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PRJEFECT (pralectus) was the title of various Roman officials, both civil and military. A priefect was not one of the magistrates proper ; he was, strictly speaking, only the deputy or lieutenant of a superior magistrate or coin-mander. The following were the most important classes of proafects.
Under the empire there wa,s introduced a city prefecture which differed essentially from the above. Augustus occa-sionally appointed a city priefect to represent him in his absence from Italy, although the praJtors or even one of the consuls remained in the capital. In the absence of Tiberius from Rome during the last eleven years of his reign (26-37 A.D.) the city prefecture, hitherto an excep-tional and temporary- office, became a regular and perma-nent magistracy ; in all subsequent reigns the prfefect held oflice even during the presence of the emperor in Rome. Be was always chosen by the emperor and usually from men who had held the consulship ; his office was regarded, like the censorship under the republic, as the crowning honour of a long political career. ft was not conferred for any definite length of time, but might be held for years or for life. As under the republic, the przefect WaS not allowed to quit the city for more than a day at a time. His duty was the preservation of peace in the capital ; lie was, in fact, the chief of the police, being charged with the superintendence of the streets, markets, and public buildings. He was further entrusted by Augustus with a summary criminal jurisdiction over slaves and rioters, which was, hovvever, gradually extended till in the time of Severus or even earlier it embraced all offences by whomsoever com-mitted. Further, lie had the power of dealing with civil cases where his interference seemed requisite in the inter-ests of the public safety, but such occasions were naturally few. By the beginning of the 3e1 century, and perhaps earlier, appeals to the emperor in civil cases were handed over by him to be dealt with by the priefect. Except where special restrictions interfered, an appeal lay from the pm-feet to the emperor. Though not a military officer, the pra4ect commanded the city cohorts (catortes urbante), which formed part of the garrison of Rome and ranked above the line regiments, though below the guards (see PR-ETORIANS). The military power thus placed in the bands of the chief of the police was one of the most sorely-felt innovations of the empire. The constitutional changes of Diocletian and Constantine extended still farther the power of the prided, in whom, after the disbanding of the guards and the removal from Rome of the highest officials, the whole military, administrative, and judicial powers were centred.
Under the republic judicial priefects (praYecti juri dicundo) were sent annually from Rome as deputies of the pnetors to administer justice in certain towns of the Italian allies. These towns were called "prefectures" (przefecturzr). After the Social War (90-89 n.c.), when all Italy had re-ceived the Roman franchise, such prefectures ceased to exist in fact, though the name was sometimes retained.
Under the empire the printorians or imperial guards were commanded by one, two, or even three prirefects (prx-fedi prwtorio), who were chosen by the emperor from among the knights and held office at his pleasure. From the thne of Alexander Severus the post rwa,s open to senators also, and if a knight was appointed he was at the same time raised to tbe senate. The position was one of great influ-ence and importance ; the prmtorian priefect stood under the immediate orders of the emperor, of whom lie was the natural representative and sometinies the rival. Down to the time of Constantine, who deprived the .office of its military character, the prefecture of the guards was regu-larly held by tried soldiers, often by men who had fought their way up from the ranks. In course of time the coni-inand seems to have been enlarged so as to include all the troops in Italy except the corps commanded by the city praelect (cohortes Itrbana). Further, the prretorian prwfect acquired, in addition to his military functions, a criminal jurisdiction, which he exercised not as the delegate but as the representative of the emperor, and hence it was decreed by Constantine (331) that from the sentence of the prm-torian prinfect there should be no appeal. A similar juris-diction in civil cases was acquired by him not later than the time of Severus. Hence a knowledge of law became a qualification for the post, which under Marcus Antoninus and Cominodus, but especially from the time of Severus, was held by the first jurists of the age (e.g., Papinian, Ulpian, and Paullus), while the military qualification fell more and more into the background. Under Constantine the institution of the magistri militant deprived the pm-torian prefecture altogether of its military character, but left it the highest civil office of the empire.
The title of "priefect" was borne by various other Roman officials, of whom we may mention the following.
PrEgfectus Sociunt (sociorum.). - Under the republic the con-tingents furnished to the Roman armies by the Italian allies were commanded by Roman officers called pricfccei socium (social-um), who were nominated. by the consuls arid corresponded to the tribunes in the legions.
PrEefcaus Classium. - Down to near the close of the republic a naval command was never held independently but only in connexion with the command of au army, and, when the general appointed an officer to command the fleet in his room, this lieutenant was styled " prfefect of the fleet" (prafcctus classium). When in 311 B. c. the people took the appointment of these lientenants into their own hands the title was changed from " pmfects" to duo Diri navales, or " two naval men " ; but under the empire the admirals went by their old name of priefeets.
Priefeaus Fahrum. - The colonel of the engineer and artillery corps (fabri) in a Roman army was called a priefect ; he did not belong to the legion, but was directly subordinate to the general in command.
Pmfect us 21 Mi3Oltie. - The important duty of provisioning Rome was committed by Augustus (between 8 and 14 A.D.) to a preefect, who WaS appointed by the emperor from among the knights and held office at the imperial pleasure.
Prafectits ./Egypti (afterwards Prafectus Augustaris). - Under the empire the government of Egypt was entrusted to a viceroy with the title of " praifcet," who was selected from the knights, and was surrounded by royal pomp instead of the usual insignia of a Roman magistrate. He stood under the immediate orders of the emperor. The exceptional position thus accorded to Egypt was due to a regard on the part of the emperors to the peenliar character of the population, the strategic strength of the country, and its political importance as the granary of Rome. (I G. FR.)