MILITARY  DIPLOMA  OF  DISCHARGE

AND   ROMAN  CITIZENSHIP  160 AD 

 

ROMAN EMPIRE: Antoninus Pius. AD 160. AE military diploma.

A bronze military diploma, dated Martius VII, CMXIII AUC (March 7, 160AD), 132 mm / 5.25 inches high and 100 mm / 4 inches wide, with a well-rendered, nearly complete exterior inscription, three-quarters of which is repeated in the less carefully engraved interior inscription.  Two holes near the center and the lower right corner are for attachment to second plaque, which is now missing.  

The Latin text is as follows:

   
                    TRIB POT XXIII IMP II COS IV PP

                    EQVITIBVS ET PEDITIBVS QVI MILITAVE

                    RVNT IN ALIS TRIBVS QVAE APPELLANTVR

                    GALLORVM ET THRACVM CONST ET ANTIA

                    GVM ET COHORTIBVS DECEM ET DVABVS V GE

                    MELLA ET I THRACVM ET I SEBASTENORVM

                    ET I DAMASCENORVM ARMENIACVM SAG

                    ET I MONTANORVM ET I FLAVIAE CR ET I ET

                    II VLPIAE GALATARVM ET III ET IV CALLAECO

                    RVM BRACARAVGVSTANOR ET IV ET VI VLPI

                    AE PETREORVM ET SVNT IN SYRIA PA

                    LAESTINA SVB MAXIMO LVCILIANO LEG

                    QVINQVE ET VIGINTI STIPENDIS EMERI

                    TIS DIMISSIS HONESTA MISSIONE QVO

                    RVM NOMINA SVBSCRIPTA SVNT CIVITA

                    TEM ROMANAM QVI EORVM NON HABERENT

                    DEDIT ET CONVBIVM CVM VXORIBVS QVAS

                    TVNC HABVISSENT CVM EST CIVITAS IS DA

                    TA AVT CVM IS QVAS POSTEA DVXISSENT DVM

                    TAXAT SINGVLIS NONIS MAR

                    A PLATORIO NEPOTE

                    COS

                    M POSTVMIO FEST O

                    COH I SEBASTENORVM = CVI PRAES

                    CAVELLIVS MAXIMVS

                    EXPEDITE

                    VAXADE VAXADI F SVEDR

                    DESCRIPT ET RECOGNIT EX TABVLA AERE

                    QVAE FIX EST ROM IN MVRO POST TEMPL

                    DIVI AVG AD MINERVAM

The translation of the Latin text is:  

The emperor Caesar T Aelius Hadrianus Augustus Pius, son of the deified Hadrian, grandson of the deified Trajan Parthicus, great grandson of the deified Nerva, Pontifex Maximus in the twenty-third year of his tribunician power, twice imperator, four times consul, father of his country grants Roman citizenship to the cavalrymen and infantrymen who do not already possess it, that served in the three alae (cavalry) which are called [1] Gallorum and Thracum Constantia and [2] Antiana Gallorum and Thracum Sagittariora and [3] VII Phrygum, and in the twelve cohorts (infantry) called [1] V Gemella and [2] I Thracum (milliaria) and [3] I Sebastenorum (milliaria) and [4] I Damascenorum Armeniacum Sagittarioria and [5] I Montanorum and [6] I Flaviae civium Romanorum and [7] I and [8] II Ulpiae Galatarum and [9] III and [10] IV Callaecorum Bracaraugustanorum and [11] IV and [12] VI Ulpiae Petraeorum and are in Syria-Palestine under the governor Maximus Lucilianus, who have served twenty-five years and have been honorably discharged, whose names are written below, and conubium (legal marriage) with the wives they had when citizenship was given to them, or with those wives whom they later marry, but only one wife each.

On the 7th of March when A. Platorius Nepos and M. Postumus Festus were (suffect) consuls.

On behalf of the cohort I Sebastenorum (milliaria) under the command of Cavellius Maximus.

To the ex-infantryman Vaxadus, son of Vaxadus of Syedra (in Cilicia).

Copied and checked from the bronze tablet which is affixed in Rome upon the wall behind the temple of the deified Augustus near the shrine of Minerva.

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The following comes from Andreas Pangerl:  

After serving twenty-five years in the Roman auxiliary units, a soldier was  granted Roman citizenship as well as the legalization of his existing or future marriage.  This was of relevance for his children who thus became Roman citizens and his full legal heirs under Roman law.  His wife was not granted Roman citizenship.  A diploma, copied from an original posted in Rome , served as evidence of these civic rights and no doubt was preserved as an important legal document by its recipient and his descendants. 

Vaxadus, the recipiant of the present diploma, born in Syedra in Cilicia, was discharged after 25 years of service from Cohors I Sebastenorum Milliaria, that   had been based in Syria Palestina (the name to the former province Judia upon the defeat of the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135) at least since the Flavian period.  His unit had surely been actively involved in the military action during the Bar Kochba revolt and seems to have lost a substantial number of soldiers.  

Vaxadus had been one of those new recruits starting his military service in 135, likely in that same unit.  Vaxadus himself was more lucky than his predecessors, his period of service was marked by relative peace in the eastern provinces. 

The interior side of the plaque/tabula repeats the first two thirds of the exterior text, but with less well-rendered characters.  A second plaque/tabula - here missing - of the same size, listing outside the names of seven witnesses and inside completing the exterior text would have bound to the first by a wire brad through the two central holes and sealed with wax seals in the name of the seven witnesses.  The purpose of this duplication was to allow remote Roman officials to break the seals in case of doubt and compare ther possibly manipulated outer text with the hidden inner text.  The original in Rome was obviously too far away for a timely cross-check. 

This diploma has been published by Werner Eck and Andreas Pangerl in Scripta Classica Israelica,  Vol. XXIV, 2005.    

The above was taken from a description of a military diploma at auction in Dec-2004, with an estimated value of  $25,000  

 

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