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Article

Babatha  

Kimberley Czajkowski

Babatha was a Jewish woman who lived in the province of Roman Arabia in the first half of the 2nd century ce. Her documents were found wrapped up in a leather purse in the Cave of Letters, near the Dead Sea. Babatha’s archive is multilingual and dates from before and after the annexation of the region in 106 ce. It consists of legal and administrative documents, including marriage contracts, deeds of gift, land registrations, and two cases of litigation that were aimed at the court of the Roman governor. The archive therefore sheds light on various aspects of the life of one particular Jewish family in this era, particularly on everyday legal transactions in the newly annexed province and “on the ground” reactions of imperial inhabitants to the new ruling power.Babatha was a Jewish woman who lived in the province of Roman Arabia in the first half of the .

Article

Constitutio Antoniniana  

Myles Lavan

An enactment (probably an edict) of Caracalla dating to 212 or early 213 that granted Roman citizenship to all or almost all free inhabitants of the empire who did not already have it. It is so called because constitutio is the technical term for an imperial decision and Caracalla’s name was M. Aurelius Severus Antoninus.

Both Cassius Dio (78[77].9.5) and Ulpian ( Dig. 1.5.17) record that Caracalla granted citizenship to everyone in the Roman empire. Several later texts misattribute the act to emperors of better repute. The constitution itself may survive in Greek translation as the badly damaged first text on a famous papyrus held at the University of Giessen ( PGiss. 40). Following several decades of controversy, the identification is now widely accepted, though there remain several phrases in the papyrus that are hard to reconcile with this hypothesis. In any case, the lacunose text is so fraught with interpretive difficulties that it can provide little independent information about Caracalla’s grant.

Article

amphorae, Roman  

J. Theodore Peña

Amphorae were large ceramic jars employed in the Roman world for the packaging and transport of a limited set of liquid and semi-liquid foodstuffs—chiefly wine, olive oil, and various kinds of fish preserves and processed fish products—and certain other substances. They were manufactured in a large number of distinct shapes—generally referred to as classes—linked to specific regions and employed for specific kinds of contents. For this reason amphorae are treated by scholars as proxy markers for the distribution of these categories of foodstuffs and, on account of their abundance and ubiquity in the archaeological record, they constitute one of the most important forms of material evidence for economic activity in the Roman world from the 3rd century bce down to the end of antiquity.We possess a wide range of evidence relating to amphorae. The remains of workshops in which amphorae were manufactured have been identified in many parts of the Roman world, and many of these have been subject to surface investigations and/or excavation. Amphorae occur in abundance on archaeological sites in most parts of the Roman world, most often in fragmentary condition, though in some cases more or less intact. These include amphora production workshops, sites relating to their filling or distribution (food processing/packaging facilities, .

Article

pavements, Roman  

Irene Bragantini

Pavements in the Roman world were made with a wide range of techniques and materials: virtually every material capable of creating a resistant, hard surface could be used. We have examples of pebbles, stones, layers of clay, beaten earth, concrete (with potsherds, stone chips, or tesserae scattered or arranged to compose various designs), bricks, mosaic (black-and-white or polychrome), and opus sectile pavements (limestone or marble slabs arranged to compose designs exploiting the different colours).

Simpler pavements could be covered by perishable material such as mats (in daily use), or textiles (used on special occasions), which have mostly disappeared.

Given its thermal properties and its ready availability, timber was also used, probably not only for functional use. Pliny (HN XIII 29) states that the bizarre plays of colour of rare woods were highly appreciated for use in furniture and wall facings; we might therefore hypothesize that a similar taste led elite patrons to have floors made of rare or inlaid woods.

Article

Gallic Wars  

Kate Gilliver

Gallic Wars is the term given to the campaigns by which Julius Caesar brought large parts of Gaul under direct Roman control (58–51bce). The survival of Caesar’s own account of this conquest (his Commentaries) makes us uniquely well-informed about these campaigns and provides us with one of the most detailed eyewitness accounts of large-scale campaigning from the ancient world. However, the work must be read with a highly critical eye as the year-by-year narrative of his campaigns was produced for political capital and to advertise his achievements to a wide audience. Inevitably they present a positive spin on events.1 Other authors, including Cicero, Plutarch, Arrian, and Cassius Dio, provide us with more critical perspectives on the conquests and how they were received in Rome. Caesar’s presentation of Gauls and Germans was determined by deep-rooted cultural prejudices, as was his treatment of them politically and militarily. The campaigns in Gaul by Caesar should be seen in the context of centuries of sometimes violent relations between Rome and her Gallic and Germanic neighbours as Rome gradually encroached north of the Alps.

