according to Livy (1.15
), a body-guard of 300 chosen by
Romulus to attend him in peace and war. Livy leaves it uncertain whether
they were cavalry or infantry; according to some accounts (cf. Dionys. A. R. 2.13
), they were infantry, while according to others (id. 2.64) they
included both, or were only cavalry. The last view is that which has been
usually taken, and it has been regarded as confirmed by the meaning of the
name, derived ἀπὸ τῆς περὶ τὰς ὑπουργίας
as Plutarch says (Rom.
26). Some identify them with the equites:
it is an objection to this view that the third tribe,
the Luceres, could not have been added before the time of Tullus Hostilius
(cf. Schwegler, Röm. Gesch.
1.583); and that the
were only raised to 300 after the
addition of this tribe. Niebuhr's theory which identifies the celeres
with the patricii
is of all views the least tenable; but it is impossible
to frame any satisfactory explanation in the fragmentary and contradictory
condition of our authorities. Perhaps it is best to reject altogether
Livy's. definition of them as constituting a body-guard, and simply regard
them as the cavalry, with Mommsen.
It has been commonly supposed that the celeres
were under the command of a tribunus celerum,
stood in the same relation to the king as the magister
did in a subsequent period to the dictator. But
1.78, note) has shown that the
authority for this view is late and quite untrustworthy, and that the tribuni celerum
were three in number, bearing the
same relation to the cavalry as the three tribuni
to the infantry. (Lyd. de Mag.
Pompon. de Orig. Jur.
in Dig. 50
tit. 2, s. 2, § § 15, 19; Dionys. A. R. 4.71
; cf. Becker, Handbuch der
vol. ii., part i., p. 338.)