The name "aedile" is said to come from their having the care of the temple (aedes) of Ceres. The first aediles, created in 494 BC, were plebeian ones. 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 aediles curules, who were also two in number, were originally chosen only from the patricians, afterwards alternately from the patricians and the plebs, and at last indifferently from both (Liv. 7,1). The office of aediles curules was instituted B.C. 365, and, according to Livy on the occasion of the plebeian aediles refusing to consent to celebrate the ludi maximi for the space of four days instead of three; upon which a senatus consultum was passed, by which two aediles were to be chosen from the patricians. From this time four aediles, two plebeii and two curules, were annually elected (Liv. 6,42).
They had the general superintendence of buildings, both sacred and private: under this power they provided for the support and repair of temples, curiae etc, and took care that private buildings which were in a ruinous state were repaired by the owners, or pulled down. The superintendence over the supply and distribution of water at Rome was, at an early period, a matter of public administration: this was the duty of the censores; but when there were no censores, it was within the province of the aediles. The care of each particular source or supply was farmed to undertakers, and all that they did was subject to the approbation of the censors or the aediles (De Aquaeduct. Rom. lib. ii).
The care of the streets and pavements, with the cleansing and draining of the city, belonged to the aediles, and the care of the cloacae. They had the office of distributing corn among the plebs. The aediles had to see that the public lands were not improperly used, and that the pasture-grounds of the state were not trespassed on; and they had power to punish by fine any unlawful act in this respect. The fines were employed in paving roads, and in other public purposes.