Article

gladiators, combatants at games  

Garrett G. Fagan

Gladiators were armed combatants who performed in the arena during Roman games called munera. They could be slaves, freeborn, or freedmen (ex-slaves). Slave gladiators were usually trained professionals based in a training school (ludus) run by a manager (lanista). Freeborn or freed gladiators were volunteers who fought under contract to a manager (such fighters were termed auctorati). There were different styles of armaments, carefully considered to pitch advantage against disadvantage. Thus the net-man (retiarius) was largely unprotected but carried a net and a trident with a long reach, whereas his opponent (secutor) carried a short sword but was more heavily armored and had a large shield. Evidence from gladiatorial graveyards and gravestones confirms the violent, often lethal nature of the contests, though a win could be achieved without a kill and the fighters clearly took pride in their skills and status with their peers and their fans. Despite their popularity, gladiators were officially regarded as infames (people of bad reputation) and ranked alongside or below actors, prostitutes, pimps, and bankrupts as social and moral outcasts.

Article

Rufinus (3), grammarian, 5th century CE  

Rolando Ferri

Rufinus is known only for a work transmitted by the manuscripts as A commentary on the metres of Terence (Commentarium in metra Terentiana), which includes a section clearly taken from a different treatise and reconstructed with the title On the composition and rhythms of the orators (De compositione et de numeris oratorum). In the two sections, Rufinus uses different styles of address, identifying himself as u. d. (uir deuotus, ‘a devout man’) in the former work and as u. c. (uir clarissimus, ‘a right honourable man’) in the latter, perhaps as a result of an intervening change in his status. The incipit also gives Rufinus the adjective Antiochensis, ‘of Antiochia’, thus identifying him as a Latin teacher active in the Greek East.1 The inclusion of Servius among his authorities provides a terminus post at the end of the 4th century, while the presence of Rufinus as a source in Priscian places him no later than the 5th century.

Article

landscapes, Roman  

Kim Bowes

Roman landscapes exhibited enormous diversity, from the rolling hills of the Mediterranean heartland, to Nile marshlands, Apennine mountain pastures, and African pre-deserts. New work on this diversity has demonstrated the intensive methods with which they were managed for agriculture and artisanal output, as well as their highly periodized histories. While much debate in the study of these landscapes has revolved around ancient climate change, more apparent is robust human intervention, which often reached a peak during the Roman period. Romans thought deeply about landscapes, and their literature and religious rituals used landscape to frame moral, religious, and political values.

Unlike the landscapes of the Greek city states, those encompassed by the Roman empire at its height were diverse in the extreme. Among the empire’s territories were the pre-desert regions of Tripolitania and the Syrian frontier, the mountain pastures of the Apennines, and the marshes of the Egyptian oases, not to mention the rolling limestone landscapes of the Mediterranean heartland. Even within smaller slices of these territories (and even within tiny micro-regions), new work has revealed the remarkable diversity of vegetation, sunlight, rainfall, and topography. It is the plurality of these landscapes that gave Romans material for a rich tradition of literary and religious expression as well as a vast and intensive apparatus for economic exploitation.

Article

lex Voconia  

Ville Vuolanto

The lex Voconia is a plebiscitum, named after the people’s tribune Q. Voconius Saxa, who proposed the bill before the concilium plebis (see comitia) in 169bce. It provides that testators of the first census class (that is those with a minimum wealth of 100,000 asses) were not allowed to institute a woman as a testamentary heir. Furthermore, the law states that the value of a legacy or donatio mortis causa could not exceed the part of the inheritance left to the heir or heirs (Gai. Inst. 2.274 and 2.226; Dio Cass.56.10; Cic. Verr. 1.43). It seems likely that this latter provision was not as restrictive as the former and that it therefore applied to all levels of the society irrespective of their wealth.There is no persuasive evidence that the law originally would have included other provisions. While the 3rd-centuryPauli Sententiae (4.8.20) excludes female relatives more remote than sisters from intestate succession among the agnates and connects this exclusion to the lex Voconia, it cannot be determined whether this was one of these other provisions.

Article

optimates, populares  

Alexander Yakobson

Optimates and populares are political terms from late-Republican sources referring to a political divide between supporters of the senatorial authority and champions of popular liberty and popular demands. The precise meaning of these terms and the nature of the divide to which they refer have long been disputed among scholars. Though the sources sometimes speak of partes in this context, it is obvious that the Republic had no “senatorial party” or “popular party” in anything like the modern sense of the term. Based on this, and on the tendency to describe Republican politics as wholly dominated by personal and family connections and rivalries within the ruling class, the significance of the political divide in question has often been dismissed or minimized. However, the sources repeatedly indicate that this divide could, at least on occasion, play an important role in public affairs—alongside other factors including personal ties, family alliances, and oligarchic cliques. One of the consequences of the fact that the labels optimates and populares did not signify a formalized affiliation was that their usage was highly flexible, often inconsistent, and certainly open to manipulation. Pro-senatorial politicians might claim, in public, to be “true friends of the people (populares),” unlike their allegedly demagogic anti-senatorial opponents. But terms that are meaningless or insignificant to the wider public are of little use to political manipulators—who have in any case no guarantee, in a competitive political system, that their manipulation, rather than a rival one, will always carry the day. As long as Republican politics lasted, the optimate/popular divide appears to have been a significant feature. Its relative importance, and specific import, must have varied greatly from case to case, and should in every case be assessed individually.

