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When the auxiliary soldier completed his service, he was given a diploma, which granted him Roman citizenship. How did other citizens prove their citizenship? How did Paulus of Tarsus prove that he was a Roman citizen? While in the early Republic this was probably a simple matter of checking for family references, what about in the first and second century annos domini? Equestrians wore an iron ring, so what prevented someone from just wearing an iron ring and pretending to be a noble citizen? How would the man on the street tell the difference between a citizen and a foreigner in the local baths? <p>"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance -- that principle is contempt prior to investigation." Herbert Spencer</p><i></i>
Well, technically there existed a list of all Roman citizens in Rome. Citizenship grants were supposed to be recorded there, as well as the births of all citizen children. Personally, I feel almost certain this was mostly ornamental. Similar registers at the local level, however, would most likely also have recorded personal status, so there would have been some kind of 'paper trail'.<br>
That said, I recall a few papyri where someone's citizenship (in this case Alexandrian or Antinopolitan, not Roman) was established by witnesses, and this sounds like a reasonable enough way to me in most cases. The Roman empire was mostly a world of small towns - averaging a few thousand inhabitants. People knew what their neighbours were. If someone went and started pretending to be a knight, they'd catch on. Traellers, of course, could probably pretend to all kinds of things - there are nice stories about the exploits of robbers. But most people were what you'd call integrated into a close-knit society.<br>
BTW, what has come of the theory that diplomas were not given to all auxiliaries buit only in special ceremonies? <p></p><i></i>
Roman citizens were enrolled in the tabularium on the Capitoline, I remember. All male citizens were enrolled in voting tribes. That Alcester tombstone recently discovered enrolled the Legio II veteran in a tribe though he may never have been in Italy. <p>Legio XX Caupona Asellinae</p><i></i>
Going to blow the dust off this one.

So, are we suggesting then that proof of citizenship was something that was recorded and maintained at the local level with perhaps the names of all voting tribes in Rome? Would this also include those that were out in the country that own and operated their own farms still?

I am sure I am butchering the terminology here, but this is a itching question of late and a area that I am not that all to well read up on.

Yes, citizenship lists were maintained by the magistrates. I’m not sure where they were kept beforehand, but we have this from the time of Marcus Aurelius:

Quote: In the meantime, he put such safeguards about suits for personal freedom — and he was the first to do so — as to order that every citizen should bestow names upon his free-born children within thirty days after birth and declare them to the prefects of the treasury of Saturn. In the provinces, too, he established the use of public records, in which entries concerning births were to be made in the same manner as at Rome in the office of the prefects of the treasury, the purpose being that if any one born in the provinces should plead a case to prove freedom, he might submit evidence from these records. Indeed, he strengthened this entire law dealing with declarations of freedom …

Historia Augusta, Marcus Aurelius, 9.7-8

For the individual who was required to show proof of citizenship, he had a certificate.

Quote:The Roman citizen was required to register the birth of his children within thirty days before a Roman official, and he received a wooden diptych recording the declaration, which acted as a certificate of citizenship for the child for the rest of his life. Like the military diplomata this contained the names of seven witnesses, and provided a presumptive proof of citizen status. But complete validation of a claim depended in disputed case on confirmation by the witnesses that the document was a true copy of the official archive in which the enfranchisement or birth was formally registered. Similarly the enfranchisement of freedmen, which depended upon a formal act, was recorded in a documentary tabella manumissionis. Citizens of diverse origins thus came to have some form of documentary evidence of their status.

Sherwin-White, The Roman Citizenship, 316.
Thanks so much, this is very helpful indeed!
You might want to look up literature on Cicero's speech Pro Archias. That was the case of a Greek poet who claimed he had been granted citizenship but that the records had been destroyed.

Brian Rapske's Paul in Roman Custody discusses the subject of citizenship at length. Here are a few excerpts:

Quote:Even a desperate person could scarcely have risked two citizenship claims and an appeal to Caesar without the right to do so. Latin personal and family names could be used by non-Romans in Paul's day, but surnames were tightly restricted. Suetonius writes that Claudius executed those who usurped the privileges of Roman citizenship Epictetus (c. 50-120 AD) observes that 'those who falsely claim Roman citizenship are severely punished.' Even an unsatisfactorily proven citizenship could result in prosecution or death. (87)
Quote:Bruce writes: "Each legitimately born child of a Roman citizen had to be registered within (it appears) thirty days of his birth. If he lived in the provinces, his father, or some duly appointed agent, made a declaration (professio) before the provincial governor (praeses prouinciae) at the public record-office (tabularium publicum). In the course of his professio the father or his agent declared that the child was a Roman citizen; the professio was entered in the register of declarations (album professionum)...." (130)
Quote:At regular intervals when the Roman census was taken, Paul's name, status, age and property holdings would be duly recorded. Near their place of birth, most citizens could without difficulty prove their citizenship—one need merely go to the public record office or summon witnesses. For Paul at Philippi, some 700 miles away from home by land, it might be much more difficult. (130-131)
Quote:It was possible to use a certified private copy of the record of the professio—called a testatio—as a kind of birth certificate or passport, though this kind of document was usually kept in the family archive... Schulz notes that testationes such as these were widely used in the courts from Republican times and had considerable importance. (131)
Quote:The diploma militaris (or instrumentum) given to pensioned-off auxiliary soldiers was related to the testatio in that it also confirmed the citizen franchise and carried the names of seven witnesses... A civilian type of diploma conferring citizenship is also noted in the sources. The Emperor Nero gave such diplomas of citizenship to Greek youths to reward the quality of their performance in Pyrrhic dances he had sponsored. We further read of travel documents, also called diplomata, which were obtainable on request by enfranchised individuals... (131)
I've left a lot of information out, but I hope this helps nonetheless. I recommend you check out Rapske's book if you're interested in the legal aspects of Paul's travels.