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p723 Magister

Unsigned article on p723 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

MAGIST′ER, which contains the same root as mag-is and mag-nus, was applied at Rome to persons possessing various kinds of offices, and is thus explained by Festus, (s.v. Magisterare):— "Magisterare, moderari. Unde magistri non solum doctores artium, sed etiam pagorum, societatum, vicorum, collegiorum, equitum dicuntur; quia omnes hi magis ceteris possunt." Paulus (Dig. 50 tit. 16 s57) thus defines the word:— "Quibus praecipua cura rerum incumbit, et qui magis quam ceteri diligentiam et sollicitudinem rebus, quibus praesunt, debent, hi magistri appellantur." The following is a list of the principal magistri:—

Magister Admissionum. [Admissionales.]

Magister Armorum appears to have been the same officer as the Magister Militum (Amm. Marc. XVI.7, XX.9).

Magister Auctionis. [Bonorum Emtio.]

Magister Bibendi. [Symposium.]

Magister Collegii was the president of a collegium or corporation. [Collegium.]

Magister Epistolarum answered letters on behalf of the emperor (Orelli, Inscr. 2352).

Magister Equitum. [Dictator, p407B.]

Magister Libellorum was an officer or secretary who read and answered petitions addressed to the emperors [Libellus, 5c.]º He is called in an inscription "Magister Libellorum et Cognitionum Sacrarum." (Orelli, l.c.).

Magister Memoriae, an officer whose duty it was to receive the decision of the emperor on any subject and communicate it to the public or the persons concerned (Amm. Marc. XV.5, XXVII.6).

Magister Militum, the title of the two officers, to whom Constantine intrusted the command of all the armies of the empire. One was placed over the cavalry, and the other over the infantry. On the divisions of the empire their number was increased, and each of them had both cavalry and infantry under his command. In addition to the title of Magister militum, we find them called Magistri armorum, equitum et peditum, utriusque militiae (Zosim. II.33, IV.27; Vales. ad Amm. Marc. XVI.7). In the fifth century, there were in the Eastern empire two of these officers at court, and three in the provinces; in the western empire, two at court, and one in Gaul. Under Justinian, a new magister militum was appointed for Armenia and Pontus. (Walter, Geschichte des Römischen Rechts, § 342, 2d ed.).

Magister Officiorum, was an officer of high rank at the imperial court, who had the superintendence of all audiences with the emperor, and also had extensive jurisdiction over both civil and military officers (Cod. 1 tit. 31; 12 tit. 16; Cod. Theod. 1 tit. 9; 6 tit. 9; Amm. Marc. XV.5; XX.2, XXII.3; Cassiod. Variar. VI.6).

Magister Populi. [Dictator.]

Magister Scriniorum, had the care of all the papers and the documents belonging to the emperor (Cod. 12 tit. 9; Spartian. Ael. Ver. 4; Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 26).

Magister Societatis. The equites, who farmed the taxes at Rome, were divided into companies or partnerships; and he who presided in such a company was called Magister Societatis (Cic. Verr. II.74, ad Fam. XIII.9, pro Plancio, 13).

Magister Vicorum. Augustus divided Rome into certain regiones and vici, and commanded that the people of each vicus should choose magistri to manage its affairs (Suet. Aug. 30, Tib. 76; Orelli, Inscr. 5, 813, 1530). From an inscription on an ancient stone referred to by Pitiscus (Lexicon, s.v.) it appears that there were four such magistri to each vicus. They were accustomed to exhibit the Ludi Compitalitii dressed in the praetexta (Ascon. in Cic. Pison. p7, ed. Orelli).


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