List of Roman dictators
Key to Latin terms and phrases
Roman dictators were usually appointed for a specific purpose, or causa, which limited the scope of their activities. The chief causae were rei gerundae (a general purpose, usually to lead an army in the field against a particular enemy), clavi figendi (an important religious rite involving the driving of a nail into the wall of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus), and comitiorum habendorum (the holding of the comitia to elect magistrates, when the consuls were unable to do so).
Other causae included ludorum faciendorum (holding the Roman games, an important religious festival), ferarium constituendarum (establishing a religious festival in response to serious prodigies); seditionis sedandae (quelling sedition), and in one remarkable case, senatus legendi (filling up the ranks of the Senate after the Battle of Cannae).
The causa given at the very end of the Republic for the dictatorships of Sulla and Caesar are completely novel, as the powers granted greatly exceeded those traditionally accorded a Roman dictator. By legibus faciendis et rei publicae constituendae causa, Sulla was empowered to rewrite the laws and revise the constitution of the Roman state; by dictator perpetuo rei publicae constituendae causa, Caesar was appointed dictator in perpetuity, and given the power to revise the constitution.
The various causae may not have been legally distinguished from one another prior to 368 BC, when Publius Manlius Capitolinus was appointed dictator seditionis sedandae et rei gerundae causa. The precise formula of each causa later reported by ancient historians may only date to Manlius' dictatorship, in which case the causae attributed to earlier dictators must be later additions.
- abdicavit – abdicated, or resigned.
- mortuus est – died in office.
- non iniit – not inaugurated.
- occisus est – killed, slain.
- sine magistro equitum – without a magister equitum.
Roman numerals given following a name indicate that the dictator or magister equitum for that year previously held the same magistracy. The causae listed in the table are based largely on T. R. S. Broughton's The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, reporting those given in ancient sources. For cases in which no causa is given, rei gerundae may usually be inferred.
List of Dictators and Magistri Equitum
6th and 5th centuries BC
|501||253||Titus Lartius Flavus[i]||Spurius Cassius Viscellinus||rei gerundae causa|
|499||255||Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis||Titus Aebutius Elva|
|494||260||Manius Valerius Volusus Maximus||Quintus Servilius Priscus Structus|
|463||291||(Gaius Aemilius Mamercus)[ii]||not recorded||(clavi figendi causa)|
|458||296||Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus||Lucius Tarquitius Flaccus|
|439||315||Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus II||Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala|
|437||317||Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus||Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus|
|435||319||Quintus Servilius Priscus Structus Fidenas||Postumus Aebutius Elva Cornicen|
|434||320||Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus II||Aulus Postumius Tubertus|
|431||323||Aulus Postumius Tubertus||Lucius Julius Iulus|
|426||328||Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus III||Aulus Cornelius Cossus|
|418||336||Quintus Servilius Priscus Structus Fidenas II||Gaius Servilius Structus Axilla|
|408||346||Publius Cornelius Rutilus Cossus||Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala|
4th century BC
|396||358||Marcus Furius Camillus||Publius Cornelius Maluginensis|
|390||364||Marcus Furius Camillus II||Lucius Valerius Potitus|
|389||365||Marcus Furius Camillus III||Gaius Servilius Ahala|
|385||369||Aulus Cornelius Cossus||Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus|
|380||374||Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus||Aulus Sempronius Atratinus|
|368||386||Marcus Furius Camillus IV||Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus||rei gerundae causa|
