published on 28 April 2011
An aedile was an elected official of Roman government. This position was held by two men simultaneously, one a Plebeian and one a Patrician, both of whom were elected to the Senate on an annual basis. An aedile was responsible for the maintenance of the public buildings and he also managed all public ceremonies and festivals.
Aediles gained prominence during the Roman Republic, from approximately 500–27 BCE. The post was held by young Roman men who were interested in a long-term career in Roman government. Following the cursus honorum (“course of offices”) track, these young Romans were often elected to aediles between having held the post of quaestor.
The post of aedile was created in 494 BCE, with the intention of their being assistants to the consuls. They originally served in some capacity as law enforcers, levying fines and managing the games. They were not considered highly important in terms of politics and the state.
In 446 BCE, aediles were given the power to execute Senatorial decrees and maintained the acts of the popular assembly. They amassed more power over the course of the republic, with their duties being likened to those of the Roman censors. In fact, they would often carry out duties that the censors were unable to do. When it came to managing public festivals, the Plebeian aedile managed the Plebeian festivals, and the Patrician-born aedile would have been in charge of the Patrician-run festivals.
The office of aedile was effectively eliminated by the first Roman Emperor, Augustus. When he took over the reins as manager of public festivals, he essentially rendered the office meaningless. Future emperors would continue to lessen the duties of aedile. The office had disappeared completely by the third century CE.
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