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date: 20 March 2023



  • Nicholas Purcell


  • Roman Law
  • Roman Myth and Religion

Vicomagistri, officials of a vicus, which was a miniature body politic, and was entitled to possess property, administer common funds, and appoint officials. These magistri or vicomagistri, who were allowed to wear the toga praetexta, had a role in representing their community in the res publica. In the late republic the vici offered a chance of finding a sense of community in the chaotic life of the city, and so they and their leaders, like the leaders of the collegia (see collegium), played an important part in the organization of mass politics.

Augustus reorganized the vici at the same time as the regiones (see regio). Their centre was a compitum or cross-roads, at which a cult of the Lares or guardian deities of that locality was maintained, involving in particular a festival of the compitum called ludi compitalicii (see ludi), which had often been a focus for disturbances in the late republic. The cult now came to include Augustan Lares and the genius of the emperor. The magistri, who are now usually freedmen (now four per vicus), become more prominent in dedicating elaborate compital sanctuaries, and from 7 bce counted a sequence of five-year periods or lustra in a sort of era to date their activities in relation to the Augustan reform. A role in the politically sensitive control of fires passed to the vigiles in ce 6.


  • O. Robinson, Ancient Rome: City-Planning and Administration (1992).
  • M. Flambard, Ktema 1981, 143–66.