The lictor, derived from the Latin "ligare" (to bind), was a member of a special class of Roman civil servant, with special tasks of attending and guarding magistrates of the Roman Republic and Empire who held "imperium"; essentially, a bodyguard. The origin of the tradition of lictors goes back to the time when Rome was a kingdom, perhaps acquired from their Etruscan neighbours.


Originally, lictors were chosen from the plebs but through most part of the Roman history they seemed to be freedmen. They were, however, definitely Roman citizens, since they wore togae inside Rome. A lictor had to be a strongly built man, capable of physical work. Lictors were exempted from military service, received a fixed salary (of 600 sesterces, in the beginning of the Empire), and were organized in a corporation. Usually, they were personally chosen by the magistrate they were supposed to serve, but it is also possible that they were drawn by lots.

Lictors were associated with Comitia Curiata and probably originally one was selected from each curia, since originally there were 30 curiae and 30 lictors (24 for two consuls and 6 for the sole praetor)

Lictor's tasks

The lictor's main task was to attend as bodyguards to magistrates who held "imperium". They carried rods decorated with fasces and, outside the "pomerium", with axes that symbolized the power to execute. Dictatorial lictors had axes even within the Pomerium. They followed the magistrate wherever he went, including the Forum, his house, temples and the baths. Lictors were organized in an ordered line before him, with the primus lictor (the principal lictor) right on his front, waiting for orders. If there was a crowd, the lictors opened the way and kept their master safe, pushing all aside except for Roman matrons, who were accorded special honor. They also had to stand beside the magistrate whenever he addressed the crowd. Magistrates could only dispense with their lictors if they were visiting a free city or addressing a higher status magistrate. Lictors also had legal and penal duties: they could at their master's command arrest Roman citizens and punish them. A Vestal Virgin was accorded a lictor when her presence was required at a public ceremony.

The degree of magistrate's imperium was symbolised by the number of lictors escorting him:

*Dictator: 24 lictors outside the pomerium, 12 inside. The latter rule was ignored starting from the dictatorship of Sulla
*Consul: 12 lictors
*Proconsul: 11 lictors
*Master of the Horse: 6 lictors
*Praetor: 6 lictors, 2 within Pomerium
*Propraetor: 5 lictors
*Curule aediles: 2 lictors

Sometimes, lictors were ascribed to private citizens in special occasions, like funerals or political reunions, as a show of respect by the city.

"Lictor curiatus"

The "lictor curiatus" (plural "lictores curiati") was a special kind of lictor, who did not carry rods or "fasces" and whose main tasks were religious. Some thirty in number, they were at the command of the "Pontifex Maximus", the high priest of Rome. They were present at sacrifices, where they carried or guided sacrificial animals to the altars. Vestal Virgins, as well as "flamines" (priests), were entitled to be escorted and protected by one "lictor curiatus". In the Empire, women of the royal family were usually followed by two of this kind of lictor. The "lictores curiati" were also responsible for summoning the "Comitia Curiata" (the Public Assembly) and to maintain order during its procedures.

ee also

*"cursus honorum"

External links

* [ Lictor]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • lictor — LÍCTOR, lictori, s.m. (în Roma antică) Persoană care însoţea, în anumite ocazii, pe înalţii demnitari, mergând înaintea lor şi purtând fasciile. – Din lat. lictor, oris. Trimis de LauraGellner, 23.05.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  lictór s. m., pl.… …   Dicționar Român

  • Lictor — (del lat. «lictor, ōris») m. Funcionario *romano que precedía a los magistrados llevando un haz de varas con una hacha en el centro. ⇒ Fasces, faz, segur. * * * lictor. (Del lat. lictor, ōris). m. Entre los romanos, ministro de justicia que… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • LICTOR — dictus a ligando, iuxta illud, Lictor collig at manus: vel a ligand is fascibus, ut vult Festus; vel a limo s. licio, licio enim transverso, quod limum appellabatur, qui magistratib. praeministrabant, cincti erant. Sed primum placet A. Gellio… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Lictor — (plural lictores). Los lictores eran funcionarios públicos que durante el periodo republicano de la Roma clásica se encargaban de escoltar a los magistrados curules, marchando delante de ellos, e incluso de garantizar el orden público y custodia… …   Wikipedia Español

  • lictor — late 14c., from L. lictor, lit. binder, from pp. stem of *ligere to bind, collect, collateral form of ligare (see LIGAMENT (Cf. ligament)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • lictor — (Del lat. lictor, ōris). m. Entre los romanos, ministro de justicia que precedía con las fasces a los cónsules y a otros magistrados …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • lictor — [lik′tər] n. [ME (Wycliffe) littour < L lictor < base of ligare (see LIGAMENT), in allusion to the fasces] in ancient Rome, any of a group of minor officials who carried the fasces and cleared the way for the chief magistrates …   English World dictionary

  • Lictor — Lic tor (l[i^]k t[o^]r), n. [L.] (Rom. Antiq.) An officer who bore an ax and fasces or rods, as ensigns of his office. His duty was to attend the chief magistrates when they appeared in public, to clear the way, and cause due respect to be paid… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lictor — |ô| s. m. Cada um dos doze portadores de varas que acompanhavam os cônsules (na antiga Roma) …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Lictor — Liktor mit Fasces Liktoren (lat. lictores zu ligare, binden ) waren ursprünglich im Römischen Reich jene Diener, die den König als Leibwache schützen sollten, später Amtsdiener, die den höheren Staatsbeamten mit imperium (Konsuln, Prätoren,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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