- Princeps senatus
The princeps senatus (plural "principes senatus") was the first member by precedence of the
Roman Senate. Although officially out of the " cursus honorum" and owning no " imperium", this office brought enormous prestige to the senator holding it.
The "princeps senatus" was not a lifetime appointment. He was chosen by every new pair of censors (that is, every 5 years). Censors could, however, confirm a "princeps senatus" for a period of another 5 years. He was selected from
patriciansenators with consular rank, usually former censors. The successful candidate had to be a patrician with an impeccable political record, respected by his fellow senators.
Originally, the position of the "princeps" was one of honor: he had the privilege of speaking first on the topic presented by the presiding magistrate. This gave the position great "dignitas" as it allowed the "princeps" to set the tone of the debate in the Senate. In the late Republic and in the
Principate, the office gained the prerogatives of the presiding magistrates and additional powers, namely:
* Summoning and adjourning the Senate
* Deciding its agenda
* Deciding where the session should take place
* Imposing order and other rules of the session
* Meeting, in the name of the Senate, with embassies of foreign countries
* Writing, in the name of the Senate, letters and dispatches
After the fall of the
Roman Republic, the "princeps senatus" was the Roman Emperor(see also: princeps). However, during the Crisis of the Third Century, some others held the office; the future emperor Valerian held the office in 238, during the reigns of Maximinus Thraxand Gordian I.
List of "principes senatus"
* ca. 275 or ca. 272
Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus
* ca. 269 or ca. 265
Gaius Marcius Rutilus Censorinus
* ca. 258 Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges, son of Rullianus [Said also to have succeeded his father as Princeps Senatus in 265 BC.]
* ca. 247 or ca. 241
Gnaeus Cornelius Blasio, twice elected consul (??)
* ca. 236 or ca. 231
Gaius Duilius(?) [Duilus is unlikely to have been Princeps Senatus; he was consul in 258 BCwith the patrician Lucius Cornelius Scipiowhich was a rare honour for a "novus homo" (New Man) like him.]
* ca. 225 BC Marcus Valerius Maximus Messala (?) [Probably Manius Valerius Maximus Corvinus Messalla, who was consul in
263 BCand censor in 252 BC. Marcus Valerius Messalla, probably his son, was too young and obscure in 225 BC.]
* ca. 220 BC
Aulus Manlius Torquatus Atticus(??), consul in 244 BCand again in 241 BC. [As "Flamens Martialis" (Priest of Mars), Torquatus Atticus was forbidden to leave Rome by his religious superior Lucius Caecilius Metellus Pontifex Maximus, presumably in 241 BC.]
216 BC Marcus Fabius Buteo. Consul 245 BC, censor 241 BC, and Dictator 216 BC(to choose new senators only).
209 BCndash Quintus Fabius Maximus, grandson of Gurges (above) and great-grandson of Rullianus (above) [Fabius Maximus's choice as Princeps Senatus caused a dispute that year between the censors Publius Sempronius Tuditanusand Marcus Cornelius Cethegus. Cethegus favoured the "mos maiorum" which required that the most senior ex-censor (in terms of the year of his censorship) should be chosen. This was Titus Manlius Torquatus. Tuditanus favoured the most distinguished man alive, who in his opinion was Fabius Maximus. Tuditanus had the right to choose or to cast the deciding vote, and thus Fabius was made Princeps Senatus. (Source: Livy). This decision, to break or bend the "mos maiorum", would have consequences when Scipio Africanus, a much younger man, was chosen in 199 BC.]
203 BC- 199 BC"Unknown"
199 BCndash Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus(d. 183 BC) [Scipio Africanus was the first known censor to be proposed by his co-censor, shortly after being elected to the censorship. It is not clear if he was removed from office before he died, but by 184 BChe had retired into private life far from Rome and was in ill health.] . Consul 205 BCand censor 199 BC. [Scipio was certainly not the most senior living censor in 199 BC, with several ex-censors alive. However, Paetus relied on the precedent set in 209 BCby Tuditanus in choosing the most distinguished Roman ex-consul alive.]
184 BCndash Lucius Valerius Flaccus[Flaccus was the second known censor to be elected (exact year not known), presumably by his co-censor]
179 BCndash Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (d. 152 BC), also was Pontifex Maximusconcurrently. [Lepidus was the third known censor to be elected, presumably by his co-censor.]
152 BC- 149 BC"Position vacant"
149 BCor 147 BCndash Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum(d. 141 BC), son-in-law of Scipio Africanus (above). [Some sources claim that Scipio Nasica was removed from office as Princeps Senatus when the Third Punic War broke out and he lost his political influence. Scipio Nasica had served as censor in 159 BC; whether he was the most senior censor alive (in terms of year of censorship) is unknown.]
141 BC- 136 BC"Unknown"
136 BCndash Appius Claudius Pulcher(d. 131 BC) [Pulcher was the fourth known censor to be elected, presumably by his co-censor.]
131 BCndash Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Lupus
125 BCndash Publius Cornelius Lentulus
115 BCndash Marcus Aemilius Scaurus(d. ca. 89 BC) [Scaurus was the first Princeps Senatus to be elected to the title, who was not yet censor; he became censor briefly in 109 BCand had to be forced to resign after his co-censor Marcus Livius Drususdied suddenly. He was also not yet consul; thus his elevation to the rank of Princeps Senatus is remarkably puzzling. Historians suggest that he was the most senior living patrician senator, but this is uncertain.]
86 BC- Lucius Valerius Flaccus, a descendant of the older Flaccus.
70 BC- Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus(fl. 78 BC), a patrician by adoption; son-in-law of Sullaand father-in-law of Metellus Scipio. [He is said to have been alive when Gaius Julius Caesardivorced his stepdaughter Pompeia Sullain 62 BC.]
60 BC- 28 BC"Unknown"
28 BCndash Augustus, title cohered with that of Roman emperoruntil beginning of the Dominate
* [http://web.upmf-grenoble.fr/Haiti/Cours/Ak The Roman Law Library] By Professor Yves Lassard and Alexandr Koptev
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