- For the category list, see Praetors.
Praetor was a title granted by the Ancient Roman government to one holding the magistrate rank inferior only to senators and consuls. Praetors commanded armies in the absence of the consuls and, more routinely, served as the judges of the Roman Republic.
At the time of the Third Servile War, eight praetors were elected every year for a one-year term. A Roman citizen had to be at least 39 years old to be elected praetor, and to have previously served at least one term as a quaestor.
After a one-year term, praetors were routinely made propraetors by the Senate to serve as governors of territories outside Terra Italia. This was an opportunity for spectacular plunder, either by conquest of enemies on the frontiers of those territories, or by political extortion of the subject population. Service as praetor therefore became the crucial launching pad of political careers of those who lacked independent wealth to cultivate political alliances and develop the broad clientele necessary to achieve the highest political offices.
During the Late Republican era of Roman history, there were two main types of Praetor: one was the Praetor Urbanus, or Urban Praetor, who would act as the chief administrator of Rome, being forbidden to be absent from the city for more than ten days. The Urban Praetor was the chief magistrate in regard to trying Roman citizens. While his opposite, the Praetor Peregrinus (Praetor of the foreigners) not only was responsible for judging of free non-citizens, who were often termed as Peregrini (foreigners) or Socii (allied state citizens) but even held Imperium (high military command) and prior to the Marian Reforms, was authorised to command one legion.