Moreover they broke up the supreme power which had hitherto been
undivided, in order to delay their inevitable defeat by multiplying
the points to be assailed. Thus the adjustment of the budget and of
the burgess--and taxation-rolls, which ordinarily took place every
fourth year and had hitherto been managed by the consuls, was
entrusted as early as the year 319 to two valuators (-censores-),
nominated by the centuries from among the nobles for a period, at
the most, of eighteen months.
The new office gradually became the
palladium of the aristocratic party, not so much on account of its
financial influence as on account of the right annexed to it of
filling up the vacancies in the senate and in the equites, and of
removing individuals from the lists of the senate, equites, and
burgesses on occasion of their adjustment. At this epoch, however,
the censorship by no means possessed the great importance and moral
supremacy which afterwards were associated with it.