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Were the councillors who ran Roman local government in both colonies and municipalities (see municipium), Latin and Roman. They did so as members of the local council. They were recruited mainly from ex‐magistrates and held office for life. The list of councillors was revised every five years. The qualifications included criteria of wealth, age, free birth, and reputation. The minimum age was 25. Members of influential families could however be made honorary members even if they lacked the standard qualifications. The number of councillors varied, but was often 100. They controlled the public life of the community, its administration, and finances, including the voting of honorary decrees and statues. They had charge of its external relations, including the sending of embassies and petitions to the emperor or provincial governor. The local popular assemblies did little apart from electing magistrates.

In time the class of decuriones became hereditary, membership descending in the male line; and nomination to office replaced popular election. Decuriones were privileged. Their toga had a purple stripe and, more important, they counted as honestiores and so were exempt from certain degrading punishments. Indeed their privileged position was essential to the running of the empire, since they were responsible for collecting imperial taxes in the local area and for performing a number of other public duties (munera; see munus); and they were personally liable for default.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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