise the consul's functions. And Augustus too during the civil wars gave Cilnius Mæcenas. a Roman knight, charge of everything in Rome and Italy. When he rose to supreme power, in consideration of the magnitude of the State and the slowness of legal remedies, he selected one of the ex-consuls to overawe the slaves and that part of the population which, unless it fears a strong hand, is disorderly and reckless. Messala Corvinus was the first to obtain the office, which he lost within a few days, as not knowing how to discharge it. After him Taurus Statilius, though in advanced years, sustained it admirably; and then Piso, after twenty years of similar credit, was, by the Senate's decree, honoured with a public funeral.

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