Full Version: Diplomas By Any Other Name?
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.

Roman Military Diplomas or Diplomata or Discharge Certificates or Constitutions?

These are all names used to describe the two bronze tablets issued to Roman soldiers and sailors.

"The Roman name for the bronze documents we call military diplomas is unknown. The final section of the formula engraved on them in each case states that it is a certified copy of a bronze tablet set up in a public place in Rome. Gaius Institutes i, 57, suggests the the Roman tablets were themselves publications of constitutiones, which granted certain priviledges to veterans of the praetorian guard, the fleets and the auxilia".

So wrote Margaret Roxan in "The Roman Inscriptions of Britain, Vol. II, Fasc. 1" published by Alan Sutton (1991) ISBN 0-86299-775-3.

She continued "In the early period some of these grants were made to serving soldiers (eg RIB 2401.1, 2401.2, 2401.3), which in itself indicates that diplomas were not discharge certificates (cf. Britannia. xix (1988) 341-7).

An extract from "Discharge Certificates of the Roman Army" by John C. Mann; Margaret M. Roxan, Britannia, Vol. 19 (1988), 341-347.

"The auxiliary diploma was not a discharge certificate. It was a document proving the possession of Roman citizenship, with or without conubium, and its real value lay in its recording of the grant of these priviledges".

So, diplomas were not Discharge Certificates when issued to serving soldiers or sailors.

But, were diplomas Discharge Certificates when issued to retiring soldiers or sailors?

The answer is that they probably were not.

How can you tell the difference between a serving soldier/sailor and a retiring soldier/sailor?

The answer is remarkably simple.

If the recipient's rank is prefixed with EX he is retiring, if it's not he isn't.

The final conclusions are that we should continue to use the word diplomas to describe the two bronze tablets. This would seem to be the Internationally accepted convention.


M. Spedius Corbulo