CENSORCENSOR (τιμητής), the name of two magistrates of high rank in the Roman republic. Their office was called Censura (τιμητεία or τιμητία). The Census, which was a register of Roman citizens and of their property, was first established by Servius Tullius, the fifth king of Rome. After the expulsion of the kings it was taken by the consuls; and special magistrates were not appointed for the purpose of taking it [p. 1.398]till the year B.C. 443. Livy (4.8, 5) assigns as the reason of this alteration the appointment in the preceding year of tribuni militum with consular power in place of the consuls; as these tribunes might be plebeians, the patricians were unwilling that the right of taking the census and performing the formal sacrifice of purification should pass into their hands. This explanation is very doubtful, considering the comparative unimportance of the office at this time. It is more probable that it had been found to be inconvenient that the chief magistrates should be detained at home by duties necessarily discharged at Rome, when their presence might be required in the field, and this view is confirmed by the fact that no lustrum was held for at least sixteen years before the appointment of censors. The office was at first restricted to patricians, but was probably thrown open to plebeians by the Licinian laws of B.C. 367, and in B.C. 351 C. Marcius Rutilus was the first plebeian censor (Liv. 7.22). Twelve years afterwards, B.C. 339, it was provided by one of the Publilian laws, that one of the censors must necessarily be a plebeian, and that both might be plebeians (Liv. 8.12), but it was not till B.C. 280 that a plebeian censor performed the solemn purification of the people (lustrum condidit, Liv. Epit. 13). In B.C. 131 the two censors were for the first time plebeians. There were always two censors, because the two consuls had previously taken the census together. If one of the censors died during the time of his office, another had at first to be chosen in his stead, as in the case of the consuls. This, however, happened only once, namely, in B.C. 393; because the capture of Rome by the Gauls in this lustrum excited religious fears against the practice (Liv. 5.31). From this time, if one of the censors died, his colleague resigned, and two new censors were chosen. (Liv. 6.27, 9.34, 24.43, 27.6.) The censors were elected in the comitia centuriata held under the presidency of a consul. (Gel. 13.15; Liv. 40.45.) It was necessary that both censors should be elected on the same day; and accordingly, if the voting for the second was not finished, the election of the first went for nothing, and new comitia had to be held. (Liv. 9.34.) The comitia for the election of the censors were held under different auspices from those at the election of the consuls and praetors; and the censors were accordingly not regarded as their colleagues, although they likewise possessed the maxima auspicia (Gel. 13.15). The comitia were held by the consuls of the year very soon after they had entered upon their office (Liv. 24.10, 39.41); and the censors, as soon as they were elected and the censorial power had been granted to them by a lex centuriata, were fully installed in their office. (Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.1. 1, 26; Liv. 40.45.) As a general rule the only persons chosen for the office were those who had previously been consuls; but a few exceptions occur. At first there was no law to prevent a person being censor a second time; but the only person who was twice elected to the office was C. Marcius Rutilus in B.C. 265, who received in consequence the surname of Censorinus (Plut. Cor. 1; V. Max. 4.1.3). A law was shortly after-wards passed enacting that no one should be chosen censor a second time (Mommsen, Röm. Staatsr. i.2 502, note 2). The censorship is distinguished from all other Roman magistracies by the fact that it was not conferred for a definite period. The censors were appointed to discharge a special duty, i.e. ut conderent lustrum; and although in theory this duty was performed once in every four years (quinto quoque anno), in practice the interval varied considerably, partly owing to accidental irregularities, and partly from a later interpretation of the language employed, which made the interval one of five, not four years (cf. Mommsen, Stcatsr. 2.331). The period during which the lustra were held with the greatest regularity is the half-century following the outbreak of the Second Punic War; before this time there are numerous irregularities, and after it they occur occasionally. According to Livy (4.24; cf. 9.33), the censors were required by a law of the dictator Mam. Aemilius to resign office within eighteen months of their appointment; but it is a probable conjecture of Mommsen's that this limitation was introduced from the first, and that they were allowed eighteen months from the time of their election for a duty which the consuls had been required to complete within a year. The censors also held a very peculiar position with respect to rank and dignity. No imperium was bestowed upon them, and accordingly they had no lictors. (Zonar. 