properly “supernumeraries,” from accenseo
(the other derivations given by Varro,
6.89, Mull., are impossible and absurd). The
word is used in four senses.
1. Livy (1.43
to the fifth class of citizens in the Servian classification a century of
(in his accensi,
cornicines, tubicinesque, in tres centurias distributi
Cicero, in a fragmentary passage (de Rep.
2.22, 40), writes
quin etiam accensis velatis, liticinibus,
.... Lange corrects Livy, reading
in his accensis,
and takes accensi
to be the general name for the fifth class,
accepting also the earlier correction in II.
(approved by Sir G. C. Lewis). This has the advantage of
bringing the total number of centuries (193 instead of 194) into harmony
with the statements of Dionysius and Cicero, and giving an odd number
instead of an even one. Whether Livy was mistaken, or his text is corrupt,
may be doubtful; but the view that accensi
denotes the whole of the fifth class can hardly be disputed. The alternative
hypothesis of Niebuhr, that the accensi
those citizens who possessed between 12,500 and 7000 asses, while those
possessing between 7000 and 1500 were called velati,
has but slight support, and is generally abandoned.
2. As a military term, accensi
reserve-soldiers, who, at the time when each soldier had to find his own
arms, could provide themselves with nothing better than sticks and stones.
Besides serving as light infantry, they would add force to the impact of the
phalanx by pressing on from behind. From their lack of defensive armour they
were known as velati;
but when any heavy-armed
soldiers were killed or wounded, the accensi
took their places, and used their armour and weapons (Varro, L.
7.56; Paul. D. s. v. ad scripticii
were also called ferentarii,
probably as Cato
says (ap. Paul. D. l.c.
tela ac potiones militibus pugnantibus ministrabant;
Varro suggests, qui ea modi habebant anna quae ferrentur,
(Corssen, Krit. Beitr.
suggests a wholly different derivation.) After B.C. 352, when soldiers
received pay from the state, the accensi
provided themselves with better weapons; but we find even on the Column of
Trajan a soldier armed with stones alone. At this later stage the term
was in use for the light-armed
slingers, while the accensi
who were ad
legionum censum adscripti.
The term accensi
was also used to denote the attendants on the cavalry,
who held their spare horses (Paul. D. s. v. pares
Varr. L. L.
5.82), and the orderlies of the
centurions (Fest. s. v. optio: optio qui nunc dicitur,
antea appellabatur accensus; is adjutor dabatur centurioni a tribuno
3. The magistrates who were attended by lictors had also supernumerary
), who did not bear the
fasces, but were ready to replace a lictor if occasion should arise. So long
as the custom lasted that the two colleagues were preceded by the fasces on
alternate days, an accensus
attended on the one
penes quem fasces non erant.
There is no
sufficient reason to assume with some that these attendants were always
chosen from the class of accensi;
times they were generally the freedmen of the magistrates whom they served.
(Cic. ad Q. fr. 1.1
4, 12; in Verr.
3.67, 157; ad Att.
and often in inscriptions.) Among the duties of an accensus
was to summon the people to the comitia
(Varr. L. L.
6.88): [p. 1.6]
of the consul, and
afterwards of the praetor, also proclaimed the third, the sixth, and the
ninth hour of the day in the comitium.
4. On inscriptions of the time of the Empire mention is made of accensi velati,
who formed a college of 100 members,
charged with the superintendence of the public roads. They consisted largely
of knights and high officials, and were exempt a tutelis
(Frag. Jur. Rom. Vat.
cf. Mommsen in Annali dell' Instit. Arch.
1849, p. 209). It
is probable that they derived their name and functions from the centuria accensorum velatorum,
mentioned above, who
may have had charge of the communications of the army in the field