Under the empire the freedmen rose steadily in influence; they became admissible to the rank of equites and to the senate; they obtained provincial governments, and were appointed to offices in the imperial household which virtually placed them at the head of administrative departments (see Pallas and Narcissus).
The equites then voted with the first class, the distinction between the sex suffrakia and the other centuries being abolished.
Under the empire the power of the equites was at its highest in the time of Diocletian; in consequence of the transference of the capital to Constantinople, they sank to the position of a mere city guard, under the control of the prefect of the watch.
Although the equites were selected from the 'wealthiest citizens, service in the cavalry was so expensive that the state gave financial assistance.
By the lex Aurelia (70 B.C.) the judices were to be chosen in equal numbers from senators, equites and tribuni aerarii (see Aerarium), the last-named being closely connected with the equites), who thus practically commanded a majority.
Mention may also be made of the equites singulares Augusti.
At that time an agitation was going on for the transfer of the judicial functions from the equites to the senate; Drusus proposed as a compromise a measure which restored to the senate the office of judices, while its numbers were doubled by the admission of 300 equites.
The statements in ancient authorities as to the changes in the number of the equites during the regal period are very confusing; but it is regarded as certain that Servius Tullius found six centuries in existence, to which he added twelve, making,' eighteen in all, a number which remained unchanged throughout the republican ' period.
For the equites equo publico high moral character, good health and the equestrian fortune were necessary.
QUINTUS SERVILIUS CAEPIO, Roman general, consul 106 B.C. During his year of office, he brought forward a law by which the jurymen were again to be chosen from the senators instead of the equites (Tacitus, Ann.