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Princeps (plural: principes) is a Latin word meaning "first in time or order; the first, foremost,[1] chief,
the most eminent, distinguished, or noble; the first man, first person". [2] As a title, "princeps"
originated in the Roman Republic wherein the leading member of the Senate was
designated princeps senatus.[3] It is primarily associated with the Roman emperors as an unofficial
title first adopted by Augustus in 23 BC. Its use in this context continued until the reign
of Diocletian at the end of the third century. He preferred the title of dominus, meaning "lord" or
"master". As a result, the Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian is termed the "principate"
(principatus) and from Diocletian onwards as the "dominate" (dominatus). Other historians define the
reign of Augustus to Severus Alexander as the Principate, and the period afterwards as the
The medieval title "Prince" is a derivative of princeps.[3]

 1Roman military
 2Roman administration
 3Roman Emperor
 4Nobiliary legacy
 5Non-Roman meaning
 6Fiction
 7Footnotes
 8See also
 9References

Roman military[edit]
 See Principes (legionary heavy infantry soldier)

 centurio(n) in command of a unit or administrative office.

 Princeps ordinarius vexillationis: centurion in command of a vexillatio (detachment).

 Princeps peregrinorum ("commander of the foreigners"): centurion in charge of troops in

the castra peregrina (military base at Rome for personnel seconded from the provincial armies)

 Princeps prior: Centurion commanding a manipulus (unit of two centuries)

of principes (legionary heavy infantry).

 Princeps posterior: deputy to the Princeps prior

 Princeps praetorii : centurion attached to headquarters.

Princeps was also used as the second part of various other military titles, such as Decurio princeps,
Signifer princeps (among the standard-bearers). See also Principalis (as in Optio principalis): NCO.

Roman administration[edit]
Main article: Officium (Ancient Rome)

Princeps is also the (official) short version of Princeps officii, the chief of an officium (the office staff
of a Roman dignitary).

Roman Emperor[edit]
"First Citizen" redirects here. For the novel by Thomas Thurston Thomas, see First Citizen (novel).

Princeps civitatis ("First Citizen") was an official title of a Roman Emperor as the title determining the
leader in Ancient Rome at the beginning of the Roman Empire. It created the principate Roman
imperial system.[5]
This usage of "princeps" derived from the position of Princeps senatus, the "first among equals" of
the Senate. The princeps senatus (plural principes senatus) was the first member by precedence of
the Roman Senate, and his opinion would usually be asked first in senatorial debates. [3]
It was first given as a special title to Caesar Augustus in 27 BC,[6] who saw that use of the
titles rex (king) or dictator would create resentment amongst senators and other influential men, who
had earlier demonstrated their disapproval by supporting the assassination of Julius Caesar. While
Augustus had political and military supremacy, he needed the assistance of his fellow Romans to
manage the Empire. In his Res Gestae, Augustus claims auctoritas for the princeps (himself).[5]
Various official titles were associated with the Roman Emperor. These titles
included imperator, Augustus, Caesar, and later dominus (lord) and basileus (the Greek word for
"sovereign"). The word Emperor is derived from the Roman title "imperator", which was a very high,
but not exclusive, military title until Augustus began to use it as his praenomen.
The Emperor Diocletian (284–305), the father of the Tetrarchy, was the first to stop referring to
himself as "princeps" altogether, calling himself "dominus" (lord, master), thus dropping the pretense
that emperor was not truly a monarchical office. The period when the emperors that called
themselves princeps ruled—from Augustus to Diocletian—is called "the Principate", Diocletian's rule
began "the Dominate" period.[3]
Ancient Rome knew another kind of "princely" principes too, like "princeps iuventutis" ("the first
amongst the young"), which in the early empire was frequently bestowed on eligible successors to
the emperor, especially from his family. It was first given to Augustus' maternal
grandsons Gaius and Lucius.[7]

Nobiliary legacy[edit]
"Princeps" is the root and Latin rendering of modern words as the English title and generic
term prince (see that article, also for various equivalents in other languages), as the Byzantine
version of Roman law was the basis for the legal terminology developed in feudal (and later
absolutist) Europe.[3]

Non-Roman meaning[edit]
"Princeps" is also the name of an obsolete genus of Swallowtail butterflies (now merged with the
genus Papilio).
 Cattleya walkeriana var. princeps, a synonym for Cattleya walkeriana, an orchid species

 Emberiza flaviventris princeps, a bird subspecies found in Angola and Namibia

 Heterohyrax brucei princeps, a mammal subspecies found in Africa

 The Star Trek episode "Bread and Circuses" takes place on Magna Roma, an alternate Earth
where the Roman Empire never fell. In this episode, the leader of Magna Roman society
(Merikus, played by William Smithers) is referred to as First Citizen of his empire.

 In the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, First Citizen is the title taken by the Mule and his
successors in their position as leader of the Union of Worlds. Asimov had previously used the
title "First Citizen of the State" for Korell's authoritarian ruler Commdor in the original Foundation

 Princeps is the name of a dog that Brother Priad meets in the Warhammer
40,000 book Brothers of the Snake.

 Princeps is the title for the captain of a Titan, a massive humanoid war machine in the
tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000.

 In the book series Codex Alera by Jim Butcher, Princeps is the title given to the crown prince
of the empire of Alera. It is also used in the title of the fifth book in the series, Princeps' Fury.

 In the Star Trek: Infinity's Prism book Seeds of Dissent by James Swallow, "Princeps" is the
title for "Commander" Julian Bashir of the warship Defiance, which exists in an alternate
universe from the more familiar 24th Century envisioned in the television series Star Trek: Deep
Space Nine.

 In the book The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, "Princeps" is the title of the leader of the
Trisolaran civilization.

1. ^ Simpson, D.P. (1968). Cassell's Latin Dictionary, Latin-English, English-Latin.
London: Cassell Publishers Limited. p. 713. ISBN 9780826453785.

2. ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short (1897). "princeps, cĭpis, adj". A Latin Dictionary.
Retrieved 2009-04-21.

3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Encyclopædia Britannica – Princeps

4. ^ A History of Rome to A.D. 565, rev. 6th ed., Sinnigen & Boak, PanMacMillan, ç1975

5. ^ Jump up to:a b Grant, p. 62

6. ^ Africa, Thomas (1991). The Immense Majesty: A History of Rome and the Roman Empire.
Harlan Davidson, Inc. p. 219.

7. ^ Suetonius