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Caesar took the office of praetor in 62 BCE. He was then appointed governor of the Hispania Ulterior province (southern part of the Iberian Peninsula) as propraetor.

Pretor (praetor) was a senior official in the Roman Republic with less power (imperium minus). The name of this position comes from the word praeire, meaning “to command”.

The office was established only in 367 BCE to separate the judiciary from the consul’s authority. The Praetor’s task was to protect order in the city, in particular to administer criminal and civil courts. In 224 BCE a second praetor was called, who was called the praetor of the peregrines (praetor peregrinus), while the former, the older, adopted the title of city praetor (praetor urbanus), and the subjective scope of his activity included Roman citizens. Peregrine praetor was available to foreigners (peregrines). He also considered disputes between citizens and peregrines. They were also responsible for organizing games in honour of Apollo (ludi Apollinares).

The prime ministers held office for the first year, however, the Senate based on a special resolution (prorogatio imperii) could extend their term. They had the right to wear a framed gown and a curule seat in the theatre. In Rome, they were always accompanied by 2 lictors with bundles of rods (cum fascibus), while outside its borders as many as 6, with clogged bundles rods and axes (cum fascibus et securibus).

New praetor offices were created in connection with the conquest of new lands. Established for them in 227 BCE 2 praetors for Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, and in 197 BCE, the next two for both Spain. So there were six praetors together. The increase in their number was not until the time of Sulla, at the beginning of the first century BCE, when two new praetor offices were added. Julius Caesar increased their number to 16, and for emperor Claudius, the number increased to 18.

After the creation of the empire, under the principate, the prime ministers maintained their rights in the civil and criminal jurisdiction, but they did not play a major role during the dominate era.
The praetors had the right to issue edicts (interdictio), known as ‘praetorates’, which determined how to deal with matters that were not clearly regulated by laws (leges) or customary law. These edicts played an important role in the development of legislation and were taken into account in later codifications of Roman law.
The praetor’s powers also included the appointment of prefects (praefecti) who had judicial and orderly authority in Italian cities. After the end of their term, provinces were appointed to the board.

During the early years of the principate, prime ministers were still elected by a centurial commission as in the Republic; in practice, however, the emperor decided on their nomination, which over time became the rule.

  • Alfoldy Geza, Historia społeczna starożytnego Rzymu, Poznań 2003
  • Jaczynowska Maria, Historia starożytnego Rzymu, Warszawa 1983

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