Cursus honorum (Nova Roma)
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'. Roman political offices are 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.
In Nova Roma, the cursus honorum is regulated by the following laws:
- Lex Tullia annalis: about the minimum age and previous service required to hold specific magistracies;
- Lex Cornelia de definitione repetundorum magistratuum: about a ban on serving two consecutive terms in certain higher offices
- Lex Salvia de prorogatione et cumulatione: about a ban holding more than one magistracy at the same time, and about allowing consecutive terms and lowered age and previous office requirements when there is a lack of candidates in elections
The grades of the cursus honorum in Nova Roma
The system of the cursus honorum of Nova Roma is deeply inspired by the ancient Roman cursus honorum, but it is less strict and allows for more room and alternative paths. This larger degree of flexibility was considered necessary due to the modern circumstances of Nova Roma: the smaller size of our community and smaller pool of candidates. Without this flexibility, it would be difficult to find the required number of candidates for an annually changing leadership, and elections in Nova Roma would be hindered.
For anyone who is interested in serving in higher offices, the quaestorship is the most important magistracy to be filled, because it is not possible to hold any office above the aedileship without previous service as quaestor.
1. Quaestor and vigintivir: From age 21, without previously holding another magistracy, the only magistracies that a newby to the cursus honorum can fill are the vigintivirate and the quaestorship.
2. Aedilis or tribunus plebis: From age 25, after filling either the office of vigintivir or quaestor, one can move on to the higher offices of aedilis curulis, aedilis plebis or tribunus plebis.
3. Praetor: A candidate of 30 years of age who has served as quaestor plus another term in one of the magistracies of aedilis, tribunus plebis or vigintivir, can advance to the next grade of the cursus honorum, the praetorship.
4. Consul: From 40 years of age, one can only fill the next grade, the consulship if one has held the praetorship previously, or if one has served as quaestor plus another term either as aedilis or tribunus plebis before.
5. Censor: The highest grade, the censorship, can only be held by former consuls over 40 years of age.
The lex Salvia de prorogatione et cumulatione allows for exemptions from under all of these rules, so in practice we will see cases when these rules are not followed.
Although there is not very strict legal regulations determining the cursus honorum, the ancients venerated the course of honors and were very serious about it, though they did allow some wiggle room. It is highly recommended to follow the traditional steps of the ancient Roman cursus honorum as described in this article:
Following it in Nova Roma today is a matter of good morals and honorable behavior, although the lack of citizens running for these offices requires some to not follow the normal course.
- Cursus honorum in ancient Rome