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date: 28 September 2022



  • Andrew Drummond


  • Roman Law

Under the Roman republic, if both consuls died or left office (together with the remaining ‘patrician' magistrates) without successors appointed, the ‘auspices reverted to the ‘patres’. The latter, probably the patrician senators, selected one of their number as interrex. Interreges, who were of patrician birth and usually ex-consuls, held office in succession, each for five days, with consular powers. Their principal duty was to supervise the election of one or both new consuls: the theory that they simply presented one or two names to the assembly for acceptance or rejection has not been substantiated. The name interrex supports Roman assumptions that the institution derived from the regal period (see rex) and was used to effect the choice of a new king, although some scholars dispute its regal origins or attribute it a sacral function then.


  • J. Jahn, Interregnum und Wahldiktatur (1970).
  • R. Rilinger, Der Einfluss des Wahlleiters bei den römischen Konsulwahlen von 366 bis 50 v. Chr. (1976).
  • F. W. Walbank and others (eds.), Cambridge Ancient History 72/2 (1990), see index.
  • T. J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome (1995), 245–252.