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Article

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

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

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. Roman sources date the first gladiatorial performances in the city to 264 bce, and gladiators continued to perform into the 5th century ce, when financial and pragmatic concerns (rather than moral ones) brought the shows to an end. Modern scholars theorize a variety of reasons for the popularity of gladiatorial shows among the Romans and the role gladiators played in Roman culture.

Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason M. Schlude

Founded and ruled by the Arsacid royal family, the Parthian empire (c. 250 bce–227 ce) was the native Iranian empire that filled the power vacuum in the Middle East in the midst of Seleucid decline. Arsacid interaction with the Roman empire began in the mid-90s bce, eventually established the Euphrates river as a shared border, and was peaceful in nature till 54 bce. In that year, the first of four cycles of Parthian-Roman wars began. Since the Romans carried out the initial large-scale mobilization of troops that introduced most of these wars, it is appropriate to associate these four cycles with the various Romans who coordinated the Roman military efforts: (a) Crassus to Antony (54–30 bce); (b) Nero (57–63 ce); (c) Trajan (114–117 ce); and (d) Lucius Verus to Macrinus (161–217 ce). The fundamental causes for these conflicts were Roman imperialism, which was well ingrained by the 1st century bce, and Parthian imperialism, which accelerated in the 2nd century bce, probably accompanied by the Arsacids’ attempts to present themselves as successors to the Achaemenid dynasty.

Article

Ville Vuolanto

In the Roman world, the age limits connected to children were often flexible. Even in the case of legal liability, the ages were not rigid. In individual cases, children’s capacity to understand right and wrong, criminality, and responsibility were to be taken into account—at least in theory.1 Generally, children until the age of seven were referred to as infantes, until puberty (or, in later legislation, until the age of twelve for girls and fourteen for boys) as impuberes, and those between the puberty and the age of twenty-five (with the full legal capacity) more generally as (minores).Even if children and, more broadly, minores feature in the Roman law already from the Twelve Tables onwards, they did not constitute a category of their own in Roman legislative thinking. Thus, information on children in Roman law is scattered throughout the whole corpus of legal literature.A child is here defined as an individual below the age of full legal capacity, not primarily as a blood relationship to one’s parents. The focus here is on matters pertaining to the rights and status of the children themselves as underaged persons. The main themes are children’s legal incapacity in economic matters, guardianship, paternal and parental power over the person of the child (patria potestas and personal status; exposure, killing and selling of children) and the obligations between parents and children.

Article

Ville Vuolanto

The lex Oppia, decreed in 216 bce, regulated the use of wealth by the Roman women. There are different modern interpretative approaches to the law, dealing with its original contents and purpose (as a sumptuary law or as a wartime emergency measure), its abrogation in 195 bce with Cato the Elder’s speech and women’s demonstrations, and its uses in Livy and the debates in Rome in the late 1st century bce.The lex Oppia was a plebiscitum decreed after a proposal by the people’s tribune Gaius Oppius in 215bce; it was repealed in 195bce. According to Livy, it provided that no woman should have (habere) more than one half an ounce (semiuncia, c. 14 grams) of gold, wear luxuriously coloured (versicolor) clothing, or ride in a carriage (iunctum vehiculum) in Rome, in any town, or within a mile of the settlement in question, except in the performance of public religious rites (.

