Robert L. Dise, Jr.,
Department of History,
University of Northern Iowa,
In an article published in a recent number of ZPE, I presented evidence that a major change in the titulature of gubernatorial beneficiarii occurred under the Antonines, roughly between AD 155 and 170.(2) This change involved the abandonment of the use of governors' personal names in beneficiarius titulature and the adoption of the much more generic title beneficiarius consularis. Use of this new title was nearly universal after AD 170, and it appears on hundreds of inscriptions across the length and beadth of the empire down to the early fourth century. To account for this change in titulature, I suggested that it reflected an imperially mandated shift in the relationship between the beneficiarii and the governors, perhaps aimed at reforming the role of patronage in the administration. I also proposed that this reform changed the nature of beneficiarial service. Beneficiarii henceforth were attached to the governorship, or more properly, to the officium consularis, rather than to the individual govenor. Consequently, instead of serving only for the term of the governor who appointed them, they served indefinitely, until promotion or retirement.
But while use of the title beneficiarius consularis was nearly universal after AD 170, exceptions still occurred. On ten inscriptions from the late second and third centuries, beneficiarii use what might be called 'associative titulature', that is to say titulature that directly links them with particular governors. This titulature assumed two forms. The first was the traditional one that had been in general use prior to the Antonines, consisting of beneficiarius plus the governor's name in the genitive. This form appears on four inscriptions, all of them dedications either to deities or to the genius of some entity.(3) The second form was new, although it had the same essential meaning as the first: beneficiarius eius, identifying the beneficiarius with the governor as 'his beneficiarius'. Naturally, this form was used on the six inscriptions dedicated to governors.(4) Aside from their peculiar titulature, these ten inscriptions are indistinguishable from other honorific texts. Generically titled beneficiarii consularis erected hundreds of dedications to gods and genii during the late second and third centuries. Dedications to governors are far scarcer, but on a dozen texts from the post-Antonine era, beneficiarii honour governors without linking themselves to the governors through their titles.(5) Even the particular qualities addressed in these dedications do not differ between texts with or without associative titulature. Among both we find texts dedicated to a governor's well-being,(6) or in raise of his virtues;(7) texts of both types even hail governors as patrons.(8) It is clear, then, that beneficiarii might express their esteem for a governor without necessarily linking themselves to him in their titulature. Associative titulature therefore would seem to signify something more than mere respect for a worthy superior.
The explanation for why some beneficiarii used associative titulature while others did not is probably to be sought in administrative relationships. A straightforward administrative interpretation of associative titulature would be that it indicates appontment of the beneficiarii by the governors involved. A number of considerations support this interpretation. First, it is clear why men might feel appreciation for their appointments: as gubernatorial beneficiarii, their pay doubled and they held positions that were for all intents and purposes permanent,(9) unless they were promoted further.(10) Furthermore, appointment as a beneficiarius also offered increased status, as a principalis, and the chance for detached duty at a statio with an accompanying exercise of some measure of independent authority.(11)
Second, the majority of inscriptions with associative titulature - seven out of ten - were set up by individuals, and this high proportion of individual dedications accords with what would be expected of post-Antonine appointment patterns. If service as gubernatorial beneficiarius during the late second and third centuries was essentially permanent, then most vacancies would have occurred individually, when beneficiarii retired, were promoted, or died. Consequently, most appointments to fill vacancies would also have occurred individually, and most inscriptions on which grateful men describe themselves as beneficiarii of a particular governor would be individual dedications.
