Roman Censors - Election


The censors were elected in the Centuriate Assembly, which met under the presidency of a consul. Barthold Niebuhr suggests that the censors were at first elected by the Curiate Assembly, and that the Assembly's selections were confirmed by the Centuriate; but William Smith believes that "there is no authority for this supposition, and the truth of it depends entirely upon the correctness of views respecting the election of the consuls". Both censors had to be elected on the same day, and accordingly if the voting for the second was not finished in the same day, the election of the first was invalidated, and a new assembly had to be held.

The assembly for the election of the censors was held under different auspices from those at the election of the consuls and praetors, so the censors were not regarded as their colleagues, although they likewise possessed the maxima auspicia. The assembly was held by the new consuls shortly after they began their term of office; and the censors, as soon as they were elected and the censorial power had been granted to them by a decree of the Centuriate Assembly (lex centuriata), were fully installed in their office.

As a general principle, the only ones eligible for the office of censor were those who had previously been consuls, but there were a few exceptions. At first, there was no law to prevent a person being censor twice, but the only person who was elected to the office twice was Gaius Marcius Rutilus in 265 BC. In that year, he originated a law stating that no one could be elected censor twice. In consequence of this, he received the cognomen of Censorinus.

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