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(both: prē`fĕkt), in ancient Rome, various military and civil officers. Under the empire some prefects were very important. The Praetorian prefects (first appointed 2 B.C.) usually numbered two; they commanded the powerful PraetoriansPraetorians
, bodyguard of the ancient Roman emperors. Growing out of an early troop that served as bodyguard to the general commanding in Rome, they were formally organized in the time of Augustus.
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. From the 2d cent. A.D. they had juridical functions, and important legists (e.g., Papinian and Ulpian) held the post. The prefect of the city was at first a deputy for absent consuls; the office fell out of use but was revived by Julius Caesar. Under the empire this prefect had power over the summary court for the region within 100 mi (160 km) of Rome. The prefect of the watch had charge of the fire brigade set up by Augustus. Augustus also established a prefect of the grain supply. There were other officers called prefects, such as the Roman viceroy of Egypt and many other officials of Italian cities.


See L. L. Howe, The Praetorian Prefect from Commodus to Diocletian (1942).



(1) In ancient Rome, an official who was in charge of a prefecture. From the time of Augustus at the end of the first century B.C., prefects were appointed as governors, first of Egypt and later of other provinces. During the imperial period, the term prefect was applied to the chiefs of various administrative departments. In the republican period, prefects with exclusively juridical functions (praefecti iuri dicundo) assisted the praetors in judging lawsuits in the cities of Italy, and under the empire, in the provinces also.

(2) In France, an official in charge of a department as a representative of the central government. Prefects are appointed by the president of France and are considered the heads of all state institutions within the given department. A prefect exercises broad powers; in particular, he has the right to protest individual acts of the local bodies of self-government and to abrogate resolutions of the department council. In Paris the administrative authority is divided between two prefects—the prefect of the department of the Seine and the prefect of police.


1. (in France, Italy, etc.) the chief administrative officer in a department
2. (in France, etc.) the head of a police force
3. Brit a schoolchild appointed to a position of limited power over his fellows
4. (in ancient Rome) any of several magistrates or military commanders
5. RC Church an official having jurisdiction over a missionary district that has no ordinary
6. RC Church one of two senior masters in a Jesuit school or college (the prefect of studies and the prefect of discipline or first prefect)
7. RC Church a cardinal in charge of a congregation of the Curia
References in periodicals archive ?
En el caso de las escenas del claustro del Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de Nieva, desconocemos si el fraile representado en cada una de ellas hace referencia al praefectus operum encargado de supervisar las obras de ampliacion del convento segoviano o si, por el contrario, hace referencia a la figura del prior.
Stethoconus praefectus (Hemiptera: Miridae): First North American records of an Old World predatory plant bug preying on avocado lace bug, Pseudascysta perseae (Hemiptera: Tingidae), in Florida.
39) If a praefectus orae normally had naval forces, then the addition of classis Pontica is superfluous, unless a special distinction.
47) En Variae 9,16, la noticia al senatus y al Romanus populus, al cuidado del praefectus urbis, aparece como indispensable para la publicacion de los edictos (".
I'm the senior praefectus in this legion, and my command is that the salt be discarded into the sea.
praefectus annonae Durante el Imperio, encargado del aprovisionamiento y regulacion del precio del trigo y de su distribucion entre los necesitados.
72] der Cantor 8 Knaben darunter der Praefectus mit begriffen, mit Bewilligung des Rectoris annehmen und noch ausser dem die Praefectos dem Herrn Vorsteher iedesmahl praesentiren / und de[Beta]en Consens erbitten soll.
They would be disarmed, and subject to the overall authority of a Roman governor, the Praefectus, and encouraged to farm the land by subsidies, technical help, temporary tax exemption and whatever else was needed to promote a loyal, thriving community.
Pullaienus Florus Caecilianus gives his career as praefectus iure dicundo, sacerdos Cereris anni CLXX, duovir, flamen perpetuus coloniae Concordiae Iuliae Karthaginis.
16) Here we find the items praetor : praefectus (P 678), praetorium : domus judiciaria (P 622) and, conspicuously, praetor : in cujus domo judicium judicatur (P 6 20).
Es en este contexto en el que se produjeron distintas expediciones geograficas, las mas destacadas de las cuales tuvieron lugar bajo los reinados de Ptolomeo II, de Augusto (por obra del praefectus Aegypti, C.
Tras las importantes aportaciones bramantescas, es preciso aludir a Rafael que, en 1514 y confirmacion al ano siguiente, es nombrado por Leon X, no solo arquitecto de San Pedro tras la muerte de Bramante, sino Praefectus Antiquitates Urbis Romae, una suerte de Commissario alle Antichita.