Third, the group dedications on which beneficiarii employ associative titulature can be linked to appointment as well, for all three are associated with special administrative circumstances in which beneficiarii would have been named en bloc.(12) Two of the inscriptions are dedications from Lambaesis (CBFIR 762 and 768), set up by beneficiari(i) eius and honouring the same legate, M. Aurelius Cominius, who was governor of Numidia in AD 246- 247.(13) Gordian III had cashiered legio III Augusta in 238 for spporting its legate's rebellion, and it was not until 253 that the legion was reinstated, by Valerian. Thus, during Cominius' governorship, the normal source from which governors recruited beneficiarii for the provincial officium, that is to say, the legionary garrison of the province, did not exist in Numidia. The epigraphic evidence does not reveal what administrative measures were taken to compensate, but if legionaries continued to be used as gubernatorial beneficiarii, as was the rule, then those mesures necessarily would have involved either appointing men from legions elsewhere or else bringing in serving beneficiarii from other provinces;(14) in any case, the men involved would have had to be transported a considerable distance to north Africa. Under the circumstances, appointing or assigning beneficiarii singly to the province would have been administratively inconvenient, and it seems more likely that they would have been appointed in groups, perhaps even rotating a portion of the schola benefiiariorum in and out of the province periodically. If this is in fact what took place in Numidia during the period 238-253, then the association between beneficiarii and particular governors would have been much closer than would normally have been the case elsewhere.
The third group inscription with associative titulature comes from Eboracum in Britannia inferior (CBFIR 22).(15) As restored by most editors, its fragmentary text reads: [genio?] collegi(i) / [---o]b p(romotionem) (?) b(ene)f(iciarii) Gordian(i).(16) The Gordian to whom the text refers is M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus, who was appointed to govern Britannia inferior, with his headquarters at Eboracum, when the province was created in AD 216.((17) The occasion for this dedication, then, and/or the collective identification of its beneficiarii with the governor, was the recruitment of an officium for the new province and the resulting appointment by Gordian of a substantial number of men to serve as beneficiarii.
Assuming that the reading [---o]b p(romotionem) is correct, the Eboracum dedication is one of two texts with associative titulature that refer openly to appointment or promotion, the other being an altar from Narona in Dalmatia (CBFIR 495), dedicated to Juppiter Optimus Maximus by Claudius Marcus, fac(tus) ex option[e] beneficiar(ius) [Sene]cioni[s co(n)s(ularis) ---]. A third text contains what is probably an indirect reference. Dedicated to L. Petronius Verus, legate of Galatia, in AD 198, the text was commissioned by two men, T. Iulius Seleucus and Septimius Valerianus, b(eneficiarii) et corniculari(i) eius. It has been suggested that Seleucus was a beneficiarius and Valerianus a cornicularius,(18) and that the two men acted on behalf of their colleagues in the officium,(19) but nothing in the text itself demands such an interpretation. An alternative view would be that Verus appointed both men as beneficiarii and then promoted them to cornicularii. Promotion from beneficiarius to cornicularius seem to have been rare in the empire as a whole;(20) indeed, given the large number of beneficiarii in administrative service and the small number of posts available further on in the cursus, service as a beneficiarius consularis appears to have functioned as what one scholar of the army career system called an 'efficiency bar'.(21) But on the other hand, there is a mid-third century inscription, also from Ancyra, on which the dedicator very clearly includes the beneficiarius-cornicularius sequence.(22) This suggests that, while elevation directly from beneficiarius to cornicularius might have been unusual elsewhere, it was not so very extraordinary in Galatia.
The fact that so few associative titulature texts refer to advancement would present difficulties, were it not the case that appointment and promotion receive almost no mention on other inscriptions. There is only one non-associative text that both honours a governor and refers openly to his promotion of the beneficiarius involved. A dedication from Lambaesis, which characterizes the governor as patrono inconp[ar]abili and states that the dedicator was promotus ab eo,(23); this is another case where the surrounding circumstances are unusual: the promotion to which the text refers was to beneficiarius domicurator, in other words, chamberlain within the governor's personal household; furthermore, the legate named in the inscription, C. Pomponius Magnus, govrned Numidia in the 240s, that is, during the absence of III Augusta.(24) Another non-associative text mentions promotion, but without reference to any governor. This is an altar to Mercury from Brocavum in Britannia inferior dedicated by a soldier of legio VI victrix named Mercator, who was promotus b(ene)f(iciarius) co(n)s(ularis).(25) Mercator inscribed his altar with a consular date of AD 217, which means that he was almost certainly one of the beneficiarii Gordiani in the Eboracum text, but he did not choose to describe himself as such in this his personal dedication. Two other texts allude to promotion, rather than openly using terminology such as promotus. One is the mid-third century beneficiarius-cornicularius text mentioned above, which concludes with the dedication 'ton heautou patrona' and the suggestive 'dia panta'. The other is an altar from Viminacium in Moesia superior, dedicated probably to Hercules, which wryly states, quod b(ene)f(iciarius) leg(ati) vovit b(ene)f(iciarius) co(n)s(ulris) solvit.(26) Viewed in the context of such circumlocutions, the associative titulature on those inscriptions that do not refer to promotion takes on the appearance of another form of allusion.