|368||386||Publius Manlius Capitolinus||Gaius Licinius Calvus||seditionis sedandae et rei gerundae causa|
|366||387||Marcus Furius Camillus V||Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus||rei gerundae causa|
|363||391||Lucius Manlius Capitolinus Imperiosus||Lucius Pinarius Natta||clavi figendi causa|
|362||392||Appius Claudius Crassus Regillensis||Publius Cornelius Scapula?|
|361||393||Titus Quinctius Pennus Capitolinus Crispinus||Servius Cornelius Maluginensis||rei gerundae causa|
|360||394||Quintus Servilius Ahala||Titus Quinctius Pennus Capitolinus Crispinus||rei gerundae causa|
|358||396||Gaius Sulpicius Peticus||Marcus Valerius Poplicola|
|356||398||Gaius Marcius Rutilus||Gaius Plautius Proculus|
|353||401||Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus||Aulus Cornelius Cossus Arvina|
|352||402||Gaius Julius Iulus||Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus|
|351||403||Marcus Fabius Ambustus||Quintus Servilius Ahala||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|350||404||Lucius Furius Camillus||Publius Cornelius Scipio||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|349||405||Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus II||Aulus Cornelius Cossus Arvina II||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|348||406||(Gaius Claudius Crassinus Regillensis)||(Gaius Livius Denter)||comitiorum habendorum causa; names uncertain [iii]|
|345||409||Lucius Furius Camillus II||Gnaeus Manlius Capitolinus Imperiosus|
|344||410||Publius Valerius Poplicola||Quintus Fabius Ambustus||ferarium constituendarum causa|
|342||412||Marcus Valerius Corvus||Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas|
|340||414||Lucius Papirius Crassus||Lucius Papirius Cursor|
|339||415||Quintus Publilius Philo||Decimus Junius Brutus Scaeva|
|337||417||Gaius Claudius Crassinus Regillensis||Gaius Claudius Hortator||abdicavit|
|335||419||Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas||Quintus Publilius Philo||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|Publius Cornelius Rufinus||Marcus Antonius||abdicavit [iv]|
|332||422||Marcus Papirius Crassus||Publius Valerius Poplicola|
|331||423||Gnaeus Quinctilius Varus
or Gnaeus Quinctius Capitolinus
|Lucius Valerius Potitus||clavi figendi causa|
|327||427||Marcus Claudius Marcellus||Spurius Postumius Albinus||comitiorum habendorum causa; abdicavit|
|Lucius Papirius Cursor||Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus||rei gerundae causa|
|322||432||Aulus Cornelius Cossus Arvina||Marcus Fabius Ambustus||rei gerundae or ludi faciendorum causa [v]|
|321||433||Quintus Fabius Ambustus||Publius Aelius Paetus||comitiorum habendorum causa; abicavit|
|321||433||Marcus Aemilius Papus||Lucius Valerius Flaccus||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|320||434||Gaius Maenius||Marcus Foslius Flaccinator||causa uncertain [vi]|
|320||434||Lucius Cornelius Lentulus||Lucius Papirius Cursor II|
|320||434||Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus III||Lucius Papirius Crassus|
|316||438||Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas II||Lucius Fulvius Curvus||rei gerundae causa|
|315||439||Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus||Quintus Aulius Cerretanus
Gaius Fabius Ambustus
|rei gerundae causa|
|314||440||Gaius Maenius II||Marcus Foslius Flaccinator II||rei gerundae causa|
|313||441||Gaius Poetilius Libo Visolus
or Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus II
|Marcus Foslius Flaccinator III
or Marcus Poetilius Libo
|rei gerundae (et clavi figendi?) causa [vii]|
|312||442||Gaius Sulpicius Longus||Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus||rei gerundae causa [viii]|
|Lucius Papirius Cursor II||Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus II|
|306||448||Publius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus||Publius Decius Mus||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|302||452||Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus||Marcus Titinius|
|Marcus Valerius Maximus Corvus II||Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus?
or Marcus Aemilius Paullus?
