a crier. Of these there were two distinct kinds--those
in private employment, and those employed and paid by the state as
subordinate attendants. The praecones
former kind were (1) criers of lost goods (Plaut. Mere.
3.4, 78; Petron. 97), and (2) especially auctioneers: they
were not, it is true, the chief superintendents of the auction [see AUCTIO
]; but besides advertising
the time, place, and conditions of sale, they also acted the part of a
modern auctioneer so far as calling out the biddings and amusing the
company, though the property was knocked down by the magister auctionis.
(Hor. Ars. Poet.
Cic. Att. 12.4. 0
2.23, 83.) The official praecones
were those whose duty it was to attend (apparere
) certain magistrates, for purposes mentioned below. We
have evidence from inscriptions of a collegium
with three decuriae of praecones,
to attend on
consuls and censors (the first, or “Julian,” decuria for
consuls): also for curule aediles, quaestores aerarii, and tribunes
(C. I. L.
6.1944, 1945, 1869, 1847; cf. Liv. 43.16
; Auct. ad Herenn.
68): perhaps also for other magistrates, since, as Mommsen remarks, their
low status may account for slighter mention of them in inscriptions. They
attended the same magistrates in the provinces (Cic. in Verr. 2.10, 27
Their duties were to act in all cases required as the voice through which the
magistrate on whom they attended conveyed his orders or remarks to the
people: therefore (1) to summon the people to comitia or contiones (Liv. 1.59
, &c.); (2) to proclaim silence (Auct.
1. c.; Liv. 28.27
&c.); (3) to announce the bill which was to be voted on, when the
] the words already written down which the praeco
was to announce aloud (pronuntiare:
Ascon. in Cornel.
58): we often find the scribe alone mentioned as
reading (Appian, App. BC 1.11
according to Mommsen, we are to understand that he reads through the voice
of the praeco;
(4) to announce the votes of
different sections at an election (Cic. de
Leg. agr. 2.2
, 4) or the decision of the majority
(Cic. pro Mil. 35
to summon the senators to the senate-house (Liv.
; Suet. Cl. 36
); (6) to make known
the orders of the magistrate, the edictum
“spoken out” by the praeco,
and so, for instance, in ordering slaves to quit the theatre or foreigners
the city (Cic. de Harusp. Resp.
, 26; Liv. 2.37
). (7) In trials they
summoned the accuser, the accused, and the witnesses (Suet. Tib. 11
; Cic. pro Flacc.
, 34): they announced the conclusion of the pleadings, gave the
dismissal of the judices (by the word ilicet
and ordered the executioner to do his office (Liv.
). (8) At the public funeral (funus
) they summoned those who were to take part with the
formal words: “Ollus Quiris leto datus: exsequias ire, cui commodum
est, jam tempus est. Ollus ex aedibus effertur.” It is clear that
comes in here because it is a
funeral, by order of the senate and
arranged by a quaestor or praetor. (See Fest. p. 106; Cic. de Leg. 2.2. 4
Becker-Göll, 3.496; Marquardt, Privatl.
The official dress of the praeco
was marked by
the angustus clavus
3.218). The praecones
were of a low grade, with little education (Mart. 5.56
,10), as tar as can be gathered from
inscriptions, of the freedman class: and the contempt in which their office
) was held is seen not only from
such passages as Juv. 3.33
16.10, and Jebb's note), but also from the law (Lex Julia) forbidding those
who had exercised it to hold office in the municipia (Tab. Heracl. 54 =
C. I. L.
1.206; Cic. Fam. 6.1.
). Nevertheless the office
(probably the auctioneering part of it) was often very profitable, and made
it possible for the praeco
to become a rich
man: for instances, see Mayor's note on Juv. 7.6
among them the Gallonius mentioned in Hor. Sat.
2.2, 47. (Mommsen, Staatsrecht,