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p952 Praefectus Annonae

Unsigned article on p952 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

PRAEFECTUS ANNONAE, the praefect of the provisions, especially of the corn-market, was not a regular magistrate under the republic, but was only appointed in cases of extraordinary scarcity, when he had the entire charge of supplying the capital with provisions, especially with corn,º and fixed the price at which the latter was to be sold. This magistrate was appointed for the first time in B.C. 439 (Liv. IV.12; Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, II. p418). The superintendence of the corn-market throughout the whole republic was at a later period entrusted to Pompey for a period of five years (Dion Cass. XXXIX.9; Cic. ad Att. IV.1; Liv. Epit. 104); and in accordance with this example Augustus took the same superintendence upon himself, and commanded that two persons, who had been praetors five years before, should be appointed every year for the distribution of the corn (Dion Cass. LV.26, 31; curam frumenti populo dividendi, Suet. Aug. 37). Subsequently Augustus assigned this duty to two persons of consular rank (Dion Cass. LV.26, 31); but he also created an officer under the title of Praefectus Annonae, who must be distinguished from the above-mentioned officers. This office was a permanent one, and appears to have been only held by one person at a time: he had jurisdiction over all matters appertaining to the corn-market, and, like the Praefectus Vigilum, was chosen from the Equites, and was not reckoned among the ordinary magistrates (Dion Cass. LII.24; Dig. 1 tit. 2 s.2 §33; 14 tit. 1 s.1 §18, tit. 5 s.8; 48 tit. 2 s.13). The Praefectus Annonae continued to exist till the latest times of the empire: respecting his duties in later times see Walter, Gesch. des Röm. Rechts, § 360, 2d ed. Cf. Frumentariae Leges.


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