3rd century BC
|287||467||Quintus Hortensius mortuus est||not recorded|
|287||467||Appius Claudius Caecus?||not recorded||dictator suffectus? [ix]|
|285||469||Marcus Aemilius Barbula?||not recorded||date uncertain [x]|
|280||474||Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus Maximus||not recorded||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|276||478||Publius Cornelius Rufinus?||not recorded||date uncertain [xi]|
|263||491||Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus||Quintus Marcius Philippus||clavi figendi causa|
|257||497||Quintus Ogulnius Gallus||Marcus Laetorius Plancianus||Latinarum feriarum causa|
|249||505||Marcus Claudius Glicia||abdicavit [xii]|
|249||505||Aulus Atilius Calatinus||Lucius Caecilius Metellus|
|246||508||Tiberius Coruncanius||Marcus Fulvius Flaccus||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|231||523||Gaius Duilius||Gaius Aurelius Cotta||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|224||530||Lucius Caecilius Metellus||Numerius Fabius Buteo||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|221||533||Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus||Gaius Flaminius||date uncertain [xiii]|
|217||537||Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus II||Marcus Minucius Rufus||Minucius given authority equal to the dictator's [xiv]|
|217||537||Lucius Veturius Philo||Marcus Pomponius Matho||comitiorum habendorum causa; abdicavit|
|216||538||Marcus Junius Pera||Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus|
|216||538||Marcus Fabius Buteo||sine magistro equitum||senatus legendi causa [xv]|
|213||541||Gaius Claudius Centho||Quintus Fulvius Flaccus||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|210||544||Quintus Fulvius Flaccus||Publius Licinius Crassus Dives||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|208||546||Titus Manlius Torquatus||Gaius Servilius Geminus||comitiorum habendorum et ludorum faciendorum causa|
|207||547||Marcus Livius Salinator||Quintus Caecilius Metellus||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|205||549||Quintus Caecilius Metellus||Lucius Veturius Philo||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|203||551||Publius Sulpicius Galba Maximus||Marcus Servilius Pulex Geminus||comitiorum habendorum causa|
|202||552||Gaius Servilius Geminus||Publius Aelius Paetus||comitiorum habendorum causa|
1st century BC
|Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix||Lucius Valerius Flaccus||legibus faciendis et rei publicae constituendae causa|
|49||705||Gaius Julius Caesar||sine magistro equitum||rei gerundae causa|
|48||706||Gaius Julius Caesar II||Marcus Antonius|
|Gaius Julius Caesar III||Marcus Aemilius Lepidus|
|44||710||Gaius Julius Caesar IV occisus est||Marcus Aemilius Lepidus II
Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus (non iniit)
|dictator perpetuo rei publicae constituendae causa|
- The name of the first dictator is also given as Manius Valerius, but Livy rejects this in favor of Titus Lartius Flavus on the basis of the law that only consulars could be named dictator; Valerius had not yet been named consul. Broughton follows Livy in this.
- No dictator is listed for this year in the fasti consulares, but Lydus says that there was a dictator in the forty-eighth year of the Republic. Bendel links this with the story that the senate appointed a dictator clavi figendi causa in 363 BC because that had worked to stop a pestilence a century earlier and concludes that Mamercus was this dictator. Broughton sees this as an insufficient reason to say that Mamercus was dictator in 463 BC, and suggests that Lydus has mistaken an interrex for a dictator.
- The names of the dictator and magister equitum for this year are missing from the consular fasti, and not explicitly stated by any ancient author. The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology inserts these names, although the basis for them is not stated.
- The fasti consulares, but no other source, list four years in which there was a dictator but no consuls elected: 333, 324, 309, and 301. In each case, Livy includes the names of the dictator and magister equitum under the previous year's consuls.
- The sources for the causa of this dictator conflict. Most historians accept that Cornelius carried on the Ludi Romani games when the praetor fell ill, and attempt to explain how an annalist would have altered the records to make this a dictator rei gerundae causa.
- Maenius is one of three dictators appointed in 320, none of whom is listed as having abdicated and been replaced by another dictator. This fact, combined with the fact that Cornelius can only have been appointed rei gerundae causa, her conclusion that Manlius was appointed comitiorum habendorum causa, and her judgment that the quaestionibus exercendis cannot have been Maenius' causa and is never said to be by Livy (the source of the phrase), lead Hartfield to conclude that Maenius must have had a religious function. She cannot conclude which religious causa he might have had, except that it certainly was not clavi figendi causa.
- Livy and the fasti consulares suggest that Poetelius was dictator rei gerundae causa, but Livy preserves a source who claims that one of the consuls that year instead captured the town Poetelius was said to have captured and that his dictatorship was instead clavi figendi causa. Some modern historians do not dismiss this alternate account. Because a dictator rei gerundae causa would not have hammered in the sacred nail, Hartfield adduces that he must have been appointed dictator twice this year, if he did so. Diodorus Siculus attributes the victories credited to Gaius Poetelius Libo Visolus to one Κόιντος Φάβιος (Quintus Fabius) instead.