It is clear, then, that whatever their type, epigraphic references by beneficiarii to advancement are rare. What is not clear is why beneficiarii would commemorate their appointments so infrequently, regardless of the type of titulature they used. After all, thousands of men served in provincial officia as beneficiarii during the century after AD 170, and considering the rewards involved, those men cannot have regarded their service as onerous. It may be that many of the hundreds of altars that beneficirii consularis dedicated during the late second and third centuries in fulfillment of unspecified vows to various gods in fact offer thanks for divine patronage in securing appointments. But if so, the quandary only deepens. A distaste for dedications openly thanking governors for appointments can be understood, particularly if open displays of gratitude for acts of administrative patronage were frowned upon, but it is much more difficult to comprehend a distaste for open expressions of thanks to the god.
Linking associative titulature with the appointment of men to serve as beneficiarii affords a plausible explanation for what is otherwise a puzzling anomaly in late second- and third-century administrative titulature. Most inscriptions with associative titulature are dedications to the governors. Both styles of the titulature used the genitive to characterize the relationship between beneficiarius and governor, suggesting a close link. Most were dedicated by individuals, reflecting the likely nature of apointments at the time, and those inscriptions dedicated by groups can be assigned to circumstances when beneficiarii are likely to have been appointed en bloc. Finally, while only two or three inscriptions with associative titulature refer to promotion,promotion is referred to openly on only a handful of other texts of gubernatorial beneficiarii, and alluded to on only a couple of others. Thus, this titulature may be interpreted plausibly as representing another means of alluding to appointment rather han referring to it openly.
During the middle of the second century, service as a gubernatorial beneficiarius underwent considerable change. What had been temporary personal service to an individual governor became permanent assignment to an institution, the provincial officium. But the boundary between the institutional and the personal bulks larger in the modern mind than it did in the Roman. While the paucity of references to appointment and promotion in beneficiarius texts of the late second and third centuries suggests that formal acknowledgment of the ties that bound beneficiarii to the governors who had appointed them had been muted, the persistence of isolated instances of associative titulature indicates that those ties continued to exist nevertheless.
(1) In this article the following abbreviations are used: Breeze D.J.- Breeze, 'The organisation of the career structure of the immunes and principales of the Roman army', Bonner Jahrbuecher 174, 1974 CBFIR - E. Schallmayer, et al., Der roemische Weihebezirk von Osterburken I, Corpus der griechischen und lateinischen Beneficiarier-Inschriften des Roemischen Reiches (Stuttgart 1990) Fasti RB - A. Birley, The Fasti of Roman Britain (Oxford 1981) Le Bohec - Y. Le Bohec, The Imperial Roman Army (New York 1994) Ott - J. Ott, Der Beneficiarier (Stuttgart 1995) Pflaum - H.-G. Pflaum, Les carrieres procuratoriennes equestres sous le Haut-Empire romain (Paris 1960) RO - A. von Domaszewski and D.J. Breeze, Die Rangordnung des roemischen Heeres 2 ed. (Koln 1967) Thomasson - B.E. Thomasson, Laterculi Praesidum I (Goeteborg 1984)