Article

Ennius, Quintus, epic and dramatic poet, 239–169 BCE  

Gesine Manuwald

Ennius was the most prolific poet in the early period of Latin literature and is particularly known for his epic and his dramas. He composed plays for public festivals down to the year of his death, a major narrative epic, a large amount of non-dramatic verse, and at least one work in prose. While Ennius’ entire output only survives in fragments, his life and writings are better documented than those of most other early Republican writers, which is partly the result and an indication of his esteem among the Romans.

Ennius was born in 239bce (Cic. Brut. 72; Tusc. 1.3; Gell. NA 17.21.43; Hieron. Ab Abr. 1777 [p. 133a Helm]) in the Calabrian town of Rudiae (Cic. Arch. 22; Hor. Carm. 4.8.20 with Schol. ad loc.; Strab. 6.3.5 [p. 281 C.]; Ov. Ars am. 3.409–410; Mela 2.66) and claimed descent from the legendary king Messapus (Serv. ad Verg. Aen.

Article

wealth, Roman attitudes towards  

Gloria Vivenza and Neville Morley

Roman attitudes to wealth were complex and sometimes ambivalent. Wealth was an essential basis for political and social life, but also a topic of extensive debate, which focused on the proper uses of wealth and the proper ways of attaining it. These moral, philosophical, and literary debates had practical implications for how the Romans spent their wealth and how they acquired it.Wealth was a central theme in Roman politics and society. The citizen body was divided between different census classes on the basis of property holding, and access to political office and status depended on a formal assessment of personal wealth.1 Furthermore, winning election to office required considerable resources. Neither a long family tradition of public service nor individual political genius was enough, and Julius Caesar’s debt problems, partly due to his political campaigns, are well known. Conversely, a homo novus like Cicero, with no political tradition in his family, could engage in politics if he had .

Article

British Latin  

Benjamin Fortson

The Latin spoken in the British Isles during and shortly after the Roman occupation (43–410ce). It left numerous traces in loanwords into British Celtic (spoken by the indigenous Celtic population of England and ancestral to Welsh, Cornish, and Breton) and early Anglo-Saxon (Old English). It is probable that British Latin over time developed differently from the Latin spoken on the Continent, but scholars do not agree on what its distinctive features were. This is in spite of the dramatic discoveries starting in the late 20th century (e.g., the Vindolanda tablets) that have greatly augmented the documentation of British Latin. Unlike on the Continent, Latin in Britain did not live on past the Roman occupation, and no Romance language grew out of it; the reasons for this have also been the subject of debate.

Article

lex (Rubria) de Gallia Cisalpina  

Georgy Kantor

The lex de Gallia Cisalpina is the usual modern title given to the fragment of a Roman statute on a bronze tablet found at the ancient town of Veleia in 1760, the surviving part of which deals with provisions for and restrictions on local jurisdiction in Cisalpine Gaul (CIL XI 1146; I2 592; FIRA I 19; Roman Statutes, no. 28).1 An additional small fragment found at Veleia (CIL XI 1144; I2 601, included in the Roman Statutes edition) is usually associated with it, and it remains a matter of debate whether the so-called fragmentum Atestinum (CIL I2 600; Roman Statutes, no. 16) represents a copy of a different part of the same law.2 The main tablet from Veleia is numbered IV and contains chapters 19–23 of the law. The law of the Veleia tablet is usually, though not entirely securely, associated with the otherwise unattested tribunician lex Rubria, which is twice mentioned in the sample formulae for local trials included in it (col.

Article

senatus consultum Tertullianum  

Kimberley Czajkowski

The senatus consultum Tertullianum was a senatorial decree of the Hadrianic era that placed certain mothers in the line of succession to the estates of their intestate children, thereby improving their position. It is typically discussed alongside the sc Orfitianum in the context of the gradual shift from agnatic to cognatic ties in succession law.The senatus consultum Tertullianum was a senatorial decree of the Hadrianic era that placed certain mothers in the line of succession to the estates of their intestate children (see children in Roman law).1 Until this point, women who were married sine manu, and therefore did not move into the legal control of their husband, had no right of succession to their children’s estates under the ius civile. It should be noted, however, that in the praetorian order of intestate succession, which, in Papinius’ words, aimed to “support, supplement, and correct” the ius civile.

