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Making the Difference.

Social Positioning of *augustales

in Nmes and Narbonne

Lindsey VANDEVOORDE, Ph.D. Fellowship of the Research Foundation Flanders

(FWO), Department of History, Ghent University, Belgium

Mots-clefs : collegia ; corpora ; associations ; and literary sources to be rejected as irrelevant.

Gaule Narbonnaise ; Nmes ; augustales ; culte One well-known element of municipal social
imperial ; statut social ; ornamenta ; affranchis. formations, the *augustales 3, lends itself perfectly
to the analysis of social positioning among
Keywords : collegia ; corpora ; associations ; Gallia what Mouritsens dense undergrowth of civic
Narbonensis ; Nmes ; augustales ; imperial cult ; associations which existed in the Roman town
social status ; ornamenta ; freedmen. and often blurred the line between social, cultic,
and civic functions 4, what Abramenko insisted
On the one hand, Romans paid great attention on labelling as the munizipale Mittelschicht 5.
to the meticulous description of their exact *augustales were in every way the odd duck of
social position. Inscriptions invoke a plethora of municipal life. Those holding the *Augustalitas,
specialised professions, magistracies, functions seem to have taken up a hybrid position in
in private collegia and privileges or honours local Roman society. Be it the magistrates in
attained, which allowed historical agents office, those holding the title as an honorary
to describe and affirm their achieved social token or the former magistrates convening
status as minutely as possible. On the other in associations, they are in between worlds, a
hand, the present-day picture of the Roman group in social limbo: an elite formation, part
social hierarchy remains very basic. A simple of a servile world, though largely consisting of
dichotomy of higher and lower strata is mostly Roman and Latin citizens bearing the tria nomina.
used to emphasize extreme social inequality As such, they seem to be an excellent test case
(no matter whether these were indicated as to try and refine or diversify the current view on
honestiores, potentiores, honesta, or famosi and broad, hierarchically ordered social categories.
their lowly counterparts).
Whereas the higher class is minutely I - Scholarship and Gaps
subdivided into more than a dozen distinctive
status categories (ranging from ordinary Although the first scholarly discussion of the
decuriones to senators with consular rank) 1, the *augustales dates back to 1844, 6 after almost two
lower stratum (over 95% of the population) 2 centuries of excellent research, the difficulty
was lumped together according to scholarly to get a grip on the phenomenon of the
presuppositions in an undifferentiated mass. *Augustalitas remains. Academic discussion
Our traditional view of Roman society thus has centred on many different aspects of the
suffers from an inherent paradox. The Roman phenomenon. In the first place the genesis of
fixation on sub-elite social positioning and the phenomenon (the conditions for the rise and
stratification is too prominent in epigraphical spread), the potential republican predecessors, 7

Gag 1971, p. 59-119 and 153-178 ; Langhammer 1973, p. 33-40.
Alfldy calculated the number of senators, equites and decuriones without equestrian status did not exceed two hundred
thousand adult males. Even with their wives and children, they amount to no more than one per cent of the total population of
the Empire (Alfldy 1975, p. 130). Also MacMullen had reached a similar conclusion. (MacMullen 1974, p. 90).
Duthoy used the generic *Augustales (with an asterisk) to refer to Augustales, seviri Augustales, magistri Augustales or one of
the forty other variants. Seviri!"#$#!%#&'!()'!*#+,)-#!'.#/!.,0!,!1),%2','23#%/!024#$#5'!-',')-6!7.#5!$#&#$$258!'(!'.#!($8,52-,'2(5!
of Augustales itself, the asterisk was omitted. See Duthoy 1978, p. 1254.
Mouritsen 2006, p. 242-243.
Abramenko 1993.
Egger 1844, p. 1-59. Some inscriptions were already described in the 17th century by Noris (1681), in the 18th century by
9($+#%%2! :;<=>?! ,50! 25! '.#! @$-'! .,%&! (&! '.#! ;A'.! +#5')$/! */! B$#%%2)-! ,50! C#5D#5! :;=E=?F! G($8.#-2! :;=HE?! ,50! I%0252! :;=J;?6!
antiquarian interest.

