«by Hugo Thomas Dupuis Whitfield A thesis submitted to the Department of Classics In conformity with the requirements for the Degree of Masters of ...»
The rise of Antoninus Pius as emperor of the Roman Empire allows this author to suggest an Italican-Nemausian nexus from the reigns of Trajan to Antoninus Pius, a sixty-five year period in which a provincial from those two towns occupied the most prestigious position. Trajan and Hadrian were both from Italica and Antoninus Pius’ ancestors were from Nemausus. The two towns are further connected to one another by Pompeia Plotina’s marriage to Trajan as this marriage united the two leading families of each town in order to form a stronger political presence in Rome. Syme has proposed a Hispano-Narbonensian nexus during the second century A.D. and while both provinces did become highly influential in Rome, this author believes that the scope of his argument can be narrowed further to include only Nemausus and Italica.181 While other towns were influential, Italica and Nemausus controlled the highest position of the Roman Empire, an indication of their greater significance when compared to other provincial towns. From A.D. 98 until A.D. 180, Rome’s emperor can be connected to either Nemausus or Italica.
connection to Nemausus. Arrius Antoninus was mentioned briefly during the examination of Titus Aurelius Fulvus, as he was the father of his wife, Arria Fadilla. Arrius Antoninus married Boionia Procilla whose gentilicium is Celtic in origin and presents a connection to the province.182 Together they had two daughters: Arria Fadilla and Arria Antonina. It is on account of his daugther’s marriage to Titus Aurelius Fulvus (pp.55-56) that he is presumed to be Nemausian. According to Syme, provincials from Gallia Narbonensis preferred brides from the same city or region and he uses the marriages of Arria Fadilla and Aurelius Fulvus as well as Boionia Procilla and Arrius Antoninus as his evidence.183 Arrius Antoninus achieved his first consulship in A.D. 69, as a consul suffect, alongside Aulus Marius Celsus (p.60), as recorded in the Fasti Consulares and AE 1993, 461.184 The year of his second consulship is uncertain. In the PIR2, Groag states that Antoninus was consul for a second time: “fortasse imperante Nerva” (probably during [the reign] of Nerva) and is supported by Syme who believes that Arrius Antoninus’ second consulship occurred in A.D. 97.185 Syme’s theory is based on the discovery of a fragment of the Fasti Ostienses that clarifies some of the consular posts in A.D. 97 and provides a greater likelihood that Antoninus’ second consulship was in that year.186 Jones asserts that Antoninus was an amicus of both the Flavians and of Nerva but more importantly that he was a member of Nerva’s inner council, Jones places him as a 182 Syme, n.31, p.792.
183 Syme, n.101, p.21.
184 Liebenam, n.110, p.14.
185 Sir Ronald Syme, “The Consuls of A.D. 97: Addendum”, Journal of Roman Studies, vol.44, (1954), p.82.
186 Syme, n.185.
85 leading senator of that time period.187 This author strongly suggests that Arrius Antoninus was a Nemausian on the basis of the three facts discussed above: his consulship alongside Marius Celsus in A.D. 69, his own marriage to Boionia Procilla, a native Celtic woman, and his daughter’s marriage to Titus Aurelius Fulvus, consul in A.D. 89.
Nemausian senators, beginning with Domitius Afer, were able to forge identities for themselves in the fierce arena of Roman politics in the period from Tiberius until Antoninus Pius.
Their appointment to the highest positions is even more surprising if one considers the nature in which Italian Roman senators resisted the inclusion by Claudius of Gauls from the Tres Galliae into the senatorial order in A.D. 47. Italian senators thought that their exclusive order would become diluted when provincial senators were added. Provincial senators would also challenge them for the candidacy of the highest offices.188 The expansion of the senatorial order was necessary as the Roman Empire was constantly increasing its borders and therefore required a greater number of bureaucrats to administer them. Provicials clearly became the main beneficiaries of such expansion and it provided them with the opportunity to pursue the highest political offices.
Another reason why provincial senators, including Nemausus’ own, were able to rise to prominence was because provincial senators were needed throughout the empire in order to ensure that Rome’s expanded bureaucracy was instituted. Roman Emperors could not always 187 Jones, n.115, p.454.
