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Legate

legates, legatus, called, provinces and sent

LEGATE (from the Latin Legdtus, which is a participle from Lego, and signifies one who is sent with a certain commission). This word had various significations among the Romans. The legates (legati) were the chief assistants of the proconsuls and proprietors in the administration of the provinces. The number of legates differed according to the quality of the governor whom they accompanied; their duties consisted in hearing inferior causes and managing the smaller affairs of administration. They appear to have been chosen and appointed by the governor, though at the first in stitution of the office they were probably selected by the senate, as advisers to the governor, from the most prudent of their own body. The word legates also sir nified a military officer who was next in rank to the general or commander in-chief in any expedition or under taking, and in his absence had the chief command. (Caesar, De Bell. iv., ii. 17; iii. 51.) The word legatus is also often used to denote a person sent by the Ro man state to some other state or sovereign power on matters that concerned the public interest : in this sense the word corresponds pretty nearly to our ambas sador or envoy, except that the motives for sending a legatus, or legate, seem to have been occasional only, and the le gates do not appear ever to have been permanent resident functionaries in a foreign community. Under the emperors those who were sent by them to ad minister the provinces of which the go vernment was reserved to the emperors, were called legates (legati Ca:saris).

Under the republic the senators who had occasion to visit the provinces on their own business used to obtain what was called a "legatio libera," that is, the title and consideration of a legatus, or public functionary, with the sole object of thereby furthering their private inte rests. These legationes are said to have

been called libera, or free, because those who held them had full liberty to enter or leave the city, whereas all other pub lic functionaries whose duties were exer cised beyond the limits of the city could not enter Rome till they had laid aside their functions; or because a senator could not go beyond a certain distance from Rome unless he obtained permission in the form of a legatio. Cicero, who on one occasion inveighs vehemently against the legatio libera, could defend it when it suited his purpose, and in a letter to Atticus (i. 1) he expresses his intention to visit Cisalpino Gaul in this capacity for the purpose of furthering his election as consul.

At the present day a legate signifies an ambassador, or nuncio, of the pope.

There are several kinds of papal le gates ; legates a latere, legatus votes, &c. Legates a latere are sent on the highest missions to the principal foreign courts, and as governors of provinces within the Roman territory which are called legations (legazioni), when they are go versed by a cardinal. Legatus natus is a person who holds the office of legate as incident and annexed to some other office, and is, as we should say, a legate ex officio. As this office or title exempted the holder from the authority of the le gates a latere, it was earnestly sought after by the bishops. The archbishop of Canterbury was formerly a legatus natus. Legates of a lower rank than cardinals are called nuncii apostolici (apostolic mes sengers).