- The fasti consulares list Gaius Sulpicius Longus as the dictator rei gerundae causa and Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus as his magister equitum, but Livy names the latter as dictator, without following his usual procedure of recording the magister equitum.
- Three dictators are known only from various literary sources. Historians date them to a period for which the fasti consulares and Livy's history are missing but nothing about their causa can be known. One of these was probably dictator suffectus after the death of Quintus Hortensius in 287 BC. Mommsen suggested that this was Claudius.
- One of three dictators known from literary sources, but not found in the surviving portions of the consular fasti or Livy's history. Broughton concludes that they must have held office between 292 and 285 BC, and lists them under the latest possible date.
- The third of three dictators known from literary sources, but not found in the surviving portions of the consular fasti or Livy's history. Although Broughton concluded that they must have held office between 292 and 285 BC, the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology places Rufinus in 276, during the war with Pyrrhus, noting, however, that Niebuhr placed his dictatorship in 280, after the Battle of Heraclea.
- Nominated by the consul Publius Claudius Pulcher after the Senate had relieved him of his command following the Battle of Drepana. Glicia was a freedman and a scribe; as such he was considered wholly unsuitable for the office and compelled to resign even before he could name his magister equitum. The precise means by which his resignation was procured is unclear. Aulus Atilius Calatinus was appointed in Claudius' stead. Notwithstanding his humble origin, Glicia was recorded as dictator in the consular fasti, and continued to wear the toga praetexta as a symbol of the honour. In 236 BC, he was a legate under the consul Gaius Licinius Varus, but after granting a treaty without permission from the Senate or the consul, was handed over to the enemy, who returned him unharmed; he was then imprisoned, banished, or put to death.
- Livy says that Fabius was appointed dictator for the second time in 217. Broughton adduces that he must have been dictator during a gap in the Capitoline fasti from 221 to 219, and before Livy's history resumes in 218. Since Flaminius was censor in 220 and 219, Broughton places this dictatorship in 221.
- Minucius, the magister equitum, vehemently opposed the dictator's delaying strategy against Hannibal, and induced a tribune of the plebs to propose a law granting him authority equal to that of the dictator. Some scholars therefore regard Minucius as a second dictator, while others describe him as a magister equitum with dictatorial imperium. Since ancient sources refer to Minucius as having been dictator, those who consider him merely magister equitum during Fabius' dictatorship suggest that Minucius later held the office during a period for which Livy's history is missing, perhaps in order to hold the comitia.
- This is the only instance of this causa. The Senate appointed a dictator to enroll new senators after the Battle of Cannae, instead of holding elections for new censors to carry out the same task.
- Hartfield, pp. (?).
- Broughton, vol. I, p. 9.
- Broughton, vol. I, p. 35 (note 2).
- Broughton, vol. I, p. 130.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, pp. 993 ("Livius Denter, no. 1"), vol. III, p. 1354 ("Chronological Tables of Roman History").
- Broughton, vol. I, p. 141.
- Hartfield, p. 420.
- Hartfield, pp. 425–428.
- Hartfield, pp. 443–451.
- Hartfield, pp. 452–454.
- Hartfield, pp. 471–476.
- Broughton, vol. I, pp. 185–187.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, pp. 665 ("Cornelius Rufinus" no. 2), 1357 ("Chronological Tables of Roman History").
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 276 (Glicia).
- Broughton, vol. I, pp. 215, 223.
- Hartfield, pp. 480–483.
- Broughton, vol. I, pp. 234, 235.
- Hartfield, pp. 489–499.
- Broughton, vol. I, pp. 243, 244.
- Marianne Elizabeth Hartfield, The Roman Dictatorship: its Character and Evolution (Ph.D. dissertation), University of California, Berkeley (1981).
- T. Robert S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, American Philological Association (1952).