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date: 29 November 2020


  • James Rives


Augustales, members of a religious and social institution common in the cities of the western Roman empire. There are numerous variations on the title, which taken together appear in some 2,500 inscriptions. The two most common are Augustalis and sevir Augustalis. These represent two separate organizations, rarely found in the same town but characterized by the same general features; the simple title of sevir, on the other hand, usually represents a very different institution. The vast majority of Augustales were *freedmen (85–95% of those attested in inscriptions), as well as Trimalchio and his friends, the only Augustales depicted in literature (Petron. Sat. 30, etc. ). They often acted as benefactors (see euergetism), funding public entertainments and building-projects as well as paying entry fees. In return, they enjoyed the prestige of their office, which functioned almost as a magistracy. Augustales were entitled to honorific insignia and were often selected by the town councillors. As their title indicates, their formal responsibilities may have centred on the imperial cult (see ruler-cult), in the context of which they probably organized sacrifices and games.

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