PPRET Les Préfets du Prétoire de l’Empire Tardif


The epigraphic database PPRET Inscriptions

The database “PPRET Inscriptions. Inscriptions pertaining to the Praetorian Prefects from 284 to 395 AD” is an open access research tool developed within the Projet PPRET “Les préfets du prétoire de l’Empire romain tardif. Une élite face à la crise” / “The Praetorian Prefects in the Later Roman Empire: An elite in a crisis context”. This project is part of the cross-disciplinary programme “Aristocracies and Interculturality” of the UMR 7044 ARCHIMÈDE (University of Strasbourg). The project is fully funded by the endowment associated with the “Chaire Gutenberg 2019”, an international scientific prize won by Prof. Porena (Università Roma Tre / associate member UMR 7044 ARCHIMÈDE - P.I. of Project PPRET).

The prosopographical approach to the praetorian prefects of the later Roman Empire, as implemented within the framework of the PPRET Project, makes it possible to characterise these dignitaries as an ‘elite’, an aristocracy by virtue of its control over the civil administration, whose culture, religious orientations and behaviour can be studied in a comprehensive manner. The social origins of the members of this leading group and how outsiders could gain access to it, can also be examined in the light of this procedure. Such a procedure also allows us to study the development of this social group over time, in particular with regard to the evolution of the administration and the political and military changes of Late Antiquity (hence the notion of ‘crisis’, introduced in the subtitle of the PPRET project).

Within the programme of the PPRET project, the results of the research are planned to be published via traditional printed editions (monographs and the proceedings of the International Conference in Strasbourg “La préfecture du prétoire tardo-antique et ses titulaires - IVe-VIe siècle”, held in May 2021). These works are devoted to thematic studies on the late antique praetorian prefecture, perceived not only as an institution, but also as a political-administrative instrument. The prefects are examined in relation to the political and social context of the period and space in which they were active.

Another fundamental objective of the project is to update the epigraphic sources pertaining to the late antique praetorian prefects and to re-read the known sources. In effect the first volume of the “Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire”, covering the whole of the 4th Century AD, was published in 1971, fifty years ago. More specifically, the PPRET project aims to facilitate the updating of epigraphic sources concerning the prosopography of the praetorian prefects in the period 284-395 AD. This period produces a great many praetorian prefects. It is also the period in which the office takes its regional form, while Latin or Greek inscriptions concerning the praetorian prefects increases, some of which have now been reinterpreted. The epigraphic texts are often decisive in reconstructing the chronology of the career of the senators-office holders. Moreover, they also help us to trace the evolution of the regional prefecture during the 4th Century AD, while also providing much needed physical evidence (political, administrative, social and cultural), all of which is now in need of urgent re-examination.

In order to make available up-to-date Latin and Greek inscriptions relating to the prefects of this period, the project team created and implemented the PPRET Inscriptions database.

The open access database publishes all surviving Greek and Latin inscriptions relating to the serving praetorian prefects during the period 284-395 AD. It contains 98 inscriptions in chronological order (of these, 30 do not appear in “PLRE” I; the Latin and Greek texts of several inscriptions have been critically reviewed).

Each entry contains: prosopographical and chronological coordinates (in relation to “PLRE” I), an edition of the Latin or Greek text, with a critical apparatus, information on the form of the inscription, its provenance and conservation, its author, the praetorian prefect(s) mentioned, translations into three modern languages (English, French, Italian), a substantial commentary and an up-to-date bibliography.

Thanks to a relatively simple and well articulated research tool, the Greek and Latin inscriptions concerning the praetorian prefects of the period can be looked up and studied through search filters. It provides a wide range of information on the origin and material aspect of the inscribed monuments, on the content of the texts inscribed in Latin and Greek and on the praetorian prefects themselves (onomastics, titulature, the relationship between the dedicator of the monument and the honoree, etc.).

The work, started in March 2020 is ongoing and the database will continue to be updated (bibliography, new epigraphic finds etc.). Online as of April 2022, the database will be located on a server of the “Huma-Num” network and part of the digital platform of “MISHA” in Strasbourg.

