The Latin term for a public crier, such as those who were employed in private life,
especially at auctions. Their profession was eminently lucrative, but was not considered at
all respectable. Similarly those employed by the State ranked as the most insignificant of its
paid servants. (See Apparitores
.) Their duties
were to summon the meetings of the people and the Sen
ate, to command silence, to proclaim aloud the proposals under consideration, to
announce the result of the individual votes, and also the final result; in legal proceedings,
to cite the parties to the case, their counsel, and witnesses, to announce the close of the
proceedings, and the jury's dismissal; to invite the people to funeral feasts and to games,
and to assist at public auctions and other sales, etc. Consuls, praetors, and censors had
three decuries of such attendants; quaestors, and probably also tribunes and aediles, one.
They also attended on extraordinary magistrates and on governors of provinces. The term praeco
was also applied to an auctioneer (A. P.
419; Ad Att.
The office of praeco was called praeconium
, and was regarded with
contempt (Mart.v. 56, 10
; Juv.iii. 33
; vii. 6).