whether it was a spontaneous development or subject emphasises the collegial titles that
a top-down imperial initiative, and the reasons occur in inscriptions 9, according to Duthoy
for its disappearance. derived from the dignitatis gradus of professional
Especially the problematic terminology collegia 10. An archetypical collegial hierarchy
(sevir, sevir Augustalis, Augustalis, magister would consist of quinquennalicii, aediles,
Augustalis and some forty variants found in the quaestores, and curatores, supported by scribae or
Western Roman Empire), and the evolution viatores; the regular members of the association
of and interaction between the office and the were known as plebs or populus. I have discussed
association of *augustales has received a lot of elsewhere that a thorough evaluation of the
scholarly attention. Also their raison dtre range of hierarchies and titles given in the alba
was a matter of constant debate. Originally, the at Liternum and the fasti at Ostia demonstrates
*augustales were evaluated primarily as a part that some deviation from this pattern occur 11.
of the imperial cult, largely because of the title In this short paper, I intend to evaluate the
they bore, which seems to suggest a link with importance of privileges and honours accorded
the first emperor Augustus. Later on a shift to individual *augustales, collegiate titles.
towards a more secularised characterization of Rather than focussing on the technicalities
the group can be seen, stressing their economic of terminology, I want to detect what certain
importance. A smaller number of researchers honours or titles found in their personal
reviewed buildings (phetrium, schola) or shrines epigraphic attestations meant for the individual
(aedes) erected by the association of *augustales. *Augustalis under review. How was his part of his
As to the position of the *augustales (plural!) personal struggle for social affirmation? Which
in society, research has focused on the social objectives did he have i.e. which paths were
recruitment and the stigma of slavery, how open to him? Can this lead to a more diversified
they formed a second ordo between the view on this strange status group, and give us
city council and the plebs, their interaction some (rough) indications of a hierarchy i.e.
with the decuriones and other social groups or something more than the official alba and fasti
associations, the potential for social mobility Augustalium preserved in Liternum, Ostia, and
and civic integration, and the local development Trebula Suffenas can offer?
of the institution. In short, which factors actually made a social
Research is scanty, however, on the subject of the difference for those who were graced with the
impact of the *Augustalitas on the social position *Augustalitas?
of the individual *Augustalis, or on the social I touch upon two elements that indicate forms
perception of his position vis--vis his fellow of differentiation among the *augustales : (1) the
*augustales. The latter implies that I believe the importance of accumulation of certain honours
stratum of municipal *augustales was not or positions by *augustales, and the relevance of
homogeneous at all, but rather fragmented and attesting a professional title in particular, and
stratified in a more far-reaching way than the (2) a number of the privileges accorded to them
official alba Augustalium preserved in Liternum (by the city council). In short, I want to trace
suggest 8. Although scholars increasingly the ways in which augustales could distinguish
recognize the wider social implications of themselves from their peers. So which honours
collegial stratification, the associations of the or privileges had an influence on the position
*augustales were never fully studied in this of an individual *Augustalis, compared to his
perspective. The limited research done on this fellow *augustales?

Many suggestions were made as to which association or institution served as an example for the organisation of the *Augustales,
or was instrumental for its establishment : Sodales Augustales, Lares, Compitalia and Magistri vicorum, Mercuriales, Apollinares,
Concordiales, Herculanei, Magistri Augustales, Imperial freedmen, Apparitores, Equites Romani and the plebeian sevirate.
AE 2001, 853 and 854. I discuss this elaborately in Vandevoorde 2013 (in print). Much like other associations, lists of magistrates
(fasti) and members of the association (alba) of the *Augustales are preserved, yet research on hierarchies of the (associations
of the) *augustales is virtually non-existent. This paper is an attempt to partially remedy this, based on a limited corpus of
E.g. Mourlot 1895, p. 117-118 ; Von Premerstein 1895, p. 849 and 853 ; Albertini 1973, p. 82 ; Duthoy 1978, p. 1275-1276 and p.
1285 ; Serrano 1988, p. 231 ; De Franciscis 1991, p. 63-66 ; Mollo 1997, p. 272 and 347 ; Tran 2006, p. 148-164, p. 217-225, p. 345.
Duthoy 1978, p. 1285.
Vandevoorde 2013 (in print).

II - The Importance of Epigraphy This implies that the group we generically
call the *augustales was fragmented in
The roughly 2500 preserved inscriptions ways that differed from the collegial and
attesting *augustales originate from all over magisterial positions suggested by the alba
the Western part of the Empire, although the or fasti Augustalium from Liternum, Ostia, or
spread is uneven. The Italian peninsula already Trebula Suffenas 14. Unfortunately, even despite
accounts for about 1500 inscriptions, of which the richness and density of these alba and fasti,
some 550 originate from Latium and Campania, they do not offer far reaching insights into the
region I, making it the most well documented complexity of the hierarchy. The indications are
region of the Empire. Narbonese Gaul and relatively basic, allowing us to sketch a rough
Germania are the most well documented outline of a standardised collegial hierarchy.
provinces with about 200 texts. Baetica, Dacia, In alba and fasti, indications of social status are
Dalmatia and Lugudunensis only count 70 80 reduced to one title or element. When it comes to
inscriptions; Numidia, Pannonia, Moesia and discussing inscriptions attesting local variants
Lusitania only have 40 50. The other provinces of the *augustales, amalgamation should
count even less than 15 inscriptions. Most of the be avoided, and as such Duthoys average
more elaborate studies on the *augustales (e.g. Augustalis 15 must be rejected categorically.
Duthoy and Abramenko) 13 have focussed on
the Italian peninsula. Provincial sources were 1 - Struggle and Competition
often left out, although that for some regions
of the Western Roman Empire there are some Making a difference means that *augustales
studies with a more regional focus. Here, I competed among themselves in their attempt
deliberately opted for a provincial perspective; to attain certain privileges or honours. In
more specifically I focus on two major cities his splendid book on roman social relations,
from the Narbonese part of Roman Gaul ; MacMullen touched upon the concept of
Nmes and Narbonne. As already mentioned, struggle : They competed more keenly still for
Narbonese Gaul is the most well documented the respect of their peers. In that competition,
province in the western empire when it comes affluence obviously constituted one important
to *augustales. By reviewing a limited corpus of factor. It is a factor next to impossible to
just over one hundred inscriptions from these disentangle from many others. 16 He mentions
two Narbonese cities, I want to assess some ways this in passing, halfway through his chapter
in which *augustales could position themselves on class . Wealth and struggle are strongly
socially in local society. interconnected. Moreover, every social relation
Out of the corpus of one hundred and three does not stand on its own, but is embedded in
inscriptions on *augustales from Nmes a social network contained in and encompassed
and Narbonne, seventy-three texts record by a social field. Social space consists of a
individuals who, once they had obtained the network of objective power relations, enforced
*Augustalitas, did not take up any other positions, upon everyone who enters the field. This
were not graced with any further honours, and generates a climate of constant struggle and
did not record a profession or any additional social positioning, of which we find multiple
sign of distinction. Other texts record *augustales evocations in Latin epigraphy. Positions must
who accumulated positions and honours such be defended and conquered; the dominating
as the ornamenta decurionalia, were accorded and the dominated social groups structure the
a plot of public land, or acted as benefactors. field 17.

