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The Curule Aediles, from B.C. 366, were taken at first from the Patrician body alone, soon after from Patricians and Plebeians by turns, and lastly from either. Elected yearly in the comitia tributa under the presidency of a consul, they were, from the first, officers of the whole people, though low in rank; they sat in the sella curulis, from which they took their name, and wore as insignia the toga praetexta. As in rank so in the extent of their powers they stood above the Plebeian Aediles, being entitled to exercise civil jurisdiction in market business, where the latter could only impose, a fine. The functions of the two were very much alike, comprising: (i) the superintendence of trade in the market, where they had to test weights and measures, and the quality of goods; to keep down the price of provisions, both by prohibitive measures, especially against regraters of care, and by the purchase and liberal distribution of food (cura annonae); and, as regards the money-market, to prosecute those who transgressed the laws of usury; (ii) the care of the streets and buildings within the city and the circuit of a mile outside, by cleansing, paving, and improving the streets, or stirring up those who were bound to do it; by seeing that the street traffic was unimpeded; by keeping in repair the temples, public buildings, and works, such as sewers and aqueducts, and seeing that these latter and the fire-apparatus were in working order; (iii) a superintendence of health and morals, including the inspection of baths, taverns, and low houses, the putting down of all that endangered public order and decency, e.g. games of hazard, breaches of sumptuary laws, introduction of foreign religions, etc.; (iv) the exhibition of Games (of which the Roman and Megalensian devolved on the curule, the Plebeian on the plebeian aediles), the supervision of festivities at the feriae Latinae and at games given by private men. The cost of the games given by themselves they defrayed partly out of a sum set apart by the State, but utterly inadequate to the large demands of later times; partly out of the proceeds of fines which were also spent on public buildings, and partly out of their own resources. Thus the aedileship became an expensive luxury, and its enjoyment less and less accessible to men of moderate means. Ambitious men often spent incredible sums in getting lip games, to win the people's favour with a view to higher honours, though the aedileship was not necessary as a stepping-stone to these. In Cicero's time the legal age for the curule Ledileship was thirty-seven. From B.C. 366 their number was unchanged, till Caesar in B.C. 44 added two more, the Plebeian Aediles Ceriales, to whom alone the cura annonae and the management of the ludi Ceriales were entrusted. Under the Empire the office of aedile lost much in importance by some of its functions being handed over to separate officers, especially by the transference of its jurisdiction and its control of games to the praetors; and it fell into such contempt, that even Augustus had to make a tenure of it, or the tribuneship, a condition of eligibility to the praetorship; and succeeding emperors often had to fill it by compulsion. In the 3rd century A.D. it seems to have died altogether.
Type: Standard
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