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The lictor, derived from the Latin ligare (to bind), was a Roman civil servant, with special tasks of attending and guarding magistrates who held imperium. The origin of the tradition of lictores goes back to the time when Rome was a kingdom, perhaps acquired from their Etruscan neighbours.
The lictor's main task was to attend as bodyguards to magistrates who held imperium. They carried rods decorated with fasces and, outside the pomerium, with axes that symbolized the power to execute.