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What happened to the Lictors?

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Birddog View Drop Down
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    Posted: 11 May 2010 at 12:32
During the days of the Roman Republic Magistrates with Imperium were proceded by Lictors carrying the rods and fasces. A Consul had twelve, a Dictator 24 when outside the city of Rome. At what point in Rome's history did the Lictors fall out of use? Where they still walking in front of the emperors? How many did a emperor get?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 May 2010 at 13:05
Originally posted by Birddog Birddog wrote:

During the days of the Roman Republic Magistrates with Imperium were proceded by Lictors carrying the rods and fasces. A Consul had twelve, a Dictator 24 when outside the city of Rome. At what point in Rome's history did the Lictors fall out of use? Where they still walking in front of the emperors? How many did a emperor get?


When did they fall out of use? Probably when people started murdering emperors and the royals realised that a bunch of blokes with an unwieldly axe bundled in sticks was not really an effective deterrent against would-be pretenders to the throne.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2010 at 12:11
Not that helpful an answer. Augustus like to maintain the apperance of Republic. I'm sure when he walked through the street kissing babies and waving to the poor people during his many Councilships he had twelve lictors marching before him and the great hairy German body guards walking behind. Even in the time of the emperors their were still Consuls and other corule magistrates. What happened to the lictors? Did they ever fall out of use?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2010 at 13:24
Since when have Germans been more hairy than Italians?

As to a helpful answer, well I suppose what I was alluding to was probably the fact that the Praetorian Guard took the place of the lictors.

I can't find any evidence for the lictors being dispensed with entirely, but nor do I have any recollection of even Augustus making use of them. Someone with a primary source reference would be helpful, because none of my readings of Tacitus, Suetonius, nor Cassius Dio nor Plutarch have given my any record of the use of the lictors by the Emperors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2010 at 21:42
That's the problem. I've read Tactius and Suetonius and can't find any reference to the lictors. They can't have just disappeared over night on the 15th of March 44 BC. In most casses reference to the lictors are only made when the deal out punishment for a magistrate and they untied a rod for a flogging, or escorted someone somewhere. Lictors were so much part of the furniture they would hardly gain a reference. Much like emperor body guards only get a mention when they kill or failed to kill someone, or were taking an active part in replacing an emperor. And the Germans were big and hairy compared with the Italian short and hairy. Germans therefore great hairy, Italians dark and hairy.Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2010 at 11:33
The Germans only seemed hairy because they let their hair grow. The Italians shaved and still were hairy. Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2010 at 12:32
Italians were also shorter than the Germans as well as being clean shaven. I maintain that my great hairy German bodyguards statement is correct.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2010 at 13:51
Germans allowed their beards and the hair on their heads to grow longer, as was their custom. As for body hair, the Italians then and now have always had more of it.

As to the lictors, all I can surmise from the fact that they are not mentioned (so far as my primary sources are concerned) is that they were simply no longer important. Neither have I ever seen lictors on base reliefs nor depicted in other art surrounding their emperor. For guardsmen, performers, orators, Praetorians, gladiators, actors, dancers, ambassadors and personal freedmen to all be mentioned (often by name) - while the lictors were not.... well I feel this is certainly saying something.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 May 2010 at 21:49
What hairy Italians are you talking about. The short dark hairy ones from the south with Greek ansestors, or the tall blonde ones from the north with celtic ansestors, or all those freedmen from all around the world with god knows what ansestors? (Or men like Julius Cesear who plucked all their body hair off?)
 
I also pointed out that lictors were not mentioned that often when they were in common use. They were part of the furniture, much like the slaves. When they say the Council walked the streets they needn't mention the twelve lictors that walked infront of him. They were just part of the office. I'm not saying the the lictors did not diminish in importance, I just find it hard to believe that a custom that the Romans followed for five hundred years just disappeared overnight in a puff of smoke. Even in movies and TV set in the Roman Republic they don't show the lictors, because you don't want your actor walking behind a dozen men dressed in white togas. (Who are those blokes with the sticks? They gonna wack some one?) Maybe there is a PHD to be earned discovering the answer to this question. All we've got so far is theory and the hairy German/Italian arguement.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 May 2010 at 13:43
Not an area in which I'd claim any competence. But I note that the Oxford History of the Classical World doesn't even mention lictors in its index. Or fasces for that matter.
 
Mind you I didn't check through all the text....
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