praetor (prētˈər) [key], in ancient Rome, originally a consul, and later a judicial magistrate (from c.366 B.C.). In 242 B.C. two praetors were appointed, the urban praetor ( praetor urbanus ), deciding cases to which citizens were parties, and the peregrine praetor ( praetor peregrinus ) deciding cases between foreigners. The urban praetor exercised the functions of the consuls in their absence and of the peregrine praetor when he was holding a military command. Two additional praetors were appointed (227) to administer Sicily and Sardinia, and two more (197) to administer Spain. A principal duty of praetors was the production of the public games. Under the empire the functions of the praetor were gradually taken over by other magistrates.
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