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date: 09 December 2022

agentes in rebuslocked

agentes in rebuslocked

  • Arnold Hugh Martin Jones
  •  and R. S. O. Tomlin


The detested frumentarii (see postal service) were abolished by *Diocletian, but were soon replaced by ‘agents’ perhaps purposely ill-defined, who likewise served as couriers between the court (comitatus) and the provinces. They were civilians, but they enrolled as troopers and rose by seniority through the same grades as non-commissioned soldiers. As they became more senior, they served as curiosi supervising the public post, and finally as chiefs of staff (principes) to the praetorian prefects, urban perfects (see praefectus praetorio; praefectus urbi), proconsuls, *vicarii, and eastern duces (see dux). Their duties included making reports on the provinces, and they gained a reputation as secret police (Aur. Vict. Caes. 39. 44) and for extorting illicit tips (Lib., Or. 14. 14), but their real role was to be the trusted emissaries of the central government. Ponticianus, a pious Christian instrumental in the conversion of St *Augustine, was an agens in rebus; Augustine's friend and fellow-townsman Evodius was another.


  • Late Antiquity

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