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I wonder if somebody might be able to offer some help or suggestions in deciphering and interpreting a few inscriptions?

I’ve been looking at some of the career options open to centurions, both before and after the primipilate. Most of these follow an identifiable pattern, but there are some odd exceptions. The usual and well-known structure for able and ambitious centurions (almost exclusively, it seems, those who entered the centurionate directly, ex equite romano) would take them first to primus pilus, then to the three tribunates in Rome (vigils, urban and praetorian cohorts), then on to a second primipilate and perhaps a further appointment as procurator. This structure is usually seen as quite distinct from the alternative tres militiae hierarchy followed by equestrian officers: cohort prefect, then legion tribune, then cavalry prefect. The two strands meet only at the highest, procuratorial level.

However, there are a small group of inscriptions (CIL 09, 00798 / CIL 05, 00533 / CIL 03, 14387f2 / CIL 11, 00395 / CIL 10, 05583) that have the legion tribunate being held after the primipilate – a cross-over into the equestrian tres militiae. Of these, the three that can be dated (Papellius Clodius Quirinalis, L Antonius Naso and M Vettius Valens) seem to have held the tribunate under Nero – perhaps a curiosity of that reign?

In one case, though, there are further complications. What can be made of this one?

Quote:CIL 10, 05583
Cu]rtilius(?) C(ai) f(ilius) A<e=I>m(ilia) / [pr]im(us) pil(us) leg(ionis) VI praef(ectus) c(o)hortis / [3] tr(ibunus) mil(itum) praef(ectus) equit(um) praef(ectus) / [f]abr(um) IIvir q(uinquennalis) Aug(ustalis) funus / [p]ublice ex d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) Aquinatium / arbitratu / [A]nterotis et Cosmi libert(orum)

Curtilius has the equestrian tres militiae in the usual order, but was also primus pilus and praefectus fabrum at some point. I’m guessing this is quite early imperial (‘praefectus equitum’ rather than alae) – but did he really switch from being primus pilus to prefect cohort? I believe the current interpretation is that a cohort prefect and an ex equite romano centurion were essentially on a par as regards pay and prestige, so this would be a step backwards.

Other inscriptions seem to have this movement in the opposite direction:

Quote:CIL 02, 02424
L(ucio) Terentio / M(arci) f(ilio) Quir(ina) Rufo / praef(ecto) coh(ortis) VI Britto(num) / |(centurio) leg(ionis) I M(inerviae) P(iae) F(idelis) don(is) don(ato) ab / Imp(eratore) Traiano bell(o) Dac(ico) / p(rimo) p(ilo) leg(ionis) XV Apoll(inaris) / trib(uno) coh(ortis) II vig(ilum) / d(ecreto) d(ecurionum)

L Terentius Rufus begins as cohort praefect, then becomes centurion, then primus pilus, then goes on to be tribune of vigils. This is Trajanic too, so not an early principate irregularity. G Sulpicius Ursulus (ERAsturias 00022) also seems to start out as an auxiliary prefect (of Symmachiariorum Asturum) before moving to the legion centurionate and primipilate – he served in a Dacian war too, so not so early either.

Titus Pontius Sabinus (CIL 10, 05829, second century?) starts as cohort prefect, then moves on to legion tribune, before jumping back to serve two legion centurionates. He goes on to primus pilate and praepositus of vexillations in a British expedition, then the Rome tribunates and a procuratorship. Certainly an able officer – so why should he switch from tribune to centurion?

C Geminius Priscus is even more odd:

Quote:CIL 05, 06478
Mart(i) sacr(um) / nomine / C(ai) Gemini Prisci / praef(ecti) eq(uitum) alae Aug(ustae) / praef(ecti) coh(ortis) I Breu[c(orum)] / libero commeatu / praef(ecti) fabr(um) [tr(ibuni)] mil(itum) coh(ortis) II pr(aetoriae) / Piarus et / Martialis lib(erti) / d(e) s(uo) p(osuerunt)

It looks like he starts as a tribune in the praetorians, then becomes praefectus fabrum before switching to cohort prefect and cavalry commander. It would make more sense, maybe, if he held the praetorian tribunate after the auxiliary prefecture, instead of the normal military tribunate – but there’s no other evidence, I think, for praetorian tribunes coming from anywhere except the legion primipilares (*excepting Pompeius Longinus in Tacitus (Hist 31.3), who wasn't a military man at all: non ordine militiae sed e Galbae amicis.)

