This year (whether it had tribunes only, or consuls substituted in the room of tribunes) is followed by a year when there were undoubtedly consuls, scil. Marcus Geganius Macerinus a second time, Titus Quintius Capitolinus a fifth time.
This same year was the commencement of the censorship, a thing which arose from an humble origin, which afterwards increased so much in importance, that n it was vested the regulation of the morals and discipline of Rome, the senate and the centuries of the knights, the distinction of honour and of ignominy were under the sway of that office, the legal right to public and private places, the revenues of the Roman people fell under their beck and jurisdiction.
The institution of the thing originated in this, that the people not having been subjected to a survey for several years, the census could neither be deferred, nor had the consuls leisure to discharge their duty, when wars impended from so many states.
An observation was made by the senate, “that an office laborious in itself, and one little suited to the consular office, required a magistrate for itself, to whose authority should be submitted the duties of the several scribes, the custody and care of the records, as well as the adjustment of the form to be adopted in the census.”
And inconsiderable though the proposal might be, still the senate receive it with great pleasure, because it increased the number of patrician magistrates in the state, judging also that that would come to pass, which really did occur, viz. that the influence of those who should preside, and the honour of the office would derive on it additional authority and dignity.
The tribunes also, considering the discharge of the duty (as was really the case) as necessary rather than the duty itself, as being attended with lustre, did not indeed offer opposition, lest they should through perverseness show a disposition to thwart them even [p. 260]
After the honour was rejected by the leading men of the state, the people by their suffrages appointed to the office of conducting the census Papirius and Sempronius, concerning whose consulate doubts are entertained, that in that magistracy they might have some recompence for the incompleteness of their consulate. They were called censors from the nature of their office.