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«by Hugo Thomas Dupuis Whitfield A thesis submitted to the Department of Classics In conformity with the requirements for the Degree of Masters of ...»

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Under the Empire, even in the early days under Augustus, the equestrians made even greater gains in their prestige and political power. This is not a surprising fact, for, although Augustus himself was a senator and a descendant of the Iulii, an ancient senatorial family, his father was originally equestrian before he was adlected into the senate, and most of Augustus’ closest friends, M. Vipsanius Agrippa, C. Maecenas, Cornelius Gallus, came from the same social background. Realizing that he owed much to the equestrian order and knowing that many of the established senatorial families could not be trusted, Augustus with the help of his advisors, shaped his regime with the goal of placing knights in the highest administrative positions, especially the Prefecture of Egypt and later the Prefecture of the Praetorian Guard, the Emperor’s personal legion, and that of the Grain Supply. Equestrians had the ability to accumulate great wealth, as a minimum of four hundred thousand sesterces was required to be adlected into the order, a number that can be compared to the one million sesterces required for the senatorial class. These figures are exorbitant when compared to the approximately one thousand sesterces a Roman legionary soldier would make for a year’s service. Some equestrians who became extremely wealthy, even surpassing some senators in the amount of total wealth, in fact rejected adlection into the highest order because restrictions against owning commercial ships existed for that order. Senators subsisted on the income of latifundia, which were economically viable but did not present the same economic opportunity as did commercial shipping, one of the preferred moneymaking engines for the equestrian order.

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prestigious the order the more difficult it was to be adlected within it.48 Adlection into a higher, more prestigious body was a reward for service that one had completed for Rome. This is exemplified in the military where a life-long soldier would strive to reach the primipilate, as his promotion to the post facilitated an adlection into the equestrian order.49 The equestrian order also developed its own internal hierarchy, which became evident during the end of the Republic, as a result of the increasing adlections into the order.50

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Pedigree was therefore the most important factor within the order itself and allowed the already established equestrians to separate themselves from the new and not as prestigious families. The social stratification that existed within the equestrian order further accentuated the attitude of the established Roman elite towards the burgeoning nouveaux riches who in turn were trying to increase their influence and role within the administration of the empire. This inner hierarchy 48 Keith Hopkins, “Elite Mobility in the Roman Empire”, Past and Present, (1965), p.12. There were approximately 600 senators compared to the several tens of thousands of equestrians making it extremely difficult to become adlected within the highest order. Adlection within the senatorial order illustrated the political importance and impressive accomplishments that he had achieved.

49 Brian Dobson, “The Significance of the Centurion and ‘Primipilaris’ in the Roman Army and Administration”, in Roman Officers and Frontiers by David J. Breeze and Brian Dobson, (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1993), p.217. A promotion to the primipilate provided more than the required minimum to be adlected into the equestrian order. There were no more than 600 living person which would have held the title of primipilaris which is much more exclusive than solely being an equestrian.

50 The three different classifications were: equites equo publico, equites alias tribune aerarii and equites si ex censu spectas.

51 T.P. Wiseman, New Men in the Roman Senate: 139 B.C.-A.D.14, (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), p.69.

21 made it difficult for newly adlected equestrian families to attain the most prestigious appointments. According to Devijver, only four percent of equestrians would reach the order’s highest offices.52 This statistic holds true for Nemausian equestrians, as will be discovered below.

Equestrians evolved from solely being a cavalry order in times of war to becoming a merchant class that became an integral part in Rome’s political and military administration during the Principate; without equestrian officials, Rome would not have had as successful a military or efficient a bureaucracy.

4.1 Lucius Attius Lucanus:

The first equestrian to be discussed is an individual named Lucius Attius Lucanus who has two inscriptions that identify him and record his accomplishments. The stones that bore the inscriptions have disappeared and the copy that remains, mutilated and altered, renders part of the inscription incomplete and open to interpretation.53 The inscriptions presented below follow the initial interpretations of Hirschfeld, with modifications added by Burnand.

