The Praetorship in the Roman Republic - Vol. 1

The Praetorship in the Roman Republic - Vol. 1

The Praetorship in the Roman Republic - Vol. 1

The Praetorship in the Roman Republic - Vol. 1

Synopsis

Brennan's book surveys the history of the Roman praetorship, which was one of the most enduring Roman political institutions, occupying the practical center of Roman Republican administrative life for over three centuries. The study addresses political, social, military and legal history, as well as Roman religion. Volume I begins with a survey of Roman (and modern) views on the development of legitimate power--from the kings, through the early chief magistrates, and down through the creation and early years of the praetorship. Volume II discusses how the introduction in 122 of C. Gracchus' provincia repetundarum pushed the old city-state system to its functional limits.

Excerpt

Now I can see why there has never been a comprehensive study of the praetorship in the Roman Republic: it takes a lot of work to picture it as a whole. (For me, about a dozen years' worth.) On the most basic level, any investigation of this military and civil magistracy--after the consulship, the second most important in Rome--really has to include praetors in office, praetors extended past their term, and non-magistrates granted praetorian powers (whether through special vote or delegation). It has to include the activities of these individuals in fixed territorial provinces (like Sicily or Asia) and in special commands on land and sea. And of course much has to be said about the praetorship within the city of Rome, especially the complex responsibilities of the "urban" praetor (who for much of the Republic often found himself acting as head of state), the praetorian superintendancy of the civil law, the presidency of the major standing criminal courts, and the relationship of praetors of a given year to each other.

More generally, the investigation has to operate on two levels: an examination of the praetorship as an institution, and also of the many individuals who managed to reach the office after its creation in the mid-fourth century B.C. That in turn means addressing any number of problems of chronology and prosopography, with constant forays into larger historical issues (administrative, social, political, legal, military, and sacral). True, the study of practically any Roman public institution will make demands of that sort. But the praetorship is different. The fact that we have the names of so many praetors (I count almost 850 down to 49 B.C., three-quarters positively attested and the rest more or less plausibly inferred) makes for an unusual amount of detail and contexts to consider. Matters grow even more complicated if one goes searching for the praetorship's institutional antecedents.

In these volumes (a revised and expanded version of my 1990 Harvard dissertation in Classics, "The Praetorship in the Roman Republic down to 81 B.C.") my aim is to offer such a "unitarian" view of this magistracy, one that takes into consideration each of the variables outlined above, with particular emphasis on the development of the institution. Inevitably I have to trace the history of imperium--

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