The number of penal proceedings, especially those within the competence of praetors, has also increased,, chiefly on account of the frequency of minor contraventions of the law referred to in the section Crime.
Salvius Julianus was entrusted by Hadrian with the task of reducing into shape the immense mass of law which had grown up in the edicts of successive praetors - thus taking the first step towards a code.
Augustus occasionally appointed a city praefect to represent him in his absence from Italy, although the praetors, or even one of the consuls, remained in the capital.
Under the republic judicial praefects (praefecti jure dicendo) were sent annually from Rome as deputies of the praetors to administer justice in certain towns of the Italian allies.
The custom by which the consuls and praetors or dictators sacrificed on the Alban Mount and at Lavinium to the Penates and to Vesta, before they entered upon office or departed for their province, seems to have been one of great antiquity.
The consuls were its usual presidents for elections and for legislation, but the praetors summoned it for purposes of jurisdiction.
Its presidents were the magistrates of the people, usually the consuls and praetors, and, for purposes of jurisdiction, the curule aediles.
The land was full of disorder, and the praetors shrank from enforcing the law against offenders, many of whom, as Roman knights, might be their own judges.
The Roman consuls were at first called praetors; in the early code of the Twelve Tables (450 B.C.) they appear to have had no other title.
(praetor urbanus), and in aftertime, when the number of praetors was increased, the city praetor always ranked first.
2 About 227 two more praetors were added to administer the recently acquired provinces of Sicily and Sardinia.
The number of praetors, thus augmented to six, remained stationary till Sulla's time (82).
To meet this increase of business the tenure of office of the praetors and also of the consuls was practically prolonged from one to two years, with the distinction that in their second year of office they bore the titles of propraetor and proconsul instead of praetor and consul.
The prolongation of office, together with the participation of the proconsuls in duties which properly fell to the praetors, formed the basis of Sulla's arrangements.
He increased the number of the praetors from six to eight, and ordained that henceforward all the eight should in their first year administer justice at Rome and in their second should as propraetors undertake the government of provinces.
The courts over which the praetors presided, in addition to those of the city praetor and the foreign praetor, dealt with the following offences: oppression of the provincials by governors (repetundarum), bribery (ambitus), embezzlement (peculatus), treason (majestatis), murder (de sicariis et veneficis), and probably forgery (falsi).
2 [His official title in republican times was Praetor qui inter peregrinos jus dicit, under the empire Praetor qui inter tines peregrinos jus dicit, until the time of Vespasian, when the abbreviated title praetor peregrinus came into use.] (Gallia cisalpina) was added to the previous nine, and thus the number of judicial and provincial departments corresponded to the annual number of praetors, propraetors and proconsuls.
To keep pace with the increase of duties Julius Caesar increased the number of praetors successively to ten, fourteen and sixteen; after his time the number varied from eight to eighteen.
The praetors were elected, like the consuls, by the people assembled in the comitia centuriata and with the same formalities.'
The praetors elect cast lots to determine the department which each of them should administer.
But in the standing jury courts (of which the first - that for repetundae - was instituted in 149), or rather in the most important of them, the praetors themselves presided and tried the cases.
Under the empire various special functions were assigned to certain praetors, such as the two treasury praetors (praetores aerarii),3 appointed by Augustus in 23; the spear praetor (praetor haslarius), who presided over the court of the Hundred Men, which dealt especially with cases of inheritance; the two trust praetors (praetores fideicommissarii), appointed by Claudius to look after cases of trust estates, but reduced by Titus to one; the ward praetor (praetor tutelaris), appointed by Marcus Aurelius to deal with the affairs of minors; and the liberation praetor (praetor de liberalibus causis), who tried cases turning on the liberation of slaves.'
There is no evidence that the praetors continued to preside over the standing courts after the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., and the foreign praetorship disappears about this time.
Besides their judicial functions, the praetors, as colleagues of the consuls, possessed, though in a less degree, all the consular powers, which they regularly exercised in the absence of the consuls; but in the presence of a consul they exercised them only at the special command either of the consul or, more usually, of the senate.
As provincial governors the praetors had frequent occasion to exercise their military powers, and they were often accorded a triumph.
The city praetor presided over popular assemblies for the election of certain inferior magistrates, but all the praetors officiating in Rome had the right to summon assemblies for the purpose of legislation.
In the absence of the consuls the city praetor, and in default of him the other praetors; were empowered to call meetings of the senate.
Public religious duties, such as the fulfilment of state vows, the celebration of sacrifices and games, and the fixing of the dates of movable feasts, probably only fell to the praetors in the absence of the consuls.
Augustus in 22 placed the direction of all the popular festivals in the hands of the praetors, and it is not without significance that the praetors continued thus to minister to the pleasures of the Roman mob for centuries after they had ceased almost entirely to transact the business of the state.