188 This fear and resentment from the Italian senatorial class was also present when Julius Caesar included Gauls in the senate once he had become dictator perpetuus.
86 trust the established senatorial order and therefore preferred to appoint provincial senators as its leading officers and bureaucrats.
Gnaeus Domitius Afer stands out among his fellow Nemausians, as he was first to reach the consulship. His rise is reminiscent of Cicero’s ascent as orator and prosecutor to become a novus homo in 63 B.C. Being from Arpinum meant that Cicero had recently acquired his Roman citizenship as a result of the Social War (91-89 B.C.) and would have to break through against the established Roman senators who did not want their order diluted by newcomers. Domitius Afer, also having recently acquired Roman citizenship, fought against the provincial stereotype to become appointed as a consul in A.D. 39. Afer’s adoption of Sextus Curvius’ two sons continued his legacy to the time of Marcus Aurelius and beyond.
Titus Aurelius Fulvus’ prominence is based not only on his two consulships and his Prefecture of the City but also on his family’s leading role in Nemausus and in Rome. As discussed above, Aurelius Fulvus’ son became consul in A.D 85 and his grandson became Roman Emperor. It is on account of both his political career and the achievements of his descendants that Titus Aurelius Fulvus is considered to be the most prominent Nemausian. The Aurelii Fulvii present the closest example of a dominant family from Nemausus on account of the aboveestablished relationships.
A determination of Gallia Narbonensis’ leading town begins and ends with a comparison between Nemausus and Vienna. According to Burnand’s research, Nemausus produced nine senators compared to Vienna’s fifteen which, when put together, amounts to 62% of all the senators from Gallia Narbonensis.189 The next leading town from Gallia Narbonensis is Arelate with four and then Forum Iulii with three. As illustrated in this chapter, this author believes that
between Nemausus and Vienna and the other towns in Gallia Narbonensis. Nemausus overpowers Vienna’s influence because of its close ties to the imperial family from Trajan until Antoninus Pius. Vienna’s influence is not diminished within Gallia Narbonensis and the Roman Empire but rather it illustrates the role that Nemausian senators attained during the reign of the Five Good Emperors. It is these political alliances that propel Nemausus ahead of Vienna and as one of the most important towns during the early Principate.
Nemausian senators’ role in the Roman Empire has been exemplified throughout this chapter. As a group, they proved that provincial senators were capable of climbing the political ladder reaching the most prestigious offices. They were not backbenchers in the Curia as they voiced their opinions, but became leaders within the Roman senate and throughout the empire as generals and leaders of the Roman army. Even though they originated from a small provincial town in Gallia Narbonensis, Nemausian senators beginning with Domitius Afer and continuing for the next one hundred and twenty-five years until the death of Antoninus Pius left their mark on the Roman Empire, a distinguished achievement for a town of its provincial stature.
The purpose of this essay was to examine the Romanization and rise in importance of Nemausus during the early Roman Empire through the investigation of its leading equestrians and senators in order to demonstrate that the once Gallic tribal capital became one of the most important towns within the empire. In order to show Nemausus’ climb into the upper echelon of towns, its physical transformations into a true Roman town had to be illustrated through its building program. The political and religious transformations that followed by its conquest by Rome allowed Nemausus to begin producing Roman equestrians and senators. Gallia Narbonensis saw former Gallic tribal capitals rise to prominence during the Principate following Augustus’ reorganization of the province, which facilitated its leading citizens’ involvement in the Roman bureaucracy. Towns such as Vienna, capital of the Allobroges, Tolosa, capital of the Volcae Tectosages along with the Roman colonies of Narbo Martius, Aquae Sextiae and Arelate integrated within the administration of the Roman Empire. Nemausus, as its neighbours, was Romanized and achieved equal status with towns in the Italian peninsula.
