In ancient Rome, an officer with authority to judge cases of equity, responsibility for producing public games, and, in the absence of a consul, extensive authority in the government. After a one-year term, a praetor typically went on to govern a province. Originally only a patrician magistrate could be a praetor, but from c. 337 BC, the position was also open to plebeians. The number of praetors increased to eight by the 1st century BC, two for civil matters and six for specific courts. It continued to vary under different government leaders and emperors; by the late empire, only the city praetor for public games remained.