Consuls, praetors and dictators

The consuls of the Roman Republic were the highest ranking ordinary magistrates; each consul served for one year. Consuls had supreme power in both civil and military matters. While in the city of Rome, the consuls were the head of the Roman government. They would preside over the senate and the assemblies. While abroad, each consul would command an army. His authority abroad would be nearly absolute. Praetors administered civil law and commanded provincial armies. Every five years, two censors were elected for an 18 month term. During their term in office, the two censors would conduct a census. During the census, they could enroll citizens in the senate, or purge them from the senate. Aediles were officers elected to conduct domestic affairs in Rome, such as managing public games and shows. The quaestors would usually assist the consuls in Rome, and the governors in the provinces. Their duties were often financial. Since the tribunes were considered to be the embodiment of the plebeians, they were sacrosanct. Their sacrosanctity was enforced by a pledge, taken by the plebeians, to kill any person who harmed or interfered with a tribune during his term of office. All of the powers of the tribune derived from their sacrosanctity. One consequence was that it was considered a capit l offense to harm a tribune, to disregard his veto, or to interfere with a tribune. In times of military emergency, a dictator would be appointed for a term of six months. Constitutional government would be dissolved, and the dictator would be the absolute master of the state. When the dictator's term ended, constitutional government would be restored. The executive magistrates of the Roman Republic were officials of the ancient Roman Republic (c. 510 BC – 44 BC), elected by the People of Rome. Ordinary magistrates (magistratus) were divided into several ranks according to their role and the power they wielded: censors, consuls (who functioned as the regular head of state), praetors, curule aediles, and finally quaestor. Any magistrate could obstruct (veto) an action that was being taken by a magistrate with an equal or lower degree of magisterial powers. By definition, plebeian tribunes and plebeian aediles were technically not magistrates as they were elected only by the plebeians, but no ordinary magistrate could veto any of their actions. Dictator was an extraordinary magistrate normally elected in times of emergency (usually military) for a short period. During this period, the dictator's power over the Roman government was absolute, as they were not checked by any institution or magistrate.