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The Status Nomenclature of the Imperial Freedmen

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

P. R. C. Weaver
University of Western Australia


Lily Ross Taylor in an interesting recent article on the proportion of freedmen to freeborn in the sepulchral inscriptions of Imperial Rome discusses the increasing omission of status nomenclature by freedmen in the first and second centuries A.D. and the consequent difficulty of determining the status of persons whose names appear in the epitaphs. One contributory factor to this decline in the traditional nomenclature which she mentions is the growing numbers and importance of the freedmen of the emperor, the Augusti liberti. While non-imperial freedmen were anxious to record their acquisition of citizenship, but not their inferior status in the citizen body, the emperor's freedmen, on the other hand, increasingly formalized their status nomenclature so that the formula ‘Aug. lib.’ proclaimed not only the fact of their manumission within the Familia Caesaris but also the higher social status which they enjoyed. An examination of the nomenclature of the Imperial freedmen might help to throw some light on this process, particularly on the problem of dating.

Copyright © The Classical Association 1963

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page 272 note 1 A.J.P. lxxxii (1961), 113–32.Google Scholar

page 272 note 2 Op. cit. 122.Google Scholar

page 272 note 3 See on this whole problem Thylander, H., Étude sur I'épigraphie latine (Lund, 1952), ch. 1, pp. 1 f.Google Scholar

page 272 note 4 See J. S., and Gordon, A. E., Contributions to the Palaeography of Latin Inscriptions (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1957), esp. p. 217.Google Scholar

page 272 note 5 See, for example, Thylander, H., Inscriptions du Port d'Ostie (Lund, 1952)Google Scholar; Calza, G., La Necropoli del Porto di Roma dell'Isola Sacra (Rome, 1940).Google Scholar

page 272 note 6 Only 85 can be dated to within a year, according to my count, and only another 86 definitely to within a particular reign; i.e. both groups together make up less than 7 per cent, of all inscriptions of Imperial freedmen. Another 1,300 inscriptions give the names of Imperial freedmen with gentilicia. Thus 60 per cent, of them can be approximately dated.

page 272 note 7 The latest dated ‘C. Iulius Aug. 1.’ is from A.D. 78 (A.E. 1935, 47); ‘Ti. Claudius Aug. lib.’, A.D. 108 (vi. 630); ‘T. Flavius Aug. lib.’, A.D. 136 (vi. 975); ‘M. Ulpius Aug. lib.’, A.D. 153 (vi. 10234); that is, respectively, 37, 40, 40, and 36 years after the death of the last emperor concerned. Un-less otherwise stated, all references in this paper are to C.I.L.Google Scholar

page 273 note 1 ‘Caesaris Servus’, Hermes liv (1919), 174–86, the first and, indeed, the only such study of the subject.Google Scholar

page 273 note 2 Bang, , op. cit., 185–6.Google Scholar

page 273 note 3 The distinction is especially apparent in the numerous inscriptions naming Imperial freedmen and slaves together, e.g. (additional to Bang‘s examples, op. cit., 184 n. 1)Google Scholar Clau- dian: iii. 422; Flavian: vi. 9051; Trajan: vi. 32429, 37958, 38351; A.E. 1946, 140Google Scholar; Hadrian, : I.G.R.R. i. 1255–6; Antoninus: vi. 22789; Aurelius: xi. 534; undated: vi. 7973, 14452, 22937, 30553. 7, 37748; xv. 941 and 1147. ‘Aug. lib.’ and ‘Aug. ser.’ in the same inscription is rare: vi. 8957; viii. 12656. On the other hand, ‘Aug. lib.’ and ‘Aug. vern.’ together is comparatively common, commoner, in fact, than ‘Aug. lib.’ and ‘Caes. vern.’, e.g. vi. 8409, 8542, 9042, 9045, 10734, 10860, 10872, 11552, 16811, etc. ‘Aug. lib.’ and ‘Aug. (servus)’ also occur together in most periods.Google Scholar

page 273 note 4 Of the C. Iulii, 15 show ‘Divi Aug. 1.’ against 28 ‘Aug. 1.’; and of those with cognomen only who are inferred to be Iulii, there are 14 ‘Divi Aug. 1.’ to only 13 ‘Aug. 1.’ For freedmen of Claudius, there are 9 instances of ‘Divi Claudi lib.’, including one ‘Ti. Claudius Divi 1.’, against 238 ‘Aug. lib.’

page 273 note 5 vi. 18038: ‘Artemis Divae Aug. lib.’ (Iulia, daughter of Titus); A.E. 1958, 184Google Scholar: ‘L. Pompeius Venustus Divae Plotinae lib.’; A.E. 1956, 19: ‘Divae Faustinae Antonini Strenion lib.’Google Scholar

page 274 note 1 vi. 1261, 80375, 38494; v. 3404; A.E. 1913, 216—all before A.D. 14; three others bear second cognomina which indicate the period Augustus-Tiberius: vi. 5849 (Agrippianus), 16658 (Cornificianus), 27686 (Sallustianus); four others are undated but are probably from the same period: vi. 8918, 10356, 12797, 17323.Google Scholar

page 274 note 2 xv. 814.