Technical aspects of the PPRET Inscriptions database

The creation of the PPRET database was executed in two phases: the encoding of the inscriptions in EpiDoc XML and the actual creation of the database through the EpiDoc Front-End Services (EFES).

Encoding of the inscriptions in EpiDoc XML

EpiDoc is the international standard for the digital edition of ancient documents, especially inscriptions. It is a subset of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standard for the digital edition of literary and historical documents. It is based on XML (eXtensible Markup Language), a widely spread and highly compatible semantic markup language, which is based on the meaning of the text instead of on its appearance and which is currently the most advanced and widely used approach for the creation of digital scholarly editions.

The many benefits of a semantic markup include its high compatibility, interoperability and flexibility, which imply a long term sustainability and a low risk of obsolescence. In addition, such a semantic markup also allows for the creation of enriched online publications with considerable usability benefits in terms of searching and browsing of the encoded materials.

The adaptation of the EpiDoc XML template to fit the specific needs of PPRET, led to the creation of a PPRET EpiDoc XML template, which was used for the encoding of all the documents included in the PPRET Inscriptions database. The work was carried out by Irene Vagionakis, Eleonora Angius and Giordana Franceschini.

Creation of the database with EFES (EpiDoc Front-End Services)

EpiDoc Front-End Services is an open-source tool for the online publication of texts encoded specifically in EpiDoc, which was developed in 2017 by the Institute of Classical Studies of the University of London. It is the epigraphic specialisation of Kiln, a similar tool for the online publication of texts in TEI, developed in 2012 by the Department of Digital Humanities of the King’s College London.

EFES was adopted because of its many strengths. Not only was it specifically designed to be used with EpiDoc ancient documents, it is also easily customisable and as a tool, it can be used for both publishing and testing during construction.

The customisation of EFES for PPRET purposes was made by Irene Vagionakis and involved, in particular, the adaptation of graphics, the creation of a dedicated XSLT template to display the PPRET XML template properly and the enhancement of EFES search facilities, including the addition of very specific browse filters and of a facility to perform searches limited to the inscription texts only.

How to cite the database PPRET Inscriptions

In paper publications, please quote the individual entry: e.g. « PPRET 01 ».

In electronic publications, please insert a link to the entry directly.

The author of each entry is indicated in the top right-hand corner.

If you want to quote the whole database PPRET Inscriptions:

AUTHORS: P. Porena (dir.), E. Angius, A. Bernier, G. Franceschini, P. Porena, I. Vagionakis,

TITLE: PPRET Inscriptions. Inscriptions pertaining to the praetorian prefects from 284 to 395 AD. Edition and study directed by P. Porena, produced by the authors, with digital edition performed by I. Vagionakis

PROJECT: Projet Chaire Gutenberg 2019 Les Préfets du prétoire de l'Empire tardif: une élite face à la crise

EDITION: Strasbourg (MISHA) 2022

WEB ADDRESS: http://ppret-inscriptions.huma-num.fr


The funding of the Project PPRET “Les Préfets du prétoire de l'Empire tardif: une élite face à la crise” and its database PPRET Inscriptions came from the “Cercle Gutenberg”, which in 2019 funded Prof. P. Porena with a “Chaires Gutenberg” award.

Many thanks to Prof. Michel Humm for having welcomed the Project PPRET into the UMR 7044 (Archimède) Research Unit (University of Strasbourg) and to MISHA of Strasbourg for having accepted the PPRET Inscriptions database into its open access digital platform.

Special thanks go to Prof. Olivier Huck for his constant and irreplaceable support of the PPRET Project.


All the XML, HTML and PDF contents of the database are released in open access mode under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Access is free to all scholars, but the product is legally protected against any improper use by the specific European Directives on databases and their transposition into national law. The reuse of the materials is subject to explicit mention of the author(s) and the work.

The database is a digital publication identified by the following ISSN code: 2823-4197

Linked Open Data

According to the Linked Open Data principles, links to other open access online resources (like ALA, Census, EDAK, EDB, EDCS, EDH, EDR, IAph, IG Online, IOSPE³, IRT, I.Sicily, LSA, MQDQ, PHI, Trismegistos, Ubi Erat Lupa) have been inserted. The inclusion of links to PPRET Inscriptions resources in other open online resources is warmly encouraged.