Article

Luca Graverini

Any attempt at defining popular literature with some precision is fraught with difficulties. A flexible and pragmatic approach is the most rewarding, since it allows one to look at the subject from a few different viewpoints: “popular” can be understood as referring to the Roman people as a whole, or only to its lower social strata; a text can be defined as popular because it has been composed in a popular milieu, and/or because it addresses a popular audience. A mode of reception of literature can also be labelled “popular.” The traditional Roman elite only conceived literature as something useful, which could and should contribute to the instruction of its readers and to the well-being of the State. However, gradually a different attitude emerged: one that appreciated literature, and especially narrative, mostly or even only for its pleasurable and escapist qualities, sometimes even without any concern for its cultural sophistication. This rather loose definition allows us to discern a popular streak in many literary forms. For example, it is often surmised that ancient drama addressed the Roman people as a whole, without distinction of social class or cultural level. Other forms of theatre, such as Atellanae, mime, and pantomime, had a more farcical nature and were especially favoured by a less sophisticated public, but at least on some occasions they made some demands on the education of their audiences and contributed to the diffusion of traditional Roman culture. Non-elite social classes had literary activities of their own, especially during the Empire, when literacy increased. These texts are extant especially thanks to epigraphical sources, and are often written in an unsophisticated and colloquial language. Narrative in its various forms could address very different audiences, but the possibility of reading a good tale for entertainment more than for instruction was always open, for sophisticated novels such as Apuleius’s Metamorphoses as well as for simpler tales and collections of mirabilia. Edifying Christian narratives were programmatically written in order to be understandable to and appreciated by a large and not necessarily cultured public, whose faith they intended to strengthen and promote. Playful poetry and didactic literature also had a space among midlevel literary activities.

Article

Marquis Berrey

Methodists were a self-identified medical sect of the 1st century bce, Imperial period, and late antiquity who shared a common method of observation and causal inference about the practice of medicine. Methodists took their name from the “method” (Gk. methodos), an observable path or evidence-based medicine which the physician undertook to gain secure therapeutic knowledge. The path was supposed to reveal the general similarity between patients’ ostensibly differing conditions. Three similarities, or “commonalities,” as they were called, were possible: fluid, constricted, or a mixture of the two. Opponents pilloried Methodists for the loose logic of their methodological revolution and socially disruptive claims to teach medicine within six months. Primarily a Roman phenomenon, the popularity of Methodism seems to have been due to a ready supply of practitioners and its focus on certain, fast therapy. Methodists wrote chiefly on internal medicine, surgery, and medical history.Methodists (Gk. methodikoi, Lat. methodici.

Article

From Cahokia to Newport, from Santa Fe to Chicago, cities have long exerted an important influence over the development of American religion; in turn, religion has shaped the life of America’s cities. Early visions of a New Jerusalem quickly gave way to a crowded spiritual marketplace full of faiths competing for the attention of a heterogeneous mass of urban consumers, although the dream of an idealized spiritual city never completely disappeared. Pluralism fostered toleration and freedom of religious choice, but also catalyzed competition and antagonism, sometimes resulting in violence. Struggles over political authority between established and dissenting churches gave way after the American Revolution to a contest over the right to exert moral authority through reform. Secularization, the companion of modernization and urbanization, did not toll the death knell for urban religion, but instead, provided the materials with which the religious engaged the city. Negative discursive constructions of the city proffered by a handful of religious reformers have long cast a shadow over the actual urban experience of most men and women. Historians continue to uncover the rich and innovative ways in which urban religion enabled individuals to understand, navigate, and contribute to the city around them.

Article

Philip Rousseau

The Latin word paganus means literally “one who inhabits a *pagus”: see Festus, 247Lindsay, and *Servius's comment on *Virgil's phrase pagos et compita circum (G. 2. 382). By imperial times (e.g. Tac.Hist. 3. 24. 3, Plin.Ep. 10. 86b), the term was applied to one who stayed at home or lived a civilian life. Christian reference implied one who was not a miles Christi (hence fides pagana and paganus fidelis in Tert. De corona 11. 4 f. and numerous examples thereafter). Paganismus was first used in the 4th century by Marius Victorinus (Ep. ad Galatios 2. 4. 9) and *Augustine (Div. quaest. 83. 83). Traditional usage nevertheless persisted (Prudent.Cath. 11. 87, Macrob.Sat. 1. 16. 6).Both expressions, in the Christian era, may have been colloquial (see Cod. Theod. 16. 5. 46 of 409ce and AugustineEp.