The Ancient Library

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On this page: Procne – Proconsul



the philosophic and religious traditions of antiquity. His literary activity was very great, and extended over almost every de­partment of knowledge : but Platonic philo­sophy was the centre of the whole. His philosophical works, now extant, are a commentary on a few dialogues of Plato (mainly on the TimcMts), also his chief work on the theology of Plato, as well as a summaiy of the theology of Plotlnus, with writings treating several branches of philo­sophy from his own point of view. Some of his minor works have only reached us in a Latin translation. As specimens of his mathematical and astronomical works, we have a commentary on the first book of Euclid, a sketch of the astronomical teach­ing of Hipparchus, Ptolemy, and others, a slight treatise on the heavens, etc. One of his grammatical writings survives in his commentary on Hesiod's Works and Days. Lastly, we have two epigrams b}' him, and six hymns. It is doubtful whether the Grammatical Chrestomathy, extracts from which, preserved by Photius, are the only source of our knowledge of the Greek cyclic poets, was really written by him, and not rather by a grammarian of the same name in the 2nd century a.d.

Prflcne. A daughter of the Athenian king Pandiori and Zeuxippe, sister of Phllfimela. She was given in marriage by her father to the Thracian prince Tereus, in Daulls near Parnassus, in return for assis­tance given him in war. Tereus became by her the father of It5"s. Pretending that his wife Procne was dead, Tereus fetched her sister Philomela from Athens, and ravished her on the way. He then cut. out her j tongue that she might be unable to inform I against him, and concealed her in a grove [ on Parnassus ; but the unfortunate girl con- ! trived to inform her sister of what had j happened by a robe into which she in­geniously wove the story of her fate. Taking the opportunity of a feast of Dionysus in Parnassus, Procne went in quest of her sister, and agreed with her on a bloody revenge. They slew the boy Itys, and served him up to his father to eat. When Tereus learnt the outrage, and was on the point of slaying the sisters, the gods changed him into a hoopoe or hawk, Procne into a nightingale, and Philomela into a swallow, or (according to another version) Procne into a swallow, and Philo­mela into a nightingale. (Sec aedon.)

Proconsul (=pro consuls, "deputy-consul "). The name at Rome for the

officer to whom the consular power was entrusted for a specified district outside the city. The regular method of appointing the proconsul was to prolong the official power of the retiring consul (prorogatio imp&rii) on the conclusion of his year of | office. In exceptional cases, however, others were appointed proconsuls, generally those who had already held the office of consul. This was especially done to increase the number of generals in command. The pro­consuls were appointed for a definite or indefinite period; as a rule for a year, reckoned from the day on which they en­tered their province. This period might be prolonged by a new prorogation. In any case the proconsul continued in office till the appearance of his successor. With the growth of the provinces, the consuls as well as the praetors were employed to ad­minister them, as proconsuls, on the expiry of their office. After Sulla this became the rule; indeed, the Senate decided which provinces were to be consular and which praetorian. The regulation, in 53 b.c., that past consuls should not govern a province till five years after their consulship broke down the immediate connexion between the consulship and succession to a pro­vince, and the proconsuls thereby becam* in a more distinctive sense governors of provinces. After Augustus the title waa given to governors of senatorial provinces, whether they had held the consulship before or not. As soon as the proconsul had been invested with his official power (imperiutn), he had to leave Rome forthwith, for there his impcrium became extinct. Like the consuls, he had twelve lictors with bundles of rods and axes, whom he was bound to dismiss on re-entering Rome. In the pro­vince he combined military and judicial power over the subject peoples and ths Roman citizens alike—only that in the case of the latter, on a capital charge, he had to allow them an appeal to Rome. To administer justice, he travelled in the win­ter from town to town. In the case of war he might order out the Roman citizens as well as the provincials. His power was absolutely unlimited, so that he might be guilty of the greatest oppression and ex­tortion, and was only liable to prosecution for these offences on the expiry of his office. He might advance a claim for a triumph, or an di'atio (q.v.), for military services. When the senatorial provinces came generally to have no army, under the Empire, the duties of the proconsuls

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