! S28)$#-! *,-#0! (5! $#-)%'-! 8,'.#$#0! &$(M! T%,)--UR%,*/! KN28$,@V! W,'#5*,5V6! S($! ,5! #O+#%%#5'! -')0/! :'.()8.! 25! 5##0! (&! ,5!
update) on the spread of this association of the Empire, see Duthoy 1976.
Abramenko 1993, p. 387.
AE 2001, 853 and 854.
pass desclave. Cet *augustalis!,!&,2'!&($')5#!#5!#O#$_,5'!)5#!,+'232'\!M#$+,5'2%#!()!,$'2-,5,%#!#'!`()2--,2'F!8$a+#!^!-,!&($')5#F!-#-!
une association professionnelle ou lhonoraient en tant que bienfaiteur de la ville ou dune association quelconque .
MacMullen 1974, p. 107.

How this differentiation of and struggle for the characterised Trimalchio as a sevir Augustalis.
(higher) positions took place, is not a question However, this one literary attestation of an
that is easily answered. Considering the nature affluent Augustalis is no basis to assume, as
of the source material, it comes down to how often has been done, that all *augustales gained
information on this subject can be extracted their fortune through trade and land ownership.
from short and often standardised inscriptions. Since Petronius strongly identifies Trimalchio
It would seem that some phrases found in with the activity that gained him his wealth,
inscriptions reflect a double reality: on the one namely the overseas trade, we can suppose
hand, they are symptomatic of a social struggle Petronius saw this as an important element in
for positions among social peers, and are on the satirical characterisation of an *Augustalis.
the other hand expressions of a what could The literary description of one single senatorial
be called a hierarchy , a socially recognised evaluation of one single and fictive *Augustalis
differentiation of a stratum, in this case does not suffice as proof for the most common
*augustales in Nmes and Narbonne. profession taken up by *augustales. Epigraphical
attestations of professions can give us a more
2 - Professions diverse image.
That *augustales were wealthy has only rarely
Petronius highly amusing account of been disputed. Whether it was an actual formal
Trimalchios banquet is the only part fully condition to enter the institution is unclear, but
preserved of his Satyrica. The banqueting scene it was an informal constraint which rendered the
he described was a pretext for Petronius to stage a institution relatively exclusive, and lent prestige
vulgar, decadent, utterly intolerable and socially to it (certainly in combination with members of
inadequate freedman who gained his wealth in a good descent, e.g. part of the familia of the
overseas trade and in the end bought back all the curial elite). A number of scholars have pointed
lands of his former master. The host of the party, out the economic value of the *augustales. Tudor,
Trimalchio, boasts his ascension from frog to in his discussion of the Dacian *augustales,
king sic amicus vester, qui fuit rana, nunc est argued that one of the main reasons why the
rex 18 displays knowledge he does not have and city council kept on appointing *augustales and
constantly fails to act according to the societal gracing them with the ornamenta decurionalia
norms. Petronius Trimalchio has been staged was to force them to contribute financially to
as the archetypical example of various and public construction activities 23.
often contradictory roles in society 19, of which Ausbttel was convinced the *augustales relieved
the French terminology bourgeois, parvenu, the financial pressure on the city councillors,
nouveau riche, even Molires satirical Bourgeois with whom they were in some cases personally
Gentilhomme has become strongly associated related 24. Ostrow and Mouritsen argued
with his name 20. Most commonly, Trimalchio much along the same lines: the Augustalis
is taken to be the archetype of the wealthy but paid handsomely for his prestige and the
vulgar tradesman parvenu despite the fact that municipal ruling was [] eager no doubt to
his status remained servile his whole life and share the financial burden of the towns lavish
there was nowhere to arrive in the first place, public amenities by separating freedmen from
as Veyne remarked correctly 21. their money 25. These generous deeds of the
The fictional inscription that was to be put on wealthiest local freedmen, was the true raison
his tasteless and over the top grave monument 22 dtre of the *augustales. As Mouritsen stated:

Petron., Sat., 77.
As shown by DArms 1981, p. 97-120 (Ch. 5 : The Typicality of Trimalchio ).
As convincingly argued by Paul Veyne (Veyne 1961, p. 244-245).
For an elaborate discussion of this monument in the context of funerary architecture and practice, see Purcell 1987, p. 25-41.
Note how he evaluates Petronius description of Trimalchios tomb as a way in which we can let silent archeological sources
speak, to give voice to the physical remains.
Tudor 1962, p. 209.
Ausbttel 1982, p. 254.

The institution was invented as a euergetic Inscriptions manifest some methodological
office which exploited an otherwise untapped problems of their own. They use coined formula
source 26. Hackworth-Petersen went so far as over and over again, to such a degree that they
to state plainly that the decurions needed the became an inherent part of collective memory
*augustales 27. So how did they obtain this wealth? which also explains the frequent use of long
In his famous passage in his De Officiis, abbreviations 31. Given the standardised nature
also Cicero stigmatised a large portion of of inscriptions, the challenge is to extract the
the workingmen of Roman society when he maximum of information possible. Even the
considered certain professions as undesirable faintest indications of differentiation, all factors
for a respectable man (i.e. tax-gatherers and possibly playing a role in the construction of a
usurers), and other occupations as downright social identity must be traced and evaluated.
vulgar (sordidus). Among these sordidi he listed How can occupational differentiation be used
wage labourers, merchants and traders. Worst to further outline the complexity of the social
of all are those trades which cater for sensual world in which the *augustales operated ?
pleasures : fishermen, fishmongers, butchers, Epigraphical attestation manifestly shows
cooks, poulterers, perfumers and dancers 28. On the importance of the occupation in the self-
the other hand, some professions are proper definition of the historical actor in question.
for those whose social position they become Indications of professions are primarily found
eae sunt iis, quorum ordini conveniunt, honestae . among freedmen constituting a substantial
Those occupations that require a higher degree part of the lower social groups. I argue that
of intelligence or are to the advantage of society not only the occupations as such should be
in general, are acceptable. He lists medicine, discussed, but also their contribution to social
architecture and teaching. Trade on a large scale positioning. This was engendered not only by
is acceptable ; on a small scale it is a vulgar differentiation between professions, but also by
profession. Nothing is more becoming of a internal differences within a certain occupation.
freeman, however, than agriculture 29. Logically, a semi-industrial baker involved in
Still, as Joshel remarked, men and women the annona of Rome like Eurysaces would not
in Latin epitaphs profess the same titles only economically but also socially rank higher
that literature denigrates 30. According to than his local counterpart, the owner of the
modern sociology, professions partially define small baker shop in downtown Ulubrae.
status groups and act as powerful movers of Three *augustales, two from Narbonne and one
social positioning. Ciceros discourse, though from Nmes, mention a professional title. L. Baebius
theoretical and of limited practical value for Eucles from Nmes was a lawyer, iuris studiosi 32,
any economic analysis of professions, reflects a L. Cornelius Optatus from Narbonne was a
strong relation of the economic and the social goldsmith 33, and Tiberius Iunius Fadianus, also
sphere; some professions are unbecoming for from Narbonne, was a entrepreneur of the
a high social status, other are even considered Gallic iron industry, conductor ferrarium ripae
vulgar and (Cicero implies) should only dextrae 34. Cicero may have considered Baebius
practiced by men of low esteem. When studying Eucles occupation as proper for his social
non-elite groups of the Roman Empire, one is position, as it was a form of educated service. The
largely dependent on inscriptions because of goldsmith and the entrepreneur were certainly
the clearly biased nature of literary sources sordidi or worse. Attestations of professional
written by and for the members of the elite. titles are the exception (here 3% of the corpus

Mouritsen 2011, p. 247.
Cic., !"#, 150.
Cic., !"#, 151.
Joshel 1992, p. 69.
CIL XII, 5900 = AE 1995, 63.
CIL XII, 4391.
CIL XII, 4398 = Dessau, ILS 6971.

