The interrex (plural interreges) was an extraordinary magistrate during the Roman Kingdom and Republic. Initially, the interrex was appointed after the death of the king of Rome until the election of his successor, hence its name—a ruler "between kings" (Latin inter reges). The position was retained during the Republic when both consuls were unable to assume their duties, especially holding elections. Interreges ruled for only five days, which often led several of them to be appointed in succession, the record being 15 interreges in 326 BC. They were exclusively chosen from among patrician senators, and during the Conflict of the Orders, their appointment was sometimes designed to hinder plebeians from reaching power or passing laws.

As with the dictatorship, interreges are mostly found until the time of the Second Punic War. The position was only resurrected by Sulla in 82 BC so he could become dictator, and between 55 and 52 BC, when Pompey disturbed the constitution for his own benefit.


The office of interrex was supposedly created following the death of Rome's first king Romulus, and thus its origin is obscured by legend. The Senate of the Roman Kingdom was at first unable to choose a new king. For the purpose of continuing the government of the city, the Senate, which then consisted of one hundred members, was divided into ten decuriae (groups of ten); and from each of these decuriae one senator was nominated as decurio. Each of the ten decuriones in succession held the regal power and its badges for five days as interrex; and if no king had been appointed at the expiration of fifty days, the rotation began anew. The period during which they exercised their power was called an interregnum, and on that occasion lasted for one year. Thereafter Numa Pompilius was elected as the new king.[1]

After the death of each subsequent king, an interrex was appointed by the Senate. His function was to call a meeting of the Comitia Curiata, which would elect a new king.[2]

Under the Republic, interreges were appointed to hold the comitia for the election of the consuls when the consuls, through civil commotion or other cause such as death, had been unable to do so during their year of office. Each interrex held the office for only five days, as under the kings. During the brief interregnum, they cumulated most of the original power of the king, or the power of the two consuls in the first years of the Republic.[3] The comitia were, as a general rule, not held by the first interrex, who was originally the curio maximus, but more usually by the second or third; in one instance we read of an eleventh, and in another of a fourteenth interrex. The comitia to elect the first consuls were held by Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus either as interrex or as praefectus urbi.[4]The interreges under the Republic, at least from 482 BC, were elected from ex-consuls by the Senate, and were not confined to the decem primi or ten chief senators as under the kings. Plebeians, however, were not admissible to this office; and consequently when the Senate included plebeians, the patrician senators met together without the plebeian members to elect an interrex. For this reason, as well as on account of the influence which the interrex exerted in the election of the magistrates, we find that the tribunes of the plebs were strongly opposed to the appointment of an interrex. The interrex had jurisdictio.[clarification needed] It is possible that interreges were the only magistrates exempted from the veto power of a tribune[5] - which would be exceptional, since even dictators were usually subject to the veto.[6]

Interreges continued to be appointed occasionally until the time of the Second Punic War. After that no interrex was appointed until the Senate, by command of Sulla, named L. Valerius Flaccus to hold the comitia for his election as Dictator in 82 BC. In 55 BC, another interrex was appointed to hold the comitia in which Pompey and Crassus were elected consuls. There were multiple interreges in 53 and 52 BC, the last known being Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (triumvir);[7][8] in 52 an interrex held the comitia in which Pompey was appointed sole consul. The number of interreges during these two years was so high that Cicero ironised about it in a letter.[9]

List of Roman interreges (509 - 52 BC)

Unless otherwise indicated, the names and dates of the interreges are taken from Thomas Broughton's The Magistrates of the Roman Republic.[10]

Year Interrex note
509 Sp. Lucretius Tricipitinus
482 A. Sempronius Atratinus, 1st

Sp. Lartius Flavus, 2nd

462 P. Valerius Poplicola
444 T. Quinctius Capitolinus Barbatus
420 L. Papirius Mugillanus
413 Q. Fabius Vibulanus
396 L. Valerius Potitus

Q. Servilius Fidenas

M. Furius Camillus

391 M. Furius Camillus II

P. Cornelius Scipio

L. Valerius Potitus II

389 P. Cornelius Scipio II

M. Furius Camillus III

387 M. Manlius Capitolinus

Ser. Sulpicius Camerinus

L. Valerius Potitus III

355 Q. Servilius Ahala I & II

M. Fabius Ambustus I & II

Cn. Manlius Capitolinus Imperiosus

C. Fabius Ambustus

C. Sulpicius Peticus

L. Aemilius Mamercinus

Servilius & M. Fabius appointed twice
352 11 unknown interreges

L. Cornelius Scipio

Cornelius as the twelfth of a series of interreges
351 C. Sulpicius Peticus II

M. Fabius Ambustus III

340 M. Valerius Corvus

M. Fabius Ambustus IV?

or M. Fabius Dursuo

332 4 unknown interreges

M. Valerius Corvus II

Valerius as the fifth and last of a series of interreges
326 13 unknown interreges

L. Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas

Aemilius as the fourteenth of a series of interreges
320 Q. Fabius Maximus Rullianus

M. Valerius Corvus III

298 Ap. Claudius Caecus

P. Sulpicius Saverrius

291 L. Postumius Megellus
222 Q. Fabius Maximus Verrucosus? Fabius was twice Interrex, both at unknown dates.

This is one possible date as suggested by Broughton.

216 C. Claudius Centho

P. Cornelius Scipio Asina

Scipio held the comitia that elected the consul Varro
208? Q. Fabius Maximus Verrucosus II? Mommsen and Broughton suggests this as a possible

date for Fabius as interrex. Livy instead attributes the

elections to the Dictator, T. Manlius Torquatus

82 L. Valerius Flaccus
55 Marcus Valerius Messalla Niger
53 numerous unknown interreges

Marcus Valerius Messalla Niger

Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio

52 Marcus Valerius Messalla Niger

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (triumvir)


  1. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:17
  2. ^ see e.g. Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:32
  3. ^ Cambridge, The Five Days Interregnum in the Roman Republic,
  4. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 4.76.1; 4.84.5. Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 1.59.2; 1.60.4.
  5. ^ Acta Triumphalia (CIL I.p.45), Livy (4–41.10; 8.23.12), and Suetonius (Jul. 51.4)
  6. ^ Sherwin-White, AN; Lintott, Andrew (2012). "dictator". In Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (eds.). The Oxford classical dictionary (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 448. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.2151. ISBN 978-0-19-954556-8. OCLC 959667246.
  7. ^ Koptev, Aleksandr (2016). The Five-Day Interregnum in the Roman Republic. Cambridge University.
  8. ^ Bauman, Richard A. (1985). Lawyers in Roman Transitional Politics: A Study of the Roman Jurists in Their Political Setting in the Late Republic and Triumvirate. Beck, C.H. ISBN 9783406304859.
  9. ^ Koptev, Aleksandr (2016). The Five-Day Interregnum in the Roman Republic. Cambridge University.
  10. ^ Broughton, T. Robert S. (1952). The magistrates of the Roman Republic. American Philological Association. OCLC 1120836609.


Drummond, Andrew (2015). "Interrex". Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford Research Encyclopedias. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.3305. ISBN 9780199381135. Retrieved 14 May 2019.