7.19.) The jus censurae was granted to them by a lex centuriata, and not by the curiae, and in official precedence they ranked below the consuls and praetors, and even below the magister equitum. (Mommsen, Röm. Staatsr. 1.543, note 3.) But notwithstanding this, the censorship was regarded as, in some respects, the highest dignity in the state, with the exception of the dictatorship; it was a ἱερὰ ἀρχή, a sanctus magistratus, to which the deepest reverence was due. (Plut. Cat. Ma. 16, Flamin. 18, Camill. 2, 14, Aemil. Paul. 38; Cic. ad Fans. 3.10, 11.) The high rank and dignity, which the censorship obtained, was owing to the various important duties gradually entrusted to it, and especially to its possessing the regimens morum, or general control over the conduct and morals of the citizens; in the exercise of which power they were regulated solely by their own views of duty, and were not responsible to any other power in the state. (Dionys. Excerpt. 20.13, Kiessling; Liv. 4.24, 29.37; V. Max. 7.2.6.) The censors possessed of course the sella curulis (Liv. 40.45), and during their term of office wore the toga praetexta (Zonar. 7.19; Athen. 14.660 c), but were honoured at burial with the toga purpurea (cf. Plb. 6.53, and Mommsen, Staatsr. 1.425, note 3). The funeral of a censor was always conducted with great pomp and splendour, and hence a funus censorium was voted even to the emperors (Tac. Ann. 4.15; 13.2). The censorship continued in existence for 421 years, namely, from B.C. 443 to B.C. 22; but during this period many lustra passed by without any censor being chosen at all. According to one statement, the office was abolished by Sulla (Schol. Gronov. ad Cic. Div. in Caecil. 3, p. 384, ed. Orelli), but the authority on which this statement rests is not of much weight, and [p. 1.399]the fact itself is not probable (cf. Cic. in Pis. 5, 10); for although there was no census during the two lustra which elapsed from Sulla's dictatorship to the first consulship of Pompeius (B.C. 82-70), there is no reference to any law restoring it, and censors reappear in B.C. 70. Its power was limited by one of the laws of the tribune Clodius (B.C. 58), which prescribed certain regular forms of proceeding before the censors in expelling a person from the senate, and the concurrence of both censors in inflicting this degradation. (D. C. 38.13; Cic. pro Sest. 25, 55, de Prov. Cons. 19, 46.) This law, however, was repealed in the third consulship of Pompey (B.C. 52), on the proposition of his colleague Caecilius Metellus Scipio (D. C. 40.57), but the censorship never recovered its former power and influence. During the civil wars which followed soon afterwards no censors were elected; and it was only after a long interval that they were again appointed, namely in B.C. 22, when Augustus caused L. Munatius Plancus and Paullus Aemilius Lepidus to fill the office. (Suet. Aug. 37, Claud. 16; D. C. 54.2.) This was the last time that such magistrates were appointed; the emperors in future discharged the duties of their office under the name of Praefectura Morum. Some of the emperors sometimes took the name of censor when they actually held a census of the Roman people, as was the case with Claudius, who appointed the elder Vitellius as his colleague (Suet. Cl. 16; Tac. Ann. 12.4, Hist. 1.9), and with Vespasian, who likewise had a colleague in his son Titus. (Suet. Vesp. 8, Tit. 6.) Domitian assumed the title of censor perpetuus (D. C. 53.18), but this example was not imitated by succeeding emperors. In the reign of Decius we find the elder Valerian nominated to the censorship without a colleague (Trebell. Pollio, Valer. 1, 2); and towards the end of the fourth century it was proposed to revive the censorship (Symmach. Ep. 4.29, 5.9), but this design was never carried into effect. The duties of the censors may be divided into three classes, all of which were however closely connected with one another: I. The Census, or register of the citizens and of their property, in which were included the lectio senatus, and the recognitio equitum; II. The Regimen Morum; and III. The administration of the finances of the state, including also the superintendence of the public buildings and the erection of all new public works. The original business of the censorship was at first of a much more limited kind, and was restricted almost entirely to taking the census (Liv. 4.8); but the possession of this power gradually brought with it fresh power and new duties, as is shown below. A general view of these duties is briefly expressed in the following passage of Cicero (de Leg. 3.3, 7):--“Censores populi aevitates, suboles, familias pecuniasque censento: urbis templa, vias, aquas, aerari [so Mommsen: MSS. aerarium] vectigalia tuento: populique partes in tribus discribunto: exin pecunias, aevitates, ordines partiunto: equitum, peditumque prolem describunto: caelibes esse prohibento: mores populi regunto: probrum in senatu ne relinquunto.”
