Humanities › History & Culture The Powerful Praetor Roman Magistrate Share Flipboard Email Print Historical Picture Archive / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Rome Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated August 14, 2019 A praetor was one of the greater Roman magistrates with imperium or legal power. They led armies, presided in law courts, and administered the law. Judging matters between citizens was the job of one specific magistrate, the praetor urbanus (city praetor). Since he was in charge of the city, he was only allowed to leave the city for a period of up to 10 days. For matters outside Rome, the praetor peregrinus settled cases among foreigners. Over the years, they added additional praetors to handle matters in the provinces, but originally, there were two praetors. Two more were added in 227 B.C. when Rome annexed Sicily and Sardinia; then, two more were added for Hispania (Spain) in 197 B.C. Later, Sulla and Julius Caesar added even more praetors. Responsibilities A costly responsibility for the praetor was the production of the public games. Running for praetor was part of the cursus honorum. The rank of praetor was second only to the position of consul. Like the consuls, praetors were entitled to sit on the honored sella curulis, the folding 'curule chair,' traditionally made of ivory. Like the other magistracies, a praetor was a member of the senate. Just as there were proconsuls for the period after their year as consuls, so there were also propraetors. Propraetors and proconsuls served as governors of provinces after their terms in office. Roman Magistrates With Imperium Examples: " Let the praetor be judge of the law in private actions, with power of passing sentence-he is the proper guardian of civil jurisprudence. Let him have as many colleagues, of equal power, as the senate think necessary, and the commons allow him.""Let two magistrates be invested with sovereign authority, and be entitled praetors, judges, or consuls, in respect of presiding, judging, or counselling, according to the nature of the case. Let them have absolute authority over the army, for the safety of the people is the supreme law. This magistracy should not be determined in less than ten years-regulating the duration by the annual law."Cicero De Leg.III Before Sulla added functions, the praetor presided in cases of quaestiones perpetuae, the cases of: repetundaeambitus, majestaspeculatus Sulla added falsum, de sicariis et veneficis, and de parricidis. About half of the candidates for praetor during the last generation of the Republic came from consular families, according to Erich S. Gruen, in The Last Generation of the Roman Republic. The praetor Urbanus P. Licinius Varus fixed the date of the Ludi Apollinaris.