One of the officials of the Roman Republic. 2 Censores (the Latin plural for Censor), were elected every 5 years, and they served for a period of 18 months.

Their job was to perform the Census: to count the number of Roman citizens, and estimate their property.

This was a significant role, because people were divided between the classes in the Gatherings of the citizens according to their property. The higher one's class was in the Gatherings the more power his vote carried.

The Censores also decided who was entitled to be a member of the Senate.

Another job the Censores performed was to watch over the moral behaviour of the citizens. If they noticed immoral behaviour (sexual or otherwise) performed by a citizen, they could fine him. They could also fine people for abusing their wives, children, slaves or livestock.

Censors were the most august of all Ancient Roman magistrates. However, the office lacked imperium and as such, censors were not entitled to display fasces or be escorted by lictors.

Censors were elected by the Centuriate Assembly, and the term of office was actually a full five years (called a lustrum) though it is generally accepted that most censorial duties were limited to the first eighteen months of the lustrum.

Each lustrum was welcomed in with a special sacrifice, called the suovetaurilia, of pig, sheep, and ox. No man could stand for the office of censor unless he had first been consul and usually only consulars of notable auctoritas and dignitas ever bothered to run.

In addition to regulating Senate membership, censors were tasked with inspecting and regulating the membership of the Ordo Equester. In their role during the census they had the authority to move a citizen from one tribe to another as well as one Class to another, by applying the means test. They also were responsible for letting State contracts for everything from tax farming to public works.

Sulla abolished the office of censor in 81 B.C., but the consuls Pompey and Crassus reinstated it eleven years later in 70 B.C.

Censors wore a purple toga called the toga purpurea.

Cen"sor (?), n. [L. censor, fr. censere to value, tax.]

1. Antiq.

One of two magistrates of Rome who took a register of the number and property of citizens, and who also exercised the office of inspector of morals and conduct.

2.

One who is empowered to examine manuscripts before they are committed to the press, and to forbid their publication if they contain anything obnoxious; -- an official in some European countries.

3.

One given to fault-finding; a censurer.

Nor can the most circumspect attention, or steady rectitude, escape blame from censors who have no inclination to approve. Rambler.

4.

A critic; a reviewer.

Received with caution by the censors of the press. W. Irving.

 

© Webster 1913.

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