It’s usually implied that the legion and praetorian centurionate was quite distinct below the primipilate – the praetorian centurions having much higher pay, presumably, than those of the legions. In a few cases, though (CIL 02, 04461 / CIL 10, 01127 / CIL 11, 06057 / CIL 14, 02523), there is a crossover between legions and the guard, with men moving back and forth between regular centurionates and positions in the Rome cohorts (the trecenarius). Perhaps a period of command in the Rome cohorts offered a sort of ‘fast track’ for well-connected legion centurions to scale up towards the primipilate without having to move through all the positions within the legion?

So was there a similar, if rare, crossover between positions in the equestrian tres militiae and the ex equite centurionate/primipilate? And if so, is there any current consensus on the relative hierarchy involved?

Thanks - Nathan
Quote:I’ve been looking at some of the career options open to centurions, both before and after the primipilate.
Me, too -- for an article in the Ancient Warfare 2010 Special.

(I delivered the article back in March, so I'm afraid I can't tailor it to address the cases that you've raised.)

Quote:The usual and well-known structure for able and ambitious centurions (almost exclusively, it seems, those who entered the centurionate directly, ex equite romano) would take them first to primus pilus, then to the three tribunates in Rome (vigils, urban and praetorian cohorts), then on to a second primipilate and perhaps a further appointment as procurator. This structure is usually seen as quite distinct from the alternative tres militiae hierarchy followed by equestrian officers: cohort prefect, then legion tribune, then cavalry prefect. The two strands meet only at the highest, procuratorial level.
Correct, up to a point. It wasn't just equestrians who reached the primipilate. The whole point of the primipilate, from the time of Claudius onwards, was to create new equestrians -- perhaps even a sort of military elite.

Quote:However, there are a small group of inscriptions (CIL 09, 00798 / CIL 05, 00533 / CIL 03, 14387f2 / CIL 11, 00395 / CIL 10, 05583) that have the legion tribunate being held after the primipilate – a cross-over into the equestrian tres militiae.
This kind of thing was not unusual prior to Claudius. I find it more helpful to concentrate on the period after Claudius, when we can start to see a system being developed.

Quote:Of these, the three that can be dated (Papellius Clodius Quirinalis, L Antonius Naso and M Vettius Valens) seem to have held the tribunate under Nero – perhaps a curiosity of that reign?
Vettius Valens is entirely standardised, apart from what looks like a stop-gap legionary tribunate late in his career. (I've included him in my article.) Antonius Naso is an interesting one. I wish I'd included him. But the anomaly here (a legionary tribunate between the primipilate and the Rome tribunates) is a minor one, and can be attributed to the system still settling down under Nero. Or indeed an emergency stop-gap, as I've suggested for Valens. And "Papellius Clodius Quirinalis" is entirely unknown to me. (Can you quote the inscription, please?)

Quote:In one case, though, there are further complications. What can be made of this one? CIL 10, 05583
I'd say he's one of these early cross-overs that you identified before, when the system was still being worked out.

Quote:Other inscriptions seem to have this movement in the opposite direction: CIL 2, 2424; AE 1935, 12; CIL 10, 5829.
I don't see any particular problem with these three, other than the fact that they began their equestrian career before jumping ship. Normally, equestrians wishing a centurial career didn't bother to begin the tres militiae. These transfers after a single post may be connected with battlefield promotions (Trajan's Dacian Wars and Parthian War).

Quote:C Geminius Priscus is even more odd (CIL 05, 06478 )
No mention of centurionates in this one; he's just a ?Julio-Claudian equestrian.