Alfoeldy, G., Konsulat und Senatorenstand unter den Antoninen (Bonn 1977)
Birley, A., 'The Roman Governors of Britain,' Epigraphische Studien 4 (Koeln/Graz 1967), 63-102
Dise, R., 'The Beneficiarii Procuratoris of Celeia and the Development of the Statio Network', ZPE 113 (1996), 286-292
Dise, R., 'Trajan, the Antonines, and the Governor's Staff',ZPE 116 (1997), 273-283
Dise, R., 'The Recruitment and Assignment of Beneficiarii Consularis in the Danube Provinces', The Ancient World 28 (forthcoming 1997)
Dorutiu-Boila, E., 'Legaten von Moesia Inferior zwischen 190 und 198,' ZPE 58 (1985), 197-203
Fitz, J., Die Laufbahn der Statthalter in der roemischen Provinz Moesia Inferior (Weimar 1966)
Jones, A. H. M., 'The Roman Civil Service (Clerical and Sub- Clerical Grades)', Journal of Roman Studies 39 (1949), 38-55 Speidel, M.P., 'Centurions Promoted from Beneficiarii?', ZPE 91 (1992), 229-232
Stein, A., Die Legaten von Moesien (Budapest 1940)
Stein, A., Die Praefekten von Aegypten in roemischer Zeit (Bern 1950)
Wright, R.P., 'Roman Britain in 1969, II. Inscriptions', Britannia 1 (1970), 305-315
CBFIR 22 (AE 1971. 218), AD 216-219, from Eboracum in Britannia inferior. Text: [genio?] collegi(i) / [---]BP b(ene)f(iciarii) Gordian(i). For a discussion of other restorations, see A. Birley, Epigraphische Studien 4 (1967), 89-90, Wright, Britannia 1 (1970), 307, and AE 1971. 218.
CBFIR 495 (CIL 3. 1783), after AD 212, from Narona in Dalmatia. Text: D(eo) S(oli) I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / Aeterno sacr/um Cla(udius) Marc(us) / fac(tus) ex option/[e] beneficiar(ius) / [Sene]cioni[s] / [co(n)s(ularis) ---] / [------]. Assuming the eliability of the restoration of the text, M. Nummius Umbrius Primus Senecio Albinus, cos. ord. 206, is the governor referred to, and his governorship, according to Thomasson 94 no. 45, came under Caracalla.
CBFIR 722 (ILS 9258; AE 1905. 211), AD 245-246, from Philadelphia in Arabia.. Text: [Salu]ti et Aescul[a] / [pi]o Sanctissimus / [D]eis Terentius / Heraclitus b[f] / Claudi(i) Capito/lini pro inco/lumitate domus divinae / et [praes]idis sui / [respo]nsoue Di[i] / [Iovi?]s votum sol/vit. Thomasson 333, no. 29, dates Claudius Capitolinus to 245/246.
CBFIR 759, from Cuicul in Numidia, 4 April AD 210. Text: Marti Aug(usto) / sacr(um) / pro salute d(ominorum) / n(ostrorum) Aug(ustorum) / C(aius) Egrilius / Fuscianus / bf Subatiani(i) / Proculi leg(ati) / Aug(ustorum) pr(o) pr(aetore) / co(n)s(ulis) desg(nati) / adiutor prin/cipis praetori(i) / scribatu Horati(i) / Viatoris et Didi(i) / Aprilis / posita / pr(idie) non(as) Apr(iles) / Faustino et / Rufino co(n)s(ulibus). Thomasson 403, no. 58, dates the governorship of Ti. Claudius Subatianus Proculus toAD 208- 210.
(4) These inscriptions are:
CBFIR 642 (AE 1985. 725), from modern Mihai Bravu in Moesia inferior, AD 191-194?. Text: ------ / [pro salute] / Cn(aei) Sue[l(lii) Rufi] / Cos(coni) Gen(tiani) l[eg(ati)] / T(itus) Cael(ius) Cat[us] / b(ene)f(iciarius) eius ex / v(oto) o(blato) p(osuit) The dates of Cn. Suellius Rufus Cosconius Gentianus' governorship are debated. Thomasson 138-139, no. 106, places it in AD 193-197. E. Dorutiu-Boila, ZPE 58 (1985), 202, places it AD 191-193/4. Cf. Thomasson, 138, no. 104, which places his governorshp in 193. A. Stein simply places Gentianus prior to July of 198: Die Legaten von Moesien, 85.
