Censors and society: the Roman censorship, 443 - 21 BC

Welbourn, Michael (2018) Censors and society: the Roman censorship, 443 - 21 BC. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The censorship was one of the Roman Republic's most significant magistracies. The range and importance of their duties – the census, the lectio senatus and recognitio equitum, letting public contracts and initiating public works, and the ceremony of the lustrum – meant that the office had a profound impact on Roman society. There is much modern scholarship on the censorship. But some of the arguments and conclusions put forward by earlier scholars, while valuable, need to be updated and certain misconceptions corrected. In particular, what is required is a greater focus on placing the censorship in its political and social context, into the political culture of the Roman Republic, in order to properly analyse the office, its wider function(s), and its influence on Roman society. At the same time, a careful consideration of what precisely the censors' duties involved and how each pair of censors carried these out is necessary. The present work hopes to address both aspects of this important magistracy.

To that end, this thesis is divided into seven chapters. Five of which deal with the censors' individual responsibilities. Chapter 1 is a diachronic survey of the censorship across the whole period of its existence. It aims to highlight the development of the office over time and to ground the subsequent discussion of the magistracy in its proper chronological context. Chapter 2 highlights the infrastructure – assistants, schedule, records, headquarters etc – through which the censors were able to carry out their tasks. Chapter 3 is a study of the censors' most important task, the taking of the census, and its importance for the Roman community. Chapter 4 looks at the censors as guardians of the mos maiorum, and the activities through which this role was expressed. Chapter 5 investigates the censors' responsibility for letting public contracts of various kinds, and the impact this had on the Roman state and its economy. Chapter 6 focuses in more detail on the most significant and costly element of the censors' contracting duties – public works. It attempts to assess what contribution the censors made to the ever-changing face of the city of Rome, as compared to the other magistrates. Finally, Chapter 7 considers the lustrum, the sacred rite which closed each pair of censors' term in office. It asks both what the ceremony involved, and what its meaning and significance for the community might have been.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Bradley, Mark
Rich, John
Keywords: Roman censors, censorship, Roman politics, Roman society
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DG Italy
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 49836
Depositing User: Welbourn, Michael
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2018 12:36
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 17:16
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/49836

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