page 274 note 3 See Bang, , op. cit., 180f.Google Scholar

page 274 note 4 e.g. vi. 4312, 10383, 12652 (cf. 25033), 33130; A.E. 1923, 72; xiv. 804. Joint freed-men of Tiberius and Livia: vi. 4173, 5223.Google Scholar

page 274 note 5 e.g. vi. 5851: ‘Iulia Ti. Augusti 1. Rhodia’; 10449: ‘Iulia Ti. Caesar. Aug. 1. Iconio’; A.E. 1930, 66: ‘(Iulia) Ti. Caesaris Aug. 1. Aegle.’Google Scholar

page 274 note 6 Gaius, : A.E. 1935, 47; Claudius: v. 2931; vi. 15455; Nero: vi. 8783: ‘Ti. Claudius Neronis Augusti 1. Hicelus’; xiv. 2780: ‘Ti. Claudius Neronis Aug. 1. Daphnus’; vi. 14647; xiv. 2861 (also edited among the sacrae in vi. 194).Google Scholar

page 274 note 7 e.g. Octavia Aug. soror: vi. 8881, 33378; Germanicus: vi. 4328, 4372, 4401, 4487, 14909, 34107; Antonia Drusi: vi. 4148, 33794. 37451; Agrippina Germanici: vi. 5772; Messallina: vi. 5537; Agrippina Augusta: vi. 20384,37591; Claudia Antonia: vi. 2329, 9802, 15517; Poppaea Augusta: x. 6787; Domitia Augusta: vi. 8850; Marciana Augusta: A.E. 1906, 81; Sabina Augusta: vi. naai; A.E. 1915, 9.

page 274 note 8 vi. 4479, 4771, 5871, 7793, 11320, 19968, 20002, 20335, 26254; x. 3357; xi. 3083, 7802; xii. 3625; E.E. viii. 316Google Scholar; Epigraphica xvi (1954), 31Google Scholar; vi. 20259: ‘Ti. Iulius Caesar. 1. Scymnus’; 20432: ‘Iulia Egloge Caesaris 1.’ Five more probably be- long to the Julian emperors, including three from the Monumentum Marcellae: vi. 4589, 4690, 4793; 4199 (from the Monumentum Liviae); 8730. vi. 1261, included by Bang, , op. cit. 183Google Scholar n. 2, is better completed ‘C. Iuli Caesa[ris Aug. 1.]’, as variation between ‘Caes. 1.’ and ‘Aug. 1.’ in the same inscription is not found. ‘(C. Iulius) Aeschinus Caes. 1.’ (Grant, M., From Imperium to Auctoritas, p. 262Google Scholar; Imhoof-Blumer, , Monnaies grecques, p. 214Google Scholar n. 10) deserves to be given a special place. Apart from the farreaching consequences adumbrated by Grant, , op. cit., p. 322Google Scholar n. 9, Aeschinus would also be unique as die only member of the Familia Caesaris to appear on a coin-legend; cf. Vitucci, G., s.v. ‘libertus’ in Diz. Epig. iv (1958), 926.Google Scholar

page 274 note 9 iii. 2022; vi. 8711, 25028; perhaps a fourth, v. 1167 (cf. vi. 29045, I.G.R.R. i. 287).Google Scholar

page 275 note 1 Tacitus prefers ‘libertus Caesaris’ (Hist. 2. 65; 3. 12Google Scholar; Ann. 5. 10Google Scholar; 6. 38; 13. 12, 47; 16. 23) characteristically differing from the normal official nomenclature. Cf. Plin, . N.H. 13. 29.Google Scholar

page 275 note 2 viii. 12857: ‘M. Ulpius Claras Caesaris n. lib.’; vi. 8463: ‘Secundus Caes. n. lib. off. mon.’ (cf. 8463b: ‘M. Ulp. Secundo nummulario offic. monetae’); vi. 29299: ‘Lamyrus Caesaris n. libert.’, whose wife was Ulpia Amabilis. (Ulpius was a rare gentilicium before Trajan; cf. Taylor, , op. cit., p. 119). vi. 24806: ‘Oceanus sen.(?) Caesaris n. lib.’, whose sister was Aelia Galatia.Google Scholar

page 275 note 3 vi. 151, 7502 (not certainly first century, as Bang, , op. cit. 183 n. 5).Google Scholar

page 275 note 4 For ‘Augg. (Augustorum) libertus’ see a forthcoming article in Historia xiii (1964).Google Scholar