1. L(UCIO) ATTIO L(UCIO) F(ILIO) VOL(TINIA) LUCANO SIGNIFERO CENTURI[ONI P(RIMO) P(ILO)] TRIBUNO COHORT[IS I CI]V[(IUM) ROM(ANORUM)] INGENUORUM To Lucius Attius Lucanus, the son of Lucius, of the Voltinia tribe, a standard bearer, a centurion, a first spear centurion, a tribune of the cohort I of native Roman citizens (CIL XII, 3177) 52 Hubert Devijver, “Les Relations Sociales des Chevaliers Romains”, in L’Ordre Équestre: Histoire d’une Aristocratie, p.241. This can also be seen in the senatorial order where only two consuls were elected per year and therefore not every member of the senatorial order would become a consul, which is why the consulship was the culmination of a senator’s career.

53 Burnand, n.27, p.713.

22 2. [? IIIIIIVIR] AUG(USTALIS) L(UCIUS) ATTIUS L(UCII) ATTII [? LUCANI] PRIMIPILARIS LIB(ERTUS) SIBI ET [L(UCIO) ATTIO] L(UCII) LIBERTO V(IVUS) F(ECIT) [A ?sevir] Augustalis, Lucius Attius, freedman of the first spear Lucius Attius ?Lucanus, made [this] while alive for himself and for Lucius Attius a freedman of Lucius (CIL XII, 3178) Attius is an old plebeian gens, confirmable since the second century B.C. in the Senate, which achieved prominence with Atia, the mother of Augustus.54 Even though Atia’s name only contains one ‘t’ she is from the Attian gens as it can be spelt either with a single or double ‘t’.55 Other Attii are found in Nemausus itself such as Titus Attius Quartio, Titus Attius Carpophorus, Titus Attius Ianuarius and Attia Philenis (ILGN, 426, 442).56 Attius Lucanus’ ancestors were either Italians who immigrated to Nemausus and became part of the local aristocracy or were native Gauls who became clients of an Attius and eventually took the name as a sign of respect to their patron.

L. Attius Lucanus’ career is entirely military with no reference to any municipal service.

He began as signifer, the carrier of the standard, which, as a symbol of the legion, was the rallying point during battle. According to David Breeze, there was a standard-bearer for every century in the Roman army and as standard-bearer his responsibilities included administrative duties, as he was the financial officer for that particular century and received greater pay than a 54 Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World, ed. Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider, vol.5 (Leiden: Brill, 2002), p.329.

55 PIR2 uses the double ‘t’ spelling when describing Atia’s father, Marcus Attius Balbus where as the OCD uses the single ‘t’ spelling.

56 Ségolène Demougin, Prosopographie des Chevaliers Romains Julio-Claudiens (43 av. J.-C.-70 ap. J.C.), (Palais Farnèse : École Française de Rome, 1992), p.291. Other Attii are found in Nemausus but are

either freedman or the inscription does not provide enough information to discuss. Such is the case for :

CIL XII, 3199, 3435, 3436, 3437, 3438, 3439, 3441, 3442, 3446, 3781 and 3880.

23 regular soldier.57 “The group of posts, the standard bearers, to which the vexillarius belonged, contained some of the oldest and most important posts in the army below the centurionate…”.58 This illustrates the prestige that the post of signifer carried and is known from the time of the Republic through the Histories of Polybius (Polyb., II, 24, 6). The rank of signifer is a reasonable starting point for an equestrian military career.

After serving in this capacity, Lucanus was then promoted to centurion, leading approximately 80 men, and finally to primipilus, the so-called “first spear centurion”, the highest honour within a legion for an ordinary soldier, as he was the centurion of the first maniple of the first cohort and was first amongst centurions. With regard to this inscription, it needs to be added that while the reference to Lucanus being a primipilus stems from Hirschfeld’s reading of the text, one that is supported by Burnand, Domaszewski does not accept this word in the inscription.

Hirschfeld and Burnand’s interpretation of the inscription is based, on the one hand, on Lucanus’ future military appointments that require the primipilus and, on the other hand, use the knowledge that CIL XII, 3178 provided in illustrating Lucanus’ completion of the office of primipilus.59 The post of centurion would allow him to ascend the military career; it acts as a stepping-stone for his next appointment as tribune of a cohort. Although the name and number of the cohort were originally illegible on the stone, Hirschfeld proposed the Cohors I Civium Romanorum Ingenuorum because of other known inscriptions that corroborate his theory.60 The cohort’s 57 The signifer would receive double pay during the Severan age according to the research of David J.

Breeze, “Pay Grades and Ranks below the Centurionate”, Journal of Roman Studies, (1971), p.133.