Rivet states that: “Peaceful and fully organized, Narbonensis played little part in the recorded history of the first two centuries A.D.”.190 In contrast to Rivet’s view, this author believes that Gallia Narbonensis played a significant role in the “recorded history of the first two centuries” as evidenced by the provincial senators in Rome and the prominent roles that they would attain. Other provincial towns in Gallia Narbonensis also greatly impacted the political
illustrated by Burnand, Gallia Narbonensis produced thirty-nine senators during the first two centuries A.D., a fact that indicates its political presence in Rome.191 After the reigns of the Five Good Emperors, Nemausus and Gallia Narbonensis’ influence waned due to the origin of the next dynasty whose founding member, Septimius Severus, hailed from Leptis Magna, in modern Libya, and his wife, Julia Domna, from Syria.
The strengthening of the borders on the Danube and in the East resulted in the Roman Army acquiring a greater political role. The influence of provincial towns in Gallia Narbonensis, such as Nemausus, diminished. Emperors during the third century, for the most part, distanced themselves from Gallia Narbonensis, Italy and Rome, preferring to stay with their armies, on the limes rather than establishing a working relationship with the senate, whose power and significance had diminished considerably by this time. To further exemplify Gallia Narbonensis’ decline, there are no known senators who emerge from the province during the third century.192 One could ask how evaluating Nemausian senators and equestrians determine the town’s importance? These individuals, leading figures, with the offices they attain, had an impact in the Roman military, the senate and even in the courts. It was a matter of combining their individual careers in order to understand their influence as a group. Through the examination of Nemausus’ most prominent members, it can be concluded that the provincial town became an important settlement in Gallia Narbonensis and in the Western Roman Empire. It produced a leading Roman orator and great-great grandfather of Marcus Aurelius (Domitius Afer), the grandfather of Antoninus Pius and twice consul (Aurelius Fulvus), Antoninus Pius’ father (Aurelius Fulvus), 191 Burnand, n.28, pp.387-394.
192 Burnand, n.28, p.392. While Gallia Narbonensis did not produce any senators, five senators arose from Tres Galliae.
90 brothers who both became consuls (Domitius Tullus and Domitius Lucanus), a consul during the year of the Four Emperors (Marius Celsus), a proconsul of Crete and Cyrene (Aemilius Honoratus), a consul during Trajan’s reign (Maximus Manlianus) and the wife of Trajan and adoptive mother of Hadrian (Pompeia Plotina). The most important aspect to take note of is Nemausus’ connection to the imperial family during the dynasty of the Five Good Emperors when three of the five emperors had direct ties to Nemausus and a fourth, Marcus Aurelius, had an indirect tie to the settlement. Trajan and Hadrian are directly tied with Nemausus due to the former’s marriage to Plotina and the latter’s strong relationship with Plotina.
Evaluating Nemausus’ equestrians and senators provide a snapshot of its transformation and importance within the empire. The elites of Nemausus were evaluated, as they are the ones who were able to involve themselves in the political arena. Studying the lives of local, native, plebeian families will not lead to determining Nemausus’ political importance. No other methods exist to properly study a town’s political significance other than to examine individual careers and to then form conclusions based on those results. In Nemausus’ case, the results indicate its prominent role in Gallia Narbonensis and the Western Roman Empire.
As discussed briefly at the end of the previous chapter (pp.82-83), Nemausus formed a nexus with Italica during the end of the first century A.D. and the first half of the second century A.D., further narrowing Syme’s theory of a Hispano-Narbonensian nexus. Both provinces produced influential senators during the early Principate. According to Griffin: “War, especially civil war, accelerates social change”.193 The civil wars fought by both Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus undoubtedly accelerated the process of Romanization for provincials from Hispania and Gallia Narbonensis and also their ascension in the senatorial order. In Hispania, senatorial
Dasumii from Corduba became influential at this time whereas in Gallia Narbonensis, the Aurelii and the Domitii from Nemausus, the Valerii from Vienna and the Iulii from Forum Iulii were also influential. Individual Spanish senators were influential during the reign of the Julio-Claudians as witnessed by the role that both Lucius Annaeus Seneca and Sextus Afranius Burrus held during the reign of Nero. Gallia Narbonensis witnessed Decimus Valerius Asiaticus become its first provincial senator in Rome in A.D. 35 as well as saw the rise of the Nemausian orator and prosecutor Gnaeus Domitius Afer.