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Dux (plural: duces) is Latin for leader (from the verb ducere, 'to lead') and later for Duke and its variant forms (Doge, Duce, etc.).

During the Roman Republic, dux could refer to anyone who commanded troops, including foreign leaders, but was not a formal military rank. In writing his commentaries on the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar uses the term only for Celtic generals, with one exception for a Roman commander who held no official rank.[1]


Roman empire

Until the third century AD, dux was not a formal expression of rank within the Roman military or administrative hierarchy.[2]

In the Roman military, a Dux would be a general in charge of two or more legions. While the title of Dux could refer to a consul or imperator, it usually refers to the Roman governor of the provinces. As the governor, the Dux was both the highest civil official as well as the commander-in-chief of the legions garrisoned within the province.

However, during the time of the Dominate, the powers of a Dux were split from the role of the governor and were given to a new office called "Dux". The Dux was still the highest military office within the province and commanded the legions, but the governor had to authorize the use of the Dux's powers. But once authorized, the Dux could act independently from the governor and handled all military matters. An example would be the Dux per Gallia Belgica who was the Dux of the province of Gallia Belgica.

From Diocletian's Tetrarchy reform, the provinces were organized into dioceses each administered by a vicarius. As with the governors, the vicarius was assisted by a Dux. This Dux was superior to all of other Duces within the dioceses and when the vicarius called the legions of the dioceses into action, all of the legions were at the Dux's command. An example would be the Dux per Gallia who was the Dux of the dioceses of Gaul. The office of Dux was, in turn, made subject to the Magister Militum of his respective Praetorian prefecture, and above him to the emperor.

In the Byzantine era of the Roman Empire, the position of Dux survived (Byzantine Greek: "δούξ", doux, plural "δούκες", doukes) as a rank equivalent to a general (strategos). In the late 10th and early 11th centuries, a doux or katepano was in charge of large circumscriptions consisting of several smaller themata and of the professional regiments (tagmata) of the Byzantine army (as opposed to the largely militia-like forces of most themata). In the Komnenian period, the title of doux replaced altogether the strategos in designating the military official in charge of a thema. In the Byzantine navy, doukes of the fleet appear in the 1070s, and the office of megas doux ("grand duke") was created in the 1090s as the commander-in-chief of the entire navy.

Post-Roman uses

King Arthur, in one of his earliest literary appearances, is described as dux bellorum ("dux of battles") among the kings of the Romano-Britons in their wars against the Anglo-Saxons.

Dux is also the root of various high feudal noble titles of peerage rank, such as (via the French duc) the English duke, the Spanish and Portuguese duque, the Venetian doge the Italian duca and duce and the modern Greek doukas (δούκας).

Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini used the title of Dux (and Duce in Italian) to represent his leadership. One fascist-motto was "DVX MEA LVX" in Latin letters, meaning "Duce is my light".


  • In schools in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Iceland, Dux is a modern title given to the top student in academic and sporting achievement (Dux Litterarum and Dux Ludorum respectively) in each graduating year. In this usage, Dux is similar to the American concept of a valedictorian. The runner-up may be given the title Proxime Accessit (meaning "he came next") or Semidux, but is often not regarded as highly as his superior.
  • In Portuguese universities the Dux is the most senior of students, usually in charge of overseeing the Praxe (initiation rituals for the freshmen).


  • Pauly-Wissowa


  1. ^ Thomas Wiedemann, “The Fetiales: A Reconsideration,” Classical Quarterly 36 (1986), p. 483. The Roman called dux is Publius Crassus, who was too young to hold a commission; see discussion of his rank.
  2. ^ Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337 (Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 191 online.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • DUX — olim nomen officiale, deine honorarium, mox feudale et hereditarium. Consularibus saeculis Imperator dictus est, sed arrogato hoc titulo primum triumphantibus, dein Caesaribus; exercituum Praefecti rarius Impp. Duces communiter appellati sunt.… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • DUX — bezeichnet: den deutschen Name der tschechischen Stadt Duchcov in Nordböhmen die Einführung des Themas einer Fuge, siehe Dux und Comes (Musik) Dux (Titel), ein römischer Militärrang aus dem sich die lateinische Bezeichnung des Adelstitels Herzog… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dux — bezeichnet: den deutschen Namen der tschechischen Stadt Duchcov in Nordböhmen die Einführung des Themas einer Fuge, siehe Dux und Comes Dux (Titel), einen römischen Militärrang, aus dem sich die lateinische Bezeichnung des Adelstitels Herzog… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dux — Dụx 〈m.; , Dụ|ces; Mus.〉 Grundgestalt des Fugenthemas; →a. Comes [lat., „Führer“] * * * Dụx, der; , Duces [ du:t̮se:s] [lat. dux = Führer, zu: ducere = ziehen, führen] (Musik): meist einstimmiges Fugenthema in der Haupttonart, das im ↑ Comes (2) …   Universal-Lexikon

  • dux — dux; re·dux; dux·elles; …   English syllables

  • Dux — Dux, n. [L., leader.] (Mus.) The scholastic name for the theme or subject of a fugue, the answer being called the comes, or companion. [1913 Webster] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Dux [3] — Dux, Georg, Landsknechthauptmann des 16. Jahrh., s. Hegnenberg Dux …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • dux — ● dux, duces nom masculin (latin dux, ducis, chef) Jusqu au IIIe s., officier romain chargé d un commandement extraordinaire. (Au IVe s., les duces commandent régulièrement les forces armées de chaque province.) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Dux — der; , Duces [ du:tse:s] <aus lat. dux »Führer« zu ducere »ziehen, führen«>: 1. a) Führer einer Heeresabteilung im Röm. Reich; b) im Mittelalter königlicher Amtsträger mit vorwiegend militärischen Aufgaben; Herzog. 2. meist einstimmiges… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • dux — ‘Príncipe o magistrado supremo de las repúblicas de Venecia y Génova’. En la norma culta está asentado su empleo como invariable en plural (→ plural, 1f): «Llegamos así [...] a la fachada lateral de San Marcos, vecina de la Puerta de la Carta del …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • dux — (plural dux) sustantivo masculino 1. Área: historia Título del magistrado supremo de algunas repúblicas antiguas italianas como Venecia o Génova. Sinónimo: dogo …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

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