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The Latin word for "a chief," "a leader," "the foremost person." Thus, in the Roman constitution, princeps Senutus is the senator who was placed first on the roll of the Senate drawn up by the censors. When the Senate was voting, if no consuls-designate were present, he was asked for his opinion by the presiding magistrate before any one else. Just as under the Republic the leading men in the State were called principes, Augustus, the founder of the Monarchy, took with general consent the title of princeps. This was quite in harmony with the old constitution, and at the same time recognised his equality with the other citizens. For the same reason his successor, Tiberius, set special store on the title of princeps. As the monarchical power became consolidated, and the old republican ideas disappeared, the consciousness of the original meaning of the title disappered with them. Princeps came to be equivalent to imperator; but it never became an official title like Imperator, Caesar, Augustus. Like the Senate, the knights had a princeps, the princeps iuventutis (the youth). This title was borne by the knight whose name appeared first in the censor's list of that body. By way of compliment to the knights, Augustus caused his grandsons, Gaius and Lucius Caesar, to be styled principes iuventutis. Ever after, the emperor's youthful sons were regularly entitled principes iuventutis until their entrance on a magistracy. At the time of Rome's complete decay this title was not unfrequently borne by those associated with the emperors in the government. On the meaning of principes in military language, see LEGION.
Type: Standard
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