record an occupation), but manifestly show to the splendidissimus ordo, referring to the curia
the importance of the profession in the self- as a municipal Senate, was a coveted position.
definition of the historical actor. In any case, Ornamentis decurionatus honoratus was the
it is clear that *augustales who attested their crowning phrase of a successful freedmans
profession did not belong to the top. None of the epitaph 38.
three men obtained additional honours, titles or Eight inscriptions, two from Narbonne and six
positions besides their Augustalitas. Epigraphical from Nmes, provide evidence for the existence
attestation of occupational title is the exception of this practice in Narbonese Gaul. The life
and this could mean the epigraphical attestation course of C. Aurelius Parthenius, to whom the
was added value and had some kind of social only honorary inscription belongs, was quite
positioning function. A professional title born exceptional. He can in fact be considered one
by freedmen, as Josel indicated, altered the of the most successful seviri augustales ever
marginal position implicit in the conditions of documented in Narbonese Gaul. Although
freed status by placing the ex-slave in the centre the inscription was recovered from Nmes,
of a world defined by productive activities 35. he was corporatus of the ordo Augustalium in
In the case of the *augustales, those who could Lyon as well as in Narbonne. On top of that,
boast a close(r) connection to the civic aristocracy he was made an honorary decurio in Nmes. All
omit any motion of their profession. of these positions he received gratuitis 39. The
expression gratuitis or a variant is not found
III - Role of the City Council that often, since it was an exceptionally rare
privilege. It meant that someone, in this case
A second important factor in the integration of an *Augustalis, was appointed or accorded
an *Augustalis in the civic undergrowth 36 of some special position without involving a
local society was the relation he had with the city return benefit, compensation or consideration,
council. The decuriones held the power to grant for instance exemption from payment of the
*augustales additional favours or decorations, summa honoraria 40.
often ob honorem Augustalitatis . On the one Out of the seven other preserved texts, all
hand locus datus decreto decurionum is found, epitaphs, one is anonymous and the six other
and on the other hand honoratus ornamentis ones do not give a lot more information than
decurionalibus or decurioni ornamentario. the title of sevir Augustalis and the reference
to the ornamenta decurionalia. The anonymous
1 - Ornamenta inscription was erected by the attested sevir
augustalis himself, as the formula vivus posuit
In his Staatsrecht, Mommsen labelled points out. Just like C. Aurelius Parthenius,
ornamenta as Die Form ohne den Inhalt, discussed above, this unnamed freedman
der Schein ohne das Wesen 37. However, the was a member of the ordo augustalium in two
highest decoration that could be accorded to different coloniae, namely Lyon and Nmes.
*augustales was still the ornamenta decurionalia He also received the ornamenta decurionalia in
they received the honorary membership of Nmes and was curator of the wine merchants
the city council and were permitted to wear and of the seviri Luguduni consistentes 41. The
the status symbols of the decuriones, without remaining six texts all originate from Nmes,
actually becoming one. The glory of admission three of which contain the phrase dis manibus42

Joshel 1992, p. 144.
Mouritsen 2006, p. 242-243.
Mommsen 1887, I, p. 456.
Gordon 1931, p. 66.
CIL XII, 3203 : C(aius) Aurelius / Parthenius / ornamentis dec(urionalibus) / honoratus col(oniae) Aug(ustae) / Nemausi IIIIIIuir
Aug(ustalis) / col(onia) Copia Claud(ia) Aug(usta) Lugud(unensis) / item Narbone Martio et Fir(mus) Iul(ius) Secund(us) Arausione / et
Foro Iulii Pacato / ubique gratuitis honoribus.
De Ruggiero, 1886, t. III, p. 592.
AE 1900, 203.
ILGN 431 ; CIL XII, 3219 ; CIL XII, 3221.

and three stating the seviri Augustalis erected was one of the tasks of the city council. The
the stones themselves vivus sibi posuit 43. expression l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum)
One peculiar inscription has by rights can be found in countless inscriptions 49 indicating
received considerable attention from Christol, the decuriones controlled where dedications,
Gascou and Janon in 198744. statues or other buildings were to be erected 50.
The phrase itself refers to concessions of public
IIIIIIvir A[ug(ustalis)] lands made by the ordo. In rare cases, this plot
Sex(tus) Licin[ius] of land was given for free gratuitus in order to
Helicon honour the deceased 51.
cui ordo san[ct(issimus)] Only one inscription from Nmes documents this
seviralia orna[menta] relation between two municipal status groups. A
gratuita dec[rev(it)] L. Iulius Q.f. Voltinius Niger was a quattuoruir ab
v(ivus) s(ibi) et s(uis) [f(ecit)] aerario as well as a corporatus of the association
of augustales 52. The colonia Augusta Nemausus was
Christol, Gascou and Janon have judged the text governed by quattuoruiri, two iuredicundo, two ab
originated from Nmes, since it was the local aerario legislative magistrates and treasurers.
epigraphic habit to put (se)vir aug(ustalis) first, On a municipal level, they were the supreme
before the name of the dedicatee. The stone itself magistrates, positions reserved for freeborn
was reused as building material and thus recut Romans 53.
and adjusted to serve its new purpose45. It is Thus, L. Iulius was in a rather extraordinary
clear, however, what was written on it. The sevir position, since he was himself a summus
Augustalis Sextus Licinius Helicon was awarded magistratus and probably also a decurio during
the ornamenta seviralia by the ordo sanctissimus, this year in office as sevir augustalis. That L. Iulius
i.e. the city council. Moreover, he received this was a freeborn magistrate, does not affect his
gratuitis 46. Christol, Gascou and Janon have feel for the game as Bourdieu would have called
argued that Helicon first obtained the honorific it. Despite his higher legal status, he still aspired
seviralia ornamenta free of charge, and later on to ways in which he could distinguish himself
actually became a sevir Augustalis. They dated the from the other *augustales. Whether this peculiar
text to the late second or early third century47. transitional position was what gave him this sign
His Greek cognomen and his Augustalitas leave of distinction in the first place, can of course
no doubt that Helicon was a freedman48. He was never be traced.
closely associated with the decuriones, and it is The phrase l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum)
the only attestation of seviralia ornamenta known is not found in the epigraphic record from the
to us. city of Narbonne, but a remarkable variant
occurs. Local variants are indeed common, as
2 - Locus datus decreto documented in Lucus Augusti, which Plinius
referred to as one of the two capitals of the
The organisation of the public space of the city federate states of the Vocontii 54. According to

