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Praetorian prefect

From Academic Kids

Praetorian prefect (Latin Praefectus praetorio) was the constant title of a high ofice in the Roman state that changed fundamentally in nature.

Praetorian guards commander

The praetorian prefect was commander of the Praetorian Guard until Constantine abolished it in 314. Praetorian prefects continued to be appointed until the reign of Heraclius, but the office developed into head of the civil and judicial administration of the empire.

Under the empire the praetorians or imperial guards were commanded by one, two, or even three praefects (praefecti praetorio), who were chosen by the emperor from among the knights and held office at his pleasure. From the time of Alexander Severus the post was open to senators also, and if a knight was appointed he was at the same time raised to the senate. Down to the time of Constantine, who deprived the office of its military character, the prefecture of the guards was regularly held by tried soldiers, often by men who had fought their way up from the ranks. In course of time the command seems to have been enlarged so as to include all the troops in Italy except the corps commanded by the city praefect (cohortes urbanae).

The special position of the Praetorians made them become a power in their own right in the Roman state, and their prefect, praefectus praetorio, soon became one of the more powerful men in this society. The emperors tried to flatter and control the praetorians, but they staged many coup d'états and contributed to a rapid rate of turnover in the imperial succession. The praetorians thus came to destabilize the Roman state, contrary to their purpose. The praetorian prefect became a major administrative figure in the later empire.

List of known Guard Prefects

Known Prefects of the Praetorian Guard 2 BC - AD 312
Name
Emperor Served
Publius Aper
Augustus
Quintus Ostoriius Scapula
Augustus
Valerius Ligur
Augustus
Lucius Strabo
Augustus, Tiberius
Lucius Aelius Sejanus
Tiberius
Quintus Sutorius Macro
Tiberius, Caligula
M. Arrencinus Clemens
Caligula
Rufrius Pollio
Claudius
Cantonius Justus
Claudius
Rufius Crispinus
Claudius
Lusius Geta
Claudius
Sextus Afranius Burrus
Claudius, Nero
Faenius Rufus
Nero
Gaius Ophonius Tigellinus
Nero
Nymphidius Sabinus
Nero
Cornelius Laco
Galba
Plotius Firmus
Otho
Licinius Proculus
Otho
Publius Sabinus
Vitellius
Junius Priscus
Vitellius
Tiberius Julius Alexander
Vespasian
Arrius Varus
Vespasian
Arrecinus Clemens
Vespasian
Titus Flavius Vespasianus
Vespasian
Cornelius Fuscus
Domitian
Casperius Aelianus
Domitian
Norbanus Domitian
Petronius Secundus Domitian
Casperius Aelianus Nerva
Suburanus Trajan
Claudius Livianus Trajan
S. Sulpicius Similis Trajan
C. Septicius Clarus Hadrian
Marcius Turbo Hadrian
Gaius Maximus
Hadrian, Antoninus Pius
Tattius Maximus
Antoninus Pius
Fabius Cornelius
Antoninus Pius
Furius Victorinus
Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius
Macrinus Vindex
Marcus Aurelius
Bassaeus Rufus
Marcus Aurelius
Tarutenius Paternus
Marcus Aurelius, Commodus
Tigidius Perennis
Commodus
Cleander
Commodus
Lucius Julianus
Commodus
Aemilius Laetus
Commodus, Pertinax, Didius Julianus
Flavius Genialis
Didius Julianus
Tullius Crispinus
Didius Julianus
Veterius Macrinus
Septimius Severus
G. Fulvius Plautianus
Septimius Severus
Papinian
Septimius Severus, Caracalla
Marcus Opellius Macrinus
Caracalla
Ulpius Julianus
Macrinus
Julianus Nestor
Macrinus
Valerius Comazon Eutychchianus
Elagabalus
Antiochianus
Elagabalus
Ulpian
Severus Alexander
Iulius Paulus
Severus Alexander
P. Aelius Vitalianus
Maximinus
Philip the Arab
Gordian III
Gaius Julius Priscus
Philip
Aurelius Heraclianus
Gallienus
Florianus
Tacitus
Carus
Probus
Aper
Carus, Carinus, Numerian
Aristobulus
Numerian, Diocletian
Hannibalianus
Diocletian
Constantius Chlorus
Diocletian
Asclepiodotus
Diocletian
Rufius Volusianus
Maxentius
Publius Cornelius Anullinus
Maxentius


transformation to administrator

Further, the praetorian praefect acquired, in addition to his military functions, a criminal jurisdiction, which he exercised not as the delegate but as the representative of the emperor, and hence it was decreed by Constantine 331 that from the sentence of the praetorian praefect there should be no appeal. A similar jurisdiction in civil cases was acquired by him not later than the time of Severus. Hence a knowledge of law became a qualification for the post, which under Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, but especially from the time of Severus, was held by the first jurists of the age, (e.g. Papinian, Ulpian and Paullus), while the military qualification fell more and more into the background. Under Constantine the institution of the magistri militum deprived the praetorian prefecture altogether of its military character; but left it the highest civil office of the empire.

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