Monday, April 4, 2022

PPRET Les Préfets du Prétoire de l’Empire Tardif

CIL XIII 001807. Arnaud Fafournoux / CC BY-SA (

The epigraphic database PPRET Inscriptions

The database “PPRET Inscriptions. Inscriptions pertaining to the Praetorian Prefects from 284 to 395 AD” is an open access research tool developed within the Projet PPRET “Les préfets du prétoire de l’Empire romain tardif. Une élite face à la crise” / “The Praetorian Prefects in the Later Roman Empire: An elite in a crisis context”. This project is part of the cross-disciplinary programme “Aristocracies and Interculturality” of the UMR 7044 ARCHIMÈDE (University of Strasbourg). The project is fully funded by the endowment associated with the “Chaire Gutenberg 2019”, an international scientific prize won by Prof. Porena (Università Roma Tre / associate member UMR 7044 ARCHIMÈDE - P.I. of Project PPRET).

The prosopographical approach to the praetorian prefects of the later Roman Empire, as implemented within the framework of the PPRET Project, makes it possible to characterise these dignitaries as an ‘elite’, an aristocracy by virtue of its control over the civil administration, whose culture, religious orientations and behaviour can be studied in a comprehensive manner. The social origins of the members of this leading group and how outsiders could gain access to it, can also be examined in the light of this procedure. Such a procedure also allows us to study the development of this social group over time, in particular with regard to the evolution of the administration and the political and military changes of Late Antiquity (hence the notion of ‘crisis’, introduced in the subtitle of the PPRET project).

Within the programme of the PPRET project, the results of the research are planned to be published via traditional printed editions (monographs and the proceedings of the International Conference in Strasbourg “La préfecture du prétoire tardo-antique et ses titulaires - IVe-VIe siècle”, held in May 2021). These works are devoted to thematic studies on the late antique praetorian prefecture, perceived not only as an institution, but also as a political-administrative instrument. The prefects are examined in relation to the political and social context of the period and space in which they were active.

Another fundamental objective of the project is to update the epigraphic sources pertaining to the late antique praetorian prefects and to re-read the known sources. In effect the first volume of the “Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire”, covering the whole of the 4th Century AD, was published in 1971, fifty years ago. More specifically, the PPRET project aims to facilitate the updating of epigraphic sources concerning the prosopography of the praetorian prefects in the period 284-395 AD. This period produces a great many praetorian prefects. It is also the period in which the office takes its regional form, while Latin or Greek inscriptions concerning the praetorian prefects increases, some of which have now been reinterpreted. The epigraphic texts are often decisive in reconstructing the chronology of the career of the senators-office holders. Moreover, they also help us to trace the evolution of the regional prefecture during the 4th Century AD, while also providing much needed physical evidence (political, administrative, social and cultural), all of which is now in need of urgent re-examination.

In order to make available up-to-date Latin and Greek inscriptions relating to the prefects of this period, the project team created and implemented the PPRET Inscriptions database.

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