Cursus honorum

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Cursus honorum is the Latin term for the standard political career. A cursus is literally a race, or a race-track; honores are 'honours' or 'offices'. Political offices were traditionally held in a certain order. This system developed over the first centuries of the republic and was for a long time purely customary, though it was gradually codified in law.

The original cursus contained only four offices: quaestor, praetor, consul, and censor. They were almost always held in that order, and by the middle republic it was rare for any stage to be omitted.

These continued to be the only offices which were part of the technical cursus, but it also became common for other offices to be held in addition: aedilis plebis, aedilis curulis, and tribunus plebis. A Roman would usually hold at least one of these offices, usually after being quaestor and before being praetor, but sometimes before being quaestor.

One might also include the lowest elected offices such as the vigintisexviri as part of the cursus in its broad sense.

It was usual to leave at least a year between one office and the next.


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