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p954 Praes

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp954‑955 of

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

PRAES. If we might trust a definition by Ausonius (Idyll. XII.9), he was called Vas who gave security for another in a Causa Capitalis; and he who gave security for another in a civil action was Praes. But this authority cannot be trusted, and the usage of the words Vas and Praes was certainly not always conformable to this definition. According to Varro (Ling. Lat. VI.74, ed. Müller), any person was Vas, who promised Vadimonium for another, that is, gave security for another in any legal proceeding. Festus (s.v. Vadem) says that Vas is a Sponsor in a res capitalis. If Vas is genus, of which Vas in its special sense, and Praes are species, these definitions will be consistent (cf. Sallust. Jug. 35, 61; Horat. Sat. I.1.11, and Heindorf's note). Under Manceps Festus remarks, that Manceps signifies him who buys or hires any public property (qui a populo emit conducitve), and that he is also called Praes because he is bound to make good his contract (praestare quod promisit), as well as he who is his Praes (see also Varro, l.c.). According to this, Praes is a surety for one who buys of the state, and so called because of his liability (praestare). But the etymology at least is doubtful, and we are inclined to think, false. The passage of Festus explains a passage in the Life of Atticus (C. Nep. 6), in which it is said that he never bought anything at public auction (ad hastam publicam) and never was either Manceps or Praes. A case is mentioned by Gellius (VI.19)º in which a person was committed to prison who could not obtain Praedes. The goods of a Praes were called Praedia (Pseudo-Ascon. in Verr. II.1.54), and in Cicero (l.c.) and Livy (XXII.60) "praedibus et praediis" come together. The phrase "praedibus cavere," to give security, occurs in the Digest (10 tit. 3 s6),º where some editions have "pro aedibus cavere" (see the various readings ed. Gebauer and Spangenberg). The phrase "praedes vendere" means to sell, not the praedes properly so called, but the things which are given as a security.

Praediatores are supposed by Brissonius to be the same as Praedes (Cic. pro Balb. c20, ad Att. XII.14, 17; p955 Suet. Claud. c9; Val. Max. VIII.12), at least so far as they were sureties to the State. But praediator is defined by Gaius (II.61) to be one "who buys from the people," and from the context it seems clear that it is one who buys a Praedium, which is further defined to be a thing pledged to the populus "res obligata populo." The Praediator then is he who buys a Praedium, that is, a thing given to the populus as a security by a Praes; and the whole law relating to such matters was called Jus Praediatorium.


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Page updated: 13 Apr 07