The quaestorship, however, was only the first step. The consulship was still regarded as the crown of the senatorial career, and there was keen competition for it. This might seem surprising, for under the Empire the city magistracies, and not least the consulship, steadily lost their importance. The explanation is that most of the really important posts in the Roman world, such as the City Prefecture, the bigger provincial governorships and the higher military positions, were open only to ex-consuls. After the quaestorship, a man's next step was to serve for a year as one of the ten plebeian tribunes or as one of the aediles. Patricians, who obviously could not serve in plebeian offices, were not unnaturally exempted from this step by law. 2 Under the Republic neither office had been an obligatory step in the cursus honorum. Augustus insisted on either one or the other, since otherwise the unpopular offices would have had difficulty in attracting candidates. 1
CH. n] IT~LY to some important praetorian post, usually in the provinces. A man was normally forty-two and well trained in public administration by the time he became consul; but this was a matter of more importance for subsequent posts than for the consulship itself, for this was more or less of a sinecure with duties of a largely ceremonial kind.