Who Were Commissioners In Ancient Rome

Who Were Commissioners in Ancient Rome
One of the most important offices in Ancient Rome was that of a Commission. Commissioned by the Roman Senate and key civil and military officers, the roles of these Commissioners were diverse and essential for the success of the Roman Republic and later, the Roman Empire.

The Duties of the Commissioner

Commissioners in Ancient Rome were tasked with performing a variety of duties. This could include enforcing the rules of governance, making sure that public services were maintained, investigating fraud, determining the boundaries between provinces, ensuring the construction of public works, overseeing trade and commerce and most importantly, ensuring the welfare of the citizens of the state.

The Hierarchy and Selection of Commissioners

Commissioners were usually selected from the Roman nobility and higher echelons of society, such as prominent statesmen, politicians, generals and other influential figures. They held a very privileged position, since their duties were to uphold the laws of the state, which gave them immense power and influence. This power allowed them to have a tremendous say in the state’s affairs, especially when it came to policy-making and carrying out rigorous and often unpopular decisions.

The Roles of the Commissioner

Commissioners played an influential role in the political and social structure of Rome. They were responsible for carrying out the orders of the Senate, including the decisions made by the leading mandarins. However, unlike modern-day government officials and civil servants, Commissioners in Ancient Rome were appointed for life, and held a great degree of autonomy from the official state functionaries.

The Authority of the Commissioner

Commissioners in Ancient Rome had the power to act on their own discretion and were accountable for their decisions. They had the authority to appoint and remove subordinates, override laws and draft edicts to maintain order. If a Commissioner was unfit for office, or neglected their duties, the Senate had the power to revoke the appointment.

The Legacies of the Commissioner

The legacies of these influential office holders still remain today. Commission-type roles are still found in various corners of politics and civil service, with Presidents, Governors, Ambassadors and other key figures also known as ‘Commissioners’. These Commissioners serve a similar purpose to that of the Roman office holders, ensuring the safety and well-being of their people, while upholding the laws and regulations of their state.

The Expansion of the Roman Empire

The role of the Commissioner was of critical importance when it came to the expansion of the Roman Empire. Through their leadership and guidance, the Empire grew from a small city-state to a vast dominion, ruling over most of the Mediterranean world. These Commissioners had a significant influence in terms of directing foreign and domestic policy, while also managing the administrative needs of such an expansive and influential superpower.

The Role in Terms of Social Reform

Commissioners had a lasting impact on the social structure of Ancient Rome as well. Through their decisions and edicts, they were able to establish laws and regulations that shaped the society in fundamental ways. They were also responsible for ensuring the welfare of the citizens and promoting fairness and justice, replacing centuries of tradition with a more humanistic attitude to law and equity.

The Role in Terms of Education and the Arts

Commissioners also had a considerable impact on the intellectual and cultural life of Ancient Rome. Through their generous patronage of the arts and literature, they enabled the growth of great artists and philosophers. They also funded educational institutions where both citizens and non-citizens could gain knowledge and understanding of the Roman world.

The Influence on Modern Governance

The role of the Commissioner has been an integral part of modern democratic structures and governments, with the roles they played in Ancient Rome setting the precedent for our current systems. As such, we owe much of our modern systems of government to the Commissioners of Ancient Rome, and their legacy still remains in our current systems and procedures.

Conclusion of the Commissioner’s Role

It is clear that the role of the Commissioner was a critical one in Ancient Rome. From enforcing laws and maintaining public services, to promoting education, the arts and social reform, these influential office holders were essential in terms of establishing the political and social structure in Ancient Rome, as well as for delivering the success of the Roman Empire.

The Numbers and Types of Commissions

The scope and extent of the role of Commissioner varies from period to period. During the Republic, the number of Commissioners could range from 30 to 1000, depending on the specific needs of the state. During the Imperial period, it was common for the Emperor to appoint multiple commissions for different projects, such as building roads and maintaining infrastructure.

The Influence of the Commission

The influence of the Commissioners in Ancient Rome has had a lasting impact on modern government and democracy. Through their work in enforcing laws and overseeing important projects, they helped to ensure the success of the state and led to the establishment of more humane and equitable systems of governance.

The Commission vs. the Legatus

The role of the Commissioner should not be confused with that of a Legatus. Legati were officials appointed by the Roman Emperor that served as ambassadors, district governors, or military commanders. They were essentially a type of special envoy that would report directly to the Emperor, and were generally more powerful than the Commissioners in terms of authority and influence.

The Legacy of the Commission

The legacy of the Commission in Ancient Rome can still be felt in our modern times. From the structure of our governments and systems of law, to the importance of diplomacy and international relations, much of our current institutions and norms can be traced back to the formative period of Ancient Rome and the influential role of their Commissioners.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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