Usually Roman magistrates were elected for a year. However, if a magistrate to retire before the end of his year in office or died, one had to suffectus (of sufficere "post-dial") to be selected. Such a situation was rare in the time of the Roman Republic .
This changed when the consulate in principle lost its importance for the administration of the state. Since the consulate's clothing was synonymous with admission to the nobility , the office remained in great demand even after its disempowerment and the end of the res publica libera : the senators were less concerned with being a consul than with being a former consul ( To become consular ); and the emperors knew how to use this. As early as the time of the 2nd Triumvirate (43–32 BC) it became customary to elect more than one pair of consuls per year. In Augustan times it had been since 5 BC. It was common practice to appoint more than one pair of consuls in advance. At first there were two more couples who each served as consul for six months, and Tiberius almost never even had suffect consuls appointed; later, however, there were up to eight couples. Since AD 14, the consuls were no longer elected by the popular assembly but by the senate; later the decision officially lay with the ruler alone. Especially when a new emperor came to power, he used to satisfy the senators' requests for office, not least to make them compliant.
The situation was particularly extreme in the first years of Domitian's and Trajan’s reign . But at other times, too, most of the senators who made it to the consulate became consuls with alcohol. Well-known examples are the historian Tacitus , the writer Pliny the Younger , the philosopher Seneca and the later emperor Septimius Severus . The “ordinary consulate”, which began on January 1st, was still particularly prestigious. In principle, however, all former consuls - including the suffecti - were consulars after their term of office and were able to take on positions corresponding to this rank - for example, the city prefecture or the governorship in Asia or Africa .
Second and third consulates could also be suffect consulates until Trajan's time. Until the time of Emperor Septimius Severus (193–211), the consules suffecti were also eponymous in official use (for example in military diplomas ). Since the beginning of the 3rd century, only the first two, the consules ordinarii , have been dated in official documents . When a few decades later a consular rank was no longer a prerequisite for access to important posts, the suffect consulate lost a lot of its reputation because it no longer had a function, while the ordinary consulate was able to maintain its prestige. But there were still consules suffecti in late antiquity .
Those suffect consuls who can be clearly assigned to certain years of office can be found in the list of Roman consuls .
- Michael TW Arnheim: The suffect consulship in the Later Roman Empire . In: Byzantine Studies 1, 1974, pp. 147-168.
- Werner Eck : suffect consul. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 11, Metzler, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-476-01481-9 , Sp. 1089 f.
- Francisco Pina Polo : Magistrates without Pedigree: The Consules Suffecti of the Triumviral Age . In: The Journal of Roman Studies 108, 2018, pp. 99–114.