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date: 30 November 2020


  • Piero Treves
  •  and Andrew Lintott


Viatores were attendants on magistrates (see magistracy, roman), one of whose main functions was to summon persons to the magistrate's presence. Thus they might be used, for example, to call senators to a meeting from their country homes. However, they also had a function more akin to that of a bailiff, acting in the presence of a magistrate to seize a criminal or his property or indeed a recalcitrant political opponent. This last function was especially useful to a tribune (see tribuni plebis), who, unlike a consul or praetor, had not the help of *lictors. So *Caesar had M. *Porcius(2) dragged from the senate, and Ti. *Sempronius Gracchus(3) removed his fellow-tribune M. *Octavius from the tribunal. By the late republic they formed a corporation divided into several decuriae according to the rank of the magistrates (the first was therefore the decuria consularis).

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