Roman history

Roman history

The Roman plays make routine references to political or social roles, using a distinctive vocabulary, and characters in other plays sometimes refer to them. This is standard terminology, encountered whenever writers refer to Classical Rome, and there is no difference between the way Shakespeare would refer to these people and the way any modern English writer would.   They are not therefore included in the A--Z section of the Glossary; but as anyone unfamiliar with the period would certainly find them to be ‘hard words’, the chief items are listed below.

Item
Example
Gloss
aedile [pron: `aydiyl] Cor III.i.172 assistant to the tribunes, with a range of responsibilities (such as public order)
augurer Cor II.i.1 religious official who interpreted signs (such as the behaviour of birds and the entrails of sacrificial victims) to advise on how affairs should proceed and to predict future events
candidatus Tit I.i.188 someone standing as a candidate for political office, conventionally dressed in a white toga
censor Cor II.iii.243 magistrate responsible for the census of citizens and who acted as a watchdog of public morals
centurion Cor IV.iii.39 commander of a century [a body of c.100 men] in the Roman legion
flamen Cor II.i.205 priest devoted to the service of a particular deity
lictor Cor II.ii.35 officer attendant on a magistrate, who enforced the sentences given to offenders
patrician Cor I.i.14 member of one of the elite Roman families, from which leading figures (senators, consuls, etc) were selected
plebeian Cor II.i.90 member of the common people [plural: plebeians, plebeii]
praetor JC I.iii.143 annually elected chief magistrate, subordinate to the consul
proconsul Cym III.viii.8 provincial commander, carrying out the duties of a consul
senator JC II.iv.35 member of the governing council
sibyl 1H6 I.ii.56 one of a number of wise women (‘the nine sibyls of old Rome’) reputed to have powers of prophecy
tribune [of the people] Cor II.i.1 officer appointed to protect the rights of plebeians

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