s LacusCurtius • The Roman Interpreter (Smith's Dictionary, 1875)

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 p644  Interpres

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p644 of

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

INTERPRES, an interpreter. This class of persons became very numerous and necessary to the Romans as their empire extended. Embassies from foreign nations to Rome, and from Rome to other states, were generally accompanied by interpreters to explain the objects of the embassy to the respective authorities (Cic. de Divinat. II.64, de Finib. V.29; Plin. H. N. XXV.2; Gell. XVII.17.2; Liv. XXVII.43) In large mercantile towns the interpreters, who formed a kind of agents through whom business was done, were sometimes very numerous, and Pliny (H. N. VI.5) states that at Dioscurias in Colchis, there were at one time no less than 130 persons who acted as interpreters to the Roman merchants, and through whom all business was carried on.

All Roman praetors, proconsuls, and quaestors, who were entrusted with the administration of a province, had to carry on all their official proceedings in the Latin language (Val. Max. II.2 §2), and as they could not be expected to be acquainted with the language of the provincials, they had always among their servants [Apparitores] one or more interpreters, who were generally Romans, but in most cases undoubtedly freedmen (Cic. pro Balb. 11). These interpreters had not only to officiate at the conventus [Conventus], but also explained to the Roman governor everything which the provincials might wish to be laid before him (Cic. c. Verr. III.37, ad Fam. XIII.54;º Caes. Bell. Gall. I.19; cf. Dirksen, Civil. Abhandl. I. p16, &c.).

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