The name "aedile" is said to come from their having the care of the temple (aedes) of Ceres. There were originally two, called aediles plebeii. They were the assistants of the tribunes in such matters as the tribunes entrusted to them, including the hearing of causes of smaller importance.
The aedileship was created at the same time as that of the tribuni plebis, B.C. 494 BCE. Shortly thereafter (446 BCE), they were appointed the keepers of the senatus consulta. (Liv. iii.55) They were also the keepers of the plebiscita. Other functions were gradually entrusted to them, and it is not always easy to distinguish their duties from some of those which belong to the censors; nor to distinguish all the duties of the plebeian and curule aediles, after the establishment of the curule aedileship.