I. The Census,The Census, the first and principal duty of the censors, for which the proper expression is censum agere (Liv. 3.3, 22, 4.8), was always held in the Campus Martius; like all public acts concerning the Roman people, viewed as an exercitus: and from the year B.C. 435 a special building called Villa Publica, which was erected for that purpose by the second pair of censors, C. Furius Pacilus and M. Geganius Macerinus (Liv. 4.22; Varr. R. R. 3.2), was used as the censor's office, the actual census, however, being conducted in the open air. But all other business of the censors, including the recognitio equitum, was transacted in the forum. An account of the formalities with which the census was opened is given in a fragment of the Tabulae Censoriae, preserved by Varro (L. L. 6.86, 87, ed. Müller). After the auspicia had been taken, the citizens were summoned by a public crier (praeco) to appear before the censors. Each tribe was called up separately (Dionys. A. R. 5.75); and the names in each tribe were probably taken according to the lists previously made out on the basis of the latest census by the curatores of the tribes. Every paterfamilias had to appear in person before the censors, who were seated in their curule chairs; and those names were taken first which were considered to be of good omen, such as Valerius, Salvius, Statorius, &c. (Festus, s. v. Lacus Lucrinus; Schol. Bob. ad Cic. pro Scaur. p. 374, ed. Orelli.) The censors do not appear to have considered themselves responsible for determining whether a man claiming to be enrolled was really entitled to the franchise; hence the occurrence of a name on the censor's roll was evidence merely that the franchise had been claimed, not that there was any justification for the claim (Cic. pro Arch. 5, 11). The census was conducted ad arbitrium censoris; but the censors laid down certain rules (Liv. 4.8, 29.15), sometimes called leges censui censendo (Liv. 43.14), in which mention was made of the different kinds of property subject to the census, and the way in which their value was to be estimated. According to these rules, each citizen had to give an account of himself, of his family, and of his property upon oath, ex animi sententia. (Dionys. A. R. 4.15; Liv. 43.14.) First he had to give his full name (praenomen, nomen, and cognomen) and that of his father, or if he were a freedman that of his patron, and he was likewise obliged to state his age. He was then asked, Tu, ex animi tui sententia, uxorem babes? and if married he had to give the name of his wife, and likewise the number, names, and ages of his children, if any. (Gel. 4.20; Cic. de Orat. 2.64, 260; Tab. Heracl. 142 (68); Dig. 50, tit. 15, s. 3.) Single women who were sui iuris (viduae） and orphans (orbi orbaeque) were represented by their tutores; their names were entered in separate lists, and they were not included in the sum total of capita. (Comp. Liv. 3.3, Epit. 59.) After a citizen had stated his name, age, family, &c., he then had to give an account of all his property, so far as it was subject to the census. In making this statement he was said dedicare or deferre in censum, or sometimes censere or censeri, as a deponent, “to value or estimate himself,” or as a passive, “to be valued or estimated:” the censor, who received the statement, was also said censere, as well as accipere<*>cesum. (Comp. Cic. pro Flacc. [p. 1.400]32, 79; Liv. 39.15.) Only such things were liable to the census (censui censendo) as were property ex jure Quiritium. At first each citizen appears to have merely given the value of his whole property in general without entering into details (Dionys. A. R. 4.15; Cic. de Leg. 3.3, 7 ; Festus, s. v. Censores); but it soon became the practice to give a minute specification of each article, as well as the general value of the whole. (Comp. Cic. pro Flacc. 32, 79; Gel. 7.11; Plut. Cat, Maj. 18.) Land formed the most important article in the census; but public land, the possessio of which only belonged to a citizen, was excluded as not being Quiritarian property. If we may judge from the practice of the imperial period, it was the custom to give a most minute specification of all such land as a citizen held ex jure Quiritium. He had to state the name and situation of the land, and to specify what portion of it was arable, what meadow, what vineyard, and what olive-ground; and to the land thus minutely described he had to affix his own valuation. (Dig. 50, tit. 15, s. 4.) Slaves and cattle formed the next most important item, as constituting along with the land the necessaries of agriculture, and being res mancipi (=res censui censendo, Cic. pro Flacc. 