Latin - Leader.
Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
Praetor. This was a title which the Romans, immediately after the expusion of the kings, conferred on the consul and other great magistrates. These were men who in the law, in the army and amongst the people (praeirent) who took the lead or who were appointed to any office of dignity whether for things sacred or profane. But in B.C. 367, a magistrate was created to whom this name was thenceforward exclusively appropriated. Two causes led to his institution. The first was to abate the discontent of the Patricians with the law which had rendered the Plebeians eligible to the consulship. The second was to provide some competent person as president at the tribunals during the too frequent absences of the consuls on warlike expeditions.
At first only one Praetor was elected, but on account of the numerous strangers to whom business of every kind drew to Rome, a second was appointed whose functions were solely confined to the administration of justice. This latter officer was called Praetor Peregrinus to distinguish him from the former who was called Praetor Urbanus. In or about the year B.C. 228, two praetors were chosen to govern the recently conquered provinces of Sicily and Sardinia in the name of the Republic. And in the same year, six praetors were created to govern subjugated Spain. It was thus that as Rome extended her conquests beyond Italy, she augmented the number of her magistrates to rule over her aggrandisements and these were called Praetores Provinciales. Note: Caesar constituted ten Praetors instead of the usual eight who had continued to preside from the time of Sylla.
The Praetors were denominated "Colleagues of the Consuls" and the honor of the fasces was extended to them also, but with a lesser number of lictors than attended the consuls. These magistrates wore the pretexta and each took his seat on a curule chair placed on an elevated tribunal. All the praetors after having exercised their functions at Rome for a whole year were sent to govern their respective provinces. (Spanheim, 107). The duties of these magistrates were principally to administer justice to the citizens and to strangers, to preside at the public games and to superintend the sacrifices. Jurisdiction appertained as well to the provincial as to the urban praetors. The governmental powers of the praetorship in the provinces embraced the right of punishing criminals. Neither during the republic, nor under the emperors, were the praetors invested with the jus gladii in Rome itself.
Under Augustus the praetors discharged the duties of prefects of the city. Afterwards the official employments of the praeors were transferred to the urban praefects.
Praetor. A figure representing this high officer of the republic appears on coins of the Postumia family, standing and togate, with right hand uplifted while beteen the legionary eagle and the fasces with axe.