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praefectus urbi


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(‘city prefect') A magistrate instituted by Augustus to be the emperor's deputy at Rome. After a false start with Valerius Messalla Corvinus c.25 bc, the regular series seems to have begun with Lucius Calpurnius Piso in ad 13. The prefect was always a senator (see senate), usually a senior ex‐consul, and served for a number of years. He was nominally an independent magistrate, with the duty of keeping order in the city, and for this purpose had imperium and the command of the urban cohorts (see cohortes urbanae). He also presided over his own court of justice, which by the 3rd cent. had practically superseded those of the regular magistrates; it heard cases both from Rome and outside, within a radius (from c.200) of 100 (Roman) miles (148 km.).

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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