Publicani, in the days of the Roman Republic, were a class who farmed the public taxes, consisting chiefly of tolls, tithes, mining and salt duties, harbour duties, and the rents of the public pastures. The office was put up to auction by the censors, and was held for a period of five years. As the security required exceeded the wealth of any private citizen, companies (societates) were formed in which the speculators took shares, ihejmblicani, who generally belonged to the equestrian order, often amassed great wealth. Under the Empire they were to some extent superseded by state func tionaries, but always retained the collection of the customs. The "publicans" of the New Testament were also farmers of the taxes, but in a much humbler way of business, and, as Jews collecting tribute for the foreigner, were regarded by theii fellow-countrymen as traitors and outcasts.