Financial quaestors were at first appointed by the consuls, one by each; after 447 bc they were elected by the tribal assembly. Two were added when plebeians were admitted (421), to administer the aerarium in Rome (hence urbānī) under the senate's direction. Four more were instituted in 267, and stationed in various Italian towns, notably Ostia (see food supply). More were added as various provinces were organized, until Sulla, finding nineteen needed for all these duties, added one for the water supply and raised the total to 20.
The quaestorship was commonly held at the age of 27 to 30 (often—in the late republic normally—after a military tribunate and/or a minor civil magistracy). It was the lowest of the regular magistracies. By the late 2nd cent. bc, most ex‐quaestors were enrolled in the Senate, but the size of the Senate did not permit the enrolment of all. Sulla, who doubled the size of the Senate, made quaestors' entry automatic. Provinciae of quaestors were normally allotted, but magistrates could choose a quaestor for personal reasons. Quaestors attached to magistrates or promagistrates abroad did not normally serve more than two years. In addition to managing the provincial treasury, they had judicial and military duties. When their superior left or was disabled, they were expected to assume command pro praetore (see pro consule, pro praetore). Quaestors were supposed to remain bound to their commanders in loyalty for life. But their accounts were prime evidence in extortion trials, and some were tempted to apply to prosecute their own commanders, to advance their own careers. Their charges seem normally to have been rejected.
Augustus and Nero removed the quaestors from the aerarium; but under the empire the princeps, as well as each consul, had two quaestors; the quaestōrēs Caesaris, chosen by the emperor himself, were often patricians and always young men of distinction. The duties of the quaestors in Italy were gradually taken over by imperial officials, but in the public provinces quaestors retained some financial functions throughout the Principate.
Subjects: Classical Studies.