American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A Roman functionary who carried fasces when attending a magistrate in public appearances.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Among the ancient Romans, one of a number of officers, required to be free-born (though freed-men were admitted to the office under the empire), whose functions were to attend a magistrate, bearing the fasces, in some cases with the ax and in others without it, in order to clear the way and enforce due respect, and also to arrest offenders and to scourge or behead condemned persons. Magistrates were entitled to a number of lictors according to their rank, a dictator having twenty-four, a consul twelve, a pretor six (at first only two within the city walls), etc. The Flamen Dialis, or priest of Jupiter, and the Vestals also had lictors, but, it is believed, without fasces.
- n. An officer in ancient Rome, attendant on a consul or magistrate, who bore the fasces and was responsible for punishing criminals.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Rom. Antiq.) An officer who bore an ax and fasces or rods, as ensigns of his office. His duty was to attend the chief magistrates when they appeared in public, to clear the way, and cause due respect to be paid to them, also to apprehend and punish criminals.
- Latin (Wiktionary)
- From Middle English littoures, lictors, from Latin lictōrēs, pl. of lictor; see leig- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“ _Proximus lictor_ is the one of the lictors who, when they precede the praetors or consuls, walks last, and is therefore nearest to his commander; and this lictor, according to Roman custom, had the highest rank among his fellow-lictors.”
“Carried by a man called a lictor, it indicated a magistrate’s degree of imperium q.v.—six for a praetor, twelve for a consul.”
“The lictor went off to make sure that the carnifex and his assistants would be standing by.”
“His avian profile bent first to the left and then to the right, and then he extended a long finger and beckoned to his chief lictor.”
““What shall we do with him?” called the proximate lictor.”
“Cicero consulted the head of his official bodyguard, the proximate lictor, who told him that the best place—because the most easy to protect—would be the execution chamber beneath the Carcer, which was conveniently next door to the Temple of Concordia.”
“But then at last we heard the front door open and slam shut, and the lictor came in with the senator, who looked around him suspiciously—first at Cicero, then at Atticus, Quintus, Terentia, and me, and then back at Cicero again.”
“In her groundbreaking new capacity Livia was permitted to call on the services of a lictor, an official usually assigned to act as a minder to magistrates when they were moving through the city.”
“For if through your carelessness or neglect the wolf carries off a sheep, doubtless you will not only lose the reward prepared for you by our Lord, but, after having first been tortured by the strokes of the lictor, you will also be savagely hurled into the abode of the damned.”
“Sevarian makes it to Thrax and becomes the lictor, but after not too long a time there gives it up.”
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