CIL XII, 3191 ; CIL XII, 3245 ; CIL XII, 3249.
Christol, Gascou, Janon 1987, p. 388-398.
Ibid., p. 388.
See n. 38.
ornamenta6!g)2-F!)%'\$2#)$#M#5'F!2%!#-'!0#3#5)!#4#+'23#M#5'!sevir augustalis .
Garnsey 1975.
E.g. AE 1969/70, 405b ; AE 2005, 1006 ; AE 1992, 1182 ; CIL XII, 358 ; CIL XII, 410 ; CIL XII, 1855 ; CIL XII, 1869 ; CIL XII, 1881;
CIL XII, 3165 ; CIL XII, 3169 ; CIL XII, 3187 ; CIL XII, 3235 ; CIL XII, 3236 ; CIL XII, 4243 ; CIL XII, 4332 ; CIL XII, 4393 ; CIL XII,
4402 ; CIL XII, 5365 ; ILGN 107 = Dessau, ILS 9074 ; ILGN 366 ; CIL XIII, 1738 ; CIL XIII, 1751-1754 ; CIL XIII, 1756 ; CIL XIII,
1921 ; CIL XIII, 2019.
See Zimmers analysis of the location of inscriptions containing the LDDD phrase for two North African towns : Zimmer 1989.
De Ruggiero, t. II, p. 1540.
CIL XII, 3235 : L(ucio) Iulio Q(uinti) f(ilio) / Vol(tinio) Nigro / IIIIuir(o) ab aer(ario) / IIIIIIuir(o) Aug(ustali) corp(orato) / Nemausens(ium)
/ l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum).
De Ruggiero, t. I, p. 310.
Plin., Nat.!C6F![[[F!23F!J<Y!Vocontiorum ciuitatis foederatae duo capita Vasio et Lucus Augusti.

Tacitus, this city was granted Roman citizenship assimilation specifically occurred in Narbonne
in the first century A.D. 55 Here the city council is remains unclear. This ancient colonia was
referred to as a municipal Senate, so the phrase founded in 118 B.C.,60 and is possible that
l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) s(enatus) V(ocontiorum) exactly because of the antiquity of the colonia,
is used 56. These inscriptions still reflect a the city council was even more prestigious and
decision made by the decuriones, despite the therefore could wield more symbolic violence.
slightly dissimilar epigraphical formulation. A Only a limited amount of inscriptions record
qualitatively different situation was documented the l(ocus) d(atus)-phrase. The place where L.
in Narbonne. The local association of seviri Iulius Voltinius Niger from Nmes could erect
augustales adopted the standardised l(ocus) his inscription was determined by a decree of
d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) and customised it for the decuriones. This was one of the honores that
their own use; the phrase l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) could be accorded to the *augustales, so it was
IIIIIIuiror(um) or IIIIIIuir(orum) can be read in two considered as an additional favour on the part
building inscriptions. of the decuriones. The power to determine which
The sevir Augustalis L. Aemilius Moschus of the *augustales were to be considered more
donated three thousand sesterces to the privileged than others, gave the decuriones
treasury of the seviri augustales, so they could considerable (symbolic) power. The language
honour Lucius deceased master an important mimesis found in Narbonne reflects the
military tribune invited into the ordo senatorius power the decuriones had over the *augustales.
called L. Aemilius L.f. Papiria Arcanus. The While modelling their organisation after the
seviri augustales decided to distribute sportulae ordo decurionum, the *augustales of Narbonne
in his honour and erect a statue at the intended adopted some archetypical expressions.
location 57. In a second text, the thousand All of these texts document a relation of
sesterces donated to the seviri augustales by Q. the augustales to the decuriones in which the
Iulius Servandus were used for maintenance of latter held the stronger position. In this way,
a statue of which the *augustales had determined a symbolic system (the honourable signs of
the location 58. In the inscriptions documenting distinction associated with the city council)
these forms of munificence, the archetypical was imposed. It legitimised the dominance of
phrasing used by the decuriones was adjusted the council by providing the correct way in
to read l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) IIIIIIuir(orum) 59. which the social world was to be seen, creating
Important to note is that both seviri augustales a craving by the *augustales precisely to attain
acted as benefactors vis--vis the association those signs of distinction.
of the seviri augustales : Aemilius Moschus and Very few texts actually record this phenomenon
Iulius Servandus donated a thousand and three and this suggests that contact with the decuriones
thousand sesterces respectively. was a privilege in itself. Cautious suggestions can
This language mimesis seems to be completely be made on the existence of an internal hierarchy.
absent from the epigraphical record from The privilege of contact with the city council
Lugdunese Gaul and Italy. Why this linguistic would generate an elite.