CBFIR 685 (CIL 3. 6754, 252), from Ancyra in Galatia, AD 198. Text: L(ucium) Petronium / Verum leg(atum) Aug(usti) / pr(o) pr(aetore) c(larissimae) m(emoriae) v(irum) co(n)s(ulem) / desig(natum) T(itus) Iulius / Seleucus et Septi/mius Valerianus b(ene)f(ciarii) et cornicula/ri(i) eius praesidem / sanctissimum / h(onoris) c(ausa). Thomasson, 258, no. 34 dates his governorship to AD 198.
CBFIR 738 (CIL 3. 51), from Diospolis Magna (Coptos) in Egypt, AD 196. Text: Feliciter / salvo Primiano felix / Fl(avius) Origenes b(ene)f(iciarius) eius. M. Ulpius Primianus was prefect of Egypt in 195/196: A. Stein, Die Praefekten von Aegypten in romischer Zeit, 107; Thomasson, 353, no. 81.
CBFIR 762 (CIL 8. 2733), from Lambaesis in Numidia, AD 246- 247. Text: M(arco) Aurelio / Cominio / Cassiano / leg(ato) Aug(ustorum) / pr(o) pr(aetore) c(larissimo) v(iro) / beneficiari(i) / eius / curante P(ublio) Valerio / Donato quaes/tore. M. AureliusCominius Cassianus' governorship is dated 246-247 by Thomasson, 405 no. 73. CBFIR 768 (AE 1917/18. 72), from Lambaesis, AD 246-247. Text: Insignis pati/entiae et admi/rabilis integri/tatis ac sum/marum virtutum / viro / M(arco) Aurelio Comi/nio Cassiano / leg(ato) Aug(ustorum) pr(o) pr(aetore) / c(larissimo) v(iro) praesidi / bneficiari(i) ei[u]s / curantibus / Caecilio Belli/cia[n]o q(uaestori) / et Licinio For / tunato b(ene)f(iciario). Of course, there is no way to know for certain in what order the two texts to Cominius were dedicated.
CBFIR 772 (CIL 8. 2797), from Lambaesis, AD 261-262. Text: [- --]+A+[---] / [---]+ et leg(ionis) / III Aug(ustae) Gallie/nae Aemili/us Florus b(ene)f(iciarius) / domicurius / eius patrono / [pr]aestantis / [simo ---]. Florus also dedicated a text to a goernor's wife (CBFIR 773). It would be interesting to know whether she was the wife of the same governor as the one whose name is lost in CBFIR 772.
I have not counted CBFIR 766 (AE 1967.575), from Lambaesis, AD 176, as an example of associative titulature because the bottom of the inscription is broken off and eius is restored by modern editors. CBFIR includes a photograph of the inscription (p. 594 which makes clear the extent of damage to the lower reaches of the text. Nor have I included CBFIR 552 (CIL 3. 876), from Potaissa in Dacia, AD 200-201, which is a dedication to the gen(io) scho[l(ae)] b(eneficiariorum) sub Oc[t(avio)] Iulian(o) leg(ato Augustor(um) ab ... because the use of 'sub' indicates an administrative relationship, 'under the authority of,' rather than the more personal one suggested by the incorporation of 'eius' or the govenor's personal name in the genitive into the title itsef.
(5) CBFIR 118 (CIL 13. 6807) Mainz AD 218-219; CBFIR 182 (CIL 13. 6638) Stockstadt, Germania superior, AD 164-180; CBFIR 643 (CIL 3. 7449) Montana, Moesia inferior, AD 155; CBFIR 650 (AE 1971. 429; AE 1980. 830) modern Nifon, Moesia inferior, AD 176/177; BFIR 686 (AE 1931. 128; SEG 6. 12) Ancyra, AD 198-211; CBFIR 687 (IGRR 3. 181) Ancyra, prior to AD 264; CBFIR 736 (IGRR 1. 1179; AE 1900. 30), Diospolis Magna (Coptos), Egypt, 13 August AD 219; CBFIR 764 (CIL 8. 2751) Lambaesis, around AD 217; CBFIR 766 (E 1967. 575) Lambaesis, AD 176; CBFIR 770 (CIL 8. 2558; AE 1920. 12; AE 1967. 568) Lambaesis, AD 197; CBFIR 771 (CIL 8. 18276) Lambaesis, date unknown; CBFIR 774 (AE 1917/18. 76) Lambaesis, AD 244-249.