Quote:In a few cases, though (CIL 02, 04461 / CIL 10, 01127 / CIL 11, 06057 / CIL 14, 02523), there is a crossover between legions and the guard, with men moving back and forth between regular centurionates and positions in the Rome cohorts (the trecenarius). Perhaps a period of command in the Rome cohorts offered a sort of ‘fast track’ for well-connected legion centurions to scale up towards the primipilate without having to move through all the positions within the legion?
All the jumping is in one direction, Nathan! Once you've made the Rome centurionates, you're on track for the primipilate.
Quote:It wasn't just equestrians who reached the primipilate. The whole point of the primipilate, from the time of Claudius onwards, was to create new equestrians -- perhaps even a sort of military elite.

Sorry, I was a bit vague there - I meant that centurions who progressed beyond the primipilate to the procuratorship were probably those who entered the army by direct appointment as centurion (this is following Allen's 1908 (!) Advancement of Officers in the Roman Army - on the basis that those with higher positions list no posts below centurion. I don't know if any inscriptions have turned up in the last century that refute this. Of course, with such a busy cursus they could just have omitted the pre-centurion posts!)

Quote:"Papellius Clodius Quirinalis" is entirely unknown to me. (Can you quote the inscription, please?)

My typo - it's Palpellius. Here it is:

Quote:CIL 05, 00533
P(ublius) Palpellius P(ubli) f(ilius) Maec(ia) Clodius / Quirinalis p(rimus) p(ilus) leg(ionis) XX trib(unus) milit(um) leg(ionis) VII / C(laudiae) P(iae) F(idelis) proc(urator) Aug(usti) praef(ectus) classis dedit

The inscription's from Trieste. Robert McPake ('A Note on the Cognomina of Legio XX' Britannia 12, 1981) has this guy as the 'debauched and ferocious' commander of the Ravenna fleet who committed suicide in Tacitus (Annals XIII.30)

Quote:Normally, equestrians wishing a centurial career didn't bother to begin the tres militiae. These transfers after a single post may be connected with battlefield promotions (Trajan's Dacian Wars and Parthian War).

Also, I suppose the inscriptions don't tell us what grade of the centurionate they were moving to - the primi ordines presumably (cf Frere on Pontius Sabinus in Britannia 31, 2000). There may be all sorts of other factors that a bare listing of posts don't record - political or patronal links, marriage, even disgrace. Many reasons for an individual to want to move post, perhaps.

Quote:
Nathan Ross:34ip2g0b Wrote:C Geminius Priscus is even more odd (CIL 05, 06478 )
No mention of centurionates in this one; he's just a ?Julio-Claudian equestrian.

That's true, I was just following a train of thought Smile ... but I'd say Priscus is far from unexceptional. It's a really interesting inscription - that 'libero commeatu' might imply he was given official leave from one post (cohort praefect?) to take up another, otherwise why bother recording it? But what was the post - a 'special' tribunate in Rome? The order of the cursus makes no sense at all! Perhaps more going on here (again) than meets the eye...

Quote:All the jumping is in one direction, Nathan! Once you've made the Rome centurionates, you're on track for the primipilate.

Not all the jumping :wink: -

Quote:CIL 02, 04461
L(ucio) Aemilio / L(uci) fil(io) Gal(eria) / Paterno p(rimi)p(ilari) / praef(ecto) fabr(um) |(centurioni) leg(ionis) VII G(eminae) / |(centurioni) leg(ionis) I M(inerviae) |(centurioni) leg(ionis) VII Cl(audiae) / |(centurioni) leg(ionis) XIIII G(eminae) |(centurioni) coh(ortis) IIII u[r(banae)] / |(centurioni) coh(ortis) IIII pr(aetoriae) CCC(trecenario) |(centurioni) leg(ionis) II Au(gustae) / et p(rimo) p(ilo) ter donis donato / ab Imp(eratore) Traiano torqui/bus armillis phaleris / corona vallari bis / in Dacia semel in Par/thia / Atilia L(uci) fil(ia) Vera be/ne de se merito

Centurion in four legions, then went off for a stint in Rome in the urban cohorts and praetorians, then returned to the legions as centurion of II Augusta, then made primus pilus. And -