Article

senatus consultum Orfitianum  

Kimberley Czajkowski

The Senatus Consultum Orfitianum was a senatorial decree enacted under Marcus Aurelius in 178 ce that gave children priority over other heirs in inheriting from an intestate mother. Together with the sc Tertullianum, it is typically discussed in the context of the gradual shift from agnatic to cognatic ties in succession law.The Senatus Consultum Orfitianum is a senatorial decree enacted under Marcus Aurelius in 178ce that gave children priority over other heirs in inheriting from an intestate mother (Ulpian, Reg. 26.7). The jurists Gaius and Paul wrote monographs on the decree, and the lengthy comments of Ulpian in the twelfth book of ad Sabinum are also preserved in the Digest (D.38.17.1).1The senatus consultum (sc) should be understood in the broader context of Roman intestate succession. A dual system gradually developed whereby the praetor, in Papinius’ words, aimed to “support, supplement, and correct” the order of succession in the .

Article

Oplontis  

Michael Thomas

Ancient Oplontis was a seaside area, located approximately five kilometers to the west of Pompeii. The name Oplontis appears in only one source, the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 12th-century copy of a Roman map. From that map, archaeologists have argued that ancient Oplontis lies under the modern town of Torre Annunziata. In the area of Torre Annunziata known as Le Mascatelle, excavations have revealed two major sites, Oplontis A and B. Although knowledge of the area dates back to the late 16th century, when the track of the Sarno Canal cut through the southern part of Oplontis Villa A, modern excavation at the villa did not begin until 1964. Work at Oplontis B began in 1974 when construction on a new school discovered evidence of the ancient structure. Though near to each other, the two sites represent very different buildings. Oplontis A was a luxury villa perched on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples with sophisticated architecture, spectacular wall painting, sculptures, manicured gardens, and a sixty-meter swimming pool. Oplontis B was a large commercial building that was used for the exportation of wine.

Article

Livius Andronicus, Lucius, c. 280/270–200 BCE  

Thomas Biggs, Gesine Manuwald, and H. D. Jocelyn

Lucius Livius Andronicus (c. 280/70–200 bce) was a Latin author of probable Greek origin who is credited with initiating the tradition of scripted dramatic performance at Rome and composing the first epic poem in Latin. Andronicus’s life appears to have spanned a large part of the 3rd century bce; the only firmly transmitted date concerns the performance of a hymn to Juno for which he was commissioned during the Second Punic War (207 bce). He is often linked to the year 240 bce, a widely accepted but controversial date for his first staging of Latin plays during the Ludi Romani (“Roman Games”). His translation of the Odyssey was influential, although its initial audience and level of circulation are debated. His works survive exclusively in fragments. Andronicus’s skeletal ancient biography suggests his status as a formerly enslaved person who was trafficked to Rome from Magna Graecia in the aftermath of war. Latin literature’s first author was thus a forcibly displaced migrant for whom Latin was a second or third language. This account may not be wholly accurate, but it aligns with other near-contemporary authorial biographies and various attested trends in Roman sociopolitical and cultural history during the increasingly mobile Middle Republic.

Article

client kings  

Julia Wilker

“Client kings” is the modern English term commonly used to describe monarchs who were bound to Rome in an asymmetrical relationship and/or unequal alliance and whose rule depended on Rome’s continued approval. Client rulers enjoyed relative freedom in internal affairs but were strictly limited in all matters of foreign policy. Client kingdoms and principalities were often situated on the periphery of the Roman empire. Most dependent rulers originated from their own realms and in many cases based their legitimacy on traditional dynastic claims. Roman interference increased in the 1st century bce; from the time of Augustus on, client kingdoms were conceptually considered parts of the empire. Borders were redrawn more frequently, and rulers were appointed, reassigned, and deposed more according to imperial interests than local custom. In turn, client kings and their dynasties increasingly became part of the emerging imperial elite. Despite a significant decline in their numbers towards the end of the 1st century ce, client kingship as an instrument of Roman hegemonic control did not cease to exist until late antiquity.

Article

Kalends of January  

Lucy Grig

The Kalends of January was a festival that involved both official and private celebrations and rituals; its durability as a new year festival into Late Antiquity and beyond is striking.

January 1 was the beginning of the consular year (from the mid-2nd century onwards, codified in the reform of the calendar under Julius Caesar),1 and marked by the public consultation of the auguries and the procession of the new consuls to the Capitol for the customary vows and sacrifices.2 During the imperial period vows of loyalty to the emperor were made by the senate,3 the army,4 and provincials on this date.5 As part of the extension of the period of Kalends celebration, the making of yearly vota publica, originally on January 1, became fixed on January 3.6 Strenae (“good luck presents”) were given both to and by the emperor, as well as being shared by individuals more broadly.