page 275 note 5 See Bang, , op. cit., 175 n. 4 for references.Google Scholar

page 275 note 6 vi. 27807; viii. 9434. The others are: vi. 29807 (T. Aelius); vi. 8480, v. 27 (A.D. 198), viii. 10630, xiii. 1816 (M. Aurelius); vi. 1585 a-b (A.D. 193); vi. 410; A.E. 1930, 152 (L. Septimius); v. 5090 (A.D. 217/246). Undated, but probably late second to third century: ii. 4519; iii. 3964, 7126; vii. 232.Google Scholar

page 275 note 7 Pace Vitucci, , op. cit., p. 919.Google Scholar

page 275 note 8 iii. 6753 (Galatia); cf. Pflaum, H.-G., Les Carrières procuratoriennes équestres (Paris, 19601961) ii, pp. 765 f.Google Scholar

page 275 note 9 The others are: iii. 4063; vi. 15424. 29116; viii. 7665, 9362; x. 1737; A.E. 1925, 73.Google Scholar

page 275 note 10 A.E. 1915, 9.Google Scholar

page 276 note 1 The earliest example I can find of ‘proc. Aug. n.’ is xi. 3720: T. Aelius Eutychus. See abo Pflaum, , op. cit., pp. 1046 (T. Coelius … nianus), 1059 (M. Messius Messor).Google Scholar

page 276 note 2 occurs for the Claudian period: I.G.R.R. i. 287Google Scholar, 1262 (A.D. 49); from the second century are: A.E. 1940, 194Google Scholar; I.G.R.R. iii. 1056 (A.D. 137)Google Scholar; undated are: I.G.R.R. i. 1101; iii. 728; iv. 245.Google Scholar

page 277 note 1 Cf. Vitucci, , op. cit., p. 917.Google Scholar

page 277 note 2 This change is not to be dated to the Flavian period; cf. Taylor, , op. cit., p. 122 and n. 25. The figures are: Iulii—7 (6 per cent, of all examples of Iulii); Claudii—25 (11 per cent.); Flavii—25 (12 per cent.); Cocceii—3 (21 per cent.); Ulpii—36 (19 per cent.); P. Aelii—30 (21 per cent.); T. Aelii—16 (17 per cent.); Aelii without praenomina—24 (44 per cent.); all Aelii—24 per cent.; M. Aurelii—39 (29 per cent.); Aurelii widiout praenomina—58 (64 per cent.); all Aurelii—43 per cent.Google Scholar

page 277 note 3 The figures for the omission of the praenomen are: Iulii—4 (4 per cent.); Claudii—4 (2 per cent.); Flavii—6 (3 per cent.): Ulpii—9 (5 per cent.); Aelii—30 (10 per cent.); Aurelii—61 (27 per cent.). Cf. Thylander, , op. cit., pp. 77 f., 131, who dates the omission of the praenomen among the plebeian and freedman classes to the second century A.D.Google Scholar

page 277 note 4 On the other hand, the shift in position of the status indication is not to be connected with the following official title or occupation (cf. Taylor, , loc. cit.), as is shown by the figures for this order, in cases where ‘Aug. lib.’ follows the cognomen: Iulii—nil; Claudii—10 (40 per cent.); Flavii—9 (36 per cent.); Ulpii—17 (47 per cent.); Aelii—24 (34 per cent.); Aurelii—32 (33 per cent.).Google Scholar

page 278 note 1 Claudii: ‘Ti. Claud.’ (6), ‘Ti. Cl.’ (8); Flavii: ‘T. Flav.’ (a), ‘T. Fl.’ (17), ‘T. F.’ (5); Ulpii: ‘M. Ulp.’ (6), ‘M. Ul.’ (1), ‘M. U.’ (1); Aelii: ‘P. Ael.’ (17), ‘T. Ael.’ (14), ‘T. A.’ (1); Aurelii: ‘M. Aurel.’ (16), ‘M. Aur.’ (34), ‘L. Aurel.’ (i), ‘L. Aur.’ (2), ‘Aurel.’ (10), ‘Aur.’ (20). Cf. Thylander, , op. cit., pp. 97 f.Google Scholar

page 278 note 2 xiv. 5565.

page 278 note 3 xv. 814.

page 278 note 4 In the case of ‘Clemens Aug. lib.’ (Thylander, , I.P.O., A7), dated by Thylander to Hadrian-Antoninus, ‘F(lavius)’ would be unique for the Imperial freedmen and should perhaps read: ‘f(ecit)’; cf. the unusual order of the inscription.Google Scholar

page 278 note 5 Thylander, , op. cit., p. 84, but cf. pp. 98, 132Google Scholar; Taylor, , op. cit., p. 122. For the dated inscriptions and those where nomina can be definitely inferred the figures are: Iulii 51, Claudii 54, Flavii 44, Ulpii 18, Aelii 24, Aurelii 42. For the groups identified above as pre-Flavian die nomen occurs in 50 cases, and is omitted in 48; for the post-Trajanic there are 107 examples with nomen, 94 without nomen.Google Scholar

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