As legatus (from the Latin legare for "legally dispose" or "to send someone ex officio" borrowed ; related to legal , compare also delegation ) various political office holders were referred to in ancient Rome .
Legates as ambassadors
Legates ( envoys ) took over the foreign policy representation of Rome , especially outside of Italy , since the republican times . Ten legates ( decem legati ) were able to form a commission that advised a Roman general on peace negotiations. During the imperial era , the legates were commanders and representatives of the Roman emperor in the border provinces, endowed with far-reaching powers. Following the example of the Roman envoys, envoys from other rulers were also referred to as legates in the Middle Ages , such as imperial envoys ( legatus imperatoris ). Papal legates were authorized envoys of the Pope who played an important role in the enforcement of papal authority in ecclesiastical and secular matters from the early Middle Ages to modern times.
Legates as deputies and military commanders
Legatus also designated a high-ranking assistant for a magistrate or general who was active outside Rome. Legates in the latter sense were also active as sub- generals during the Republican era, which explains the popular but incorrect (since legates were not professional officers) equation with the modern rank of a general . In the late republic they were often given their own empire - that is, (literally) a territory or also (transferred) an area of responsibility.
- The legatus Augusti pro praetore administered on behalf of the respective emperor, who was nominal governor through his imperium proconsulare , a Roman province , which also included command of the troops stationed there. The office was exercised by former praetors or (in provinces where several legions were stationed) consuls .
- The legatus legionis commanded a legion in the provinces in which several of them were stationed (in provinces with only one legion, the legatus Augusti pro praetore took over ). Usually he was also a former praetor.
- The legatus proconsulis was an auxiliary officer for the governor ( proconsul ) of a senatorial province .
- Peter Kehne : Legatus. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 7, Metzler, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-476-01477-0 , column 5 f.