Quote:CIL 11, 06057
C(aio) Cestio C(ai) f(ilio) / Stel(latina) Sabino / trib(uno) coh(ortis) XIII urb(anae) / p(rimo) p(ilo) leg(ionis) I Adiutricis P(iae) F(idelis) / |(centurioni) leg(ionis) VIII Aug(ustae) ex trece/nario |(centurioni) coh(ortis) VIII pr(aetoriae) / |(centurioni) coh(ortis) XIIII urb(anae) |(centurioni) leg(ionis) II / Adiutric(is) Pia(e) Fid(elis) et leg(ionis) / VI Claud(iae) P(iae) F(idelis) donis donat(o) / ab Imp(eratore) Antonino Aug(usto) / hasta pura IIIIvir(o) i(ure) d(icundo) / patrono municip(ii) / plebs urb(ana) et honore us(i)

Centurion in two legions, then the urban cohorts and praetorians, then centurion again in VIII Aug before the primipilate. Perhaps in these cases there were just no primipilates available at the time Paternus and Sabinus left the praetorians, so they did another spell in the primi ordines while they were waiting? Or maybe there really was some sort of age or service minimum for the primipilate, and these two, having moved faster than most through the lower grades, had to serve another term as centurion before moving up?

- Nathan
Quote:Not all the jumping :wink: - CIL 02, 04461: ... Centurion in four legions, then went off for a stint in Rome in the urban cohorts and praetorians, then returned to the legions as centurion of II Augusta, then made primus pilus.
I think it actually means that he went to II Augusta as the primus pilus. That would be the normal course. Although I admit that the wording is peculiar.

Quote:And - CIL 11, 06057 : ... Centurion in two legions, then the urban cohorts and praetorians, then centurion again in VIII Aug before the primipilate.
Yup, I'll give you that one.

The same kind of thing may be going on in this Praetorian's career:
CIL 11, 710:
D(is) M(anibus) / [---] Amblasi C(ai) f(ilii) M[aec(ia) Pela]/[g]on(ia) Secund(i) mil(itis) coh(ortis) [--- Praetoriae] / [b(ene)f(iciarii)] tr(ibuni) mil(itum) coh(ortis) I tessera(rii) na[---] / [op]tionis sign(iferi) coh(ortis) eiusdem / [be]nef(iciarii) praef(ecti) praet(orio) [evo]c(ati) Aug(usti) [|(centurionis)] / [coh(ortis)] I vig(ilum) |(centurionis) coh(ortis) XIIII urb(anae) / [|(centurionis)] leg(ionis) V Ma[c(edonicae)] ex tr(ecenario) M(arcus) A(??) C(ai) f(ilius) STRE[---] / [---] leg(ionis) I / Adiutricis P(iae) F(idelis) / Hilara Cyrilla uxor / marito optimo

Quote:Perhaps in these cases there were just no primipilates available at the time Paternus and Sabinus left the praetorians, so they did another spell in the primi ordines while they were waiting?
Quite possible. I think those cases of legions with more than five primi ordines fall into this category.
There is an interesting doctoral thesis, "Studies in the Legionary Centurionate" by Summerly, James Robert, 1992, University of Durham, which is available through the British Library's Electronic Theses Online Service ((EThOS). He is primarily interested in centurions with multiple career moves, how many positions before the primipilate, age of attainment, etc. It is arranged chonologically and is quite a detailed study. I found it interesting.
Thanks Quinton! I'd never even heard of EThOS - what a fantastic resource, and a very quick and easy download.

Looks like a very thorough thesis too Big Grin

- Nathan
Why should he change from his tribunate to the ordines, to restart his career as a centurion.
Because it isn't easy to do the tres militia equestris... In the time of Domitian you have ca 270 praefecti cohorti, but only 180 tribuni and only 90 post for praefecti alae. So not every praefectus cohortis got a chance to the third militia. If did his job normal he had to wait sometime for long to the next post. And normaly the procurator posts came after the third militiae, as a sexagenarius or centenarius.


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