Prefect: Roman official, appointed by a magistrate or the emperor.

Replica of a dedication by Pontius Pilate, "praefectus Judaea", who dedicated a temple to Tiberius (Caesarea)The word praefectus means "the one who stands in front" (of others). The prefect was an official who was appointed by a magistrate, for a fixed period and a special task (mandatum). Originally, this was a military task; for example, the auxiliary troops were commanded by a prefect, and the praefectus castrorum was the garrison commander. Under the empire, the emperor was the only one who was allowed to appoint prefects; from now on, civil prefects became popular. However, the connection with the military usually remained present.

The following prefects of senatorial rank are known.

The following prefects of equestrian rank are known.

The title could also be used for municipal adminstrators: an example is the prefect of the religious objects mentioned in many inscriptions from Lepcis Magna in Libya (e.g., IRT #323).

This page was created in 2002; last modified on 25 July 2015.