a title given to the clerks, or rather secretaries, who
formed the highest class of the officials attached to a Roman magistrate.
was much more than a mere librarius
or copyist; thus Cicero, pro
15, 42, 44, distinguishes sharply the librarii
who copied out the confessions of the Catilinarian
conspirators from the scribae,
senators who had taken them down. The compound expression scriba librarius
is used to denote a superior kind of
hence the quaestorian clerks
often appear as scribae librarii.
divided into three decuries, presided over by the sex
(Cic. de Nat.
Deor. 3.3. 0
, 74; Wilmanns, Inscr.
1298, 1809), and had as their especial charge the administration of the
treasury (whence they are sometimes called ex aerario, C. I.
6.1816) and the keeping of the public books. Every governor of a
province had two of these treasury-clerks assigned to him to keep his
accounts (Liv. 38.55
), and to draw up the statement which lie had to, give in upon his
return (Cic. in Pis. 25
Besides them, he would naturally have his own clerks for his private
accounts. As the treasury contained the state archives, all the business
connected with them, especially the registration of the decrees of the
senate, passed through the hands of the scribae.
There is no definite reference to scribae
attached to the consuls; but the praetors and the
judicial authorities generally were regularly aided by scribae,
who read the documents laid before the court (Cic. in Verr. 3.10, 26
drew up the decisions and sentences in due form (Cic.
). The censors
especially were during their term of office in need of such clerical
assistance, and sometimes they appear as the authorities in charge of the
whole body of public clerks (Liv. 4.8
). Most of the clerks may have belonged to the
class of public slaves; but others, again, must have been officials holding
a respectable position, for, in the formula of the census, they are
mentioned after the censors but before the other magistrates (Varro, 6.87).
At least the more important of the clerks must have been [p. 2.613]
taken from the decuries of the scribae
the nominations were usually made by quaestors,
but here, as always, a superior magistrate could interfere by the exercise
of his overruling powers when he pleased. We learn from the case of Horace
that appointments could be, in some cases at least, obtained by purchase.
The number of the quaestorian clerks was 27 before the time of Sulla, and
was raised by him to 36. As there were probably 11 provincial governors sent
out after Sulla's re-arrangements, this left 14 for duty at home. The clerks
of the curule aediles, mentioned by Cicero (Cic. Clu.
) and Livy (30.39
), and often in
inscriptions (e. g. Wilmanns, 1296, 1300, 1302, 1303, &c.), formed
one decuria, presided over by 10 head clerks (C. I. L.
6.1840). They were not much inferior in standing to the former class. We
also find mention of clerks to the plebeian magistrates, the tribunes, the
plebeian aediles, and the Cerial aediles; but little is known of their
functions, and they do not appear to have been important. On the other hand,
the first two classes contained men of great knowledge of business and even
of law (C. I. L.
6.1819), and these may be compared to the
permanent officials of our own public offices. Their services must have been
quite necessary to the annually elected magistrates, often young and
inexperienced. They formed collectively an ordo
(Cic. Ver. 3.79, 184
), claiming to rank with that of the
), and it was the gradual establishment of
a claim to lifelong tenure of office that led to the sale of posts which the
incumbents were willing to vacate. In the provinces they ranked immediately
after the staff officers of the governor; but the fact that they received
pay (under the Republic called merces,
the Empire salarium
) drew a sharp line between
them and the officers who were not merscenarii.
Hence, as in the well-known case of Cn. Flavius, a scriba
was not allowed to stand as a candidate for office until
he had laid down his scriptus
position. Cicero (de Off.
2.8, 29) mentions another case of a
man who had been a clerk under Sulla becoming praetor urbanus under Caesar.
In Horace (Sat.
2.5, 56) we have an instance of
an inferior magistrate, one of the quinqueviri, turning clerk; he also
speaks of the order, to which he himself belonged, in Sat.
2.6, 36, as possessed of influence. In Tacitus they are
apparently included libertini
descendants. (Cf. Mommsen, Röm. Staatsrecht,