58 Breeze, n.57, p.135.

59 Burnand, n.27, p.714. Primipilus and primipilaris can be used interchangeably as they represent the same military rank.

60 Burnand, n.27, p.715. CIL V, 3936 shows the Cohors I Civium Romanorum Ingenuorum while CIL XIII, 8314, 8315 show the Cohors VI Ingenuorum Civium Romanorum.

24 name as the cohort of native Roman citizens ensured that the soldiers within it would not be confused as peregrinii because of the provincial origin of its soldiers.

Promotion from first spear centurion to the tribuneship of a cohort was a great achievement. A tribune of a cohort was considered one of the senior military posts in a legion, and therefore Attius Lucanus became one of a very select group of officers in the Roman army.

This type of promotion of rank is attested through numerous other inscriptions and it also indicates that his career took place before changes brought forth by Claudius, who structured promotions in the Roman military so that a first spear centurion could not immediately be promoted as a tribune of a cohort.61 As such, the chronology must be dated to before A.D. 41.

Attius Lucanus’ military career exemplifies the ascension that was possible in the Roman army as well as illustrates how a provincial was not excluded from any such promotions. His promotion to the rank of first-spear centurion also provided him with the social standing of an equestrian.

The second inscription is significant as it adds to our understanding of Attius Lucanus’ social standing within Nemausus. His equestrian status provided him with the financial wherewithal to purchase slaves; once these slaves were freed, they could become active participants within the community. As a sevir Augustalis, his freedman’s duty was to maintain the cult dedicated to the emperor, a significant honour for a freedman and in turn for Attius Lucanus, as the success of his freedman would be reflected back to him. Attius Lucanus’ influence was on the battlefield as witnessed by his ascension to tribune of the first cohort of native Roman citizens. Even though he did not serve any civic offices, his status in Nemausus cannot be questioned as is illustrated through his freedman’s significance.

61 Georges Lopuszanski, La transformation du corps des officiers supérieurs dans l’armée romaine du Ier au IIIe siècle après J.-C., (Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire, 1938), p.146.


4.2 Sextus Iulius Maximus:

Sextus Iulius Maximus only has one inscription that bears his name and accomplishments.

D(ECRETO) [D(ECURIONUM)] MEMOR[IAE] SEX(TI) IULII S[EX(TI) FIL(II)] VOL(TINIA) MAX[IMI] FLAMINIS ROMA[E ET] DIVI AUG(USTI) ITEM DR[USI] ET GERM(ANICI) CAES(ARIS) TR(IBUNI) [MIL(ITUM)] PRAEF(ECTI) FABR(UM) III [IIII VIR(I)] IUR(E) DIC(UNDO) NEMAUSENS[ES PUBLICE] The citizens of Nemausus have publicly [dedicated this] through a decree of the decurions, to the memory of Sextus Iulius Maximus the son of Sextus from the Voltinia tribe, a priest of Roma and of the divine Augustus, likewise of Drusus and Germanicus, military tribune, prefect of the workmen for a third time, a quattuorvir for the pronouncing of the law (CIL XII, 3180) The citizenship of Sextus Iulius Maximus’ family most likely can be attributed to either Julius Caesar or Augustus, because of his membership to the gens Iulia. His ancestor would have been granted Roman citizenship by one of the two men as a reward for his service and loyalty during either the Gallic War of Caesar or the Civil War of Augustus. This grant of citizenship made Iulius Maximus a client of the imperator and was used to provide him with a support base that he could resort to if needed.62 His praenomen, Sextus, is one of the limited number of names used by the Julian family, the other names being Gaius and Lucius. Eventually gentes would only use certain praenomina in order to separate their families from each other and create an air of continuity.

The citizens of Nemausus set up the inscription to this man as an honorary text, a common practice by towns to honour the achievements of its most influential members. The cursus of Iulius Maximus, as it is presented, is in descending order, with his last office completed 62 This can be seen in the struggle between Pompey and Caesar where Pompey fled to the East where he had previously spent time building a support base and knew he would be able to assemble a force against Caesar.

26 named first. The other possible way of presenting it was, obviously, in ascending order with the highest offices mentioned last. At the pinnacle of his career, Iulius Maximus became a priest of Roma and of the divine Augustus in Nemausus, this being a religious post of great importance.

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