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Roman official, appointed by a magistrate or the emperor.
The word 'procurator' is derived from the Latin verb procurare, which means 'to take care'. Rich Romans have always employed caretakers to administer large amounts of money or agricultural domains; usually, these procurators were freedmen.
When the emperor Augustus had to organize the empire at the beginning of our era, he used procurators to manage his extensive private and public domains. He had to. In the provinces that were directly under his control, he could not employ quaestors, because no senator would think of serving under someone who was technically his equal. Therefore, he made procurators responsible for the taxation. Other procurators administered Augustus' private finances and his possessions in and near Rome and in the senatorial provinces.
The procurators serving in the senatorial provinces increasingly received juridical powers, a practice that was made lawful in 53 by the emperor Claudius. During his reign, we also encounter the first procurators with the full powers of a provincial governor. For example, when Judaea was annexed in 41, a procurator was appointed as its ruler, second only to the emperor.
Other procurators were responsible for semi-financial duties, such as the mint, the management of mines, and the 5%-tax on inheritances, but also non-financial tasks, such as the education of gladiators.
The role of procurators was now very important, and from the reign of Tiberius on (and perhaps even Augustus), they were recruited from the equestrian order, the 'second rank' of the Roman elite. From the reign of the emperor Vitellius, who ruled in the year 69, onward, these equestrian procurators often served as heads of the great ministries of the Roman government. The most important ministries were:
|Finally, it should be remarked that although the Roman historian Tacitus calls the governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, a procurator, he was in fact a prefect. This is proved by an inscription, which is discussed here.|