Censors’ Sacral Authority in the Roman Republic

Smorchkov Andrey M.

The article analyses religious requirements and authority connected with censorship, an office whose sacral meaning was considered as being higher than that of the magistrates. The greatest attention is paid to lustrum, a sacral and political ritual that had highest importance for the life of the civic community, being a legal sanction of the census. Its religious meaning was connected with the belief that duly (rite) performed ceremony ensured prosperity till the next lustrum. This explains some sacral restrictions censors were subjected to: the prohibition to elect a censor instead of the deceased one, to see a dead body, to defer lustrum, etc. These restriction had developped from precedents, i.e. the cases when the ritual and the period threafter had been considered inopportune (infelix lustrum). Both censors were responsible for the due performance of the rite, though only one performed it by lot. The character of censors’ cooperation during the sacral act is analysed for the cases of P. Scipio Aemilianus’ and L. Mummius’ censorship (142/141 BC). The analysis shows that one of the censors uttered the vow, and the second performed the suovetaurilia. It was the offering that was considered essential, in accordance with Roman religious practice. Hence, it was the name of the second censor that was connected with the whole of the ceremony. In this ceremony one clearly can see interaction of political and religious principles chacteristic of the republican system in Rome.

Keywords: Roman Republic, religion, magistrates