(6) Texts with associative titulature: CBFIR 642, 722, and 738; texts without associative titulature: CBFIR 650, an altar to Diana pro salute M(arci) Catoni(i) Vindicis leg(ati) Aug(usti) pr(o) pr(aetore). For this dating of his governorship, see Thomason, 137 no. 96. A. Stein, Die Legaten von Moesien, 79, places him soon after 170. J. Fitz, Die Laufbahn der Statthalter in der roemischen Provinz Moesia Inferior, 21-23, places his consulship in AD 177 or 178 and his governorship either in 174-175 or 180-182.
(7) Texts with associative titulature: CBFIR 685 and 768; texts without associative titulature: CBFIR 118, 686 and 687 (both of the latter to praesidial procurators described as 'ton kratiston epitropon').
(8) Texts with associative titulature: CBFIR 772; texts without associative titulature: CBFIR 774, set up by a beneficiarius domicurator to C. Pomponius Magnus, leg(ato) Aug(ustorum) pr(o) pr(aetore) c(larissimo) v(iro) consuli patrono inconp[ar]abili; BFIR 686, which concludes with the dedication 'ton heautou patrona'; CBFIR 687 likewise concludes with the dedication 'ton heautou patrona', to which it adds a suggestive 'dia panta'.
(10) Breeze, 275-276. Breeze observes that promotion beyond beneficiarius consularis was hindered by the fact that, while there were numerous beneficiarius consularis billets, there were very few billets at higher positions on the legionary and administraive cursus. See his presentation of the legionary promotion scheme (chart, 268; text, 269), which suffices to demonstrate, if nothing else, that career advancement was a very complex business in the army and administration of the Principate. Ott discusss the place of service as a beneficiarius in the legionary promotion scheme on pp. 44-48 and schematizes his data in appendices on pp. 170-172 and 178-179. Le Bohec presents a chart of the legionary promotional scheme on pp. 56-57. This chart is strongly based on that of Breeze.
(12) I have not counted CBFIR 766 (AE 1967.575), from Lambaesis, AD 176, as an example of associative titulature, nor have I included CBFIR 552 (CIL 3. 876), from Potaissa in Dacia, AD 200-201. For an explanation, see note 4 supra.
(14) None of the beneficiarii on inscriptions from Numidia in the period 238-253 provides a legionary or provincial affiliation. It is conceivable, though at this point unprovable, that Numidian beneficiarii during these years were recruited from the cohors urbana at Carthage. For an analysis of the assignment of beneficiarii consularis outside the provinces in which their parent legions were stationed, at least in the Danube region, see my 'The Recruitment and Assignment of Beneficiarii Consularis in th Danube Provinces', The Ancient World 28 (forthcoming 1997).
(20) Breeze suggests that the normal path of advancement from beneficiarius consularis to cornicularius lay though intermediate service as a commentariensis (chart, 268; text, 269), but as noted previously (fn. 10 above), it is evident that the career sysem was extremely complex and highly variable. Cf. Ott, 44-48, 170-172, and 178-179; Le Bohec, 56-57. For a challenge to orthodox views on the prospects which beneficiarii consularis enjoyed for promotion to the centurionate, see Speidel, ZPE 91 (1992), 29- 232.
(22) CBFIR 687 (IGRR 3. 181, SEG 27. 846). Dedicated to the praesidial procurator C. Claudius Firmus, who governed Galatia in the 250s or early 260s: Thomasson, 358 no. 116 and 359 no. 122; Pflaum, II no. 277. In fact, the earliest extant career sequencefor a gubernatorial beneficiarius contains the beneficiarius-cornicularius promotion sequence: the career of M. Carantius Macrinus, found on his funeral monument at Genava in Narbonensis (CBFIR 39 [CIL 12. 2602]). Macrinus served in Lugdunensis, was appointed beneficiarius in AD 79, and was promoted to cornicularius in 83.
Robert L. Dise, Jr.
COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright remains with authors, but due reference should be made to this journal if any part of the above is later published elsewhere. Electronic Antiquity Vol. 4 Issue 1 - August 1997
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington