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Praetor maximus – eine vage Formulierungaus den Anfangsjahren der römischen Republik: Praetor maximus – a vague term from the beginnings of the Roman republic

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This article investigates the meaning and the historical implications of the term praetor maximus quoted by Livy (7, 3, 5–8) from an early republican law. In modern scholarship it has mostly been interpreted as a technical term for the supreme magistrate. Instead of taking praetor maximus as an official title, though, I suggest to follow Mommsen who understands the term as a generic expression. Going further from this general idea and given the meticulous observance of rituals in Roman religion, the law seems to have used a generic term denoting any person who happened to be in charge of the community, which extended to matters touching on relations to the gods. Other than in Mommsen's interpretation, the term is here argued to belong to the immediate aftermath of the monarchic stage of the Roman community. In a period of great insecurity, when the republic had probably just barely been established, praetor maximus referred to the possibility of a rex as much as to any republican office. Thus, this term does not allow for any conclusions about the emergence of the supreme magistracy in Rome, but rather gives testimony to royal support still active in Rome after the expulsion oft he Tarquins.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2020

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  • Historia, first published in 1952 by Karl Friedrich Stroheker and Gerold Walser is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. Articles are in English, German, French and Italian. It features original articles on Greek history, the Roman Republic and Empire as well as late antiquity. It covers all aspects of political, economic, religious and social life and deals with legal, archaeological, numismatic and epigraphical questions.
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