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date: 28 January 2023



  • A. N. Sherwin-White
  •  and Andrew Lintott


Praefectura was the term for an assize-centre in Roman territory. When, for example, *Capua became a *municipium, praefecti (see praefectus) delegated by the *praetorurbanus were sent there from time to time, to perform jurisdiction and perhaps to promote the assimilation of Roman law by the Capuans, who were now citizens without the vote (cives sine suffragio). The praefecti are found later on a regular basis in other municipia and towns and in agrarian centres (fora and conciliabula) in the areas of full-citizens (e.g. CIL 12. 583. 31). They did not replace but assisted the local authorities of municipia; in small centres of Roman citizens they were sometimes the only judicial authority, while in *Campania, after the abolition of autonomy following the revolt of 215–211 bce, a special set of praefecti, elected at Rome, was instituted to take sole charge of local jurisdiction. After the *Social War (3) the old praefecturae in Italy were assimilated to municipia, but this seems to have been a gradual process, since we find the term praefectura in the texts of the Table of *Heraclea (1) (see lex(2) for the Tabula Heracleensis) and the lex Iulia agraria (lex Mamilia Roscia).


  • Ancient Geography
  • Roman Law

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