The name of the chief office in the Roman Republic. The two Consules (the Latin plural) were elected every year. They carried 12 Fasces as the sign of their office.

The Consules were the supreme judges of the Republic and had the right to dispense punishment immediately and as they see fit. The person punished had the right to appeal to the gathering of the citizens, but in times of war even this right was taken away.

The Consules were the supreme commanders of the army. They were also the only ones who had the right to convene the Senate. The Consules also were those who performed the Auspicium, the reading of the sky in order to guess the outcome of wars and such events. They were the ones that made the suggestions for laws (though they had to consult the Senate on this, and the actual presentation of them to the gathering of plebs was made by the Tribuni Plebis). They represented the state in all negotiations.

The Consules could veto the decisions of one another and of any other official in the Republic (except for the Tribuni Plebis).


There are some scholars that believe that the office of praetor predated that of consul in view of the belief that the word praetor has at its root the meaning "to go before" or "to be before", in other words, to have higher rank, or to be the higher ranking official.  The theory then goes that with the expansion of Rome, it became necessary to create an official that had additional powers for purposes of leading the armies and to deal with affairs external to Rome.  In this way the office of consul was created, who then became the official presiding over the senate, while releasing the praetor to concentrate on his duties of overseeing the proper functioning of the courts and administration of justice which was at the heart of Roman society and commerce.

I have, however, only been able to find one source that supports this theory.

Con"sul (?), n. [L., prob. fr. consulere to deliberate. See Consult.]

1. Rom. Antiq.

One of the two chief magistrates of the republic.

They were chosen annually, originally from the patricians only, but later from the plebeians also.


A senator; a counselor.


Many of the consuls, raised and met, Are at the duke's already. Shak.

With kings and consuls of the earth. Job. iii. 14 (Douay Ver. )

3. Fr. Hist.

One of the three chief magistrates of France from 1799 to 1804, who were called, respectively, first, second, and third consul.


An official comissioned to reside in some foreign country, to care for the commercial interests of the citizens of the appointing government, and to protect its seamen.

Consul general, a consul of the first rank, stationed in an important place, or having jurisdiction in several places or over several consula. -- Vice consul, a consular officer holding the place of a consul during the consul's absence or after he has been relieved.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.