Tac., Hist., I 66, 3.
CIL XII, 1590 ; CIL XII, 1591.
CIL XII, 4354 : L(ucio) Aemilio L(uci) f(ilio) Pap(iria) Arcano / trib(uno) mil(itum) leg(ionis) XI Gem(inae) et trib(uno) / mil(itum)
leg(ionis) I Mineru(iae) item trib(uno) / mil(itum) leg(ionis) II Aug(ustae) omnib(us) hono/ribus in colonia sua funct(o) / adlecto in
amplissimum / ordinem ab Imp(eratore) Caes(are) / Hadriano Aug(usto) IIIIIIuir(o) / equitum Romanor(um) curioni / quaestori urbano
trib(uno) / plebis praetori designat(o) / L(ucius) Aemilius Moschus IIIIIIuir / Aug(ustalis) patrono optumo post / obitum eius inlatis arcae
/ seuiror(um) ob locum et tuitio/nem statuae HS n(ummum) IIII(milia) / l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) IIIIIIuiror(um) / et sportulis dedicauit
|(denarios) III |(unciam).
CIL XII, 4397 : Q(uinto) Iulio / Seruando / IIIIIIuir(o) Aug(ustali) / c(oloniae) I(uliae) P(aternae) C(laudiae) N(arbonis) M(artii) / Licinia
Pallas / marito optimo / inlatis arcae / IIIIIIuir(orum) ob tuitionem / statuae n(ummos) |(mille) / l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) IIIIIIuir(orum).
This phenomenon is not only documented for the seviri Augustales. An inscription from Vienna (CIL XII, 1815) contains the
phrase l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) u(triclariorum). Utriclarii are only found in south and middle Gaul. Their function is unclear and
controversial. It has been suggested they were wine merchants or transporters over land. Inscriptions concerning them often
speak of fabri and centonarii as well, which possibly means it was a professional association. (see De Ruggiero, t. II, p. 1502. Also:
van Nijf 1999, p. 198-210).
Rivet 1988, p. 130-143 ; Taylor 1931, p. 208-210 ; Fishwick 2003, t. II, 3, p. 129-133.

IV - Nmes and Narbonne

In this short note, I have reviewed two qualitatively

different elements. First, I argued that the fact that
almost 70% of the *augustales under review did
not take up any other positions, were not graced
with any further honours, and did not record a
profession or any additional sign of distinction.
Others did, and some even accumulated a whole
range of honours. This is an indication for us,
modern researchers, that differentiation of social
positions was of great importance for the social
actors in question. Second, I reviewed a ways
in which an *Augustalis could try to make a
difference for himself, by pursuing high honours,
such as the ornamenta decurionalia accorded by the
decuriones. They could also try to acquire a plot of
public land, also by decurional or (in the case of
Narbonne) seviral decree l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto)
d(ecurionum) / IIIIIIvir(orum).
As the following table and charts illustrate, the
composition of the order and the ways in which
one *Augustalis tried to distinguish himself from
the others, could differ from city to city.

In both Narbonne and Nmes, seventy per cent of

the inscriptions attesting seventy-eight individual
*augustales did not attain any additional honour
or privileges, nor did they attest a profession. In
Nmes, a fairly high percentage (11%) of *augustales
were graced with the ornamenta decurionalia/
seviralia, and the title of corporatus is better
attested than in Narbonne. Inscriptions from
Narbonne on the other hand, present a curious
case of language mimesis by the *augustales
(i.e. locus datus decreto decurionum becoming
locus datus decreto sevirorum). Also, *augustales
as benefactors are hardly attested in Nmes,
whereas 11% of inscriptions from Narbonne do
record benefactions. This local diversity is crucial
to the correct understanding of the *augustales