32, 79). The censors also possessed the right of calling for a return of such objects as had not usually been given in, such as clothing, jewels, and carriages. (Liv. 39.44; Plut. Cat. Ma. 18.) They undoubtedly possessed the power of setting a higher valuation on the property than the citizens themselves had put. It is in fact expressly stated that on one occasion they made an extravagant surcharge on articles of luxury (Liv. 39.44; Plut. Cat. Ma. 18); and even if they did not enter in their books the property of a person at a higher value than he returned it, they accomplished the same end by compelling him to pay down the tax upon the property at a higher rate than others. The tax (tributum) was usually one per thousand upon the property entered in the books of the censors; but on one occasion the censors, as a punishment, compelled a person to pay eight per thousand (octuplicato censu, Liv. 4.24). The censors were aided by certain assessors (in consilio vocati) and iuratores (Liv. 39.44; Plaut, Trin. 878, Poen. prol. 56), who administered the oath, i. e. asked the formal questions. A person who voluntarily absented himself from the census, and thus became incensus, was subject to the severest punishment. Servius Tullius is said to have threatened the incensus with imprisonment and death (Liv. 1.44); and in the republican period he might be sold by the state as a slave (Cic. pro Caecin. 34, 99). In the later times of the republic a person who was absent from the census might be represented by another, and thus be registered by the censors (Varr. L. L, 6.86). Whether the soldiers who were absent on service had to appoint a representative, may be questioned. In ancient times the sudden breaking out of a war prevented the census from being taken (Liv. 6.31), because a large number of the citizens would necessarily be absent. It is supposed from a passage in Livy (29.37), that in later times the censors sent commissioners into the provinces with full powers to take the census of the Roman soldiers there; but this seems to have been only a special case. It is, on the contrary, probable from the way in which Cicero pleads the absence of Archias from Rome with the army under Lucullus, as a sufficient reason for his not having been enrolled in the census (pro Arch, 5, 11), that service in the army was a valid excuse for absence. Before the Social War the census of the allies was taken in their own towns: and this practice seems to have continued after they had been admitted to the franchise (Cic. pro Cluent. 14, 41). After the censors had received the names of all the citizens with the amount of their property, they then had to make out the lists of the tribes, and also of the classes and centuries; for by the legislation of Servius Tullius the position of each citizen in the state was determined by the amount of his property. [COMITIA. CENTURIATA.] These lists formed a most important part of the Tabulae Censoriae, under which name were included all the documents connected in any way with the discharge of the censors' duties. (Cic. de Leg. 3.3, 7; Liv. 24.18; Plut. Cat. Ma. 16; Cic. de Leg. Agr. 1.2) These lists, as far at least as they were connected with the finances of the state, were deposited in the aerarium, which was the temple of Saturn (Liv. xxix, 37); but the regular depository for all the archives of the censors was in earlier times the Atrium Libertatis, near the Villa publica (Liv. 43.16, 45.15), and in later times the temple of the Nymphs (Cic. pro Mil. 27, 73), which has recently been discovered in camps (Ephem. Epigr. 1.35). Besides the arrangement of the citizens into tribes, centuries, and classes, the censors had also to make out the lists of the senators for the ensuing lustrum, or till new censors were appointed; striking out the names of such as they considered unworthy, and making additions to the body from those who were qualified. This important part of their duties is explained under SENATUS. In the same manner they held a review of the equites equo publico and added and removed names as they judged proper. [EQUITES] After the lists had been completed, the number of citizens was counted up, and the sum total announced; and accordingly we find that, in the account of a census, the number of citizens is likewise usually given. They are in such cases spoken of as capita, sometimes with the addition of the word civium, and sometimes not; and hence to be registered in the census was the same thing as caput habere. [CAPUT]
Liv. 4.8), but it appears in the account of the second lustrum (ib. 4.24). Its main purpose was to determine how far each citizen fulfilled his duty towards the state; but the limits of the inquiry were defined only by the discretion of the censors. In this manner the censors gradually became possessed of a complete superintendence over the whole public and private life of every citizen. They were constituted the conservators of [p. 1.401]public and private virtue and morality; they were not simply to prevent crime or particular acts of immorality, but their great object was to maintain the old Roman character and habits, the mos majorum. The proper expression for this branch of their power was regimen morum (Cic. de Leg. 3.3, 7; Liv. 4.8, 24.18, 40.46, 41.27, 42.3; Suet. Aug. 27), which was called in the times of the empire cura or praefcctura morum. The punishment inflicted by the censors in the exercise of this branch of their duties was called Nota or Notatio, or Animadversio Censoria. In inflicting it they were guided only by their conscientious convictions of duty; they had to take an oath that they would