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The Roman term for an official body consisting of four men. (See VIGINTISEXVIRI.)
The collective name given at Rome to twenty-six officers of lower rank (magistrutus minores). They were divided into six different offices, and were originally nominated by the higher officers to be their assistants, but were subsequently chosen by the people at the comitia tributa, and it was by this appointment that they first became magistrates proper. The term included (1) Iudices decemviri (ten-men judges), or decemviri (st)litibus iudicandis (ten-men for the decision of disputed suits), originally named by the tribunes to inquire into those civil suits in which their assistance had been invoked in certain appeals from the decision of the consuls. Afterwards the decision of such cases was left to them by the consuls from the very commencement. In time their relations with the tribunes grew less close, and they became judicial magistrates, who were probably chosen in the comitia tributa, under the presidency of the proetor urbanus. Of their functions in detail, little more is known from the time of the Republic than that they decided actions for freedom, and that they made the arrangements for the trials heard before the court of the centumviri. This latter duty they lost in the last days of the Republic, but it was restored to them by Augustus. (2) Quattuorviri iuri dicundo (four men for pronouncing judgment), whose duty it was to pronounce judgment at law in the ten towns of Campania, like the proefecti iuri dicundo, who were nominated by the praetor in the other municipalities; they survived only till the time of Augustus. (3) Tresviri nocturni (three men for night-service), originally servants of the consuls, who were responsible for the peace and safety of Rome by night, especially in respect of danger by fire. When to this duty was added that of investigating criminal charges, they became regular magistrates under the title tresviri capitales. In this capacity they had. to track out escaped criminals, to examine prisoners under the authorization of the higher magistrates, to inspect the public, prison, and to superintend the carrying out of capital sentences and of corporal punishments. Hence prison-warders and executioners were placed under them. Under the Empire it was also their duty to burn offensive books. 1 (4) Tresviri monetales (three men for the mint), who had, under the Republic, the superintendence of the coinage of gold and silver, under the Empire that of the copper currency only. (5) Quattuorviri viis in urbe purgandis (four men for cleansing the streers in the city). And (6) Duoviri viis extra urbem purgandis (two for cleansing the streets outside the city), who were under the direction of the aediles. Under Augustus the duoviri last named disappeared as well as the quattuorviri iuri dicundo, and the collective name for the under - magistrates became vigintiviri (twenty men). These were chosen from the knights, and the office of the vigintivirate served as the preliminary step to the quaestorship.
The Roman term for a college or board of three men. For the triumviri capitales, monetales, nocturni, see VIGINTISEXVIRI.
Type: Standard
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