AskDefine | Define quaestor

Dictionary Definition

quaestor n : any of several public officials of ancient Rome (usually in charge of finance and administration)

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin quaestor, from an old participle form of quaerere.


  • /'kwi:stə/


  1. an ancient Roman official responsible for public revenue and other financial affairs.


Extensive Definition

Quaestors were originally appointed by the consuls to investigate criminal acts and determine if the consul needed to take public action. Quaestors eventually took on additional responsibilities, such as supervising the treasury (what they are best known for), and became elected magistrates. The office of Quaestor was adopted as part of the part of the Cursus honorum.
Quaestors were elected officials of the Roman Republic who supervised the treasury and financial affairs of the state, its armies and its officers. The office may date back to the time of the Kingdom of Rome. By about 420 BC there were four Quaestors, elected each year by the Comitia Tributa, and after 267 BC there were ten. Some Quaestors were assigned to work in the City, while others were assigned to the staffs of generals or served the Roman Governors as Lieutenant Governors in the provinces. Still others were assigned to oversee military finances.
During the reforms of Sulla in 81 BC, the minimum age for a quaestorship was set at 30 for patricians and at 32 for plebeians, and election to the quaestorship gave automatic membership in the Senate. Before that, the censors revised the rolls of the Senate less regularly than the annual induction of quaestors created. The number of quaestors was also raised to 20.
Today the title of Quaestor (Questore) persists in Italy and it represents a high Police office. It is also present in Romania as "Chestor" and it is also a police office. The European Parliament has six Quaestors to look after the financial and administrative needs of its members. Some ancient British universities, such as the University of St Andrews, still have a Quaestor whose responsibilities are in leading and developing effective and efficient financial control and management within the University.

Sources of Further Reading

  • Bourne, Frank (Princeton University). "A History of the Romans" Boston, MA. 1967, D.C. Heath and Company
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