act neither through partiality nor favour; and, in addition to this, they were bound in every case to state in their lists, opposite the name of the guilty citizen, the cause of the punishment inflicted on him,--Subscriptio censoria. (Liv. 39.42; Cic. Clu. 6, 42-48; Gel. 4.20.) A citizen was usually required to appear before the censors in his own defence, when threatened with the nota; and in .some cases a censor required the appearance of a prosecutor, before he would take any action (Cic. Clu. 48, 133; cf. V. Max. 4.1, 10). In fact, a kind of trial was held, but one not fettered by the ordinary legal forms of procedure. This part of the censors' office invested them with a peculiar kind of jurisdiction, which in many respects resembled the exercise of public opinion in modern times; for there are innumerable actions which, though acknowledged by every one to be prejudicial and immoral, still do not come within the reach of the positive laws of a country. Even in cases of real crimes, the positive laws frequently punish only the particular offence, while in public opinion the offender, even after he has undergone punishment, is still incapacitated for certain honours and distinctions which are granted only to persons of unblemished character. Hence the Roman censors might brand a man with their nota censoria in case he had been convicted of a crime in an ordinary court of justice, and had already suffered punishment for it. The consequence of such a nota was only ignominia and not infamia (Cic. de Rep. 4.6, 6) [INFAMIA], and the censorial verdict was not a judicium or res judicata (Cic. Clu. 42, 117), for its effects were not lasting, but might be removed by the following censors, or by a lex. A nota censoria was moreover not valid, unless both censors agreed. The ignominia was thus only a transitory capitis deminutio, which does not even appear to have deprived a magistrate of his office (Liv. 24.18), and certainly did not disqualify persons labouring under it for obtaining a magistracy, for being appointed as judices by the praetor, or for serving in the Roman armies. Mam. Aemilius was thus, notwithstanding the animadversio censoria, made dictator. (Liv. 4.31.) A person might be branded with a censorial nota in a variety of cases, which it would be impossible to specify, as in a great many instances it depended upon the discretion of the censors and the view they took of a case; and sometimes even one set of censors would overlook an offence which was severely chastised by their successors. (Cic. de Senect. 12, 42.) But the offences which are recorded to have been punished by the censors are of a threefold nature.
- 1. Such as occurred in the private life of individuals, e. g. (a) The dissolution of matrimony or betrothment in an improper way, or for insufficient reasons. (V. Max. 2.9.2.) (b) The obligation of marrying was frequently impressed upon the citizens by the censors, and the refusal to fulfil it was punished with a fine [AES UXORIUM]. But celibacy in itself can hardly have been visited with a nota; for, however undesirable, it cannot have been regarded as a probrum. (c) Improper conduct towards one's wife or children, as well as harshness or too great indulgence towards children, and disobedience of the latter towards their parents. (Plut. Cat. Ma. 17 ; compare Cic. de Rep. 4.6, 16; Dionys. A. R. 20.3.) (d) Inordinate and luxurious mode of living, or an extravagant expenditure of money. A great many instances of this kind are recorded. (Liv. Epit. 14, 39.44; Plut. Cat. Ma. 18; Gellius, 4.8, 17.21, 39; Vell. 2.10; V. Max. 2.9.4.) At a later times the leges sumptuariae were made to check the growing love of luxuries. (e) Neglect and carelessness in cultivating one's fields. (Gel. 4.12; Plin. Nat. 18.11.) (f) Cruelty towards slaves or clients. (Dionys. A. R. 20.3.) (g) The carrying on of a disreputable trade or occupation (Dionys. l.c.), such as acting in theatres. (Liv. 7.2.) (h） Legacy-hunting, defrauding orphans, &c.
- 2. Offences committed in public life, either in the capacity of a public officer or against magistrates. (a) If a magistrate acted in a manner not befitting his dignity as an officer, if he was accessible to bribes, or forged auspices. (Cic. de Senect. 12, 42; Liv. 39.42; V. Max. 2.9.3; Plut. Cat. Maj. 17; Cic. de Div. 1.1. 6, 29.) (b) Improper conduct towards a magistrate, or the attempt to limit his power or to abrogate a law which the censors thought necessary. (Liv. 4.24; Cic. de Orat. 2.64, 260; V. Max. 2.9.5; Gellius, 4.20.) (c) Perjury. (Cic. de Off. 1.1. 3; Liv. 24.18; Gel. 7.18.) (d) Neglect, disobedience, and cowardice of soldiers in the army. (V. Max. 2.9.7; Liv. 24.18, 27.11.) (e) The keeping of the equus publicus in bad condition. [EQUITES]
- 3. A variety of actions or pursuits which were thought to be injurious to public morality might be forbidden by the censors by an edict (Gellius, 15.11), and those who acted contrary to such edicts were branded with the nota and degraded. For an enumeration of the offences that might be punished by the censors with ignominia, see Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.364-368.