The new copy of the Licinius letter 

 

by Simon Corcoran

 

A second copy of the imperial letter known from the Brigetio tablet has recently been identified. It is held in the Numismatic Museum at Ruse, Bulgaria (on the Danube). I originally transcribed the text from a scan of the museum leaflet, from which scan it was also later published by Luca Fezzi in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 163 (2007 [publ. 2008]) pp. 269-275. The tablet has now been fully and formally published by N. Sharankov, 'Three Roman documents on bronze', Archaeologia Bulgarica XIII/2 (2009) pp. 53-72 at 61-7, whence the version in L'Année Epigraphique 2007, no. 1224. I have checked and corrected my text against Sharankov's version.

The letter was issued by the emperor Licinius from Serdica (Sofia) on 10 June 311, a little over a month after the death of the senior emperor Galerius. It confers various privileges on both serving soldiers and veterans, and may reflect Licinius's desire to bolster the loyalty of the troops throughout the Balkans. The new copy of the letter is generally more accurate than the Brigetio text and is generally, but not always, to be preferred where they differ. However, the lower portion of the tablet has been cut away so that the conclusion of the text is lost. The addressee, Tertius, is otherwise unknown, but, like Dalmatius at Brigetio, is probably a military dux, although possibly a civilian vicarius or praeses. Each copy was presumably displayed in a military camp as the letter's conclusion directed. The Brigetio tablet comes from the camp of the Legio I Adiutrix. The provenance of the new Bulgarian copy is unknown, although thought to be Durostorum (Silistra). If not from one of the camps on the lower Danube, perhaps, given its accuracy, it was carefully incised for display near the emperor's residence in Serdica.

E(xemplum) S(acrarum) L(itterarum)
Cum in omnibus, pro deuotione ac laboribus suis, militum nos-/
trorum commodis adque utilitatibus semper consultum esse /
4] cupiamus, in hoc etiam dispositionum nostrarum prouisio-/
ne isdem (eiusdem, Brig.) militibus nostris consulendum esse credidimus, /
Terti (Dalmati, Brig.) carissime, unde intuentes labores eorundem militum /
nostrorum, quos pro rei publicae statu et commodis adsiduis /
8] discursibus sustinent, prouidendum ac disponendum esse credidi-/
mus, ut et militiae suae tempore iucundis laborum suorum fructi-/
bus ex nostra prouisione se perfrui gaudeant et post militia<m> qui-/
eto otio et congrua securitate potiantur. itaque deuotioni tuae /
12] significandum esse credidimus, ut idem milites nostri /
militiae quidem suae tempore quinque capita iuxta statutum /
nostrum ex censu adque a prestationibus sollemnibus an-/
nonariae pensitationis excusent ; eademque immunia ha-/
16] beant adque cum conpletis legitimis stipendiis (s.l., Brig.) hones-/
tam missionem idem fuerint consecuti; sed et hii qui licet /
post uiginti stipendia adeque honestam missionem adep-/
ti fuerint ab annonario titulo duo capita excusent, id est /
20] tam suum quam aetiam uxoris suae; ac si quis forte ex proeli-/
o (preli, Brig.) uulnere causarius fuerit effectus, etiam si infra (intra, Brig.) uiginti /
stipendia ex ea causa rerum suarum uacationem fuerit hedera /
consecutus, ad beneficium eiusdem indulgentiae nostrae /
24] pertineat, ita ut et (et, om. Brig.) suum et uxoris suae caput, ut supra dictum /
est (ut. . . est, om. Brig.), excuset; adque ut omnimodo tam quietis suae securitati, /
quam aetiam commodis consultum prouisionis nostrae /
beneficio idem milites gratulentur. licet eiusmodi ante-/
28] hac consuaetudo fuerit ut cum (cum, om. Brig.) plurimi homines simul /
honestam missionem a duce perciperent, penes actuarium (actarium, Brig.) /
missoria permanente exempla sibi singuliquique excipe-/
rent, tamen uolumus ut, cum uel honestam uel causariam, sicuti /
32] supra dictum est, missionem milites consecuntur, singuliquique /
specialem a duce in personam suam accipiant missionem, quo pro-/
batione ueritatis ac fidei aput se (se, om. Brig.) permanente securitate sta-/
bili ac (at, Brig.) firmissima perfruantur. peruidet sane dicatio tua /
36] eos, qui delicti sui gratia demittuntur (dimittuntur, Brig.), at beneficium legis /
eiusdem pertinire (pertinere, Brig.) non posse, cum utriusque rei rationem abe-/
ri (haberi, Brig.) oporteat, ac uitae probabilis instituta adque honestam /
missionem. sed et merita militiae praemia a nobis con-/
40] digna perciper[e conuenia]t, ut [e]t e[i]u]sdem indulgentiae /
nostrae ben[eficio perpetuo idem mili]tes (perpetuo, add. Brig.) perfruantur ac /

Hereafter the tablet is broken, but the text can be completed from the Brigetio tablet as follows:

[sempiterna dispositione nostrae prouisio obtineat firmitatem, uolumus tenorem huius indulgentiae nostrae descriptum per singulaquaeque castra apud signa in tabula aerea consecrari, quo tam legionarii milites, quam etiam equites in uexillationibus constituti Inlyriciani, sicuti similis laboris militiae suae sustinent, ita etiam prouisionis nostrae similibus commodis perfruantur.
Diuo Maximiano VIII et Maximino Aug. II. Impp. coss. IIII Idus Iunias Serdica. (=10 June 311)]

Note on the text: I have kept the spelling, especially marked by the typical interchangeability of 't' and 'd', and 'a' and 'ae'.

For the original publication of the Brigetio tablet, see I .Paulovics, A Szónyi Törvénytábla: La table de privilèges de Brigetio (Archaeologica Hungarica 20; Budapest, 1936) [AE 1937.232]; also Fontes Iuris Romani Anteiustiniani vol. 1 no. 93 (Florence, 1941).

English translations can be found in: A. Johnson et al., Ancient Roman Statutes (1961) no. 301; N. Lewis and M. Reinhold, Roman Civilization vol. II (3rd ed. 1990) pp. 491-3; or B. Campbell, The Roman Army 31BC-AD337: A Sourcebook (1994) no. 393.

 

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SJJC 14/12/2010