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consul, title of the two chief magistrates of ancient Rome. The institution is supposed to have arisen with the expulsion of the kings, traditionally in 510 B.C., and it was well established by the early 4th cent. B.C. The consuls led the troops, controlled the treasury, and were supreme in the government. At first only patricians were eligible, but in 367 B.C. the Licinian law opened the office to plebeians. Before becoming consul a man generally had to have experience as quaestor, aedile, and praetor, and the minimum age for a consul was normally set at 40 or 45. Ex-consuls became provincial governors as proconsuls. The year was identified by the names of the two consuls in office during that time. Under the empire the title of consul was continued, but only as a title of honor, sometimes conferred on infants or small boys.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) In ancient Rome, one of the highest magistrates. There were two consuls elected for one year each in the comitia centuriata. A collegium of two consuls was established, according to classical tradition, after the banishment of King Tarquinius Superbus (510–509 B.C.) At first only patricians were elected as consuls; as a result of a struggle between the plebeians and the patricians from 367 to 366 B.C., access was also extended to the plebeians. The consuls had the highest civil and military power: they assembled troops of two legions each and led them, convened and presided over the Senate and the comitia, appointed dictators, and carried out the auspicia. From 367–366 B.C. their power to initiate court trials was transferred to their junior colleagues, the praetors. When the consuls were in disagreement, a decision was made by casting lots. In emergency situations the Senate conferred on the consuls unlimited authority. Their assistants were the quaestors. The marks of distinction of a consul were a toga with a wide purple border, a canopy chair with inlaid ivory, and the procession of 12 lictors who preceded them carrying fasces. During the imperial period the consuls lost real power, and the post became an honorary title. The number of consuls was increased at the will of the emperors.


(2) An official appointed as a permanent representative in another state for the fulfillment of certain missions and functions. The heads of consular institutions are divided into four classes according to the class of the consulate they supervise: consul general, consul, vice-consul, and consular agent. The state appointing a consul supplies him with a consular patent as identification. The patent gives his name, his class, his consular district, and the location of the consulate. The consul is permitted to carry out his functions through permission (an exequatur) granted by the host state. (The exequatur may take the form of a separate document or it may be a resolution on the consular patent.)

Both the appointment of consuls and their admittance by foreign states are carried out by each state in accordance with its domestic legislation. (In the USSR the appointment of consuls of all ranks is done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR.) The missions and functions of the consul are determined by the laws of the state appointing him, by valid consular conventions, and by other agreements. The consul enjoys certain rights and privileges, personal immunity, and immunity from the jurisdiction of the state of residence. Consuls do not have to pay customs duties or personal taxes and are freed from other personal duties.

The rights and obligations of consuls of the USSR are defined in the Consular Statute of the USSR of 1926 and by agreements on consular matters concluded by the USSR.

The missions of consuls and consular insitutions of the USSR are to protect and defend the economic and legal interests of the USSR and Union republics as well as juridical persons and citizens of the USSR. The consul is responsible for citizens of the USSR abroad; he issues visas and passports, keeps citizenship papers, witnesses documents, and performs notarial functions. The consul is obliged to provide necessary information to the commanders of Soviet naval vessels and to assist in supplying such vessels. He registers the arrival and departure of commercial vessels of the USSR, receives the reports of captains, and composes naval protests. (He performs the same functions for Soviet aircraft and their crews.) In his actions, the consul is guided by the laws of the USSR, by directives of the Soviet government, and by valid international conventions and agreements, as well as by international customs.


Blishchenko, I. P., and V. N. Durdenevskii. Diplomaticheskoe i konsul’skoe pravo. Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. an official appointed by a sovereign state to protect its commercial interests and aid its citizens in a foreign city
2. (in ancient Rome) either of two annually elected magistrates who jointly exercised the highest authority in the republic
3. (in France from 1799 to 1804) any of the three chief magistrates of the First Republic
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


A constraint-based anguage with Lisp-like syntax.

["Consul: A Parallel Constraint Language", D. Baldwin, IEEE Software 6(4):62-71].
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