as an institution that spread throughout the municipal Senate, was a coveted position. Contact
western parts of the Empire and developed a with the representatives of official power in the
great deal of local signatures. Rising expectations municipality, the decuriones, generally was highly
of rich ingenui who for some reason could not prestigious. How the decuriones and *augustales
take up official magistracies or priesthoods interacted with each other is an interesting point
and freedmen were met by the *Augustalitas. It of discussion, as the city councillors had the power
offered a possible path to distinction. Evaluating to both appoint and honour the *augustales 63.
*Augustalitas as the hallmark of success for these (2) Apart from this absolute top, other privileges
social actors, implies that unfulfilled ambitions accorded by the decuriones could increase
would have been seen as social failure. Think of the status of an *Augustalis. One could be
the case of Q. Avilius Hyacinthus from Nmes. accorded a plot of public land in order to erect
Q. Avilius Q.f. Palatina Sennius Cominianus was a monument, inscription or tomb. Organising
the freeborn adopted son of the freedman Q. the public space of the city was one of the
Avilius Hyacinthus. The elder Avilius acted as a tasks of the city council. The expression l(ocus)
benefactor, making large donations to the city, d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) or a variant can be
perhaps hoping for honours in return. A fitting found in countless inscriptions indicating the
reaction of the decuriones would have been to decuriones controlled the monumental outlook
make him a sevir Augustalis or even accord him of the community. Moreover, without implying
the ornamenta seviralia. Even more tantalising is far-reaching conclusions, the gratuitas and l(ocus)
the possibility that Avilius strategies applied to d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) can indicate a highly
his adopted son as well. His Augustalitas and the valued group of *augustales who did not, however,
relations with the city councillors and leading attain the ornamenta. Because of interaction with
families would facilitate the adlectio of his son the decuriones, be it through ornamenta, gratuitas or
into the ordo decurionum. Perhaps this was his the according of a plot of land, these *augustales
long-term plan all along, so his name would be belonged to the top of their order.
passed on in the civic memory. Sadly, the son died (3) It follows then that the lowest echelon of the
before the plan could unfold completely. In order association was crowded by those who managed
to honour a would-be member of their council, to gain the *Augustalitas, but no additional
the decuriones gave an indirect eulogy addressed signs of distinction and did not even mention
to the father, who as far as we know never a profession. Although many and subtle ways
became a sevir Augustalis 61. existed to distinguish oneself, almost seventy per
cent of the *augustales from Nmes and Narbonne
V - Conclusion constituted this substratum . They erected an
inscription attesting their honourable position.
In conclusion, it is indeed too ambitious to make Here it is possible that the monumental context
fundamental claims about local hierarchies can serve as a proxy for even further social
among *augustales, but some general principles differentiation.
can be outlined ; (4) Professional titles were a means of distinction,
(1) The highest, most honourable stratum also for *augustales, and an expression of
consisted of *augustales closely associated identity 64. The stigma of servility was replaced
with the city council. Ornamentis decurionatus by the attested persons role in economic and
honoratus was the crowning phrase of a productive activities.
successful freedmans epitaph 62. They received It is almost impossible to go much further than
the honorary membership of the city council this. One could argue that the fragmentation of
and were permitted to wear the status symbols the social stratum reached much further, that
of the decuriones, without actually becoming every individual position was the outcome of a
one. The glory of honorary admission to the individual struggle, and as such every possible
splendidissimus ordo, referring to the curia as the accumulation of titles and honours was a possible

AE 1982, 681. See Christol 2011, p. 327-345.
Gordon 1931, p. 66.
As discussed elsewhere : Vandevoorde 2012, p. 404-423.
Joshel 1992, p. 121.

element in the broad range of individualised *Augustalitas was a major advantage for those
hierarchies of *augustales. This would be a who strove to obtain other honours of privileges,
path trajectory, not an outline of positioning which in turn advanced their position vis--vis
mechanisms and objectives. However, what I tried their fellow *augustales. As such, what I outlined
to show here, are some general principles, some here is an example of how social and collegial
phrases found in inscriptions that expressed status were entwined. Honours like the ornamenta
social realities relevant for the appreciation decurionalia were recognised as a high privilege in
of the *Augustalis in the community. Honours the whole local society, but being an *Augustalis
like the ornamenta, gratuitas and l(ocus) d(atus) was already an advantageous position to be
d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) were exceptional privileges, in; ornamenta decurionalia was most commonly
accorded only sparsely. As outlined above, this accorded to *augustales.
had an influence on the position of the *Augustalis In the past, scholars have somewhat neglected
within the social formation. complex patterns of differentiation among the
When assessing the varying phrasings and lower social classes of the Roman Empire, despite
formulae found in inscriptions from Nmes and the large body of inscriptions erected by and for
Narbonne, and what these actually meant for members of these classes. Especially provincial
the position of the individual *Augustalis named sources were left out. Some much-needed
in the text, it is remarkable that the honours that revision has started, but this initial impetus needs
made a difference seem to have little to do continuation. Inscriptions offer a glimpse of a
with the office or membership of the association socially strongly fragmented local Roman society;
of the *Augustales itself. However, these would it allows us to see differentiation among the lower
not have been accorded to them if it were not for stratum that covered over 95% of the population
the acquired *Augustalitas in the first place. In of the Western Roman Empire. In addition, an
other cases (e.g. mentioning a professional title) emphasis on the different social signatures of the
the *Augustalis indicated how he had acquired locally developed institution of the *augustales is
the wealth to qualify for the *Augustalitas. The crucial to understanding it correctly.


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