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Form: =pro consule, deputy-consul".
The name at Rome for the officer to whom the consular power was entrusted for a specified district outside the city. The regular method of appointing the proconsul was to prolong the official power of the retiring consul (prorogatio imperii) on the conclusion of his year of office. In exceptional cases, however, others were appointed proconsuls, generally those who bad already held the office of consul. This was especially done to increase the number of generals in command. The proconsuls were appointed for a definite or indefinite period; as a rule for a year, reckoned from the day on which they entered their province. This period might be prolonged by a new prorogation. In any case the proconsul continued in office till the appearance of his successor. With the growth of the provinces, the consuls as well as the praetors were employed to administer them, as proconsuls, on the expiry of their office. After Sulla this became the rule; indeed, the Senate decided which provinces were to be consular and which praetorian. The regulation, in 53 B.C., that past consuls should not govern a province till five years after their consulship broke down the immediate connexion between the consulship and succession to a province, and the proconsuls thereby became in a more distinctive sense governors of provinces. After Augustus the title was given to governors of senatorial provinces, whether they had held the consulship before or not. As soon as the proconsul had been invested with his official power (imperium), he had to leave Rome forthwith, for there his imperium became extinct. Like the consuls, he had twelve lictors with bundles of rods and axes, whom he was bound to dismiss on re-entering Rome. In the province he combined military and judicial power over the subject peoples and the Roman citizens alike-only that in the case of the latter, on a capital charge, he had to allow them an appeal to Rome. To administer justice, he travelled in the winter from town to town. In the case of war he might order out the Roman citizens as well as the provincials. His power was absolutely unlimited, so that he might be guilty of the greatest oppression and extortion, and was only liable to prosecution for these offences on the expiry of his office. He might advance a claim for a triumph, or an ovatio (q.v.), for military services. When the senatorial provinces came generally to have no army, under the Empire, the duties of the proconsuls became limited to administration, political and judicial.
Type: Standard
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