proconsul, in ancient Rome, governor of a province. He was in sole charge of the army, of justice, and of administration in his province and could not be prosecuted for maladministration until his office expired. In modern times the title has sometimes been used for a colonial governor with far-reaching powers.

See W. M. Jashemski, The Origin and History of the Proconsular and the Propraetorian Imperium to 27 B.C. (1950).

In the ancient Roman republic, a consul whose powers had been extended for a definite period beyond his regular one-year term. These extensions were necessitated by such events as long periods of war. The extension of a chief magistrate's term was originally voted by the people, but the power was soon assumed by the Senate. Provincial governors were usually magistrates whose terms had been extended. Under the empire (after 27 BC), governors of senatorial provinces were called proconsuls.

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Hierocles, proconsul of Bithynia and Alexandria, lived during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

He is said to have been the instigator of the fierce persecution of the Christians under Galerius in 303.

Hierocles was the author of a work (not extant) in two books, in which he endeavoured to persuade the Christians that their sacred books were full of contradictions, and that in moral influence and miraculous power Christ was inferior to Apollonius of Tyana. Our knowledge of this treatise is derived from Lactantius (Instit. div. v. 2) and Eusebius, who wrote a refutation.

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